Healthy Vegetarian Diet Blog


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Aug 07, 2018

New Summer Recipes from Around the Web

It's the summer, and, if you're like most people, you want to eat delicious food, but don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Here are three, vegetarian recipes from around the web that check all the boxes.

Vegan Peach Ice Cream

I love this ice cream recipe. It uses coconut milk and only 1 to 2 tbsp of maple syrup to sweeten it. What's more, you don’t need an ice cream maker. What's not to love?

Lime and Blistered Peanut Coleslaw Recipe

This is another great summer recipe. What I love about this one is it’s fast, uses very few ingredients, and there’s no cooking involved. Plus it’s nutritious. There’s a lot of protein and crunch, and with the addition of greek yogurt you can add creaminess and even more protein. 

Fig Caprese Salad

If you’re like me and you love figs, you’ll love this salad. It has that perfect combination of sweet and salty, plus the fresh mozzarella gives a complete protein.

This recipe has very few ingredients, so I suggest you use only the best, freshest ingredients, including fresh mozzarella.

Aug 07, 2018

Weird Vegetarian Food Science

I’ve recently noticed that there are two distinct types of vegetarian (and vegan) diets. In one  camp the vegetarians yearn for the flavors and textures of animal proteins. As a result, they purchase a lot of foods that are engineered to look, smell, and taste like chicken, beef, and even fish. More than likely, these individuals transitioned to a vegetarian diet for health or weight reasons.

In the second camp are vegetarians who transitioned to avoid harming animals, and, as a result, are revolted by foods that too closely emulate animal proteins.

The "Bleeding" Pho Burger

If you’re a member of the former group, you may be familiar with the Impossible Burger. The company, named Impossible, has engineered a burger that not only tastes and looks like a real beef burger, it releases a beef-like blood when it’s cooking. The company reports that 70 percent of it’s fans are meat eaters.

The ingredient they use to emulate blood oozing is called soy leghemoglobin. There was a lot of controversy surrounding it’s use due to possible allergens and “other unwanted effects.” But, the FDA has recently reversed it’s concerns and has issued a statement that the Impossible Burger and it’s main ingredient, soy leghemoglobin, is safe.

As you know by now, I strongly recommend a whole foods diet and the consumption of very little processed foods. The majority of them are laden with chemicals and artificial colors and flavors, many of which are linked to illnesses. What’s more, most have little or no nutritional value, are engineering to keep you eating, and contain lots of sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and soy by-products * 

When you stick to a whole-foods diet, there's no need to worry about what you're eating, or if there are any potentially damaging ingredients.

If you want to learn more about this product and the controversy, see the following articles:

The Impossible Burger is probably safe. So why is everyone worked up about "heme"?

Bleeding Vegetarian Meat Declared Safe by US FDA

* From my book, Eat Right For Life With a Plant-Based Diet

Aug 02, 2018

Vegetarian, Mexican Lasagna

Vegetarian, Mexican Lasagna

This is so perfect for the Summer months. It’s easy, yummy and you don’t need to turn on the oven. I make it once a week and never tire of it.

2 Servings

Ingredients

15.5 oz can black beans
6 corn tortillas
6 slices Jalapeño Cheese - or your choice of cheese
4 ripe tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped
4 tbsp. cilantro - or to taste (I use lots, and not just for the flavor: cilantro is a great detoxifier)
2 cloves garlic finely diced
1/2 small onion - finely diced
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 hot chile pepper (serrano or jalapeño) finely chopped. Optional

Instructions

Prepare the Beans

Rinse the beans well and add to a pot with enough water to cover the beans. Heat on low until all the water is absorbed.

Make the Tomato Salsa

In a bowl add together the chopped tomatoes, garlic, onion, hot pepper (if using), fresh lime juice, salt and mix well.

Prepare the Corn Tortillas

Heat the corn tortillas either in a non-stick pan or in the oven. When they are don (I like them to start to color) add a slice of cheese and let it melt.

Assemble

When the tortillas are ready, you can assemble this anyway you want. I like to place a layer of the beans and salsa on top of one tortilla. I then add two more layers of tortilla, beans, and tomatoes. If your kids like to help out in the kitchen, this is a fun one for them to do.

Enjoy!

Jul 26, 2018

What To Do When Organic Is Not An Option

Organic Vegetarian

Organic produce has become very popular. It contains more nutrients than conventional fruits and vegetables, and it's grown without toxic pesticides.

But, organic may not be available where you shop. If there isn’t enough of a demand for it, the stores simply won’t carry it. For many people, it’s not a matter of accessibility; organic can be too expensive.

