Lately, more people in my nutrition practice have been asking for
advice on incorporating vegetarian meals into their diets.
Certainly with the recent listeria outbreak and the growing concern
about the use of hormones in meats and antibiotics in poultry, the
veggie movement is on the rise.
Not only are individuals making the move to more vegetarian-based
meals, but so are entire families.
There are many different ways to plan a healthy vegetarian diet. The
most important rule is to include a wide variety of whole grains,
legumes, vegetables and fruits in different meals. Nuts and seeds also
may be included for healthy fats, as well as for protein. Vegetarian
meals may also include eggs and low-fat dairy products, depending on
how strict you want to go. (Vegans eat no animal products, including
honey, dairy or eggs.) Experimentation with new foods such as bulgur
wheat or adzuki beans can provide nutritional benefits as well as
enhance your eating enjoyment.
Some people decide to go vegetarian all at once. Others prefer to
include a half dozen vegetarian meals a week for more of a gradual
Most people think of meat first when it comes to meal planning.
Instead of thinking about a meat replacement, think in terms of
including a wide variety of grains. Grains should play the biggest
role in the diet so consider grain-based entrees as often as possible.
Find an orange barley casserole or quinoa, lime salad recipe and then
think how you can add legumes, vegetables and/or fruits.
Or another way to look at it is to plan a meal around a vegetable. A
baked acorn squash can be a hearty entree when stuffed with wild rice
and navy beans. A sweet potato puree can be wonderful on top of a
grilled portobello mushroom.
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