March 30, 2011

favorite favorites of veggie dishes

I know several of my last posts have been kind of “heavy,” and I really do not want to scare anyone out of becoming a Vegetarian. This has been something I have LOVED as a part of my life for the last 4 years, and I have no plans to stop being a Vegetarian or change anything. I just would have really, really benefited in learning about what I was doing to myself before I did it. That’s why I think a class on Vegetarian Nutrition would be highly beneficial at Chapman University.

However, in this post I want to touch on one of the lighter and more fun aspects of becoming a Vegetarian, that I think would also be a great part of a Vegetarian Nutrition class at Chapman University. That is, making great, healthy food decisions in terms of getting correct nutrition as well as discovering and trying new foods that are delicious and completely Vegetarian.

I know this might be boring to start out a vegetarian foods post w salad, but like, a salad is not just lettuce cucumbers and tomatoes. A salad can be a green leafy, spinach, multi-bean salad, a salad with different types of yummy cheeses, walnuts and almonds and cashews, and fruits too. I think my favorite salad combination right now is leafy greens, candied walnuts, apple slices, gorgonzola cheese bits, and Girard’s non-fat balsalmic vinegrette. A salad can mean a billion types of dressings as well, which adds a whole new taste to the salad.  My favorite restaurant for salads is far and away no competition Rutabegorz restaurant in Orange, California. I have a different wild salad everytime I eat here, and it is an incredibly vegetarian and vegan friendly menu.

Other options that I have learned to absolutely love are hummus and veggies, and hummus and pita chips or pita bread. I have plugged this before, but Trader Joes Eggplant Hummus is my favorite under the sun. Any type of hummus that’s a garlic hummus or a pine nut hummus is also my favorite. In terms of pita chips, whole foods does a Multi-grain pita chip that is delishhh. Pita breads from trader joes are always a huge win. More and more restaurants have started, if they didn’t already, have an appetizer on their menu that includes some form of hummus, breads and veggies. A good one I had last week was at Alessa’s on Forest Ave. in Laguna Beach California. On the appetizer menu called something like “three hummus dip.” Loved.

In terms of dishes I love to make myself, I am not gonna lie, im NO vegetarian chef. Not in the slightest. However, I find easy things to make as well as am learning more and more to explore more complex Vegetarian cooking. I love making Risotto, especially wild mushroom risotto, and also Cous Cous. Whole foods has a great whole-wheat cous cous. My favorite restaurant in Portland, Oregon is a Lebanese Restaurant on NE Grand Ave. that has an absolutely incredible Cous Cous and Tzaikyi  dish.

In terms of vegetables that I make, I love grilling and steaming. Steamed lemon pepper asparagus is incredible, basically you just put a little canola oil on an oven pan and roast asparagus in the oven with lemon juice and pepper sprinkled over it. Soooo good. Also, mashing peanuts and sprinkling them over steamed green beans is one of my favorites right now.

One more, and this really didn’t come about until i spent time in Europe. The wonderful world of Cheese is out there for those Vegetarians who let themselves eat cheese. I love cheese, and I love GOOD cheese. My favorite types of cheese, which I like spread over vegetables, pita chips and different whole grain breads, are Gorgonzola, Bleu cheese, and basically any kind of cheese with a spicy green herb in it. I know that’s not very descriptive or accurate, told ya I was no cook or food novice, but basically I just like to explore. And as a Vegetarian, especially a knew one, doors are opened into food groups that I probably never would have enjoyed if I hadn’t gone Vegetarian. Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions about the foods or dishes just comment me!! Im sure in a Vegetarian Nutrition class they would provide calorie counts and recipes and such, but that is why I am a blogger and not a teacher of this class. Thanks readers!

March 29, 2011

“i wanna ‘Go Veg’ to lose weight !!!” and my other least favorite phrases

I want to take this time to re-affirm what the change I would like to see made is, what the point of my blog is

I would like to see a class built into the College of Health and Nutrition Science at Chapman University in Orange, California, that focuses specifically on Vegetarian Nutrition, both how to receive proper nutrition as well as what the effects can be on your body if you do not take proper care of yourself when becoming a Vegetarian.

I am blogging about some of the dangers of deciding to “go vegetarian” without knowing what you are getting into, and what supplements and things you should be taking in order to help your body are. I am blogging about this because I have a been a Vegetarian for about a year before I looked into any of this, and after I had seen some very alarming changes in my body.

