|• Health, healing, nutrition: Important relationships||• Choosing your diet|
|• Physical activity fosters a healthy diet||• Meeting your nutritional needs|
|• What is a healthy diet?||• The bottom line|
|• What is a serving size?||• Some important principles|
|• Quick tips for healthy eating||• Applying the Food Pyramid to everyday life|
|• What about vegetarian diets?||• The shopping list: How to stock your pantry|
|• Is a vegetarian lifestyle really healthier?||• Where to shop?|
Becoming a vegetarian doesn’t limit your options!
Making the transition to better eating isn′t difficult when you start with vegetarian foods that are already in your cupboard. Then, you can learn where to shop and what products to buy for good health and great taste. You will probably find a number of items on the list below that are unfamiliar to you. Rather than feeling intimidated by your new choices, though, get excited about all of the wonderful things you′re about to try. Eating like a vegetarian doesn′t limit your options—indeed, it will actually broaden them. Have you ever had millet with an African peanut sauce, or coconut curried vegetables served over barley? The array of choices may surprise you. Hold on to your chef hat because you′re about to discover the best food of (and for) your life!
The following are suggested categories of foods to include in your pantry.
BEANS AND LEGUMES
Otherwise known as legumes, these foods are essential for their high levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. You can choose dried, canned, or even frozen versions of many legumes, such as garbanzo (also called "chick peas"), black, pinto, anasazi, navy, kidney, and mung beans and black-eyed peas. Try green and red lentils, or green and yellow split peas. Dried beans require lengthy cooking (unless you have a pressure cooker, then they take only minutes), so you might start with canned beans, which are ready to heat and eat. You′ll be amazed at how many recipes you can use beans and peas for. They′re great in veggie burgers, dips and spreads, salads, soups, sauces and casseroles.
Soybeans are more nutrient dense than most other legumes. They provide all of the essential amino acids your body needs. They′re also easily digestible and work well with all combinations of seasonings. Prepared soy products (tofu, tempeh, soy cheese, etc.) are also useful as substitutes for meat, cheese and eggs.
Try tofu in all its forms; the firmer varieties are good for a "meatier" texture, while the softer or silken versions are wonderful for spreads and desserts. Give tempeh a try. This cultured soy product has a wonderful nutty flavor and is perfect for marinating and grilling, or baking. Soy beverages are great on cereal or for baking. And many are great to drink as well.
Full of great flavor and very filling, these complex carbohydrates provide lots of nutrients. Grains should be kept in an airtight container in a cool dry place, or in the refrigerator or freezer. Some grains you might want to stock up on include brown rice (long-grain, short grain or basmati), millet, buckwheat groats, barley, bulgur and rolled oats. All of these grains are easy to cook. It′s as simple as boiling water, and adding the grain, and covering to simmer. Grains are used in many recipes, from pilafs to casseroles to stir-fries. They are also great in breakfast foods or desserts, such as rice pudding. And don′t forget about whole-wheat bread, bagels and cereals.
Pasta is made from grains. It is really quick to cook, and usually only needs to be topped with a sauce and some veggies to create the foundation for a healthful meal. It can also be added to soups and made into salads. A variety of shapes, colors and flavors is available. Try spirals, bow-ties, angel hair, and alphabets for the kids. Just don′t forget to pick the whole grain versions. If you have a wheat allergy or sensitivity, or if you just want a change, try brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta or spelt pasta.
Fresh from the garden!
Fresh organic produce is your best choice. The key here is to choose a variety of produce. Variety will keep you healthy and will ensure that you never get bored. Organic, locally-grown produce provides the best flavor, condition, and nutrition. Buying in season ensures freshness and quality, and helps maintain healthy ecosystems by encouraging diversity and reducing transportation. Try winter vegetables such as carrots, turnips, rutabagas, beets, onions, cabbages and citrus fruits. In the spring, give leeks, lettuces, watercress, spinach, green onions, peas, asparagus, strawberries and blackberries a try. Summer is great for tomatoes, sweet corn, beans, eggplant, chard, zucchini, squash, peppers, okra, peaches, blueberries, plums and fresh herbs. Fall ushers in apples, pears, grapes, cauliflower, lettuces, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, potatoes, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins.
Although sea vegetables are relatively new for American tastes, they have been used for centuries in other countries. With 80 main varieties, there are more than 250 different types of edible sea vegetables. These low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods are wonderful to try. One popular sea vegetable is nori, which is used in making sushi. Agar agar is used as a vegetarian gelatin. Dulse, hijiki, arame, and kelp are other great varieties that you′ll want to try in soups, salads or sandwiches. They can be found in flakes or in strips.
