Healthy Vegetarian Diet Blog


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Tempeh and Bok Choy Stir-Fry

Tempeh and Bok Choy Stir-Fry

I’m always playing around with different ways to use Tempeh. Why? Because it’s one of the healthiest plant proteins. For example, tempeh has a lot of protein (16 grams in just three ounces), and it’s a complete protein. That means it has all the amino acids, so it’s comparable to meat. This is super important for vegetarians and vegans. If you want to learn more about it, go here.

The following is per serving.

Ingredients:

3 to 4 ounces diced tempeh (approximately 1/3 of an 8-ounce package)
4 spears baby corn
2 large stems bok choy
1/4 cup cashews
1 tbsp. coconut oil

Adjust the above quantities to your own taste. I usually use more cashews.

For the sauce:

2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. Xylitol
1 tsp. cornstarch
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Dice the tempeh into 1/2” cubes.
  2. Prepare the bok choy. Trim off the thick base, cut the stalk in half lengthwise (slice down the middle), cut the stalks into small pieces (I like to slice it fairly thin).
  3. Prepare sauce. Add all ingredients to bowl and stir well so that cornstarch is not lumpy.
  4. Heat the coconut oil in wok or pan.
  5. Add the tempeh and cashew nuts to hot oil and stir-fry until they start to brown.
  6. Add the baby corn and bok choy to the pan and continue to stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes on high heat.
  7. Add sauce and continue to stir-fry until sauce thickens. This only takes a minutes or so.

Serving Suggestions: Serve on a bed of brown rice, quinoa, or mix with brown rice noodles.

Enjoy!

Here's what you really need to know about saturated fats and coconut oil

Coconuts

There’s been a lot of press lately debating whether coconut oil is a healthy or unhealthy food. Those that argue that it's unhealthy base their claim on the fact that coconut oil is saturated and saturated fats can lead to heart disease.

That is no longer the consensus in the scientific community. In fact, current research has found that saturated fat, in moderation, is actually healthy.

Even without the studies, it’s clear that saturated fats cannot be the demon food that they’ve been made out to be. Just look back at the history of our dietary habits. Saturated fats were a regular part of our diet before the 1970s – think butter and lard – yet obesity and heart disease were not common illnesses.

Coconut oil, in particular, is a super healthy saturated fat. In fact, Dr. David Perlmutter, a brain-health expert, and author of the book “Grain Brain” (great book by the way) recommends it to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. But the benefits don’t stop there. Coconut oil is a medium-chain fat (MCF) which is known to raise your metabolism, increase fat burning and stamina, and help you lose excess weight.

It’s unfortunate that so many people have become afraid of eating fats, particularly saturated fat. Your body must have healthy fats to function properly and stay healthy. In my new book, Eat Right for Life With a Plant-Based Diet, I’ve dedicated a chapter on the topic of fats: which fat to add and which ones to eliminate and why, as well as how to calculate how much fat you can consume without gaining weight. You can find out more and order it at Amazon.

Overweight and Undernourished: A New Epidemic

Produce Section

It’s amazing that just a generation or two ago people ate only protein from farm-raised animals and fresh fruits and vegetables that were grown locally. Nothing was flown or shipped into grocery stores from other cities and countries.

Today, the reverse is true. Ninety percent of the food in mainstream stores is processed, and only 10 percent is fresh. This is obvious as you walk around a conventional grocery store. There are rows and rows of processed, frozen, and pre-packaged food items and a small produce section.

Along with this change in eating habits comes a shocking new statistic published in the New England Journal of Medicine: there are now a whopping 2.2 billion people that are overweight or obese.Why? Processed foods lack the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that the body needs to grow and stay healthy. As a result, we instinctually eat more. In essence, we become overweight, overfed, and undernourished.

One of the best solutions is to eat a healthy vegetarian diet. Another report (and there are many) in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, states that vegetarians don’t just lose more weight than those on a typical low-calorie diet; they also improve their metabolism. And, when you optimize your metabolism, you burn more calories instead of storing them as fat.

There are, of course, loads of additional benefits to going vegetarian. Studies have also shown that those on a vegetarian diet develop fewer illnesses. But developing and sustaining a healthy vegetarian or vegan diet requires careful planning and a certain amount of knowledge about not only what to eliminate but what you need to add to your diet to stay healthy and fit. My new book, Eat Right for Life With a Plant-Based Diet addresses all of these topics plus more and is now available on Amazon.

