How am I doing with vegetarianism?
Much to my surprise, I’m doing very well. I thought I would miss roasts and beefy stews in the colder months, hamburgers on the grill in the summer. There are, however, some good substitutes for these staples-I have grown to love beans. I have allowed myself some occasional seafood-mainly wild caught Alaskan salmon, as I have not yet mastered the art of cooking tofu and other meat substitutes. Also, I want to make sure I get my omega-3’s in. So if that technically makes me a pescatarian, so be it. I’m still happy that I am moving in a healthier, kinder eating direction.
Do I feel better?
Absolutely! You know that saying, ‘You are what you eat?’ Well, I no longer feel like my guilty indulgence, a homemade jelly donut. It’s amazing how much our bodies thank us for putting in the premium fuel it needs to keep us running. I have more energy; don’t feel like a monk seal after a big meal and my skin looks healthier.
Thinking of giving vegetarian a try? Or just want to eat healthier? Here are a few of my tips. I hope that you will share yours in the comments section.
1. Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market Run
First thing Saturday morning, I am at my local farmer’s market. I get there early to have the first choice of the best seasonal fruits and vegetables they offer. Since I strive to be a vegetarian rather than vegan (maybe that will come later), I also pick up locally made goat cheese, sometimes homemade whole grain bread and eggs. As hard as I try, I am a sucker for good homemade pie-especially strawberry rhubarb. Lucky for me, they only make those in the spring!
2. Trader Joes
Love this place! I wish they would become a publically traded company and would replace the pharmacies on every corner. With just 10 or so aisles of items to choose from, they are stocked with the essentials. I don’t find myself being lured into buying ‘Buy one get one free’ items that I don’t need. They offer a good selection of organic frozen fruits and vegetables, a great selection of nuts including ones that are salt free. Trader Joe’s is my next stop after my Farmer’s Market run to fill in the gaps. Then the rest of my Saturday morning is generally spent making a few different meals, soups, and muffins.
If it isn’t already made, and I’m hungry, I have a tendency to run out and buy something already prepared. But when I make meals out of all the scrumptious items that I pick up on Saturday morning, I’m delighted to eat what is at home.
3. Green Smoothies
If you don’t already have a high-powered blender, this will be the best investment you can make in yourself. I balked when my husband, who is not a big spender, purchased a $500 Vitamixer. Let’s just say, I’ve been eating crow ever since I churned my first green smoothy in it. Many mornings, because I am not a big salad eater-unless someone else makes it, I blend healthy greens (usually spinach or kale), fresh berries (get those antioxidants in) and half a frozen banana. Most often they are blended with just water, but sometimes I add coconut water, plain non-fat yogurt or ground flaxseeds. Experiment with different ingredients until you find a concoction that you enjoy. Then, make a whole blender of it in the morning and sip at it all day. If you don’t feel more vibrant, I will be very surprised!
4. Find Vegetarian friendly restaurants
For the most part, I avoid all fast food restaurants. If it isn’t the fat, the salt loads will give you a heart attack. There are a few exceptions, because there are those times when life gets hectic and you need to give yourself a break somewhere. Chipoltes is one such place. If you get any of the meals without the meat, they are tasty and satisfying. I wish I could say there are a lot of choices when looking for vegetarian friendly restaurants. I have only found a few that actually serve tofu, tempeh and seitin dishes. These meat substitutes are actually really tasty when prepared well. I still need to learn how to cook more with these ingredients. If you’re craving a good burger, you won’t need to go out. Pick up the Chipolte Black Bean Burgers at Costco. They are delicious and hearty!
5. Get a Physical Exam
Before you start on your healthier journey, I highly recommend you get a full physical from your primary care provider. Be sure to share with them what you plan on doing. Ask to have all the blood work done that might be altered by a new diet so you know what your baseline is. If you have any abnormal blood work, like an elevated cholesterol level, you may be very pleasantly surprised with the improvements you can make just by adding more vegetables, fruits, and healthy meat substitutes to your meals. If need be, also consider getting some tips from a registered dietician. Each of us is made uniquely and may require special consideration to optimize our body’s functioning.
So, what do you think? Ready to try becoming a vegetarian? Do you have some healthy eating tips that you would like to share?