Question: I'm a young female adult and a vegetarian. I've only been a vegetarian for a bit more than 2 years and having problems with maintaining my protein levels. Are there easy snacks/foods I can make for on the go that will keep my diet in balance?
Answer: I understand your trouble! Here is a excerpt from my book, Meals That Heal inflammation that answers your question.
"It is important for vegetarians to get enough protein in order to manage carbohydrate cravings and build lean muscle. If you are chronically tired, you may want to ensure you are getting enough iron and vitamin B12; both are hard to get on a vegetarian diet and are critical nutrients for energy production, blood formation, optimal health.
When choosing vegetarian options, mix grains or nuts or seeds with legumes to ensure you get a complete variety of amino acids.
Legumes include beans, peas and lentils. There are many choices like navy, black, pinto and kidney beans as well as the lesser-known, but equally delicious and nutritious, fava and cranberry beans. In the pea family are split peas, lentils, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and black-eyed peas. Legumes are often low in the amino acids tryptophan and methionine, so try to pair them with grains or seeds for a complete protein source.
Grains include buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, millet, teff and amaranth. Many grains are low in the amino acid lysine, except amaranth, which boasts 1 g of lysine per 100 g. Pair grains with legumes to complete the protein.
Nuts and seeds can also be low in lysine. Almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts can be added as a quick topper or added to a bean or legume recipe to complete the protein. Seeds include sunflower, chia, flax, hemp, sesame and pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Try adding Spirulina to shakes or using vegetarian protein power that agrees with you."
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
2 cups (500 mL) celery root, skinned and diced
2 cups (500 mL) Jerusalem artichokes, diced
2 cups (500 mL) turnip , skinned and diced
4 tbsp (60 mL) organic olive oil
2 cups (500 mL) lentils , cooked
2 cups (500 mL) onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp (5 mL) cumin
1 tsp (5 mL) grey sea salt or pink rock salt
3 tbsp (45 mL) Italian herb blend (basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary,
sage, savory and/or thyme)
1 cup (250 mL) carrots, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) sweet potato or yam, diced
1 cup (250 mL) celery, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) sweet peas
2 cups (500 mL) fresh spinach , chopped
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) kasha (toasted buckwheat)
1⁄4 cup (60 mL) fresh sage (or 1 tsp/5 mL dry sage)
1. Boil celery root, Jerusalem artichoke and turnip in 3 cups (750 mL) of water until soft. Drain and mash with 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil. Set aside.
2. Heat 2 tbsp/30 mL olive oil over medium-low heat with onion, garlic, cumin seed, salt and herbs. Add the lentils. Spritz liberally with filtered water or broth to ensure the oil doesn’t overheat.
3. Add the carrots, sweet potato or yam, celery, peas, spinach, kasha and sage. Add 3⁄4 cup (185 mL) of vegetable broth. Stir well and cook for 8 minutes.
4. Transfer to a 9 × 13–inch (20 cm × 30 cm) baking dish. Top with the mashed white root vegetables.
5. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 20 minutes. Move to the top rack position and broil on low for 5 minutes or until nicely browned.
7. Serve hot or allow to set in the fridge overnight. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
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