I have been on a vegetarian diet for 12 years and have never wanted to go back to eating meat. I am quite overweight, due to eating things I shouldn't, being disorganised, and a bit of a lazy cook.
I'd rather sleep or read a book than cook most of the time. I want to improve my diet and find some quick healthy vegetarian recipes. By quick I mean as fast as making toast - if that's possible. Things I can whip up for breakfast or lunch in no time flat.
I know that carbs are essential for a healthy vegetarian diet. However, I would like to try cutting back on them because I think I may be a little wheat intolerant. I also wonder if it may help me lose a bit of weight. Although I don't eat excessive amounts of bread and pasta, I feel that I rely on them too heavily as a fast meal and would like to find alternatives.
I find that if I eat a meal of vegetables and vegetarian protein (eg lentils or chickpeas) that it doesn't satisfy me for as long as if I include some carb like pasta or rice as well. I am hoping you might be able to offer some advice in this matter - what can I use instead of rice or pasta that offers less carbohydrates?
What can I make quickly as breakfast (I tend to make a toast sandwich to eat on the run), a snack or lunch that doesn't include bread. Rather than replace the bread I eat with expensive non-wheat versions, I'd like to incorporate other foods where possible and reduce my reliance on bread as a quick meal. Thanks in advance for your help. - T.L.
Few things are as fast as toast - that's why we eat so much of it. But, how much time you spend on your diet isn't your main problem - it's what you eat in that time. To make changes to your diet, you need to spend time unlearning old habits and learning new ones.
You may have to cut down on your reading for a while. As a word addict, I know what a sacrifice that is, but aren't you worth it? As to extra cost - pay a little more for better nutrition, and get paid back with improved health. Think of it as cheap tasty health insurance.
Once you've made the necessary changes, your new improved vegetarian diet shouldn't take more time, you'll save money in the long run, and your body will thank you.
We need high quality complex carbohydrates for sustained energy - that's why a meal with carbs satisfies you longer than one without. So, it isn't necessarily less carbohydrates you need, but less calories from carbs, more nutrition per calorie - and better carbs.
Eat high quality whole grains, for critical nutrients that vegetarians don't get anywhere else! The same volume of whole grain vs refined is lower in calories even though higher in fat, lower in carbs and higher in vegetarian protein, way higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
If wheat doesn't agree with you, go for low or no gluten grains like quinoa, oats, rye, millet, brown rice, and buckwheat. Whole grains also have a fair amount of protein, especially quinoa and oats. Sprouting grains increases protein and vitamins, and decreases carbs.
Protein is more for building your body than for energy. Whatever protein your body doesn't use is excreted, or converted to fat, so if you eat more protein than you need, you get fat. Carbs can make you fat, but not nearly as effectively as too much protein, and most Americans, even vegetarians, eat two to three times more protein than they need.
Fat is extremely high in calories, and too much makes you fat, of course, so watch your fat intake, especially saturated fat, as in cheese. Butter, mayo, cheese, salad dressing - those are big culprits, as well as processed food - read the labels. You need healthy fats in your diet, like olive oil, flax oil, fats in grains, etc. - just not too much!
The recommended ratio of protein, carbs, fat from calories per day is 50 - 60 % from carbs (at least half whole grains) 10- 15 % from protein, and 20-30 % from fats. It's hard to divide a vegetarian diet up that way, because most foods include all three categories, but it gives you an idea of the importance of carbohydrates.
Few foods are as fast as toast. If you don't want to spend more time, get better bread and better things to put on it. Or decide you're worth 10 more minutes, and get a small crockpot.
Before you go to bed, put 1/4 cup of oatmeal, or barley flakes, some sunflower seeds, raisins, cinnamon, pinch of salt and a cup of water in your crockpot. Turn on low, go to bed. Presto, instant breakfast! Put in a bowl, add some milk and sweetener (or eat plain - just as good). Experiment with different grain and fruit combinations and additions.
Instead of eating bread that's mostly white flour, with butter or veg spread and jam: Make a sprouted wheat tortilla or bread with tahini or nut butter and honey, or scrambled egg, or hummus, for breakfast, - you'd get about the same amount of calories, but far better nutrition. Add some fresh fruit, and that would be better yet.
For snacks or a quick meal - dried fruit, nuts, rice crackers, instant noodles, tortillas, fruit, cottage cheese, baked tofu, hummus, avocado, refried beans with a whole grain something or other. When you're feeling ambitious, make extra grains, beans, soups, stews, and freeze individual portions.
The 30 Minute Vegan, healthy delicious fast food
The New Becoming Vegetarian by Melina & Davis
Vegetable Nutrition Facts - find out what you're missing!
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian