Wednesday, November 30, 2011

No Problem Healthy Vegetarian Meals For the Holidays

One of reasons people start getting serious about their health come January 1st is not only to have a New Year's resolution but to start setting goals to change their diet, get in shape or lose some weight. Usually people tend to eat more than normal during the holidays in the months of November and December. And if you are like most people....maybe some of the food choices are less than healthy - after all, how can you resist your mom's baking? Between the feasting and drinking, it takes a toll on our bodies. And so goes the resolution.

Don't feel as though you have to continue down this path. You can start a vegetarian lifestyle right now. Healthy vegetarian meals can help with this change and it is a perfect idea to help yourself or those you love. Finding ways to enjoy the holidays AND include vegetarian dinner recipes to your menu does not need to be stressful. The traditional holiday menus that we all love can be sprinkled with healthy choices.

Most people wait all year for enriching holiday moments and special celebrations with their families and friends. Don't let diet strain relationships and ruin holiday cheer. Here are some tips to become a master at creating familiar dishes that are sure to fit within your family's culture and traditions and will appeal to all taste buds. 

It is very easy to find vegetarian recipes for Thanksgiving for example - as vegetables are mainstays in many parts of this meal.
Instead of your traditional turkey, you can enhance your guests with a herb roasted soy vegan chicken, served with your traditional vegetable side dishes
For those that normally serve "beef" at your turkey dinner, try something like a Vegan Beef Wellington with a traditional salad to entice their taste buds
Want to be warm and cozy, serve something like a Vegan Chicken Pot Pie, warm cranberry sauce and some mashed potatoes with a vegan gravy (yummy)
A traditional chef prepared Meatloaf, ala vegan style, that would food the Queen of England
People want to be healthy, but they don't want to give up the taste of traditional fare of meat at their holiday meals. Once you realize how easy it is to find vegetarian dinner recipes, you will feel joy in making and eating such healthy fare. You can show people they don't have to give up anything; You will bring delight to the table and health to those you care for.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Quick Cheesy Casseroles For Vegetarian Dinners

The holiday season is here and that means busy days and nights. If you're looking for quick and easy dinners, stop right here. Three entrees that depend on cheese, fill the bill to fill your family's tummy. The first is cheesy broccoli and rice. Even children who don't like broccoli like this dish. The second is a spicy enchilada casserole and the third a gourmet take on mac and cheese. All three dishes are vegetarian which means they save you money.

Start off with a preparing a silky cheese sauce.

Combine 1 cup of whole milk with 1 tablespoon of flour until smooth. Heat in the saucepan until the sauce bubbles and thickens. Add 1/2 cup of your favorite shredded cheese. You'll need one cup of this sauce for every two servings. Since the ingredients below make dishes that serve four, make 2 cups.

Cheesy Broccoli

Cook 2 cups of broccoli in the microwave until it's softened but still crisp. The broccoli will finish cooking in the oven. Combine with 2 cups of cooked rice. Or use instant rice with water as the directions specify. Add 2 cups of the cheese sauce. Stir well.

Top with an additional 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Either freeze this in an air tight container for a dinner you only have to bake later or bake in a 350 F oven for 30 minutes until the dish is bubbly and the cheese melted.

Enchilada Casserole

If you can layer you can make this dish. You won't be using the cheese sauce for this dish. Add 1 teaspoon of cumin and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to two 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce. Add more cayenne pepper for a hotter kick or add several chopped jalapeno peppers.

Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Layer in five or six corn tortillas. Add another 1/2 cup of sauce and spread over the tortillas.

Slice one medium onion and layer over the tortillas. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of shredded cheese over the onions. Finish with 1/2 cup of sauce and another layer of tortillas. Spread the remaining sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle with another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Bake 45 minutes in a 350 F oven.