This is going to be a short post, and that is because it is not one that I originally intended to do for the blog, however in writing and researching I have found that there is not way around talking about this.  I did not want my blog to be about weight loss, because that is not and never should be a reason for someone going Vegetarian. Going Vegetarian is NOT  a way to instantly lose weight for sure. Not not not. And sooooo many young woman think that it is. Regardless of the this fact………..

The most common reason I hear for young women who want to go Vegetarian is most certainly  to lose weight. That’s just how it is. And though I did touch on this in my post about my favorite vegetarian “myths,” I intentionally did not talk  about this, because it is so highly un-true.

This being said, over a period of about 4 months, I lost about 40 pounds becoming a Vegetarian. During this time I also started cross-country running, and I completely understand that this is part of it, but a huge part of it was because I thought that becoming Vegetarian meant Lets Just Eat Vegetables All The Time ( I love vegetables, like really love them and always have, weird I know? Welcome to Portland, Oregon, that love is not really that weird considering im from that city) and guess what, its not. Its about learning about nutrients, and still making sure that your body is getting all the right nutrients, and that you are eating them! Also, im 5 ft 8inches. Tall for a girl. So this was pretty drastic and unhealthy.

So here’s me over a span of 6 months:

Not so healthy. And it wasn’t really just about how I looked and felt, it was that it had a pretty strong affect on those around me in terms of worrying about my health. I always say going Vegetarian and becoming a runner were the best things I have ever done for myself, and while this most certainly may be true, for I learned a lot about myself and I learned a lot about those around me and superficiality and such, I did some pretty bad damage to my bone density and to my heart rate and to my health as a whole.

And I really wouldn’t wish ^that process on anyone. So again, vegetarian diet dangers. Even though so many girls “try and lose weight” in the process of becoming vegetarian, and though this was so far from the reason why I went vegetarian, it did happen to me. Ive gained (thankfully) back about 15 pounds of that weight that so drastically fell off of me when I became a Vegetarian, and have leveled out, which makes my weight now relatively healthy for my running and vegetarian. However my metabolism is pretty wrecked, and I will not be able to take back the heart rate slowing down or the bone density loss. So .  Again, thanks for reading, and I promise my next post will be a much happier one !!!!!

March 29, 2011

Cracks. and other not so good sounds.

I am going to discuss a one of the more serious questions that vegetarians get asked, which is how their choice of being a vegetarian will affect their long-term health.

I would say that if Chapman University implemented a class that taught Vegetarian nutrition and health, this would be a very important section to cover thoroughly. I had no idea what “the effect” on my long term health would be when I became Vegetarian. This is not high on most 17-year-old girls minds when they are thinking about current health and food choices, and it most certainly was not on mine.

The first question that I wanted to respond to is the question about fertility and vegetarian mothers wanting to give birth. I am not a mother and am not thinking about motherhood for at least another ten years, however this is something that I have brought up with my doctors in the last few years.

One of my doctors, Dr. Wessels, has been a vegan for 20 years, however she went vegetarian during the time of both of her pregnancies. She got on different vitamins and a higher supplement of vitamin B12 because one of the problems that can result from a vegetarian giving birth with a B12 deficiency is that the child is born with a b12 deficiency, and this can lead to slow growth and other health problems at an early age for the child. This being said, and I know that sounds scary and it scared me; my doctor took b12 supplements and has two completely healthy teenagers that never had any health problems. I also asked about fertility problems, and Dr. Wessels said that she had no fertility problems that were directly related to being a vegetarian.

Another long-term health concern and one that I have felt personally the effects of is osteoporosis, or pre-onset osteoporosis. Keep in mind this is not a science blog so this might not be the best definition but to my understand, Osteoporosis is caused by lack of calcium in ones system over time which causes “bone demineralization,” which basically means your bones break. This is notttt what you want to have happen. Osteoporosis is, yes, something that is partially genetic, however eating sufficient calcium rich foods as well as taking a calcium supplement can lead one towards a greater likelihood of Osteoporosis earlier in life. And when I say bones breaking I mean hips breaking legs breaking, not just little bones.  Vegetarians are, yes, subject to greater risk IF they are not watching what calcium they eat and drink (milk!) and how much of it day-to-day, as well as taking a calcium supplement. I started to feel a difference in the way my bones “felt” and “sounded” (I know that sounds weird but let me explain) even after a few months of becoming a vegetarian. I could feel the my bones were tired of holding up my body, and that they were just much less strong than they were when I had been eating meat. One thing that should be noted is that I am a cross-country runner and do yoga several times a week, so I am more “aware” I guess you could say of how my body is “feeling” (not to get all vegetarian new age weird on you, just being honest), but I just felt significantly more stress on bones particularly in my legs, knees, and back. Keep in mind that during this time I was basically receiving no form of calcium and was not yet taking a supplement.

