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If you find it difficult to maintain a vegetarian diet, you’re not alone. I was floored when I read that 84% of vegetarians and vegans go back to eating meat.*
This surprising data comes from a large survey conducted by Faunalytics, a large nonprofit that specializes in data focused on animal welfare.
According to their survey, the most popular reasons given for abandoning a vegetarian or vegan diet were the following:
* Always feel hungry
* Tired of eating the same food
* Too difficult to be a strict vegetarian
Can you relate? If so, there are some things you can do to combat these issues:
Always feel hungry? Many vegetarians eat too many carbohydrates and too little protein or fat. Each meal should be a balance of all three. If you don’t get enough protein and fat, you will definitely be hungry and unsatisfied throughout the day.
Tired of eating the same food? This is a pitfall that’s easy to fall into, especially when you have a busy schedule. I find that having a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix or NutriBullit works wonders for making a vegetarian diet more exciting and less time-consuming. (See the two quick recipes below.)
Find it too difficult to be a strict vegetarian? There are a number of solutions to this problem. The top solution is to plan your meals in advance and keep your pantry well stocked. Before eating out, call or check online to find out if the restaurant can accommodate you. And, take healthy snacks and a powdered protein with you when you're away from home or on vacation.
What's your biggest challenge? Skip down to the bottom of the page and let us know.
Don’t let the simplicity of this soup fool you. If you like peas, you will love this recipe. It tastes like you’re eating soup made from fresh peas from your garden.
Ingredients per serving:
1 cup water
1/2 cup frozen, organic peas
1/2 tbsp.extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Place the water and peas in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a pot and simmer on the stove for three to five minutes. If using a Vitamix, keep blending until it’s hot and steamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Pour into bowls, add olive oil, stir and enjoy.
3. Optional: add your favorite croutons.
Cucumber and Mint Smoothie
This is refreshing for the warm weather and after a workout.
Ingredients per serving:
2 to 3 fresh mint leaves
1/4 large cucumber
1 cup of water
3 to 4 small ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and enjoy.
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I love this recipe. It's easy, and although it takes a little more time than I usually like to spend in the kitchen, it’s worth it.
(You can use tofu instead of tempeh in this recipe.)
4 ounces brown rice noodles (or brown rice)
4 ounces of tempeh
2 cups broccoli florets
1 tbsp. coconut oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. xylitol (or sweetener of your choice)
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Recipe inspired by Stir-Fried Broccoli, in the Good Food Made Simple, Vegetarian cookbook.
You’re having a bad day. Maybe something happened in the office that stressed you out, or that special someone in your family has pushed your buttons. Your first reaction is to reach for food, something sweet and comforting, like a bag of cookies or a slice of chocolate cake. We call this emotional eating. We’re not hungry, but when we get upset, angry or sad we need — and desperately want — something to lift our spirits. And this means, more often than not, eating a sugary treat. Not just because it tastes good, but because sugar triggers your brain to send you a lifeline.
You see, when you eat sugar, your brain produces endorphins and serotonin. The endorphins reduce your anxiety, increase your sense of well-being (comfort), and boost your self-esteem. Serotonin acts as a mood regulator and anti-depressant.
Unfortunately, the lifeline is temporary: You’ll crash shortly after the sugar splurge, and you’ll have to deal with the guilt and remorse you feel for the indulgence.
So, what can you do? The only way to stop self-medicating with food is to retrain yourself to respond differently to your emotional triggers, and there are several ways you can do this.
1) Become aware. Train yourself to stop and think before you indulge. Remind yourself that the food fix is temporary, unhealthy, fattening, and will make you feel worse than before. When you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, and the consequences, you have a good chance of changing your behavior.
2) Get some cardiovascular exercise; it releases endorphins and boosts your moods. Even a brisk walk for 15 to 20 minutes can do the trick.