Gourmet Mac and Cheese

Butter the bottom of a casserole dish. Combine 4 cups of cooked macaroni with 2 cups of cheese sauce and 2 cups of frozen defrosted peas. You don't have to cook the peas. Place in the casserole dish. Cover with a layer of breadcrumbs -- about 1 to 1/2 cups and an additional 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Heat at 350 F until the breadcrumbs are brown and the cheese topping melted. This is oh so much better than the boxed stuff.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Vegan Food Choices That Over Relatives At Holiday Time

I recently called a friend to ask how his Thanksgiving was. He is a pretty healthy guy who practices a vegan diet and recently has been leaning towards raw foods. He told me that his Thanksgiving was fine and proudly told me about the raw food dish he made. Of course I expected to hear details about the social part of his holiday as well, but it turns out he ate his Thanksgiving meal by himself while his family celebrated at his sibling's house.

This was sad and frustrating. My friend eating all by himself was only taking in secondary nutrition. Secondary nutrition is what you call the nutrition most people think of - food, beverages, and nutritional supplements. Primary nutrition is what gives our lives meaning. It's what feeds our soul. It is relationships and hugs from people we love. It is careers, spiritual practice, physical activity, and leisure time - fun, hobbies, entertainment, and rest. Getting together with people we love and nurturing relationships is a vital part of life and benefits us in many ways.

"They don't like my food, and they eat turkey and I don't like to be around that," is what he told me. I could relate to this because that was how things used to be in my house. I would get up on my high horse and preach to everyone that they should eat a certain way. I was frustrated that people didn't like the organic whole food vegan dishes I cooked because I knew they would make them healthy, and that what they were eating was killing them. Of course, there were family members who would comment kindly about the vegan dish brought to the table - but the reality is that they were thinking that it was nothing more than a poor protein vegetable side dish (a dish that does nothing to stimulate any consideration of giving up meat).

The solution to the problem is to lose the "rabbit food" and go with meat substitutes.

Meat substitutes, also known as meat analogs, are vegan food products that look, smell, feel and taste like meat in practically every way. This can be a shock to people. Someone who is used to eating a meat-centered diet, like most Americans, is ok trying meat substitutes, but is turned off by anything that strays from the norm (and appears healthy).

Meat substitutes don't threaten one's culture, identity and traditions, or alienate taste buds with something strange or foreign looking. What's more, they frequently have more protein than the meat they are trying to replicate. There are companies that produce meat substitutes - Garden, Yves, Light Life, Tofurky, and Field Roast to name a few. They make everything from Italian sausage to pepperoni and deli slices - all 100% vegan. They can be found in health food stores, Trader Joe's. And now, more and more traditional food stores are carrying these products. There is also Veggie Brothers which features chef made gourmet vegan dishes, delivered to your door anywhere in the USA and Canada that include meat substitutes like Vegan Chicken Pot Pie.

So how does this solution really work?

Meat substitutes are not extreme. They are not threatening. People try them, and that's a big hurdle. If you are a traditional household holding a festive holiday dinner, a macrobiotic dish or raw food dish is typically not in sync with everything else on the table. Meat substitutes on the other hand can rival the meat-based focal point of the meal. I've seen it many times, and many people have written to me telling me so:

Now, let the magic begin

When people try meat substitutes for the first time they are often amazed. It challenges their old way of thinking: vegans and vegetarians just eat salad.

I have found that when you couple meat substitutes with great information there is a very good chance that a person will make better dietary choices like consuming less meat, or eliminating it completely. Most people are aware that consuming less meat improves health, offers relief to animals, and helps the environment.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Vegetable Dishes That Are Perfect for All, Including Diabetics!

We should all eat more vegetables and this is especially true for those of us diabetics. The recipes in this article are great for diabetics but they are not 'diabetic' recipes. They are regular recipes that are perfect for diabetics, too. If you just love vegetables or you are trying to get more veggies into your diet, give these recipes a try!

