More and more people are turning vegetarian, but anyone who is or is considering becoming vegetarian should bear in mind several important points to maintain a healthy diet. Here we offer a selection of top tips for stocking up on some healthy vegetarian ingredients supplied by Vanda Laktos of Herboristeria Biocasa in Fuengirola, who invites readers to join in on one of her vegetarian cooking courses.
QUINOA: is usually considered to be a whole grain. It is actually a seed, but can be prepared like whole grains such as rice or barley. Quinoa is known as a super food and provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It is also gluten- and cholesterol-free.
OTHER MILK: There are many milk substitutes available such as oat, almond, rice, quinoa and spelt
TAHINI: a ground sesame seed paste, similar to peanut butter, it is creamy, oily, smooth and rich in calcium. Tahini is an important ingredient in recipes such as hummus, as well as many vegan salad dressings.
SEITAN: Although made from wheat, seitan has little in common with flour or bread. Also called “wheat meat”, “wheat gluten” or simply “gluten”, seitan becomes surprisingly similar to the look and texture of meat when cooked, making it a popular meat substitute. Seitan is also high in protein, making it a popular protein source for vegetarians.
MISO: made from fermented soybeans (see note on soy), miso is a thick, brown paste-like substance and tastes extremely salty on its own. While the most common use is in Japanese style miso soup recipes, miso also adds a unique burst of flavor to salad dressings, sauces and marinades or vegetable dishes.
TOFU: Tofu is made from soybeans, water and a coagulant, or curdling agent. It is high in protein and calcium and well known for its ability to absorb new flavors through spices and marinades.
TEMPEH: Tempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans formed into a patty, similar to a very firm veggie burger, it has a textured and nutty flavor. Although tempeh is made from soy, it has a unique taste and is mildly flavorful on its own, unlike tofu. Tempeh is also very high in protein and calcium, as well as beneficial isoflavones.
Is it possible to eat healthy, quick and vegetarian?
For many new vegetarians cooking is one of the biggest challenges. People often don’t know what to cook or how to cook it, vegetarian foods can be hard to find, or are too expensive, people don’t know any other vegetarians and living with non-vegetarians makes it hard to cook vegetarian meals
Vanda is offering vegetarian cooking classes for every level from beginner to proficient to provide inspiration and ideas that are easily achievable with the emphasis on inspiring you to cook with passion.
In the classes students will learn how to prepare delicious, easy-to-make vegetarian meals, each class is a mix of hands on cooking, helpful tips and ideas and demonstrations. 90% of the ingredients used during the class are organic.
For vegetarians, eating organic is doubly important as a higher percentage of their food comes from fresh fruit and vegetables and there for they are more exposed to the toxins from pesticides found in conventionally farmed foods. Next issue Vanda explores the benefits of organic food.
Although highly rated by many as the perfect vegetarian protein, others are not so sure and there are a few important issues to be aware of:
– Most soy is genetically modified these days. If it is not organic it will contain at least some if not all GM soy which can cause allergies.
– Natural toxins called “anti-nutrients” are found in soy, including soyatoxin, saponins, phytates, pxalates, protease inhibitors, estrogens, and goitrogens, factors that can interfere with protein-digesting enzymes. Consuming too much soy can put your health in danger.
– Soy can disrupt proper thyroid function.
– Soy can prevent absorption of minerals.
Feb 12 & 19 / Mar 11 & 18: vegetarian cooking courses
This post is also available in: Spanish