Produce Section

Vegetarian Lentil, Wild Rice, and Arugula Salad

Lentil Wild Rice Arugula Salad

I love this dish. Not only is it delicious, easy to prepare, and great for the summer months, but the ingredients are super healthy. Arugula is rich in glucosinolates, a cancer-fighting compound, and is higher in antioxidants than most green lettuces. Wild rice is rich in minerals, B vitamins, and the amino acid lysine. And lentils have 17.86 grams of protein per cup and are high in antioxidants.

Ingredients (per serving):

1/2 cup cooked lentils
1/2 cup cooked wild rice
1 medium tomato deseeded, and diced (not too small)
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1 healthy handful of organic arugula
Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook the lentils and wild rice in separate pots according to their directions.
  2. Once cooked, cool and mix together
  3. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt
  4. Add tomatoes and dressing to lentil mixture and mix well
  5. Place arugula on a plate and top with mixture.

This salad is great for lunch or for a light dinner.

Enjoy!

Inspired by the Wild Rice Lentil and Arugula Salad recipe in the NutriBullet recipe book.

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Eat Right For Life With a Plant-Based Diet: The Secret to Permanent Weight Loss and Optimal Health

Whether you are a new or seasoned vegetarian or vegan, my new book is an essential guide to living well on a plant-based diet.

Continue reading "Eat Right For Life With a Plant-Based Diet: The Secret to Permanent Weight Loss and Optimal Health"

Why 84 Percent of Vegetarians and Vegans Return to Eating Meat

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.

Recipes:

Pea Soup

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
Croutons (optional)

Directions:

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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Vegetarian Stir Fry with Tempeh and Broccoli Florets

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.)

Serves 2

Ingredients

4 ounces brown rice noodles (or brown rice)
4 ounces of tempeh
2 cups broccoli florets
1 tbsp. coconut oil

Sauce

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

Directions

  1. Steam tempeh for 20 minutes. When done, cut into 1-inch cubes and set aside.
  2. While the tempeh is steaming, make the sauce. Add all sauce ingredients to a bowl and stir well until the cornstarch has completely dissolved.
  3. Soak noodles in hot water (follow package directions)
  4. Steam broccoli for 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Heat coconut oil in a wok or large skillet.
  6. Add tempeh to the wok or skillet and stir-fry until slightly golden.
  7. Add broccoli and sauce and stir until sauce bubbles and thickens.
  8. Add rice noodles, stir well, and enjoy!

Recipe inspired by Stir-Fried Broccoli, in the Good Food Made Simple, Vegetarian cookbook.

5 Tips to Stop Emotional Eating

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.

You can eat potatoes without the guilt when you use this little trick

Purple PotatoesPurple 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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Sugar Cravings

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.

Continue reading "Sugar Cravings"

7 Tips for Getting More Nutrition from Your Non-Organic Produce

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":

  • Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces the day before consuming. This will increase its antioxidant level.
  • Prepare your garlic – chop, mince, slice – and let it sit for 10 minutes before cooking it. If you don't let it sit, most of its health and healing benefits are destroyed by the heat.
  • Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, but must be eaten with a fat or oil to optimize its absorption.
  • While sweet potatoes have a sweeter taste than white potatoes, they have a much lower glycemic index than white potatoes – 45 compared with 75 to 100. (The GI ranks how quickly and high a particular food boosts sugar and insulin levels.)
  • Cooked blueberries have higher antioxidant levels than fresh berries.
  • Although we enjoy raw carrots, especially in our juices and salads, cooked carrots have twice as much beta-carotene.
  • Don’t underestimate the cherry tomato. They have up to 12 times more lycopene than beef-steak tomatoes.

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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Green lentil pasta?

vegetarian soup

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

Enjoy!

Are you a Vegetarian TOFI?

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.

Cannellini and Kale Soup

vegetarian soup

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.

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

Enjoy!

For more delicious recipes and to earn more about my new 10-day vegetarian detox click here

Spicy Chickpeas

Roasted ChickpeasSpicy 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.

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

Nutrition Facts
1 cup dried garbanzo beans, cooked

269 calories
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.

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DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified health care professional, and is not intended as medical advice.