3) Remember to breathe. When we get upset, our breath becomes shallow, and that makes us even more upset or nervous. Experiment with some deep breathing exercises. See this article from Time: "6 Breathing Exercises to Relax in 10 Minutes or Less" for some great examples
4) Eat something that’s healthy instead, like a piece of fresh fruit. You’ll still get some sugar, but it has fiber and nutrients.
5) Vent to a friend. Reach for the phone instead of that goodie. Sometimes this can help.
It takes some time to retrain yourself to react differently to your emotional triggers, so don’t give up. With practice, you won’t have to think about it. You’ll still get the impulse to self-medicate, but your mind will jump in to stop you.
Purple Majesty Potatoes
We really love our potatoes. There are so many ways to enjoy these lovely, creamy, delights. But, our beloved potatoes come with some serious drawbacks. They’re loaded with starch that’s quickly digested and turned to blood sugar. We then store that sugar as fat if we don’t burn it off. What’s more, the most common varieties of America’s favorite vegetable is not especially nutritious.
Fortunately, there are several, lesser-known types of potatoes that are super nutritious. The Russet Burbank potato, for example, is rich in phytonutrients (phyto means plant in Greek); it’s a great source of potassium, vitamin C, and high in vitamins B2, B3, and folic acid. But, their high starch content rapidly turns to sugar when you digest them.
There is a workaround to this dilemma. Yeah!
According to Jo Robinson in her terrific book “Eating on the Wild side,” you can significantly cut down on the sugar spike. The trick is to cook them, let cool, and then refrigerate for twenty-four hours. This process will reduce your blood sugar response by as much as 25 percent. If you’re a potato lover (who isn’t), I think it’s well worth this extra step. Of course, you can then reheat them before serving or use for potato salad.
I think the beautiful specimens in the picture are called Purple Majesty. I picked them up at Whole Foods, but, like many markets, they don’t specify the type of potato. If you have access to a farmer's market, there are more varieties, and they can tell you precisely what they are.
Aways look for new potatoes. They're an excellent choice as they have a lower impact on blood sugar than mature, or old, potatoes; sometimes half the amount!
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Learn how to stop sugar cravings and give up added sugar. Yes, sugar is addictive and when you try to give it up you suffer from withdrawal symptoms, but there are simple things that you can do to stop them.
Eating well doesn’t always mean buying organic. Sometimes it's just too expensive – like when one red pepper costs $5.00. I get it, especially if you have a large family to feed.
I recently learned quite a few tips on getting the most from your produce, whether it’s organic or not. Here are some of my favorites from "Eating on the Wild Side, The Missing Link to Optimum Health":
To learn more great tips like these, you can get "Eating on the Wild Side, The Missing Link to Optimum Health" on Amazon.
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I have a slight sensitivity to wheat, so I stay away from it 95% of the time. I just cheat on holidays and when I’m vacationing.
I’ve tried pastas made with rice flour, but I don’t eat it too often because it spikes your blood sugar like candy. I did find something else, though, that I just tried last night. It’s pasta made from green lentil and some oat fiber. I was skeptical at first, but kind of desperate to find an alternative to the rice flour.
Lentils are seriously healthy. In fact, according to Jo Robinson excellent book, “Eating on the Wild Side,” both black beans and lentils have more antioxidants than all the other common legumes.
The recipe I used is super easy to make, and really flavorful.
Servings: Approximately 2
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves of chopped garlic
2 cups of fresh kale leaves, deveined and torn into bite-sized pieces
8 ounces of button mushrooms
1/2 bag Modern Table, Lentil Penne
1) Boil a large pot of water with salted water.
2) Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant and just starting to turn brown.
3) Add mushrooms, cook until they have some color, and then add the kale. Continue cooking until the kale is tender but still somewhat firm.
4). Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with just a couple of teaspoons of the pasta water to keep it moist.
The pasta takes about 8 minutes to cook, so add it to the boiling water during the last steps. I usually have everything prepared ahead of the pasta, so that the pasta doesn’t dry out waiting.
