Monday, January 29, 2007

A Vegetarian Barbeque

Whether you’re expecting vegetarian guests to your barbeque or you have newly transitioned to vegetarianism yourself there are lots of different ways to prepare vegetarian barbeque options.

Before you start, remember that most vegetarian foods are more fragile than meat, and do not contain as much fat. Therefore, a clean and well-lubricated grill is essential to successfully grilling vegetables. It’d be a shame for those beautifully grilled peppers to stick to the grill!

Traditionally, vegetables have been considered a side dish in most meals, but at a barbeque they can take center stage as the entrée. Almost any kind of vegetable is great for grilling. Complement your meal by serving them over pasta, rice or polenta. You can also make them into great sandwiches with a soy-based cheese and some freshly baked rolls or bread.

Cut the vegetables lengthwise into thin slices in the case of zucchini and eggplant, or into thick rings, in the case of onions, tomatoes and peppers. If you'd rather have your veggies in handy bite-size pieces for serving with pasta and the like, try using a special pan for the grill with small holes that keep the veggies from falling through the grill and being lost. And probably the easiest way to grill vegetables on the grill is shish-ka-bob style!

Don’t forget to balance out those grilled vegetables with some fresh fruit salads, perfectly chilled and juicy. Watermelon, strawberries, grapes, and citrus fruits all complement one another well in a delightful fruit salad prepared with non-dairy whipped cream. Also use fruits to experiment with some fun smoothies and slushies for the kids – they’re fun and better for them than sugary sodas.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Top Nutrients lacking in a Vegetarian Diet

Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets have advantages. Vegetarian diets tend to be rich in antioxidants, certain vitamins, and healthy fats. Non-vegetarian diets, by contrast, tend to contain more protein, iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamin B-12.

If you have already decided to adopt a vegetarian diet, it is essential that you learn how to increase your intake and absorption of these nutrients to avoid short-term and long-term health complications.

Here is how you can regularly assimilate larger portions of these nutrients into your regular diet:

1. Protein - Different types of protein are made up of different permutations of amino acid chains. In order to create a "complete protein" or a protein that can be assimilated into the human body as tissue, you must consume foods that contain complementary chains of amino acids.

Wheat, nuts, and beans are three types of vegan-friendly incomplete proteins; however, wheat is hard to digest and up to 50% of its protein is lost during the process.

Isolated soy protein, which you can get from a number of sources (including soy milk), can be digested efficiently-enough to match the animal protein yields.

2. Iron - Plant sources contain a significant amount of iron, but in nonheme form, which is more sensitive to inhibitors than iron that comes from animal products. You should do two things to increase your blood-iron levels: 1) consume more plant iron; and 2) avoid absorption inhibitors, such as tea, coffee, and fiber.

3. Zinc - Whereas non-vegetarian diets seem to enhance the absorption of zinc; vegetarian and vegan diets do the exact opposite--they inhibit it.

Nutritionists suggest that you can overcome this by consuming more foods that contain zinc, such as soybeans, cashews, and sunflower seeds while reducing your intake of inhibitors by washing vegetables and grains.

4. Calcium - While vegetarians can easily consume an adequate amount of calcium without any dietary additions, it is important that vegetarians avoid consuming certain foods that are high in oxalates, which inhibit calcium absorption.

Dietitians suggest that vegetarians do not consume spinach, beet greens, and swiss chard as the
calcium component of a meal plan. While they are rich in calcium, they also contain high amounts of oxalates.

Rather than consuming those foods for calcium, vegetarians should consider other options, such as soy yogurt, tofu, beans, almonds, and calcium-fortified foods.

5. Vitamin B-12 - Many vegetarians lack vitamin B-12 simply because it does not exist naturally in any non-animal forms. Vegetarians should seek out vitamin B-12 fortified foods, such as certain soy milks and cereals to supplement what they lack.

As I outlined, there are a number of nutrients vegetarians can lack of they do not research and plan. This is not meant to discourage people from becoming vegetarians, but instead to encourage them to spend time planning a healthy approach to their vegetarian diet before starting it.

When planned adequately, a vegetarian diet can not only make up for what it lacks from animal products, but it can far exceed the healthfulness of most non-vegetarian diets.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Vegetarian Spicy Tomato and Pepper Soup Recipe

This is a really quick and easy recipe to make. The soup is delicious and it's also packed full of vitamins and fiber!

