HealthIngredient 101UncategorizedWellness

Vegetarians and vegans are getting more recognition as of late with their specific dietary choices, but one of the most common questions that they are asked is, how do they get their protein? Protein is one of the building blocks for your body; they break down amino acids and help with cell growth and repair. Protein fills you up and keeps you feeling fuller longer than carbohydrates because they take longer to digest. On average, women should consume about 46 grams of protein a day, and men about 56. Those are baseline numbers, and they fluctuate depending on your diet and workout regime, but for the average person, these are a good estimate. While protein is often considered to just be found in meat, it can actually be found in a lot of other foods that are perfect for vegans and vegetarians. Here’s a short list of foods that can fulfill your protein intake for the day.

Green Peas

While a controversial food among toddlers, adults have found that green peas contain a fair amount of protein – about 8 grams of protein per cup, which is about the same as a cup of milk. Peas can be a side dish, added to a pasta sauce, or even blended into pesto.

Balsamic Pea Salad

Pea Ravioli with Basil Pesto

Nuts (and Most Seeds)

Nuts are high in both healthy fats and protein, which makes them a valuable part of any plant-based diet. Most nuts contain about 5 or 6 grams of protein per ounce. To put it in perspective, about 23 almonds is an ounce. Nuts as a snack are good, both as a form of protein and a way to avoid eating chips or candy. Adding peanut butter on your toast in the morning instead of slathering it with butter both reduces the amount of bad fats you’re consuming, and is a tasty way to start your day with some protein.

No-Bake Almond Joy Bars

Fresh Veggie Spring Rolls with Peanut Butter Sauce

Eggs

For the vegetarians, eggs are a fantastic form of protein. When boiled, there is about 6 grams of protein in them. Great to have during any meal – scrambled eggs for breakfast, egg salad sandwich for lunch, or a salad with egg toppings for dinner – eggs are a great way to get your protein because it can be prepared in so many different ways.

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Rice and Beans

Definitely the cheapest and easiest way to get protein, rice and beans in a meal is on par with the amount of protein in meat. There’s about 7 grams of protein per cup. Because it’s such a basic form of protein, it can be altered in so many different ways – adding lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, tofu, the list goes on. Many of those foods are also great forms of protein, all mixed into one bowl. There are also so many different variants for both rice and beans that there are thousands of different recipes that cover the simple ingredients list.

India Chickpea Stew

Red Beans and Rice

Seitan (pronounced say-tahn)

Seitan, sometimes referred to as “wheat meat” is made from wheat gluten (sorry gluten-free friends!) and has about 20 grams of protein per half cup. Seitan is chewier than tofu, and generally tastes like chicken. It can be used in any recipe that uses poultry because of its similar taste and texture.

Beef-Simmered Seitan Carnitas

Seitan Fajitas

Milk (soy or regular)

Milk is a staple in most people’s diets, whether it’s a tall, cold glass on its own, or in a bowl of cereal. Milk usually has about 8 grams of protein in a cup, both regular and soy. Be careful with soy milk: there is a controversy amongst soy milks, organic or not. There is conflicting research that regards its effects on cancer, whether it helps cause or prevents cancer from forming. Buying non-GMO, organic, unsweetened soy is suggested to avoid this controversy.

Additional Inspiration

Bembu

Spark People

One Green Planet

Greatist

Health.com

Protein is found in many different foods and can be consumed in so many various ways that it shouldn’t be a concern if you have the capability to do so. Doing the appropriate research should not be daunting whatsoever – in fact, it will surprise you how many common ingredients you probably already consume that contain protein. So don’t fear, vegans and vegetarians, there’s plenty of things to eat and more!
Image: Foodies Feed

Health

Before I decided to cut meat out of my life, I loved a good chicken salad. Sometimes I see a rotisserie chicken salad at the supermarket and feel a tiny pang of sadness and regret (not really, but I do get a craving every now and then). So, imagine my utter joy when I came across this mashed chickpea salad recipe from The Simple Veganista.

The ingredient list is short and sweet, just like the preparation. It requires no cooking, just a little chopping ,a little mashing, a little mixing, and a lot of face-stuffing.

And oh my, it is so, so delicious – very reminiscent of a good ole’ chicken salad. But don’t take it from me – try it yourself! I put a slight spin on her original recipe, but kept it pretty close to the original.