Fortunately, you have some options that can really help. In this week's blog post you'll learn;

  • An easy, scientifically proven way to reduce a lot of the pesticide residue on your produce
  • Why pesticides are dangerous
  • How to find out which non-organic fruits and vegetables are laden with pesticide residue and which ones are clean
  • Why Chemical Pesticides Are Dangerous

    It’s common for conventionally grown produce to contain pesticide residue. In fact, 70 percent of non-organic produce has been found to be contaminated.

    According to an article in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, there’s a huge body of evidence linking the exposure to pesticides with elevated rates of chronic diseases, like cancers, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders (like Parkinson, Alzheimer, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS]), birth defects, and reproductive disorders. Unfortunately, there’s more. The article goes on to state that “there’s also circumstantial evidence on the association of exposure to pesticides with some other chronic diseases.” The list is quite long.

    What You Can Do

    Thankfully, there are a couple of things that you can do.

    1. Reduce Pesticide Residue With This Technique

    A recent study shows that soaking produce in a solution of baking soda and water is the best method for reducing pesticides. While you may not be able to eliminate all of them, as some pesticides get deeply absorbed, it will do a much better job than a bleach solution, or just rinsing and scrubbing under running water. 

    To get the best results, start by washing, and scrubbing tough-skinned produce, under running water. Then add it to one teaspoon of baking soda and two cups of water. The researchers said that it took 12 to 15 minutes in the baking soda solution to completely get rid of the two pesticides used in the study, so I soak my produce for 20.

    2. Check the Environmental Working Group's Website (EWG) 

    Here you’ll find a list of produce with the most and least amount of pesticides. You'll find EWG's lists invaluable in helping you to decide which non-organic produce you don’t have to worry about, and which should be treated, or possibly avoided.

    If you have any tips or comments you’d like to share, please do so below. We’d love to hear from you.

    Photo by Megan Hodges

Jul 18, 2018

How to Make Your Own Protein Powders and Smoothies – and 3 Reasons Why You Should

A protein powder and meal replacement smoothie can come in handy; like when you’re too busy to eat right and you want to avoid eating junk. I drink one in the morning so that I know I’m getting enough protein and nutrients to get my day off to a good start. 

Now that I’m in central America, I can’t find a brand that I like. So, I decided to do some research and make my own. Turns out, it wasn’t so difficult to do and the results have been great. If you're not already making your own, I suggest you give it a try.

How to Make Your Customized Protein-Powder Smoothies

Step 1: Select Your Liquid

Use any of the follow liquids:

Coconut water

Coconut milk

Almond milk

Filtered water



Use approximately 1.5 cups of liquid, depending on how thick or thin you prefer your smoothie.

Step 2: Choose Your Proteins 

Aim for approximately 20 grams of protein, and be sure to choose complete sources. Complete sources contain all the amino acids.

Below is a list of options with their recommended serving sizes and protein content:

5.3 ounce container organic yogurt  (complete protein) = 5 g protein

5.3 ounce container organic Greek yogurt* (complete)* = 14 g protein

1 tbsp. Chia seeds (complete protein) = 3 g protein

2 tbsp. Flax seeds (whole) = 3 - 5 g of protein, depending on brand
3 tbsp.
Hemp seeds (complete protein) = 10 g protein

1 tbsp. Nut butter of your choice, e.g.  Peanut butter = 4 g or Almond butter = 2. 4 g of protein

1/4 cup cooked Quinoa (complete protein)= 2 g

If you don’t have a high speed blender like a Vitamix or NutraBullet, no problem. You can use a conventional blender. Just be sure to soak the chia and flax seeds in some water (two tbsp. water for each tbsp. of seeds) for at least 20 minutes.

* Greek yogurt has much more protein because to make it the excess water is removed.

Step 3: Don’t Skip the Fat

The right fats are needed for a healthy diet. Plus, they make you feel satisfied and full. Select one or more of the following:

1 tbsp. coconut oil or coconut flakes

1 tbsp. nut butter of your choice (provides lots of fat as well as protein)
1/4 ripe avocado 

Don’t worry about the calories. An individual on a healthy vegetarian diet can consume between 15 and 20 percent of calories in healthy fats, assuming the person is limiting their consumption of grains and sugars.1

Step 4: Add More Nutrients and Flavor

Fruit (Frozen is great)

Coco powder

Vanilla extract

Stevia or Xylitol (If you choose sweet fruits like bananas or pineapple, for example, you won’t need to add extra sweetness.)

In addition to getting protein, carbs and fat into your smoothie, with the right combination of ingredients you’ll get loads of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

3 Big Benefits to Making Your Own

There are some real advantages to making your own protein drink: you know exactly what’s in it, you can adjust and customize the ingredients to get what your particular body needs, and it’s less expensive.