Are you a Vegetarian TOFI? If you eat too much wheat and sugar, and get little to no exercise, there's a chance that you are.
A person who is a TOFI is thin on the outside, but has fat on the inside.They have little muscle tone, and extra belly fat (visceral fat), commonly referred to as a wheat belly.
There are two types of body fat. Subcutaneous fat is pretty harmless. This is the fat that lies just under your skin on your rear end, thighs, and arms. Then there’s visceral fat. This is hidden, dangerous fat that accumulates around your internal organs, including your heart, liver, and digestive system. The only place visceral fat is visible is your tummy.
Surprisingly, a Vegetarian TOFI can experience the same health issues as an overweight or obese person, including cancer, autoimmune disorders and brain disease.
TOFI is not a rare condition. In fact, it’s pretty common in the vegetarian community partly because of all the additional grains, especially wheat, that vegetarians consume.
The best cure for TOFI is a healthy vegetarian lifestyle. This includes some type of cardiovascular exercise (like brisk walking), and muscle building exercise, at least three times per week; eliminating or minimizing foods made with white and whole wheat flours, and eliminating added sugar.
Eliminating added sugar from your diet is a great place to start. If you haven't already done so, sign up for my complementary 7 Day Sugar Cleanse Challenge. Each day you'll receive tips and recommendations to help you get to a sugar-free diet.
This recipe is part of my new, 10 Day Vegetarian Detox. You can enjoy this at any time, but it's perfect for a detox because there's no dairy, soy, sugar, gluten, or wheat. What’s more, it's delicious, satisfying and healthy.
2 15 ounce cans cannellini beans
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 32 oz containers organic vegetable broth
1 15 oz can chopped, organic tomatoes without juice or three plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
3 large kale leaves deveined and torn into bite-sized pieces.
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot heat the olive oil on medium low heat.
2. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until soft. Do not brown.
3. Add the kale and sauté until it just starts to wilt.
4. Add the basil and oregano. Sauté for approx. 10 seconds.
5. Add the vegetable broth, water and cannellini beans. For a thicker sauce, puree one-half to one cup of the cannellini beans in food processor.
6. Place lid on pot, but allow steam to escape by leaving an opening of approximately an inch.
7. Simmer for approximately half an hour. Remove lid during last ten minutes to thicken the soup.
For more delicious recipes and to earn more about my new 10-day vegetarian detox click here
Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
I love chickpeas. They work great in so many dishes, and they're the perfect snack food. Move over potato chips.
I've been hooked on these since the first time I tried them. But, watch out, they're addicting.
1 cup garbanzo beans
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp, salt
1. Preheat oven to 400° F
2. In a bowl mix together the oil and spices.
3. Add the garbanzo beans to the mixture and mix well until well coated.
4. Place on baking sheet in a single layer. (Use parchment paper for quick clean up)
5. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes depending on how crisp you'd like them.
1 cup dried garbanzo beans, cooked
15 grams protein
33 grams net carbohydrates (total carbs - fiber)
4 grams of fat
Garbanzos are a good source of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and folate.
I've always been a big fan of falafels. They make an easy, no-fuss dinner or lunch. You can fry or bake these, but I prefer baked. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.
1 15 ounce can Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
1 clove garlic - use microplane or mash in a mortar to create paste
1/2 small onion, finely minced
1/4 heaping tsp. coriander
1/4 heaping tsp. ground cumin
A healthy pinch to 1/8 tsp. cayenne (dial up or down depending on how hot you want these)
1/3 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. lemon juice
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Yogurt Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole-fat yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 garlic clove - use microplane or mash in a mortar for paste
1 tsp. chopped dill
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper – or to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
2. Mash chickpeas with a fork or potato masher. Add the spices, onion, salt and pepper, baking soda, garlic, parsley, and lemon juice. Use your hands to mash ingredients together.
