Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kale, White Bean, and Sweet Potato Soup from Whole Living

Winter is coming and the cold weather makes it perfect for another great recipe from Martha Stewart´s Whole Living Newsletter: Kale, White Bean, and Sweet Potato Soup.

The original recipe uses chicken, but you can easily make a vegetarian recipe by replacing it with homemade vegetable stock.

While this is a great recipe, it does require some adjusting: 3 saucepans, and running the oven for almost an hour to roast one head of garlic doesn´t seem very efficient. As some commenters have suggested, it would be better to cut the garlic pre-baking. You could also roast garlic in a toaster oven for energy efficiency.

Another suggestion is to add 1 tsp smoked paprika and served w/ grated parmesan. Click here to view this recipe and happy cooking!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Vegetarian Vitamins: Truths and Myths

It's very common for vegetarian newbies to experience fatigue and loss of energy in the first few weeks. If that's your case, I have some words for you.

First of all, congrats on becoming a vegetarian! Now, if your fatigue just started, it could definitely be a lack of vegetarian vitamins. In theory, a well balanced diet will supply you with all the vitamins you need.

I myself am not a big vitamin taker. I try to eat a balanced diet, and unless tests shows deficiency I prefer not to take them. But it is a little difficult when you first become a vegetarian to figure out the right balance of foods to get all of your nutrients.

B vitamins give you energy. If you don't want to take a supplement, try to increase your intake of foods that contain B vitamins. Some people also have a problem with getting enough iron. You can take iron supplements, but if you don't want to do that, eat lots of things like spinach to increase your iron.

Here is a short list of vitamins you should try to incorporate in your diet and in which foods to find them:

Vitamin A
Yellow and green leafy vegetables, such as spinach,
carrots, watercress, peppers, apricots (dried) and lots of fruit!

Vitamin B
Green leafy vegetables,
yeast extract, currants, avocados, bananas, wheatgerm, wholegrains, mushrooms, peanuts,
brewers and breakfast cereals.

Vitamin C
Grapefruit, Broccoli, Blackcurrants, Cranberries, Peas (frozen or fresh-picked),
Parsley, Green Peppers, Green leafy vegetables,
Potatoes, Kiwi and Tomatoes.

Vitamin D
Plenty of safely absorbed sunshine!
Margarine, Fortified Cereal, Vegetable Oil, Rape Seed Oil,
Soy Milk
(Smaller amounts of vitamin D are found in green vegetables).

Vitamin E
Vegetable Oils, like Sunflower Oil and Olive Oil,
Nuts, Seeds (like Sunflower seeds),

Vitamin K
Olive Oil,
Seaweed, Kelp, Molasses, Green leafy vegetables

But if you're dead set on taking vegetarian vitamins, you should know that some are better than other. Some friends of mine can really tell a difference in their energy level if they skip their vitamin. I've asked around to get a list of their favorites supplements and here's what I got:
  • Rainbow Light
  • CoEnzyme CQ10
  • Emer-gen'c
  • New Chapter Organic Supplements
  • Vitamin B complex from GNC
  • Source of Life Multi

In my opinion it's always best to try and get all vitamins from your food. Have a look at this post about vegetarian fatigue. There are some foods that will help get a boost of energy naturally. Remember you should never auto-medicate! If you feel you may need vegetarian vitamins and supplements, make an appointment with your doctor and have him or her prescribe the appropriate vitamins for you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tortilla Pizzas - Vegetarian Recipe

Believe me kids eat this right up. Me too! It's not only fast, east and tasty but it's very low cost.

Vegetarian Tortilla Pizzas

 1   can (15 oz) of rinsed and drained black beans or refried beans (place beans in bowl and heat in microwave)
 4   8-inch flour tortillas
 1 1/4 cups shredded jack cheese or a vegan cheese that grates and melts
 3   medium tomatoes thinly sliced
garnish with chopped cilantro

Rub a little oil over skillet and heat on medium high.  Spray tortilla on both sides with cooking spray.

Grill one side, when browned remove from pan and cover the grilled side of tortilla with a layer of warm beans and sprinkle cheese over it and place tortilla back in skillet on the ungrilled bottom side.

Heat for 4-5 minutes. When crispy and browned slid tortilla onto dinner plate and top with tomato and cilantro. Do this with the other 3 tortillas.

Serves 4.

*Note- you can garnish with all the toppings for tostadas.  I usually add onions, avocado  and olives.  I also have 2 skillets going at the same time.

Vegetarian Fatigue: Is It Normal?

Knowing I am a vegetarian, a collegue from work approached me the other day to ask about fatigue. She's about 4 weeks into a vegetarian diet and loving it.

However, her body is not in complete agreement. She has read the Suzanne Havala book on Vegetarians for Dummies and followed it but fatigue or low energy seems to be a problem. She gets tired easily and asked me if I knew any foods out there to deal with low energy.

I'll repeat here what I told her, because I think it could be helpful for anyone who just started a vegetarian diet and is experiencing fatigue.

With only 4 weeks under your belt, you may be detoxing. I know I felt horrible for the first couple of months. But then I was doing lots to juicing, eating raw etc to detox and clean out. Try juicing and making sure you are grazing during the day with nuts and fruits.

When you become a vegetarian you can start eating more carbs and less protein. Your body needs protein to release the energy from the carbs. Nuts, legumes, and seeds can be great to boost your energy. Eat a handful before activity. Nuts (especially Almonds, Cashews, and Hazelnuts) are great because magnesium can also contribute to low energy and they will help replenish this, along with whole grains.