Jul 05, 2018

Avocado: The Number 1 Summer Fruit

I’m in beautiful Costa Rica, surrounded by nature and a yard full of mango, banana, orange, and lemon trees. Another popular fruit here is the avocado.

We love avocados because they’re highly nutritious, have protein and fiber, and you can use them to create simple, quick summer dishes. Avos (as they’re now affectionately called) can be the star of the dish, or used as a side.

My favorite thing about avocados? They’re low in carbs and high in fat.

(Note: the following is from my book)
The right dietary fats are key to good health. They

  • Speed up your metabolism, reduce hunger, and stimulate fat burning;
  • Help keep blood sugar stable, which reduces cravings and overeating;
  • Are needed for cell membranes, the nervous system, and the immune system, and to make certain hormones;
  • Keep skin and hair radiant, and help keep us “regular”;
  • Provide twice as much energy as carbohydrates and burn slower for longer-lasting energy; and Are needed to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Studies also show that the monounsaturated fat found in avocados — along with a diet that minimizes sugar — helps you lose weight.

Great Health Benefits

Avocados have 20 different vitamins and minerals. These nutritional powerhouses have been proven to lower bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels (important for good cardiovascular health). And they contain high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, powerful antioxidants that protect your eyes.

How to Pick the Best

How do you pick the best avocados? Look at the color and how it reacts when you squeeze it gently. If the avo is:

Green and hard: It’s underripe, but will be good within a couple of days.

Dark brown/black, mushy, wrinkled around the top, dull skin, bruised: It’s overripe.

Brown, slightly yields to gentle pressure, no wrinkles, plump and shiny skin: Bingo, you’ve found the perfectly ripe avocado.

Simple Ways to Enjoy It

The simplest ways to enjoy avocados are sliced or cubed and added to salads; as a side with eggs; on toast with tomatoes and mayo; added to smoothies, and stuffed. That’s not to say you can’t get really creative.

Avocados have a creamy texture and mild flavor that goes really well with a lot of different fruits, vegetables, herbs, proteins, and dairy.

Fruits: lemon, lime, coconut, strawberries, grapefruit, tomatoes, kiwi, and mango

Vegetables: onions, garlic, lettuce, spinach, and cucumber

Vegetarian Protein: eggs, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, edamame beans, and hazelnuts

Herbs: cilantro, coriander, mint, dill, chili peppers, black pepper, chipotle pepper, and nutmeg

Dairy: goat cheese, mozzarella cheese, feta cheese, white cheddar, and sour cream

How to Store Avos

If the avocado is fully ripe, store it in the fridge. Otherwise, keep it on your kitchen counter. If you want to speed up the ripening, just place it in a paper bag just as you would with other fruits.

Enjoy!

Jan 31, 2018

Move Over Kale: This is the Superfood for 2018

cauliflower

If you’ve been following me for a while, or you’ve read my book, Eat Right for Life With a Plant-Based Diet, you know that I’m a big fan of reducing or eliminating unhealthy carbs and the products made from them. It’s been proven time and time again that a diet consistently high in sugar and starch will eventually cause health problems.

That’s why I’ve fallen in love with cauliflower; a health-promoting vegetable that until recently, never appeared on my kitchen table. Cauliflower’s mild flavor and versatility make it a perfect replacement for high-carb grains and grain products, including rice, potatoes, pasta, and even pizza crust.

Use it in Place of Rice

It’s easy to turn cauliflower into a rice replacement. All you need is a box grater (or food processor) to turn the cauliflower florets into small granules similar in appearance to rice, and it takes no time at all. You can also buy it pre-riced in the frozen food section of many stores.

Make Mac and Cheese Sans the Mac

Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? I think most people do, but it’s not exactly the healthiest thing to eat. Cauliflower, again, comes to the rescue. It lets you transform Mac and Cheese into a healthy, low-carb dish, by replacing half or all of the pasta with cauliflower florets. The cauliflower will do the same thing the pasta does; absorb that delicious cheese sauce.

If you already have a favorite Mac and Cheese recipe, just swap out the Mac for the cauliflower florets.

Make a Low-Carb Pizza Crust

Yup, you can make a low-carb, delicious pizza crust with cauliflower rice. To make it requires a little work, but it’s not complicated.

If you’re feeling ambitious, this is one of the recipes that I’ve used successfully.

Swap Out High-Starch Potatoes to Create a Healthy Version of Potato Salad

Use the cauliflower florets in place of the potatoes in a mock potato salad.