If you decide to use a food processor, pulse all the ingredients (minus the oil) until the mixture is mixed, but still somewhat chunky. Be careful not to over-process.
3. Grease a large baking sheet.
4. Create small patties using a heaping tablespoon of the falafel mixture and place on sheet. Brush both sides with the oil. If you skip this step, they will dry out and crumble.
Bake on each side for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
In the meantime, create your Yogurt Sauce by mixing all the ingredients together.
I like to serve these falafels in whole-wheat pitas, but they’re also great on top of salad greens.
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I was recently watching a great TV show called Alive. It was a reality competition with a group of trained survivalists on Vancouver Island. They were truly alone as the contestants were miles apart from one another, and they did their own recording - no film crew.
Their biggest challenge? Getting enough protein. When the body doesn't get enough protein it cannibalizes itself. It literally breaks down muscle tissue to get at its amino acids. These amino acids, which make up proteins, are then used as an alternative to food protein sources.
For many vegetarians and vegans, especially newbies, getting enough protein is also the biggest challenge. It's a challenge when we travel, too, especially on tropical Islands, and places where animal protein is the main part of their cuisine.
For me the best solution is taking along a whole-food, meal replacement with plenty of protein. There are a couple of good ones out there, including the one made by Garden of Life. This particular meal replacement has less than 2 grams of sugar and a whopping 40 grams of vegetarian protein. Since you only need to add water, it’s perfect for traveling.
I first bought this for traveling, but now it’s my go-to breakfast every morning.
What's your favorite travel tip for vegetarians and vegans? Please share it with us below.
Salads like this one are perfect for the hot Summer months. This is fast to pull together, and can stay in the refrigerator for a couple of days,
You can make this with either chickpeas, tempeh or a combination of both.
8 oz. of Tempeh or 15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2-3 scallions - finely sliced.
5-6 tbsp. chopped, fresh dill (more or less to taste)
1 to 2 stalks celery - finely chopped
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp. sour cream
2 tbsp. mayonnaise (can use additional sour cream instead)
salt and pepper to taste
Tempeh and tofu are both made from soy beans. They're a good source of vegetarian protein, and work well as meat substitutes. But there’s one big difference that can have a huge impact on your health: fermentation.
As strange as this may seem, tempeh is made by fermenting soybeans, and it's the fermentation process that transforms it into a healthy food. Fermentation makes tempeh easy to digest. Even better, it minimizes phytic acid, a substance that’s in soy and grains.
This is key because phytic acid blocks your body's ability to absorb important minerals, including zinc, calcium, magnesium, and copper. Unfermented soy foods, like tofu, have the highest levels. The bottom line is, if your diet is loaded with tofu and/or grains, as is common with vegetarians, you can develop a mineral deficiency, and all its related health issues.
Unfortunately, there are also links between unfermented soy and serious health problems, including infertility, breast cancer and thyroid issues.
Vegetarian Tempeh Tacos
I love these tacos. Instead of using beans, I cook and season up some tempeh. These are delicious and so easy. Perfect for a quick lunch or dinner.
2 large tomatoes, ripe and firm, seeded and diced
4 ounces tempeh
1 large jalapeño chile - seeded and finely minced
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 large handful of chopped cilantro leaves (I love cilantro so I use quite a lot)
1/4 cup finely chopped white or red onion
Pinch of dried Oregano
1 tsp. Chili Powder
1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
salt to taste (approximately 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon)
1 tbsp. coconut oil
Organic corn tortillas
1) Heat medium sized pan with one tablespoon coconut oil.
2) Crumble tempeh and add to hot pan. Stir fry until starting to brown and then add spices. Stir spices into tempeh.
3) Remove from heat and add to a large bowl.
4) Dice the tomatoes, mince the garlic and jalapeño chile, chop the onion and cilantro and add all to bowl.
5) Mix and squeeze into bowl the juice from one lime. Add salt to taste.
6) Heat tortillas in pan according to directions.
7) Fill and enjoy!
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