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Vegetarian recipes are good for meat-eaters too

January 21, 2009 - Kathie Evanoff
Just because you like steak and chicken, you shouldn’t pass by the vegetarian cookbook section at the bookstore.

As a long-time subscriber to Vegetarian Times magazine, I find plenty of great recipes to accompany meat dishes. Many times those vegetarian recipes can be main dishes as well. No one said we had to eat meat every day.

Doctors and nutritionists all know the benefits of a plant-based diet. Vegetarians have significantly lower cholesterol issues than the meat-eating community. Heart disease is less common and obesity is not usually an issue unless you supplement your vegetarian diet with doughnuts. Of course, there are genetic issues that even vegetarians can’t escape, but if your doctor has advised you to cut down on saturated fats, you can be sure he or she is talking about animal based products.

Saturated fats are blamed for clogging up our arteries and making our cholesterol numbers go through the roof. Saturated fats are found exclusively in meat and products that come from animals, including milk, cheese and eggs. While some nuts, particularly oily nuts such as macadamia and cashew nuts also contain fats, they are considered healthy fats. They are still high in calories, but are better for our hearts when eaten in moderate amounts.

But what about protein, you ask? There happens to be plenty of protein in a vegetarian diet. Think beans. With the hundreds of varieties of beans to choose from, no one has to limit their diet to chili without meat and the baked-in-brown-sugar varieties. It was once believed that beans and grains, such as rice or wheat, had to be combined at each meal to form a perfect protein, but that has been proven false. While these two plant-based foods do need to be combined, you can get the same protein benefits by eating whole wheat pancakes for breakfast and a bean salad for lunch.

But what about calcium you ask? Fact is you can get as much, if not more, calcium from dark green vegetables than you can in a glass of milk. Popeye had the right idea when he downed several cans of spinach each day.

But I am not a vegetarian, although I do eat my vegetables and on many occasions, have meatless meals. Not only do I subscribe to a vegetarian magazine, but I own several vegetarian cookbooks and peruse them quite often for healthy vegetable dishes.

You can find recipes such as one in the current issue of Vegetarian Times magazine and also on their Web site for ravioli with herbed goat cheese filling, which is easy to make by using store-bought wonton wrappers. Browse the Web site at www.vegetariantimes.com for recipes that include Mediterranean pressed picnic sandwich, stuffed to huge proportions with zucchini, eggplant and cheese or for a sweet treat, try their glazed chocolate avocado cupcakes. In many European cuisines, meat is used as a condiment rather than a main course.

Once you try a few recipes, you may find out that vegetables really do taste pretty good and they aren’t that difficult to prepare. Once you find a few favorite recipes, you may even find yourself skipping that pork chop and having six-cheese gnocchi parmesan in garden tomato sauce as your entire meal.

This morning I began my day with one egg and toast. As you can see, I am desperate for a trip to the grocery store as I had to use the end slices of the bread for my toast.

Lunch was a trip to Subway for a turkey and ham sandwich on 9-grain wheat bread with lots and lots of vegetables. Dressing was light mayo.

I am on my own for dinner and haven’t made any decisions yet, but you can bet it will be primarily veggies.

 
 

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Breakfast: 1 ounce meat; 2 ounces grains; 2 tsps. oils; 75 discretionary calories

 
 
 
 

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