2 tsp canola oil 
1 cup chopped onion 
1 red bell pepper, diced 
1 green bell pepper, diced 
4 garlic cloves, minced 
1 tsp chili powder 
1 can (14-oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, do not drain 
1 tbsp minced chipotle chiles 
1 small (approx. 8 oz) sweet potato, peeled and chunked 
1 can (15-oz) black beans, rinsed and drained 
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, optional

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat te canola oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minute. Add bell peppers, garlic, and chili powder; cook while stirring for about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with juice, chipotle chiles and the sweet potato; bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in the black beans; cover and simmer another 8 to 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. (Mixture will be thick. If you want, you can gradually stir in water to thin to your preferred consistency.)

To serve, sprinkle with chopped cilantro, if desired.

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

NOTE:By scrubbing the sweet potato well instead of peeling, you will retain more nutrients.

1 cup cherry tomatoes 
1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets 
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets 
1 bottle (8-oz) low-sugar or sugar-free Italian Salad dressing

Put the tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower into a bowl with a sealable lid. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss gently to coat well. Refrigerate 12 to 24 hours before serving.

2 lb fresh green beans, ends removed and broke into bite-size pieces 
2 tbsp finely chopped onion 
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
1 tbsp vinegar 
1 garlic clove, minced 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper 
2 tbsp Panko bread crumbs 
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese 
1 tbsp butter, melted

Cook the beans in a small amount of water until crisp tender; drain. Add the onion, olive oil, vinegar, minced garlic, salt and pepper; toss to coat the beans. Place the beans in an ungreased 1-quart baking dish. Toss the Panko crumbs with the cheese and butter; sprinkle over top of the beans. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

Why You Become A Vegetarian?

You've probably asked yourself that one at one point in your life. As someone who's been a vegetarian for several years, as well as learned from world-class chefs and dietitians, there are several of valid reasons to make a fresh start and begin a plant-based diet.

A lot of people concerned about their well-being are searching for ways to get rid of unhealthy eating habits. By taking meat out of your diet, you are getting rid of a major source of saturated fat, cholesterol, and various other harmful elements. This doesn't include the chemicals that you take in by having meat in your diet. The animal processing industry uses various growth hormones, antibiotics, and other unnatural chemicals that you will wind up eating and processing through your body.

You can also take into account the environmental aspects. Research has proven that the level of harmful gases given off from the daily excrement of millions of factory-raised livestock is more harmful to the world than every car put together. Additionally, the dizzying amounts of feed necessary to feed the millions of head of livestock requires additional millions of pounds of pesticide and other chemicals, which can run off into drinking water.

One more element of the discussion over going vegetarian has to do with the less-than-humane ways animals are processed for eating. We like to think that chickens, pigs, cows, etc. that are raised for consumption lead pleasant lives, similar to how we treat our dogs and cats.

But the hard fact is that the majority of livestock are looked at as commodities and are treated as nothing more than a product; not sentient creatures. Realize that most livestock live in small boxes, often not allowed room to stand. They suffer from awful diseases and are kept viable so that they can make it to the slaughterhouse, where they are shocked, hit with electric bolt guns, have their throats slit, and some are even dumped into scalding water while still conscious.

The good news is that you can lead a healthy, ethical life by eating a meatless diet. Vegetarians often have lower incidences of disease, and several report feeling a higher level of focus and concentration all through the day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How Making Yummy Vegetarian Recipes?

There are various vegetarian recipes that people can enjoy and relish for a long time. One of these is roasted vegetables and a vegetarian should prepare sweet potato, Yukon gold potatoes, red bell peppers and squash. Once they are combined in a large bowl, red onions are added. In a separate bowl, rosemary, thyme, olive oil, salt, vinegar and pepper are stirred together and are used to coat the vegetables. All of these are spread evenly on a large pan that is used for roasting. In a pre-heated oven, these vegetables should be stirred every ten minutes so the vegetables will be cooked thoroughly.