There are many other ways to use cauliflower. You can puree it in a food processor to create mock mashed potatoes, roast it, or eat it raw with a dip.

It’s Not Just About the Versatility, Cauliflower is a Superfood

It’s not just about carbs. Cauliflower is also a highly nutritious, cruciferous vegetable. It's loaded with fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and has many other key vitamins and minerals.

Research shows that cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower may fight certain types of cancer. There's also mounting support that it may improve blood pressure and kidney function, boost brain health, support detoxification, and help with digestion. Many of the nutrients in cauliflower are anti-inflammatory, which means it also helps to fight numerous illnesses that are related to inflammation.

Dec 27, 2017

Low-Carb Vegetarian Recipes

A low-carb vegetarian diet can sometimes be a challenge. Here are some easy, satisfying, and yummy low-carb vegetarian recipes to get your started.

Continue reading "Low-Carb Vegetarian Recipes"

Nov 20, 2017

The Low-Carb Vegetarian Diet

Low carb diets have been the rage for quite some time, and for good reason, but the low-carb vegetarian diet is just starting to take off. Learn about the benefits and what low-carb vegetarians can eat.

Continue reading "The Low-Carb Vegetarian Diet"

Nov 13, 2017

What you really need to know about tofu

Tofu


Tofu is definitely the most popular vegetarian protein and meat substitute. The problem is, there’s a lot of misinformation about it. If you do a search online you’ll find that most of the information touts it as a healthy superfood. And, yes, there is a healthy side to soy and tofu, but not in the quantities that most people are consuming, especially vegetarians and vegans. So let’s sort out the good, the bad and the ugly of tofu.

The Good

You get 9 grams of protein from just three ounces, and it’s a complete protein that’s comparable to meat. Tofu is also a great source of calcium, iron, and magnesium, and it contains phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.

It’s been suggested (not proven) that soy helps with menopause symptoms, inhibits cancer cells, and protects against several other health problems. But, many health claims are based on just one study.

The Bad

Eating too much tofu, or any other unfermented soy product, can cause health problems, such as infertility, hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer, breast cancer and kidney stones. This isn’t speculation, there are now 170 scientific studies that confirm the health problems associated with soy.

The Ugly

There are other issues with soy. Ninety percent is genetically modified, and it contains high levels of aluminum, which is toxic to the immune system. Plus, unfermented soy contains high levels of phytic acid that inhibits the body’s ability to absorb important minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

It's interesting to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just proposed a rule to revoke the authorized health claim that soy protein reduces the risk for heart disease. They state that many new studies show inconsistencies in the relationship between the two.

How much are you really consuming

The tricky bit about soy consumption is that you're probably consuming a lot more than you think. Soy, in the form of soy by-products, is in 60 percent of all processed and packaged foods. And, it’s in close to 100 percent of fast foods. Why? The U.S. government’s Farm Bill gives massive subsidies to farms that grow soy. In fact, between 1995 and 2014, soy subsidies totaled a whopping $31.8 billion. That’s a lot of soy and it has to go someplace!

Here’s what you can do

Reduce or eliminate processed and fast foods. This will minimize the hidden soy in your diet.

Add plenty of other plant proteins to your diet. Don’t make tofu your primary protein or meat replacement. Eat small amounts and only occasionally. Incorporate plenty of other vegetarian proteins into your diet, like eggs, nuts, seeds, and other legumes, especially tempeh, which is fermented soy (fermented soy products contain very little phytic acid, are easy to digest, and are more nutritious).

Want to learn more about soy and other plant proteins? Order my new book, Eat Right for Life With a Plant Based Diet. It's now available in soft cover and Kindle.

Nov 07, 2017

There’s a New Vegetarian Diet That’s Gaining Traction


You’ve probably heard of some of the more popular low-carb diets, like paleo, south beach, and Atkins, to name just a few. These diets simply reduce or entirely replace sugars and starches. Well, now there’s a low-carb vegetarian diet, and it’s really catching on.

Low-carb diets are popular because they've been proven to make you lose weight. When it’s a sustainable diet, it can also have some significant health benefits, too, like,

  • Balances blood sugar
  • Reduces appetite
  • Eliminates crazy food binges
  • Increases energy
  • Reduces, or eliminates, belly fat and fat around your internal organs

A low-carb diet is not difficult to follow for meat eaters. But for strict vegetarians, it can be a bit more of a challenge. This is because most strict vegetarians have come to rely on high starch grains, particularly wheat products. Instead of grains and other starches, a low-carb vegetarian relies on nuts, seeds, eggs, cheese, and high-protein meat replacements like tempeh, tofu, and other legumes.

