Sunday, August 06, 2006

food nutrition : Simple Vegetarian Recipe For Life

The vegetarian lifestyle is quickly gaining popularity. Vegetables are a great food source and offer a lot of benefits. They are naturally low in fat and calories and can be very filling. They are also chocked full of essential vitamins and minerals.

A vegetarian diet, that includes beans, nuts, eggs, and dairy products, can be a very healthful and beneficial lifestyle choice. You need to be careful however, if you do decide to choose a vegetarian diet, you need to make sure that you are getting enough protein and not loading up on carbs.

Many people are under the impression that a vegetarian diet will make you thin. This can be true, as long as you are choosing non-meat products that are low in fat and calories, and high in nutritional food value. However, there are so many non-meat foods that are full of fat and calories and offer no nutritional value like cookies, chips, cakes, etc. So you still have to make an educated decision to monitor what you eat, not just rely on the style of diet.

If you are considering a vegetarian diet, there are a few ways to make sure you get the necessary nutritional value out of your food products. First and foremost, always read your food labels. Check your protein, fats, and carbs and also remember to check your fiber and vitamins, as they will become even more important in your new diet style.

When you check for fat content you should try to not eat things that have more than 30 fat calories, this is different than fat grams. Fat calories tell you how many of the calories within the serving size come from fat. By having 30 or less fat calories you can make sure that the calories you are getting are not empty calories (calories with no nutritional value). Also make sure you are aware of the serving size. Many products are not a single serving like the nutrients are counted for.

Your diet should consist of about 25% protein, 60% carbs, and, 15% fat. Good sources of protein for someone on a vegetarian diet would be soy, almonds, eggs, and low fat cottage cheese. These foods will give you protein without a lot of fat. Good sources of carbs would be any whole wheat breads or pastas, brown rice, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes. Again, these foods are good sources of carbohydrates that are not high in fat.

One of my favorite vegetarian meals is acorn squash with brown sugar, green salad with almonds, and cottage cheese. This is quick and easy to prepare. It’s also low in fat and high in nutrients. See recipe below.

Acorn Squash

Pierce the skin of a small to medium acorn squash

Cook in the microwave for 4-6 minutes or until it is soft to the touch

Slice squash in half and scoop out seeds Place one tablespoon of brown sugar in each half (if your looking for a low cal alternative to brown sugar, use sugar free maple syrup. My husband actually likes this better than the sugar)

Green Salad

1 cup of raw spinach or green leaf lettuce (offers more nutrients than iceberg)

½ cup chopped tomatoes

½ cup chopped cucumbers

½ cup shredded carrots

¼ cup of raisins

10-15 almonds, halved Mix together and add two tablespoons of raspberry vinaigrette dressing (or low-cal dressing of your choice.)

½ cup of 1% milk fat cottage cheese

Having a vegetarian diet can be very beneficial for your body. Just understand your new diet style and make educated decisions, like getting the right mix of protein, carbs, and fats.

By Jennifer McCleary


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