The next red flag for me was the bones in my knees started clicking, like, I could (and still can) “crack” my knees just as one cracks their knuckles or neck. Friends, this is not healthy and not normal. Duh. But it wasn’t “duh” for me; I was just really embarrassed about the ugly sound my knees were making all the time. Also, I had never been a “back-cracker,” and my back started feeling stiffer and stiffer and I started to crack my back everyday. The final straw for me was that when I work out at the gym and do crunches and abs work, my hips crack. So. Disgusting. Sounding. And nottt normal. So I talked to my doctor about it finally, and she was obviously concerned and we took a look into my calcium sources and it was immediately clear that for months and months and months (by this point) I had not been getting sufficient calcium for my age, weight, activity level etc. So yes, I became more conscious about my calcium intake as well as started taking a calcium supplement (remember, don’t take with coffee or tea or the calcium wont get absorbed!!) however guess what.

My knees still crack when I run. I crack my back every day. My hips crack when I do crunches at the gym. And there’s nothing that I can do to “reverse” this. Though I am not “diagnosed” with osteoporosis, my chances of getting it in the future are significantly higher than they were before I became a Vegetarian, because I have already weakened my bones so significantly, and because I am still a runner etc. and very active. I very much wish that I had known to take calcium from the start, the way my body feels and moves in terms of how my bones feel are very much changed from the beginning of all of this. I kind of joke with a lot of my friends and always say “ohh I have the body of an 80 year old” because of how much I “crack,” but like really, in a non-joking way, my bones are much “older” than the rest of my body, and though I can do everything I can right now to eat calcium and take my supplements, I cannot reverse this aging.

I know that is not the happiest or most positive story, and I know it’s a little but too much information. However I share it because I really do wish I had known to take my calcium when I became a Vegetarian, and I hope that it does provide some tangible “results,” if you will, for something that can occur waaayyyy too young due to lack of a nutrient in your body. I will be the first to tell you that young people always think their bodies are invincible, before I became a Vegetarian I thought my health was queen of the world. However some things can creep up on us even as young as in our twenty’s. So………take your calcium supplements. Thanks for reading!!

March 29, 2011

my fav myths about being a vegetarian

I think this is a good place to discuss a few myths I have heard about being or becoming a vegetarian.

#1. You will most certainly lose lots of weight !!!!!!!!!!

Though this is the case for some, not every vegetarian “loses weight,” though, yes, this is one of the side effects that can happen. What would happen instead I would say, is that most certainly your body will change. This might mean weight loss, this might mean weight gain, depending on how you go about “going vegetarian.” Whether that means weight shifts to different places on your body,  what type of weight this is (fat versus muscle weight), the way your body processes food, the way your body smells (sorry TMI I know, im just telling it like it is), different allergies or intolerances to foods that had not been discovered may appear, everyone’s body will deal with the shift to being a vegetarian differently.

Though weight loss was part of the deal for me becoming vegetarian, I have a good friend named Emily who went vegetarian awhile before I went veg, but who switched back to eating meat after a year of trying out vegetarianism. Emily agreed happily to discuss her switch to and back from the lifestyle, and gladly so because she hoped it will give some Food For Thought to others, who, like her, were attempting to go veg in order to drop a few pounds. Emily went to a school where weight-loss and diets were most certainly a hot topic, and she looked at going vegetarian, as many do, as an “easy” way to lose weight. While in the first few weeks she said yes she dropped about 7 pounds, those pounds came right back in in the following months, along with about 10 more. The thing about being vegetarian is that, even though the concept of “not eating meat” sounds obviously healthy, you are taking away several verrrrrryyyy healthy sources of protein such as chicken and tuna. I mean, think about it, all of the “diets” you see all over always have some portion of lean chicken or good salmon listed in them!!!! this is not a mistake, this is because they are very healthy choices, and stocked with a great number of nutrients, vitamins, and obviously (le favorite topic) proooteins.

