There are numerous ways to go about living a healthy and fulfilling life. For some people, that means going vegetarian or vegan. Whether the choice is based on morals or health, it is important to research the nutrients you’ll be missing from meat to ensure you’re getting enough in your diet from other sources. As a former vegan, I felt great physically and mentally about the way I was eating. It was certainly a challenge and it was clear that many people opposed to the idea were essentially uneducated about that way of life. Let’s be clear, it is a way of life that you must believe in and takes an extreme amount of dedication. The biggest misnomer I came across was the idea that you were missing out on all sorts of protein that your body would just fall into shambles without; however, protein is one of the easier nutrients to compensate in a non-meat diet. Some sources include nuts, nut butters, beans (especially kidney), and many vegetables. The nutrient I was lacking (and at the time did not research enough) was iron. Lack of iron caused me to become tired quickly and more often, which was frustrating because the first few months my energy was through the roof.
Thanks to ironrichfood.org, these graphs illustrate non-meat iron sources ranging from vegetables through grains. Below are some recipes to incorporate some of these foods into your diet in a delicious manner.
A simple recipe using morel mushrooms from Vegetarian Times Magazine:
SERVES 4 TO 6
- 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lb. morels
- 3 to 4 shallots, or 2 medium-sized onions, peeled and cut into wedges
- Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease roasting pan with 1 teaspoon olive oil.
- Gently wipe morels with damp cloth to remove grit and slice off most of stem. Halve mushrooms lengthwise and arrange cut sides down in roasting pan.
- Arrange shallots around or over mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until mushrooms are fragrant and softened. Serve immediately.
- 1 Tbs. unhulled sesame seeds
- 1 Tbs. cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup diagonally sliced carrots ( 1/2-inch pieces)
- 1/2 cup diagonally sliced celery ( 1/2-inch pieces)
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 2 cups cooked or rinsed, drained canned chickpeas
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (white and light green parts)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup Creamy Lemon-Tahini Dressing*
1. Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Fill large bowl with ice water.
2. In medium skillet over medium heat, toast sesame seeds, cumin seeds and salt until fragrant, shaking pan occasionally, about 3 minutes. Transfer to small plate and set aside to cool.
3. Add cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, celery and onion to boiling water and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, plunge into ice water and drain well.
4. In large serving bowl, combine cooked vegetables, toasted seeds, chickpeas, bell pepper, scallions and cilantro. Add dressing and toss to coat.
*Makes 1 quart
- 3/4 cup flaxseed oil
- 1/2 cup chickpea miso
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (3 lemons)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
- 3/4 cup tahini
- 1 Tbs. maple syrup
- 1 Tbs. dulse flakes (optional)
- In blender or food processor, combine oil, miso, lemon juice, garlic and ginger. Blend until well combined.
- Add tahini, maple syrup and 1 cup water. With machine running, gradually add another 1 cup water and blend until mixture is smooth and creamy, scraping down sides of container as necessary with a rubber spatula to ensure no large clumps of tahini or miso are left unblended. Be patient and resist the temptation to add more liquid; otherwise the final product will be too runny. Stir in dulse flakes if desired.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Before using, bring to room temperature, then whisk to regain its smooth texture.