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How To Be A Healthy Vegetarian

It's time again for our favorite article from Saskatoon Well Being Magazine.  Our Favorites usually revolve around diet and
nutrition; and here is another great write up about healthy eating for those who are on a vegetarian diet, or wanting to incorporate a vegetarian aspect to their diet.

Vegetarians often return to meat after months or years because their lack of knowledge on how to be a healthy vegetarian catches up with them. To be successful at vegetarianism, you must understand what your body needs and where to find it. We have compiled a list of food alternatives and supplement suggestions so you can be a thriving vegetarian just like some of the staff of Saskatoon Well Being Magazine.

 Meat Alternatives
The ever-growing popularity of vegetarianism has necessitated the appearance of companies that create meat substitutes that look, smell, feel and taste like real meat products. Some companies that produce realistic vegetarian meats include Yves, Amy’s Kitchen and Gardenburger. Non-meat versions of hamburgers, hot dogs, ground beef, beef and chicken strips, sandwich meats, sausages, roast beef, meatloaf, chicken burgers, chicken nuggets and even turkey are available. Many of these products can be used directly as substitutes for real meat. For example, instead of using ground beef on nachos, one could use the vegetarian version, ground soy.
 
Seitan
This substance is made by rinsing wheat flour with water until the starch dissolves, leaving the gluten behind. The resulting gluten is a spongy mass with a similar texture to meat and can be used as a non-soy- based meat alternative. Seitan can be fried, steamed, baked or eaten raw. In North American grocery stores it can most commonly be found flavoured with shiitake or Portobello mushrooms, coriander, onion or barbecue and other sauces.
 
Tofu
Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and pressing the curds into blocks. Tofu has very little smell or taste on its own and picks up flavours from other foods easily. It is low in calories and fat and high in iron and protein. It can be used in a variety of both sweet and savoury applications and is featured prominently in many Asian cuisines. It can be used in soups and desserts and can easily replace animal proteins in many recipes, including stir fries and salads.
 
TVP
TVP stands for textured vegetable protein. This is an animal protein substitute made from defatted soy flour, which is a by-product created from the process of making soybean oil. It is fibrous and spongy in texture and comes in granules, chunks or flakes. It has little flavour of its own, but easily absorbs the flavour of whatever it is cooked with. It can be used to replace animal proteins from ground beef, lamb or even fish in dishes such as chili, spaghetti sauce, tacos and burritos.
 
Tempeh
Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but has a different taste and texture. Tempeh is shaped into patties or cakes and has a slightly nutty flavour. Tempeh also contains more protein, dietary fibre and vitamins than tofu. It can be used in chili, stir-fries, sandwiches, stews and soup recipes. You can even buy tempeh bacon!
 
Legumes
Using legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, peanuts, soybeans and bean sprouts as an alternative to animal proteins found in meat is a great way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, since these foods are significantly lower in saturated fats. Legumes are valuable sources of protein, iron and fibre.
Keep in mind that while beans are good sources of protein, they are not complete proteins, which means they don’t carry the entire spectrum of amino acids that your muscles need. Be sure to eat beans with rice or another carb source like cornbread to complete the proteins you’re ingesting.

Much more to read, go to How To Be A Healthy Vegetarian 

By Tyler Kalmakoff & Sarah Stefanson

Fitness Focus Saskatoon

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