Legumes are still high in carbohydrates, but, for strict vegetarians, they’re an excellent and necessary source of protein, fiber, micronutrients, and phytochemicals.While a low-carb vegetarian diet is not as low in carbs as the paleo diet, for example, you can still get the same benefits.

If you want to learn more about adopting a low-carb, plant-based diet, my book, Eat Right for Life with a Plant-Based Diet: the Secret to Permanent Weight Loss and Optimal Health, includes an extensive section on carbohydrates. The chapter includes all the benefits of reducing sugar and starches. Plus it has guidelines on the carbs you should consume and how much. You can order it now on Amazon.com.

Oct 17, 2017

How to Cook Tempeh

If you do not know how to cook tempeh, or if you have been stuck on one or two techniques, here are six key cooking techniques that will add a lot more flavor and variety to your diet.

Continue reading "How to Cook Tempeh"

Sep 26, 2017

Journal Your Way to Better Health and Weight Loss


There is a Japanese saying, “hara hachi bunme.” It means to just eat enough to get rid of the feelings of hunger, never to eat to the point of feeling full. The Koreans say they stay thin and healthy by “eating like a crane.” (Cranes can only pick at food because of the shape of their beaks.)

And the Americans? Most struggle to lose weight and keep it off by yo-yo dieting (going on and off extreme weight-loss diets) and working out like maniacs – which is a short-term solution – if it works at all. As I’ve said many times before, the only diet that works is a diet that is permanent.

If you’re ready to make lasting changes to your diet, where’s the best place to start? Journaling. Every day you journal everything that you eat, including small snacks. You’ll be amazed what this process reveals.

We all tend to think that we know what we’ve eaten throughout the day, but once you start to journal, a different picture emerges. Journaling doesn’t have to be complicated. Use a simple notebook. When you eat out, take a snapshot of everything with your smartphone. Once you get home, you can write it all down.

Do this for a minimum of two weeks to get a full picture of your eating habits. Some of the issues that you may uncover include:

Too much sugar
Too many grains and other starches
Unhealthy and frequent snacks
Possible food addictions and sensitivities
Not enough protein or healthy fats

You may also discover some emotional eating patterns as well.

If you’d like to give this a try, but need some additional motivation and support, I’m starting an informal support group. Having a support group helps you stay on track with the process. We’ll share issues and helpful tips. Plus, I’ll give some recommendations on how to best use your results to get you closer to your goals.

There’s no charge to participate. Just send me an email to let me know that you’re interested along with any questions that you have. I’ll then send you some additional details.

Sep 25, 2017

Now on Kindle

Kindle version of Eat Right for Life

The Kindle version of my new book is finally out. You can order your copy here.

Sep 22, 2017

If You're a Vegetarian or Vegan, There's a Good Chance You're Deficient in Magnesium


There’s an epidemic of individuals who are magnesium deficient. And if you're one of them, you're at risk for serious health issues, like depression, osteoporosis, heart disease, and many others.

Magnesium is a crucial mineral for good health, yet in the U.S., between 75 and 80 percent of the population is deficient. If you’re a strict vegetarian or vegan, you have an even higher risk of deficiency. The reason? The typical vegetarian and vegan diet is loaded with grains that are high in phytic acid, a substance that blocks your body’s ability to absorb essential minerals, including magnesium, zinc, and calcium.

Every organ in your body, especially your heart, muscular system, and kidneys, needs magnesium. Signs of a serious deficiency include numbness and tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, and abnormal heart rhythms.

The solution? 1) Limit your consumption of grains, 2) eat foods high in magnesium, and 3) take a magnesium supplement. If you’re a strict vegetarian or vegan, you must do all three to reverse or prevent a deficiency.

Have you signed up for our newsletter? Sign up here and get the latest articles, recipes, and tips delivered to your inbox. You'll also receive a free sample of my new book Eat Right For Life With a Plant-Based Diet: The Secret to Permanent Weight-Loss and Optimal Health.

What's New

  1. New Summer Recipes from Around the Web

    It's the summer, and, if you're like most people, you want to eat delicious food, but don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Here are three, vegetarian recipes from around the web that chec…

    Read more

  2. Weird Vegetarian Food Science

    I’ve recently noticed that there are two distinct types of vegetarian (and vegan) diets. In one camp the vegetarians yearn for the flavors and textures of animal proteins. As a result, they purchase a…

    Read more

  3. Vegetarian, Mexican Lasagna

    Vegetarian, Mexican Lasagna This is so perfect for the Summer months. It’s easy, yummy and you don’t need to turn on the oven. I make it once a week and never tire of it.

    2 Servings

    Ingredients

    15.5 oz can black beans
    6 corn tortil…

    Read more

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