Also make sure you eat progressively throughout the day, instead of having only 3 meals. I eat probably 6 small times a day which really boosted my energy. Eat a good breakfast. It can help boost your energy throughout the entire day.

Also watch your sugar intake this can cause extreme highs and lows. If you need a quick boost, I always find a dallop of honey in a cup of steaming hot green tea is a great pick me up. Green Tea also is naturally energizing!

Your body is going through changes and needs some time to adjust. It needs to detoxify itself and become adjusted to this sudden change. I too felt bad for a while, but now feel better than ever and have not been sick once in more than two years!

I don't know about other people, but for me, when I'm lacking energy and feeling worn out, if I eat broccoli and lentils, it makes me feel a whole lot better.

Lentil soup gives me the boost to get through the afternoon. I try to limit myself to just a serving, not 2, or else, I then get too full and want to sit down and do nothing. They are filling, but in the correct amount, give me a nice amount of energy.

I have been veg for some time and in the beginning I used to feel tired, cold, and out of it for a while. After many tests, I found out I was simply anemic.

You should not try to self medicate with vitamins until you know if there is a deficiency, but it could be something simple that you are lacking. If the fatigue persists after 3 or 4 weeks, make sure you have your blood checked to see if your sugar level, blood count, thyroid, etc. are OK.

However, don't be discouraged if your doctor is not supportive of your vegetarian diet. Some old school doctors don't "get it."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Garlic Orange Spinach - Vegetarian Recipe

I made this last night. Very good and want to share with the spinach fans. I was thinking it might work with kale too.

Garlic Orange Spinach - Vegetarian Recipe

 1     10 ounce bag of spinach leaves, washed with stems removed
 1     Tblspn. thinly sliced garlic
 2     Tblspn. olive oil
 3     Tblspn. orange juice (fresh if possible)
 1     Tblspn. orange zest
 salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot heat oil over med. high heat.  Add garlic and cook stirring constantly until it begins
to brown, about 30 seconds.  Add orange juice and cook until reduced about 30 seconds.

Add spinach and orange zest and saute until spinach wilts. Remove from heat and season with salt & pepper.  serves 4.

Note*  I added slivered almonds on top and a few sauteed mushrooms.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vegan Footwear

It's easy to find hand bags, clothing, etc. that are not made from animals but what about sneakers, walking and running shoes? Vegans and vegetarians talk a lot about their eating habits, but I don't see many people talking about vegan footwear.

I have the cutest natural fiber sandles but wondering about tennies. My walking shoes have leather uppers. I have seen hemp boots but what about 'hiking boots'?

My partner wears out shoes, especially walking shoes, pretty quickly, and the shoes she's been happiest with in terms of comfort and how long they last are Bogs. Some of their styles use leather, though, so definitely read the descriptions :) Bogs also has great sales and markdowns. We've also gotten shoes from veganessentials.com and mooshoes.com

Most high-end running-specific shoes are vegan just because leather weighs too much and doesn't breathe enough for running. I run in Sauconys and they are vegan. New Balance, Pearl Izumi, and Asiics runner-specific shoes are also vegan. (Nike is always suspect as far as I'm concerned). Stay away from anything calling itself a "cross-trainer", aerobic or casual shoe. The manufacturers do use leather in those.

Expect to paid over $100 for any vegan footwear. I'm not sure about tennis shoes though.... cotton Keds are vegan. If you ask a reputable shoe store, they will know which of their shoes have leather and which don't. Leather is not recommended for high-performance sports (including speed walking). Althetes are demanding when it comes to their equipment: they want ultimate performance - which translates into no leather.

As for walking shoes, I like the Keen Newport H2 (they also have a Venice H2 - www.keenfootwear.com). They are super comfy and great for hiking, walking, canoeing and kayaking (they have a nice stiff sole, they don't slip and they dry fast).

I have another post entitled "Earth Vegan Shoes" where I list my favorite brands for vegan footwear. Make sure to check it out too. There are lots of links there.

Golden Macaroni Casserole - Vegetarian Recipe

This recipe from "The (Almost) No-Fat Cookbook", by Bryanna Clark Grogan, is one of my family's favorites. It's a vegan and low fat version of the traditional macaroni and cheese.

It's a very healthy alternative for those "cheese" recipes that traditionally have way too much fat. Here the tofu provides the only fat, and if you use reduced-fat tofu, it come out to only 2 grams of fat per serving or 6% calories from fat.

Sometimes I use chopped tomatoes and roasted red pepper as the optional ingredients.

Golden Macaroni Casserole - Vegetarian Recipe


5 ounces macaroni -- penne, or seashell pasta (uncooked)
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes -- OR roasted red pepper, sauteed sliced onions, or mushrooms (any combination you want) (optional)

Sauce ingredients

1 cup water
1 medium potato -- peeled and chunked
1/2 medium carrot -- peeled and chunked
1/2 medium onion -- peeled and chunked
1/2 cup tofu -- (reduced-fat) crumbled
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt -- (or 1 Tbsp. miso and 1/2 tsp. salt)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until just tender. While the pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 F and make the sauce. Cook the potato, carrot, and onion in the water in a small covered saucepan. When the carrot is tender, add the cooked vegetables to a blender along with the tofu, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, and garlic powder. Blend until very smooth.

Drain the cooked macaroni and mix it with the sauce and optional vegetables in a casserole. If desired, top the casserole with seasoned bread crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes.

Additional Info:

Serving Size : 4
Per serving: 283 Calories (kcal); 2g Total Fat; (6% calories from fat); 23g Protein;
48g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 14mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat; 0
Other Carbohydrates