You’ll Need:

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup shredded carrots (you could also dice carrots)
½ cup green onions, sliced
¼ cup Simply Mayo (if you want a vegan mayo that tastes like mayo, TRY SIMPLY MAYO. Amazing.)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
Dash of garlic powder (ok, I used more than a dash… I like a lot of it)
Juice of ½ lemon (optional, but adds refreshing flavor)

The prep:

Drain and rinse your chickpeas, then mash them in a bowl with a potato masher or the back of a fork, until your desired texture is reached.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir until mixed.

You’re done! All you need to do now is serve it on a sandwich, with crackers, on a bed of greens or straight up out of the bowl. My favorite way to eat it is in a pita pocket with spinach.

It is an amazingly delicious lunch, dinner and snack, full of protein and fiber. Let us know what you think!

What smart snacks are you enjoying?

Image: Emma

Health

When it comes to veganism and/or vegetarianism, there are endless misconceptions that people have toward those who adopt this diet and more often than not, they’re unfortunately negative ones. I know that I have experienced that classic deep sigh or eye roll when people find out I am a vegetarian, and I many times don’t see the need for it. For that reason, I hope that this piece helps you recognize that not all of these judgments apply.

Stereotypes

Two stereotypes that are very much present is that any given vegan or vegetarian is either an extremist animal rights activist or a tree hugging hippie. Not all vegans and/or vegetarians are animal rights activists trying to shove their beliefs down your throat. In fact, some may be indifferent as their choice of diet may be due to many different reasons ranging from the ethics of the meat industry to their personal health. And not all are hippies that cry out for peace, and one must realize that very different people adapt the “veg-head” lifestyle – people of all backgrounds, races, sizes, classes, personalities, and genders. For example, some vegan/ vegetarian celebrities include Pamela Anderson, Brad Pitt, Russell Brand, Mike Tyson, Bill Clinton, Andre 3000, and Ariana Grande. As you can see, veggies are all scattered all around!

Nutritional Deficiency

Another misconception that vegans and vegetarians experience is that all suffer from some sort of nutritional deficiency. When I first told my mother I had decided to stop consuming meat, she asked me to consume a protein shake a couple of times a week. It is important that people understand that there are many alternative ways of acquiring protein; meat is not the only source out there. For example, there are other foods that have a high and/or equivalent amount of protein to meat such as seitan, tofu, beans, quinoa, tempeh, chia seeds, spinach, nuts, and peas. These are all excellent sources of protein.

Another worry is attaining a sufficient amount of calcium. The famous “Got Milk?” commercial really sparked the belief that the only way to attain calcium is through milk. However, like protein, there are many other ways to attain calcium. For example, consuming collards, black-eyed peas, tofu, beans, lettuce, green peas, soy milk, oranges, and even almonds are all exceptional sources of calcium.

Iron deficiency is another big one. Other ways of attaining iron are by eating beans, dried fruits, iron-fortified foods, spinach, tofu, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, olives, peas, asparagus, coconut, berries, and arugula.

Hopefully you’re starting to get the idea! Veggies are basically superfoods and having a good amount of them can definitely call for a balanced diet with all of the necessary vitamins and minerals!

Carnophobia

The very last point I would like to bring to light is that not all vegans and vegetarians have carnophobia, aka they’re scared of meat. Many times I will experience friends who get a bit anxious when picking a restaurant because they want to make sure there are vegetarian options. Or other times, they are almost apologetic when eating meat in front of me. Personally, neither of these should be issues. Most restaurants now have vegetarian options and for my fellow vegans, salads are increasing in popularity. On the other hand, why not check out a veggie restaurant? Delicious and untried always make a fabulous combo!

There are many vegan and vegetarian misconceptions out there and sometimes they may not always be true. The reality of vegans and vegetarians may be very different from the common perceptions people have of them. For that reason, I invite you to always check out the facts of any situation before forming opinions.

Image: Lauren Jessen

HealthRecipesWellness

As a vegetarian who hates eggs, I have to get my protein somewhere, which means I use a lot of legumes in my cooking. And, most of the time I’m too busy (read: unwilling) to cook an elaborate meal. Thus, I rely a lot on no-cook recipes to get me through my days.

Below are two of my newfound favorite bean dips that make perfect spreads and sandwich/taco fillers, veggie dips, or just meals on their own. They’re filling and delicious, and best of all, they each take under 20 minutes to make!

recipe 1

Spicy Mango Black Bean Salsa

Summer is technically over, but I live in Texas, which means it still feels pretty dang summery. So, I’ve used it as an excuse to continue making my refreshing mango salsa. This is one of my absolute favorites; I put it on tortillas to make vegetarian tacos, use it for nachos, put it on salads or just eat it plain.