Vegetarian recipes should never be boring and pasta lovers can savor the taste of hearty vegetable lasagna. First, lasagna noodles are placed inside a hot pot and are boiled for ten minutes. Afterwards, they are drained and rinsed with cold water. Next, vegetables such as onions, garlic, mushrooms and green peppers are cooked and stirred in a large saucepan. Pasta sauce is added and is left to boil. After fifteen minutes, the heat is reduced and it is simmered for fifteen minutes. Next, eggs, ricotta and two cups of mozzarella cheeses are mixed together.

The oven is heated to 350 degrees and one cup of tomato sauce is greased at the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Meanwhile, one half of the lasagna noodles as well as the Ricotta mix; Parmesan cheese and sauce are layered together. All of these have to undergo a second layering and are topped with two cups of mozzarella cheese. Before this vegetable lasagna is served, it is baked and uncovered for at least forty minutes. This vegetarian meal is left to stand for fifteen more minutes and vegetarians can partake of this delicious meal afterwards.

One of the simplest vegetarian recipes is the easy cheesy cream of broccoli soup. All that is needed is a ten ounce broccoli that is frozen, a 10.75 ounce condensed cream of mushroom soup, eight ounces of processed cheese, one and one-fourth cups of milk and pepper and salt to taste. The broccoli is prepared and drained of excess water. Then, cream of mushroom soup is added as well as one can of milk. This is stirred in low heat. Cheese is then added and is stirred until it melts. To add flavor to this soup, salt and pepper are added.

One of the most unique vegetarian recipes is Carrot raisin salad. For this salad, three shredded large carrots are needed as well as a cup of raisins and one cup of walnuts. Additionally, two tablespoons of shredded coconut, one half cup of mayonnaise, two tablespoons of sour cream, one tablespoon of cider vinegar, and one half teaspoon of white sugar are added into the mix. To top it off, one-fourth celery needs to be chopped. All of these ingredients are combined in a medium bowl and whisked as well. The dressing is stirred into the carrot mixture. Finally, the salad is chilled before it is served.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How Being Vegetarian - What Does This Really Mean?

Many people all over the world love to eat meat, but there are those who only want to eat vegetables. There are many reasons a person wants to be a vegetarian, but perhaps the most obvious factor is economics. Vegetables are far more affordable than meat and healthier as well, so the latter is only used for special occasions. Incidentally, even if meat is plentiful in some gatherings, there are some individuals who want to eat it moderately. Vegetarianism is a term used for people who want to eat vegetables exclusively because they value their health and do not want to get sick with meat-related ailments.

For other people, their religious belief prevents them from eating meat because they think that eating animals is not right. Still, other people have expressed concern over the environment so they chose to be vegetarian. Hard-core vegetarians do not consume meat at all and that includes fish and chicken. On the other hand, a lacto-ovo vegetarian will eat eggs dairy products, but not meat. Those who follow a strict form of vegetarianism called veganism do not eat all meat products, eggs, dairy products together with gelatin and honey that are made of animal products.

Many years ago, many Americans often consider individuals who do not eat meat as queer, but times are changing. Vegetarianism is taking the world by storm although vegetarians are still a minority in the United States. ADA also known as the American Dietetic Association has endorsed vegetarian diets because these are very beneficial for those who are conscious with their health. Being a vegetarian is not strange anymore because people have embraced the idea that eating vegetables makes one stronger in body and spirit. Furthermore, a growing number of schools and restaurants are serving vegetables in their menus instead of the usual jelly or peanut butter sandwich.

Becoming a vegetarian is easier said than done and people have to educate themselves first and plan their diets carefully. If these people are able to maintain a strictly vegetarian diet, they will become stronger; have firmer muscles and bones, and a higher energy to boot. Would-be vegetarians though have to be cautious with a vegetarian diet because it is lacking in zinc, vitamins B12 and D, calcium, iron and protein. Fortunately, in lieu of eggs, dairy products, and fish people can take other alternatives such as mineral supplements and multiple vitamins.