This leads me to the point, why did Emily gain weight from being vegetarian????? Because, when you take away those options of healthy meats, though there are indeed healthy options, the option more often then not becomes something loaded with Carbohydrates. Carbs. The C word. Whatever you like to call them, (and in the dieting world its usually not a positive word) they are one of the common substitutes for meat that is given to a vegetarian. This leads me to my next favorite myth,

#2. You can eat anything you want when you become a Vegetarian !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh my goodness this is really one of my favs. As said in myth #1, a common substitute on menus for vegetarians and in the supermarkets is Carbs. For example, potatoes, pasta, rice, bread and olive oil, risotto, cereal, bruschetta, etc. and yes, some of these options are healthy, loading up on a huge plate of pasta for meals, if you were used to eating a piece of chicken, will not make you any thinner. There is also the trap that some fall into thinking that they can eat more dessert or more sweets if they are a vegetarian in order to “replace calories.” Ummmmm……….the calories in chips or candy are a COMPLETELY different kind of calories that those that are in a can of tuna. They are empty, sugaring , refined sugar cals , not to mention they have zero protein and goodness for your body in them, and you would be a billion times better off (if you are trying to lose weight) eating the can of tuna in the first place.

Though you most certainly can make a vegetarian meal healthy, duh, salads, soups, vegetable dishes, grilled veggies my list can go on and on and on and on, a pitfall that I have heard again and again is replacing cals replacing cals replacing cals. Just remember to look at the number of cals, what type of cals they are (ie fats proteins sugars etc) and make sure that you are replacing the nutrients as well as the cals.

#3.  It is hard to go vegetarian and go out to eat and go food shopping etc.

***(let me preface this with the edit *it is not hard to go veg and go out to eat etc IN THE UNITED STATES…….if I had written this blog a year ago, I would have whole heartedly stood behind the statement oh yes its completely easy to go vegetarian no matter where you are, because I had not yet spent 7 months in Spain. In Spain, not going to lie, it is NOT easy being a Vegetarian. There is not way around that.  At least this was my experience. However, we are not in Spain, we are in le states, and so that is what I will discuss.)

When I became a vegetarian, I did think it would be hard going out to eat and going to the grocery store to get food and such. however, I had never really looked at the menu options that were marked Vegetarian!! MARKED vegetarian. That is how common this lifestyle decision is becoming. More and more restaurants not only have options, but are labeling their options with the V word, as well as vegan and gluten free options. Grocery stores: just start thinking outside the box. One of the most fun and interesting parts about becoming Vegetarian was, for me, trying out new dishes, foods, options at restaurants and basically discovering a whole new part of cooking and eating. I will discuss some of my favorite foods and dishes, since becoming a vegetarian, in an upcoming post J but, point being, in the society we live in today, especially if you live on the west coast or east coast, and ESPECIALLY if you live in Southern California and/or Portland, Oregon, there is always going to be a Vegetarian option. And really if there is not, order a garden salad, don’t make a fuss about it, and eat something when you get home and better luck next time, no problem. (key words: dont make a fuss about it. seriously annoying for vegetarians and non-vegetarian. food habits are your own. this is just my view, i know, but think about it:) )

Thanks for readingggg!

March 27, 2011

a-n-e-m-i-a-? w-h-a-t-e-v-e-r-.

Soooooo going back to my post about Vitamins needed in a healthy Vegetarian Diet. I mentioned Iron.

As a spinach lover, I was convinced I was getting enough iron just by my daily large salads full of spinach. Maybe to some this might seem obvious, but to me it did not. I was highly incorrect.  After going through a few months of I thought was common vegetarian – adjustment issues including painful empty feelings of my heart beating reallyreallyreally fast and then not feeling any heart beat and not being able to breath.  For anyone who has not felt like they could breath, this is maybe the worst feeling I have ever felt in my entire life. Also, being cold to the point of having zero desire to leave my bed in the morning. Let me tell you something – these are NOT common vegetarian issues. Something was wayyyyy incorrect about this picture.

The term “Anemia” has become one that I heard thrown around at school so often it hardly meant a thing. Before getting diagnosed with this, I could name 10 people that had said they were “anemic” and that they knew because they were really cold.