1 Keitt mango (very large) or 2 medium sized mangos cut into small chunks
1 tomato, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 avocado, chopped
1 can black beans
Jalapenos (either 1 fresh, chopped, or as many pickled jalapeno slices as you please)
Juice from 1 lime
Salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
Hot sauce (as MUCH as you want! Cholula is my favorite)
Red wine vinegar (just a dash)
Cilantro (a pinch)

This is so easy.

First, rinse and drain the black beans. I like to keep as much liquid out of the salsa as possible. Next, pour the beans into a large bowl with everything else, and mix it together. This recipe makes a good amount of salsa; at least three meals’ worth.

I like to play around with the amount of hot sauce/jalapenos/red wine vinegar/salt and pepper/other ingredients. Sometimes I add random spices, like paprika, and sometimes I add in corn. The point is to make it your own! Taste it as you mix, adding ingredients as you see fit.

There are a lot of different flavors involved in this one, so it makes for an awesome meal.

recipe 3

Kale & White Bean Hummus

I love this dip. I put it on sandwiches with cucumbers, shredded carrots, sliced bell peppers and chopped red onion (you could add feta and other veggies, too) and it’s so delicious. It also makes a perfect veggie dip and goes great on pita bread. This morning I ate it straight with a spoon.

2 cans white or cannellini beans
½ cup pesto
Balsamic vinaigrette
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Literally, pour all the ingredients into a food processor. Mix them. Done. Add balsamic, salt and lemon juice as needed once mixed. Like I said, this goes perfectly on a veggie (or meat if you’re into that) sandwich.

What smart snacks are you enjoying?

Images: Maggie Hoffman, Nora Kuby

CultureTravel

For the past week, I’ve been recovering from my jet lag from traveling on a couple of connecting international flights. While my body is coping with the time zone changes, my palate has been quite accustomed to zesty flavors I savored back in my motherland: India. I spent six weeks in the city of Bangalore and put my gustation skills to the test. I ventured through the city and found obscure, arcane locations of some of the best food I have ever had. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Perhaps the most basic of all places to start is on the street. No matter what road you decide to take a stroll on, there will be plenty of fruit vendors to satisfy your appetite. There was a guava vendor quite close to my residence in India. I was completely addicted and besotted by his fresh and verdant supply of tropical fruits. Here’s a picture of some of the guava I cut up:

guava

Quite delicious, am I right? These are full of vitamins and goodness. The pink on green color blocking also adds to the fruit being irresistible. Just make sure you wash your fruit, though. Roadside fruit have had flies sit on top of them all day. Hygiene always comes first!

Let’s move on to another type of roadside fruit: coconut. You do not necessary eat the coconut, but you can get fresh coconut water from a street vendor. Your papillae will literally bathe in sweet ambrosia, if you will. The best part about this is that the vendor will cut open the coconut for you and give you a free straw. What better way is there to cool off on a humid day?

coconut

Well, now I’m going to wean off the healthy part of this article and get straight into some chocolaty goodness. Agarwal Bhavan in Mathikere (a district in Bangalore) offers some of the best cake in the world. Just take a look at this one:

food 3

There’s something different about Indian cakes…they do not taste like the cake I have had in America. I cannot pinpoint what that difference is, though. It may be the eggless batter used for the large vegetarian population in India or it could be a sensation from tasting food in my country. Either way, a discrepancy surely exists.

Let me tell you about a few other dishes I relished at the Agarwal Bhavan. They are called chaats, and they are spicy little snacks with vegetables and various toppings. Two of my favorite chaats are pani puri (pani meaning water in Hindi) and masala puri. You basically encounter puffed or hardened fried dough drenched in spicy mixture of ginger, garlic, chili powder, and mango powder.  Frankly, I think these little side trips to heaven were my favorite part of Bangalore!

food 2

Now that we’ve gone over fruits, snacks, and desserts, I think it’s time to get into the main course of the meal. For the best vegetarian food at a reasonable price, head to the Priyadarshini Vegetarian Restaurant in Yeshwantpur (another district in Bangalore).  I recommend to you the naan, a flatbread drizzled with light butter and cilantro, and the butter paneer. Truly, this was a match made in heaven…I mean, just look at the photo!

food 1

With all this food waiting for you in Bangalore, you really cannot go wrong visiting. Your taste buds will be titillated beyond belief. You’ll always have company, as these places tend to be crowded, but that’s only because they’re amazing eateries.

Do you have any favorite foods from places you’ve visited? Remember, tasting different cuisines is also a great way to get to know another culture. You can learn how different people live just by seeing and experiencing what their diet consists of. I encourage you, like I do in every article, to learn about different cultures. Food is just one way to get started!