Vegetarianism has recently been receiving good publicity and for good reason!
It is no longer associated with pale, wane hippies or shaven head religious followers, more and more people are being awakened to the enormous health benefits of cutting meat out of their diets. However, just 'being' vegetarian does not automatically equate with optimum health. Since the whole or partial elimination of animal and /or dairy products clearly restricts your nutrient sources, all vegetarian diets require careful planning to minimize health risks and maximize health benefits!
Like most things in life, it is a question of perfect balance.
The ideal ratio guideline for the vegetarian diet is as follows:
*Four servings of whole grain such as rice, rye, oats, corn, whole-wheat, pasta or pulses (remember that one serving constitutes a portion the size of your clenched fist, or one slice of bread or three rice cakes).
*Three servings of fresh fruit. It is advised that at least one of these fruits is a citrus fruit or high in Vitamin C, as Vitamin C with meals enhances iron absorption, which is necessary in the vegetarian diet!
*Three servings of green leaf and root vegetables such as carrots, spinach, broccoli, green beans, potato, sweet potato, brussel sprouts and green peppers.
Fat That's Fine:
*One tablespoon of olive, sunflower or sesame oil.
*One heaped tablespoon of seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower.
*Two daily servings of beans, lentils, broad beans or tofu (one fist size) or 30g of cheese
The predominant scare of being vegetarian for those that have not yet discovered the wonders of Soya has always been the lack of protein in their diet. With Soya, you can actually consume more protein than our carnivore friends! For example a lamb chop provides 25% of its total calories as protein and 75% as saturated fat, whereas half the calories in Soya beans comes from protein and contains no saturated fats!
A great way to eat Soya is in the form of tofu, which is made from curdled soybeans. Tofu can be marinated and cooked in many different ways, the same as you might with meats or fish. Hard tofu is used cubed for stir-frys, Chinese dishes and casseroles, and soft tofu can be used in soup.
Also, readily available these days is pre-packaged soy products
that are prepared to resemble many of the more common meat choices, like chicken,
sandwich meats and burgers. More and more grocery stores are offering these
Here is a fabulous, healthy and tasty recipe for a tofu based veggie meal, jam-packed with all the 'right stuff'! :
A stir-fry consisting of:
Lightly brown onions and garlic in the olive oil, and then add
the rest of the ingredients (except for the tofu and steamed brown rice). Stir
in a tablespoon of Soya sauce and a tablespoon of sweet chili sauce. Cook the
vegetables until they are tender but crisp (do not overcook as this will destroy
the natural vitamins and minerals).
Remove vegetables from pan and place cubed tofu (3cm x 3cm) into pan and braise for two minutes on each side adding a tsp. of sweet chili sauce as you cook. Serve with the steamed brown rice. Enjoy!
Good additional supplements
To further boost vitality as a vegetarian, a good multivitamin
is suggested. Look for one that contains high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin
B12, vitamin B6 and iron from ferrous glutinate. Also, a daily dose of Spirulina
is great to supplement your protein intake and boost your energy levels!
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© Melt Magazine 2002