One of the things thought commonly about vegetarians and vegans is that it is common for the them to become “Anemic.” While this may be true, Anemia is actually something that affects people who are not vegetarian is well, for it (by my terms) means you are lacking Iron and/or a serious amount of B12 (ill discuss this one next) in your diet and are unhealthy because of it. Actually, about 20% of women do not receive enough iron in their diet. It never occurred to me that this annoyingly thrown around word could be exactly what I was, I felt like every other person I talk to “thinks they are anemic,” because symptoms are “feeling tired” as well as “being cold all of the time. Well, my response to that was:

1. I think everyone is tired everyday, we sleep everyday. Over worked, over achieving young ladies at all-girls schools get over tired and tend to complain about feeling tired “all of the time.” Its just how it works.

2. Friends, I lived in Portland, Oregon.  Rain. Rain. Rain. Everyone is cold. All of the time.

So I thought everything was fine. It wasn’t. Being Anemic is a technical term. Anemia is not having enough healthy red blood cells; red blood cells provide oxygen to your body tissues. In a nutshell, you do not want to be truly, truly diagnosed with Anemia. It’s going to take a lot more than vitamins to make you come back from this one. What I was feeling in my chest and in my heart was my body telling me I did not have enough B12 in my system to make the red blood cells, and not NEARLY enough Iron in my system as well to circulate the oxygen cells to the rest of my body. There are certainly cases lacking iron or lacking protein, but getting to the point of not being able to breath is really not something that “exploring vegetarians” should experience. Not in the slightest.

Basically this entire post boils down to the fact that Vegetarians should take a Iron supplement to make positive that they are receiving substantial iron in their diet. My case, I am well-aware, was not highly common, but it really, really was not fun to go through, down right scary at several points. So yes. I take an 18 ml iron supplement, with food, errrryday. My heart rate will probably never go back up to where it was before this ordeal, but this supplement helps make sure it doesnt go any lower than it is today.

como siempre, gracias por leer (as always, thanks for reading) 🙂

March 25, 2011

I am terrible at “keeping things short”….

…. And I know that one of the pitfalls of a blogger is writing too much per post in their blog. Or at least, this is a pitfalls according to Naked Conversations, by Scoble & Israel. Sooo I shall attempt to keep this post a liiiittle shorter than my track record would predict.

I want to address one of the less-serious “dangers” of becoming a Vegetarian, but one that I come across all of the time, and you just have to deal with lightly.

There are a lot of Vegetarians in the world. And there are a lot of “different kinds” of vegetarians.  The result of this is differing views on becoming vegetarian, both reasoning behind becoming vegetarian, as well as the way you “practice” vegetarianism.

I am not an intense vegetarian. I do not mind meat in my presence. My little sister and my father both enjoy Steak houses on their birthdays, and this is great by me! The balance that you have to create in being Vegetarian is to remember TOLERANCE for other points of view, aka the majority of the world lives off of meat, and are absolutely OK with this. Truly. And yes, there are Vegetarians in the world who have paved the way and the swimmingly for the super intense Vegetarian-new-age-yoga-breathing stereotype. But you do not have to become this, or anything else you do not want to be.

Abroad in Spain, in short, I was a foreigner in terms of food. I did not meet a single Spanish vegetarian. Zero. O. And there was not a one of my friends abroad, strangers and people in restaurants too who did not questions my vegetarianism. They looked at me like the man in this video!!!! Several of my best friends told me straight up they thought I was craycray for being a Vegetarian, and that I would never be able to live in Spain. The thing is, thats completely OK! Their point of view is completely OK, just as I am entitled to my point of view. Being a vegetarian does not mean pushing your point of view on others, or trying to “convert” them. Nor does it mean you have to go Vegetarian because all of your friends are going Vegetarian. What you decide to eat is your choice, what others decide to eat is their choice, and their are people in the world who try to change that, but thats just life.

I am obviously a Vegetarian, and I laughed almost to the point of tears at the video included in this post. Because we all know a Vegetarian or two (or 39434995404, if you are like me and from Portland, Oregon) who are ……………. kinda like that. And power to them!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for reading 🙂

March 25, 2011

Las Vitaminas (figure it out…or learn español)

I’m going to tell it like it is. If you are one of those people who does not like taking vitamins, and/or forgets to take their vitamins all the time, and/or your new years resolutions usually includes “Take My Vitamins,” going vegetarian is probably not for you.

My suggestion would be for my Nutrition emphasis Vegetarian course at Chapman University or St. Mary’s Academy in Portland to have a section in the course on vitamins in general, but be careful to point out which vitamins are most-haves for vegetarians.