Monday, November 7, 2011

How Making Vegetarian Foods No Boring And Tasteless?

Vegetarian food is hardly tasteless or boring and there are a number of these that many people can choose from. For starters, people may want to try vegetarian soup recipes that are very healthy and among these are crockpot, chili, vegetarian minestrone, French onion soup, barley and tomato soup. One of the best vegetable soups that people should try is the gourmet vegetarian and tomato bisque soup. Not to be outdone is the delicious vegan artichoke that will certainly be a treat for vegetable lovers. Vegetarian foods are so very tasty that many people cannot have enough of them.

Incidentally, Taiwan offers plenty of vegetarian chows that people can feast on and enjoy with much delight. One of these is the unassuming Vegan Scallion Pancakes wherein street vendors pile them high and serve them hot. These delicious snacks can be eaten as an appetizer or as a snack and the best way to eat them is by dipping them in soy sauce. Another flavorful fare is Vegetarian Chinese Dumplings that is considered as one of the best vegetarian meals. These dumplings are steamed and dipped in vinegar or soy sauce and they are best served with hot green tea.

Tofu or seitan can be added to a soup called Vegetarian Hot and Sour soup and the Chinese usually eat this during breakfast. Also, this is considered as a complete meal and people can heartily consume this tasty soup. Incidentally, many people are worried that they may not get enough protein if they eat vegetarian foods, but their fears are unfounded because they can get this when they eat whole grains especially if it is the "quinoa." Other, grains that are rich in protein is barley, brown rice, and whole grain bread. For those who miss burgers in their diet, they can try the special Cranberry and Camembert Burgers that are made of healthy soya protein that is textured.

Customers will definitely enjoy this meal that is high in protein and fiber especially if it is served with rosemary oven chips together with grilled haloumi that is placed inside a ciabatta roll. For added flavor, customers can request for salad leaves and fresh tomatoes. Vegetarian foods that customers should look forward to are Red Onion and Rosemary Sausages. This tasty meal is baked with rosemary sprigs and slice onions are added into it. This meal would not be complete without the minted peas, spring onions and mashed potatoes that are buttered.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How History of Vegetarians Overview?

I have always pondered on the background of vegetarianism. At first I believed it was accountable to either spiritual or religious beliefs, where people didn't deem the slaughter of another animal or living thing as acceptable. The beginning of my investigations into vegetarianism discovered that customarily the action of abstaining from eating animals was undertaken by a variety of cultures and people from the beginning of civilizations.

Eastern civilisations appear to be the original influence from the world's oldest societies. It is my understanding that the removal of eating meat or killing animals was due to the cultural belief of reincarnation. Theravada, Hinduism and Buddhism are the main Eastern cultural teachings. There are a considerable number of other religious groups that encompass these religions, however, this is a broad overview.

As you are aware with Western ideals towards vegetarianism, different people have different views. The same applies to the Eastern cultures over history. Some of these cultures do in fact still consume meat, however, it is not the common practice and there are generally rules or guidelines based on its consumption.

The Classical and antiquity period, known for Greek philosopher Pythagoras, also provides some more recent insight into the history of vegetarianism. In order to study as Pythagoreans there was a requirement to abstain from eating meat. Again, this is due to the thoughts surrounding reincarnation of the human soul into animals. There are known parallels between Greek and Hindu philosophies and it is likely this aversion to the slaughter of animals based on reincarnation that was derived from these teachings.

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance period there began to be an increase in vegetarianism, limited however to minority groups. It wasn't until the 19th Century, that the United Kingdom and some other European countries founded the Vegetarian Society. As is common in Western Society, popularity can be a driving force behind cultural shifts, at that stage vegetarianism began to gain momentum.

The above is only a broad overview surrounding the history of vegetarianism. As mentioned before, each cultural identity holds it's own beliefs and adaptation in regards to the subject. At times is appears that drought, disease and other factors such as the shear expense of meat forced people to remove it from their diets.