NUTS AND SEEDS
Nuts and seeds can be used in many recipes or eaten alone as a great snack. Almonds, pine nuts, cashews, pecans, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, and sunflower seeds are all tasty and nutrient dense. Both sesame seeds and almonds are a good source of calcium as well. Try any of a number of different nut butters for a real treat. Cashew nut butter, almond butter and, of course, peanut butter all make great spreads on bread; plus they are wonderful in baked goods. Try mixing hazelnut butter with silken tofu and maple syrup for a great dessert topping! You might want to buy some flaxseed oil for those hard-to-get omega-3 essential fatty acids. Always keep this oil in the refrigerator and use it before its expiration date to ensure good quality. You can add flaxseed oil to salad dressings or add a tablespoon of it in fruit smoothies. A cheaper way to get those essential fatty acids is by buying flax meal, or purchasing flaxseeds and grinding them yourself in a coffee mill. Keep this meal in the freezer or refrigerator to maintain its freshness.
SPICES AND HERBS
Buy small quantities of these items, as they lose their flavor and intensity over time. Fresh herbs usually taste best, but dried ones are more available and work quite well. Dried herbs should be kept in tightly closed jars in a cool, dark place.
You′ll learn which spices go well together (cumin, oregano and chili powder are great for Mexican; basil, oregano and rosemary are wonderful in Italian dishes), but you can experiment with any variety you choose. Try some of the following for a start: bay leaf, sage, peppercorns, rosemary, basil, tarragon, dill, oregano, thyme, cumin, coriander, cardamom, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek, mustard seeds, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, onion powder, garlic, and parsley.
OILS AND BUTTER SUBSTITUTES
Because these are all fats, they should be used sparingly. A little goes a long way in saute´s, stir-fries, and salad dressings. But not all fats are created equal. The less-refined oils are better for you. Look for "cold-pressed" or "expeller pressed" oils because they retain more nutrients than highly processed and refined oils. It′s best to keep these oils in the refrigerator, as they will turn rancid over time. Use olive oil for all your cooking and baking needs, of course, using it sparingly. Look for extra-virgin olive oil.
It′s best to avoid hydrogenated oils, such as margarine, even if it is soy or canola margarine. Adding hydrogen to oils creates trans fats, which we described earlier as the worst type of fat to eat. You can buy non-hydrogenated versions of margarine in most grocery stores. Even these should be used very sparingly.
Organic, unsweetened fruit juices can be great sources of vitamins and make tasty refreshments, but they do contain calories. Mineral water and herbal teas are a great way to make sure you get your recommended eight 8-ounce servings a day of water. There are more herbal teas available than you could imagine. Or blend some soy milk with frozen strawberries and bananas for a powerful breakfast smoothie. But, the best beverage of all is good, pure, refreshing water.
Because these products are obviously not high in nutritional value, they should be used sparingly. But when you want a sweet treat, try molasses, pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, sorghum, Sucanat (sugar cane natural) or agave nectar (cactus nectar) as they are probably metabolized by your body more slowly than white or brown sugar. They′re also less processed and may have small amounts of beneficial nutrients. The herb Stevia is a good alternative.
WHERE TO SHOP
Where do you buy these staples? You don′t necessarily need to change where you shop, although you might want to find a natural foods store in your area to expand your options. Look in your Yellow Pages to get a listing of groceries in your vicinity. But even better, visit HappyCow.net for the definitive guide to veg restaurants and natural markets in your area (or use the HappyCow search below!) Most natural foods stores have trained, knowledgeable staff who can help you to get accustomed to their store. Take advantage of this service and get the real "scoop" on which items are the tastiest.
There are many large natural food store chains in many parts of the U.S. Stores such as Fresh Fields, Wild Oats, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and more, offer wonderful choices for healthy, tasty fare.
The large conventional super markets are not about to be left out. Many of them offer organic and natural food sections for produce, bulk foods, and other healthy choices. Check them out!
Hopefully we have given you some tools to work with on the road to health and healing—your road to a new you!
© Ted Phelps and DayStar Botanicals.
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Beloved, I wish above all things, that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 John 2.
Education in the divine principles of health have never been needed more than today! There have been many wonderful advances in science and technology, but there is an alarming increase in disease and sickness due to destructive habits and the over indulgences of our society. Today, habit and appetite are at war with nature. The results are seen in most of our lives as many experience some minor or major breakdown of their health.
God's promise still stands—if we incorporate His principles of health into our lives, then none of the diseases of this world will befall us. Listed below are God's 8 Laws of Health, taken from the "owner's manual". Click on a title to learn more.