Vitamins are a huge part of the deal. Really, everyone including non-vegetarians should take a multi-vitamin everyday.  The multi-vitamin I like is One-A-Day Women’s.  If I had started taking vitamins as soon as I went vegetarian, I would have saved myself soooo much hassle.

Iron is a supplement that, as a vegetarian who does not receive the number one source of Iron (Meat), I take daily. I am going to talk more in depth about the ramifications of not having near enough iron in one’s system in a further post. I take 18 ml supplement once a day (now I take a normal amount, before I had to take a lot more, and it was honestly disgusting) easily bought at the grocery store in the vitamin department.

**suuper important to take your iron supplement with food, and do not take it with coffee or tea, this will block the absorption of iron. took iron for a month before learning this…….huge fail by me.

Another Vitamin that I take daily now is a B12 vitamin. This is again bought easily in the vitamin department at the grocery store. A 10 ml supplement once a day is great.

Lastly, I would say for not only vegetarians but everyone should take a calcium supplement once a day.

Just to review the Vegetarian Vitamin Shopping List:

–       One a Day Multi-Vitamin

–       Iron Supplement

–       B12 supplement

–       Calcium supplement

If you are looking for even more supplements suggested for vegetarians, I would look up essential fatty acids like omega 3. I take this supplement, but I know many vegetarians that have substantial essential fats in their diets from olive and canola oil and nuts and such. Just depends on what you like! Also, one of my favorite guides for vegetarian vitamins information is The Veg Health Guide. Thanks for reading !!

March 25, 2011

Complete Protein aka Le Nine Amino Acids

As I’m sure you are already aware, one of the most common arguments I hear against going vegetarian is that you remove a huge source of vitamins and nutrients from your diet by choosing to not eat meat.

“YesIKnow.”…..is my normal short response to this brought-up-ever-so-often statement. I do know! duh! There is no denying that meat has vitamins and minerals and proteins, even with all of the controversies surrounding the hormones and genetically engineered foods, there is no denying that meat is a prominent source of vitamins, nutrients, and, importantly, PROTEIN.

One of the things that I, however, really had no idea about when I went vegetarian was the concept of protein, and specifically, the concept of “complete protein.” This could be an entire section in a Nutrition class with specific emphasis on Going Vegetarian at Chapman or at St. Mary’s Academy, probably one of the most important sections taught.

A misconception I had when I went vegetarian was that simply by eating protein, even eating enough grams of it for my height and weight, that I was fulfilling my protein requirements. What a Vegetarian most needs is “complete protein.” Protein is made up of nine “essential amino acids,” and needs each one of those aminos to be receiving complete protein. If you are tuning out, I know this is starting to sound science-y and that’s boring, but bare with me I promise it is not so bad!

So this is the way I look at amino acids. Proteins are the makeup of several important parts of our bodies, as im sure you already know. However, think about it like this: proteins affect your hair (I know that’s kinda  of a vague statement, ….) but not just “your hair,” it’s the volume or thinness of your hair, the texture and color of your hair, as well as the color (or discoloration…ew….) of your skin, the strength (or brittleness….again, ew…..) of your nails, just to name a few.

Let’s get “narcissistic,” as we say in #IntCom, for a moment. I am a redhead – I love my red hair. I’d easily say it is my favorite thing about my appearance. When I became a vegetarian, one of the first things I started noticing was literally chunks of my hair falling out in the shower or in my hair brush, and I just kind of thought that was part of being a vegetarian……….wrong. This was because  I was not eating complete proteins, aka I was lacking several acids in the proteins necessary to maintain the parts of your body that are comprised with protein! In case you are not grossed out enough, my hair did grow back but it has never come near growing back to what it was before I went vegetarian. Lesson learned?

Soooooo, to put this into context, one of my favorite things to eat is hummus and veggies, or just garbanzo beans.  Delish as these might be, they are NOT a complete protein. A complete protein would be adding some brown rice to the garbanzo beans.

