Vegetarianism has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and promote a healthy diet. But when it comes to cutting out meat from the diet, it is all about balance.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says a well-planned vegetarian diet is appropriate for people of all ages. That means vegetarians should take care that they are not relying too heavily on bread and other starches. Here are a few ideas for meals that balance protein, vegetables, and healthy carbohydrates:
- Vegetarian Sandwich: The best part about any sandwich is that you can pile on any combination of your favorite ingredients. Veggies can be raw or grilled, then dressed with a thin slice of cheese for extra protein and sandwiched between two slices of high fiber whole grain bread. Avocado is a great substitute for mayonnaise and is loaded with fiber and B and E vitamins.
- Vegetarian Quiche: Depending on your personal preferences, a vegetarian quiche can be made with real eggs or tofu. This is another opportunity to get creative with ingredients, but make sure to consider how your vegetables will hold up after being baked. Mushrooms, spinach, onions, tomatoes, and zucchini won’t disappoint, and feel free to experiment with fresh herbs like basil and parsley.
- Vegetarian Gumbo: Gumbo is traditionally a meat dish, but it is more than possible to create a balanced veggie version. Substitute okra or mushrooms, vegetarian sausage, and chicken flavored seitan for the more traditional ingredients, and of course stay true to the onions, green pepper, celery, herbs and spices, and roux base.
- Vegetarian Stuffed Pepper: The pepper base of this dish is the first step in the right direction. Stuff the peppers with brown rice or quinoa, tomatoes, corn, red and black beans, and sweet onions all stewed together with tomato sauce. Season with basil, garlic, and salt and pepper. If you eat cheese, Monterey Jack is a delicious addition to the stuffing.
Essentially any meal can be made vegetarian. And because that usually means loading up the vegetables, many times the substitution is more balanced than the original!
- “Vegetarian Diets”, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
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