Whether you seek a purely vegetarian diet, or just want to round out your nutrition profile, vegetarian recipes are easy, healthy and palate-pleasing. Vegetarians should consume organic vegetables when possible to avoid consuming the herbicide Glyphosate.
Vegetarian or vegan?
To avoid confusion, let’s look quickly at the differences between vegetarian and vegan. Vegans do not eat or use products made from animals, fish, or fowl, while vegetarians usually consume or use animal products like cheese, dairy, eggs, and the like.
There seem to be more female vegetarians than male, as in the Western world, females outnumber male vegetarians 2:1–possibly because men need more calories, which could seem harder to get from vegetarian fare alone. Because of their diet, vegetarians and vegans have to put a little extra effort into ensuring their best-loved meals contain all the nutrients needed for their health. Let’s take a look at some of those diet concerns.
Getting the nutrients you need from vegetarian recipes
Humans are omnivores. Our bodies are adapted to eat both plants or animals. For those choosing a plant-based diet, there are foods to replace the nutrients you might otherwise gain from eating meat. Consider these points:
- Protein: Getting enough protein is critical. Fortunately, great sources of protein are easily available for veggie recipes. When planning veg meals, consider recipes that use beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, chickpeas, and lentils. Also, peanut butter and quinoa are great choices. Wheat grains have protein, too, but steer clear if you are gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive, and consider alternatives such as buckwheat, corn, oats, rice, and millet.
- Iron: Iron is another mineral important for health. Best absorbed naturally, rather than by supplement, foods such as beans, spinach, baked potatoes, and bulgur wheat are high in iron. Improve the bioavailability of iron by pairing iron-rich foods with those containing vitamin C, including tomatoes, citrus juices, or broccoli. You can also use vinegar to improve the bioavailability of iron from spinach and other greens.
Iron absorption can be blocked by eating foods high in oxalates, such as wheat bran, chocolate, strawberries, herbs, and other foods. Spinach is high in iron and oxalates—but you can increase the amount of available iron by cooking it and sprinkling it with lemon juice.
Foods high in polyphenols, including coffee, walnuts, apples, blueberries, and other foods can also impact the absorption of iron. Try to eat these foods two or more hours from your usual meal containing iron-rich foods.
- B12: The B vitamins are water soluble vitamins important to human health. Since B12 is easily available in meats, some vegetarians may have trouble with B12 deficiency. Vegetarians can find B12 in milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, tempeh, soy milk, and other foods. B12 is also found in high concentrations in mussels and clams — so if you are not a strict vegetarian, you may want to consider these options.
For vegetarians, consuming large quantities of goitrogenic foods can potentially impair your thyroid function. Goitrogenic is simply the term used to describe chemicals and compounds that can interfere with your thyroid function. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that has a big impact on how you feel. Often found together are impaired thyroid function and inadequate B-12 levels.
Just a few goitrogenic foods include raw greens such as Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, bok choy, millet, pine nuts, peanuts, watercress and others. You can block much of the antithyroid effect of these foods and avoid hypothyroidism (low levels of the thyroid hormone) with heat—by steaming or using in a cooked dish.
- Essential Oils: Every cell in our body has what is known as a lipid bilayer. Lipids are manufactured with fat — which simply means fats and oils are essential to maintaining healthy cell wall structures. This includes white and red blood cells, muscle cells, nerve cells, skin cells, etc. It is important to consume and supplement oils in your diet if you are not eating fish or meat products. Adding oils to your dishes will provide more energy and allow your body to maintain healthy cells throughout your body. The better oils available for cooking and supplementation are olive, coconut, sesame, almond, and sunflower. In addition, try to purchase oils that are organic to eliminate GMO impact and minimize glyphosate contamination.
Get started with easy vegetarian recipes
Making a veggie meal for you, friends, and family is satisfying and delicious. To get you started on a world of vegetarian recipes, consider the following:
- Butternut Squash Soup: A slow-cooker recipe with apples, onions, and carrots.
- Vegetarian Chili: Now you can have your chili and be a vegetarian, too! Beans, peppers, and corn figure prominently in this hearty veggie recipe.
- Gazpacho: This zesty Spanish fare combines fennel, scallions, red bell peppers, and lemon in a tomato-based soup with lime on the side.
- Pink sauerkraut: Try this raw vegetarian recipe for an adventure in fermenting raw cabbage with just salt and a little patience.
- Spinach-Artichoke Deep-Dish Pizza: One-skillet pizza to share with friends.
- Tempeh with Charred Peppers and Kale: Experiment with this fast and delicious veg meal that combines speed, nutrition, and taste.
Try these and other easy vegetarian recipes to boost your health and support your lifestyle goals—without sacrificing flavor.