A couple of my favorite complete proteins are hummus and pita bread (I lovee Trader Joe’s Eggplant Hummus), as well as nut butter (love almond butter) on wheat toast ( I love La Bread Multi-Grain loaf). After searching around le internet (where else), a couple of my favorite sources for complete protein ideas include (found via FitSugar, definitely a favorite veggie-info source) called The Veggie Table.  Here is their list of complete protein ideas :

“Beans on toast

Corn and beans

Hummus and pita bread

Nut butter on whole grain bread

Pasta with beans

Rice and beans, peas, or lentils

Split pea soup with whole grain or seeded crackers or bread

Tortillas with refried beans

Veggie burgers on bread

If you want to be absolutely certain that you are getting enough protein, you should eat food combinations which form a complete protein, such as:

Legumes + seeds

Legumes + nuts

Legumes + grains “

So yes. This is my take on complete proteins. If you are sitting there somewhat disgusted by ^that list, I’m thinking that vegetarian is not high on your to-do list. However, for current vegetarians and those looking into it, I have absolutely loved trying new foods and dishes that I probably never would have tried if I had not gone vegetarian. Most recently, it was Fennel, in the fennel and pear salad @ Lumberyard in Laguna Beach. Lovee!

As always, thanks for reading 🙂

Continue reading

March 10, 2011

Vegetarian: RESEARCH before attempting…. Or take a course in school!

My name is Erin, and thank you so much for visiting my blog! I hope you enjoy! First of all, I want to make clear the fact that I LOVE being a vegetarian, and I have been a happy vegetarian for four years. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself. I made this decision while working (as a summer job in 2007) for a sandwich shop in Portland, Oregon, and becoming very close to several co-workers who had previously worked in a meat packing plant in a Scholls, Oregon. After hearing story after story about the work they endured and what they and the animals went through, I decided to become a vegetarian and never looked back. However, this is not what my blog is about in the slightest.

I am from Portland, Oregon, and I attended St. Mary’s in Portland for High School. Portland is a very “health conscious” and “green” city, and I know southern California is extremely health conscious as well. In Portland specifically, there are many young women at St. Mary’s (and there were in the time that I went there) that are very interested in the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, and how they can make their own lives more “green” or “healthy.” However, I would watch friends and different girls at school “go veg” for a few weeks in order to “drop a few pounds” or something of that nature.

And I inadvertently became one of these women, without even meaning to in the first place. Actually, I had never really liked or eaten much red meat, especially in the last few years becoming making the change to vegetarian, but that summer in the sandwich shop, my co-workers story’s pushed me over the edge, and I decided to just start being a vegetarian. However, I made this decision without really considering how to go about it the most productive and healthy way. To be fair, this was not the only factor in my lifestyle changes at this time, I always started cross-country running for the first time in my entire life during this time period. Though I am still, to this day, a happy vegetarian (and cross-country runner,) it hasn’t always been an easy and healthy road to arrive at this point.

My own health deteriorated greatly when I became a vegetarian without talking to my doctor and just “figuring it out on my own” and my long-term health will always be affected by my rash judgment and decisions.  I will go into the specifics of this “un-health” in later blogs. I am passionate about this because it is something that I still deal with everyday, and I would never wish the ramifications of damage to your health early in life on any young women.

The hardest part of coming back from this decision was figuring out how to “live as a vegetarian” the correct way, and having to painstakingly pick out every meal and nutrient as well as attend nutrition seminars and to have blood tested every few weeks. Eww. Not exactly the things a HS senior/college freshman+sophomore wants to be thinking about on a Friday night out to dinner with their new friends college. Definitely does not make the “the fun one” of your friends to go out to dinner with, trust me.  Figuring out (silently) how many grams of iron are in your salad or what you need to eat or what vitamin you need to take once you get home in order to “meet your vitamin standards” for the day are not exactly what makes you someone that people want to hang out with much at all.

In fact, it becomes somewhat of a “life-encompasser”. Not in the way that young adult women and girl can become “unhealthy” with their relationship with healthy food, but encompassed with doing picking out the “right” foods for being a vegetarian. You know that something is not right when you are cancelling dinners and outings with friends in order to prepare your own perfectly nutrient rich vegetarian meals, whittling your way down to complete protein heaven.

My intention with my blog is this: I would love to see courses put into place at Chapman University, or, at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland that focus specifically on nutrition in a vegetarian diet. This class could be a health or science elective for both Chapman or St. Mary’s, and I would not want this course to be pushed on anyone, simply one that is available for new vegetarians, or people thinking about trying out the vegetarian lifestyle, to take and learn from. If this class would have been available for me in high school., I would have jumped at the chance to take it, and would have learned a lot more and saved myself many trips to the doctor, and gone about being a vegetarian with much more knowledge into how to stay healthy while staying true to my morals. Thanks again for reading, and I hope you continue to follow and learn from my stories and research!