Ingredients:
2x 400g (14oz) Tins of chopped tomatoes
Tablespoon of Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves
1 medium onion
2 medium carrots
2 peppers (red, yellow or orange)
600ml (1 pint) vegetable stock
Cayenne Pepper
Fresh basil, salt & black pepper to season

Method:

(1) Chop the carrots, peppers and onions into small pieces
(2) Gently heat the oil in a pot and crush the garlic
(3) Add the onions, peppers and carrots to the pot and stir for 3-4 minutes
(4) Add the two tins of chopped tomatoes
(5) Pour in the vegetable stock
(6) Add a teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
(7) You can also add a handful of red lentils at this stage if you wish to make this a more filling soup
(8) Bring the soup to the boil
(9) Allow to simmer for 20 minutes
(19) Use a hand blender to liquidise the soup
(11) Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh basil

Hope you anjoy the soup. It's really warming on a cold winter's day!

Friday, January 05, 2007

What Alternatives are there to Gelatin?

If you are a vegetarian or vegan and you are looking for something to replace gelatin, do not despair. There are ingredients that you can use instead.

Gelatin serves both nutritional and culinary roles in nonvegetarian diets, but all vegans and many vegetarians and do not consume gelatin in its many forms. This is because it is often created out of boiled pig skins and dissolved veal cartilage and bones.

This leaves vegetarians with a problem when a recipe requires a gel or a thickening
agent. It also leaves vegetarians with less options if they need a source of gelatin to increase bone and cartilage health.

Here are some alternatives to Gelatin:

1) Soy-based alternatives. Soyfoods USA developed
NuSoy Gel, a gelatin alternative which was created
entirely out of of soy isoflavones and contains 100% of
your vitamin c recommended daily allowance.

2) Seaweed-based alternatives. Agar-agar, for instance,
is a seaweed based alternative to gelatin that can simulate
the culinary functions of gelatin.

3) Rice starch alternatives. A&B Ingredients recently developed a rice starch alternative to gelatins that mimics
the cooking functionality of gelatins closely.

4) Increase your calcium intake. One component of gelatin sulplements that increases joint health is calcium. If you want to increase your calcium intake without eating gelatin, you can simply consume more
calcium-fortified foods and even take supplements.

5) Increase your glucosamine intake. No foods contain glucosamine, but you can increase your intake by purchasing supplements at your local grocery store or pharmacy. This is rumored to improve joint health if taken regularly.

6) Increase your vitamin c intake. Another component of gelatin supplements that allegedly increases joint health is vitamin c. You can increase your vitamin c intake by consuming more citrus fruit.

To summarise, gelatin has two main functions: it works as a thickening agent for foods and is alledged to improve joint health. Both of these functions can easily be mimicked by alternatives.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Detoxing

Now that Christmas and New Year is over, many people start to think about Detoxing. Not surprisingly, January is the most popular time for detoxing, with many of us wanting to reverse the damage from that overindulgement in alcohol after the holidays.

When people talk about detoxing and cleansing the body of harmful toxins, it’s often seen as a fringe element of vegetarians. People really don’t like to think about harmful toxins building up in their colons or in their arteries, but it’s often a by-product of a carnivorous diet. A diet that’s high in fat and processed foods tends to slow down our digestive systems, and our elimination processes are also interrupted.

This can allow harmful bacteria and toxins to accumulate and can create a general feeling of sluggishness, as well as a host of digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome or colitis. When we begin eating a more healthy vegetarian diet, we start to get more dietary fiber into our systems, and all of a sudden, our digestive systems start to work better,

When you eliminate high-fat meat and processed foods from your diet, then much of your body’s energy is freed from the intense work of digesting these foods. Everything becomes clearer – your blood, your organs and your mind. You start becoming much more aware of the toxic nature of the food you’d been eating before.

Toxicity is of much greater concern in the twentieth century than ever before. There are many new and stronger chemicals, air and water pollution, radiation and nuclear power. We ingest new chemicals, use more drugs of all kinds, eat more sugar and refined foods, and daily abuse ourselves with various stimulants and sedatives. The incidence of many toxicity diseases has increased as well. Cancer and cardiovascular disease are two of the main ones. Arthritis, allergies, obesity, and many skin problems are others. In addition, a wide range of symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, pains, coughs, gastrointestinal problems, and problems from immune weakness, can all be related to toxicity.

When you start a vegetarian eating plan, your body eventually cleanses itself of the harmful effects of these toxic foods.

So if you are planning on Detoxing this year, consider following a vegetarian diet for a natural healthy way to clean out your system.