I've been a vegetarian since the age of 3. To make a long story short, I was introduced to the way bacon is made a little too early in life (my poor pet pig), and decided not to eat meat ever since. As an adult, I've come to realize that vegetarianism requires good nutrition planning to ensure I'm getting enough B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, and protein. There are certain foods that I've come to love in my quest to find a balanced vegetarian diet, in particular, these 10 staples.
1. ALMOND BUTTER
I eat almond butter every. single. morning. Safe to say it's one of my favorite foods. Great source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. In my opinion, the best tasting kind is the kind you grind up yourself at the store. It has a chewy texture with a hint of crunchiness, and by grinding it myself I know that I'm consuming only raw almonds without added salt, sugars, or oils. I eat almond butter on toast, put it in my smoothies, in my oatmeal, on a banana, in my baked goods, and so on. It's SO versatile. Here are a few good recipes using almond butter: init4thelongrun.com/2016/03/22/20-healthy-recipes-can-make-almond-butter/
2. PLAIN YOGURT AND/OR KEFIR
Yogurt and kefir are excellent sources of protein, B-vitiamins, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and probiotics. I always buy plain yogurt/kefir because the flavored varieties typically come with lots of added sugar. Sometimes as much sugar as a candy bar per serving - yikes. I like to control the amount of sweetness with honey or agave syrup, and of course add in fun stuff like almond butter (I'm seriously obsessed), fruit, etc. I also like to use yogurt and kefir to add moisture to my baked goods, like coffee cake and banana bread. Read more about my love of kefir here: www.bettysbalance.com/home/my-favorite-new-morning-treat
We are a fruit-loving family, and we buy fresh fruits every week based on whatever is in season or whatever we are craving. Except when it comes to bananas. We ALWAYS have bananas in the house. It's sort of a family emergency when we run out of bananas. They are the most portable type of fruit and they go with everything. In baked goods. Used to sweeten smoothies. With a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. On top of waffles. The list is endless. Plus, they are a great source of potassium, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin B6.
If bananas are the one fruit we can't live without, and then avocados are the one vegetable we can't live without. They actually have more potassium than bananas and their list of scientifically-backed health benefits is a long one (www.well-beingsecrets.com/health-benefits-of-avocado/) Our toddler loves to each chunks of raw avocado as a side to her lunch or dinner, and we like to eat them with, well, everything. My personal favorite: avocado toast with salt, pepper, and tomato.
Brandon hates beans. But that's okay....more for me. I often use them as a meat substitute when I prepare our family dishes like tacos, sloppy joes, or chicken and rice (= beans and rice for me). Beans are a nutritional powerhouses, packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals (noticing a trend here?). There are so many varieties and they are SO versatile. I use black beans to make vegetarian burger patties. Pinto beans in my burritos. Kidney beans for red beans and rice. Mixed beans for soups. And I like to bake garbanzo beans for a crunchy little snack that's perfect for on-the-go (recipe here: steamykitchen.com/10725-crispy-roasted-chickpeas-garbanzo-beans.html.)
High in protein, fiber, vitamins/minerals, etc. etc. you get the picture. Quinoa has become all the rage in recent years, so there are TONS of quinoa recipes floating around the internet. You can use quinoa for everything from breakfast to dinner to dessert. I'm a big texture person, and I love the chewy, gritty texture of quinoa. My meat-and-potatoes-kind-of-guy father, on the other hand, gets offended whenever I make him a meal involving this "sawdust." Its hit-or-miss for a lot of people, but luckily both Brandon and Avery love this stuff as much as I do and don't mind that quinoa makes a weekly appearance on our dinner table. Here's a great quinoa recipe to try, just in time for spring: www.pbfingers.com/cold-quinoa-salad/
GOOD QUALITY BREAD
My personal favorite is Dave's Killer Bread. It's made by a local Portland company, but the good news is that they started selling their bread in all 50 states in 2016. The history of Dave's Killer Bread is an interesting one, involving a guy with a criminal background who turned his life around by tapping into his passion for organic, non-GMO bread (read the story here: www.daveskillerbread.com/our-history/). This bread is packed full of nutrients and it is DELICIOUS. We're talking protein, fiber, omega-3s, etc. No toast/sandwich/carb-loving household should go without good quality, nutritious bread. Disclaimer: I do not represent and am not in any way affiliated to or endorsed by Dave's Killer Bread. I'm just their really happy customer!
8. HARD BOILED EGGS
We are lucky to live very close to a farming community, so we get to pick up farm-fresh eggs every week. The taste of these eggs is not even comparable to the store-bought kind, especially when they are hard-boiled. I always keep a stock of hard-boiled eggs in our fridge. They are a great snack to have at work and in the hours between 3pm-dinner time when I'm usually ravenous. Not to mention they are an easy and tasty source of protein.
9. CHIA SEEDS
Besides their protein, fiber, anti-oxidant, and rich vitamin/mineral content, I love chia seeds because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids. I don't eat fish, so getting a daily source of omega-3s elsewhere is important for me. Fun fact: chia seeds actually have more omega-3s per gram than salmon. Not-so-fun-fact: chia seeds do not provide DHA, which is considered the most important of the omega-3 fats (Personally, I make up for this by taking a daily vitamin supplement with DHA). Chia seeds are easy to sprinkle onto/into any breakfast item. I put them in my yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, and even on top of my almond butter toast. I also like to make chia seed pudding, recipe here: minimalistbaker.com/overnight-chocolate-chia-seed-pudding/
....If I'm being honest. Hmmm, let's see here, health benefits of wine....
#1. Sanity! #2. Antioxidant?
The truth is, I've googled this topic a lot. It turns out that this topic has also been studied a lot, especially in recent years. What they say is that moderate wine consumption can reduce your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, depression, diabetes, stroke, and early death (read more here if you're interested: www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265635.php). Cheers to that!
I’m Betty and I live in the beautiful pacific northwest. I'm a mommy. Vegetarian. Wife to a meatatarian. Pediatric physical therapist. Outdoor enthusiast. Enjoyer of fitness/healthy living. Even bigger enjoyer wine and chocolate lava cake. And hoping to find some balance between it all.