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Vegetarianism 101: Recipes for trying a plant based diet

Greek yogurt with raspberries, blueberries, and granola. This recipe is packed with vitamins and minerals and tastes delicious.

Greek yogurt with raspberries, blueberries, and granola. This recipe is packed with vitamins and minerals and tastes delicious.

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More and more people are switching to a plant based diet, with more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts, and less animal products. The most common form of this plant based diet is lacto-ovo vegetarian (people who do not eat meat or seafood, but still consume dairy and eggs). Students may want to transition into a vegetarian lifestyle for many reasons, but it can be hard at first, especially for those that eat meat often. By trying new and easy recipes, this change may be easier and can actually become fun. Focusing on all the new foods people will be able to eat instead of what they can’t is helpful in this transition.

Starting out the day right with a protein rich breakfast is important. Overnight oats is an easy and delicious meal, and it can be made days before when stored in the fridge. In a glass jar, mix ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup milk, 1/3 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon maple syrup. Cap off your jar and store it in the fridge, and the next morning add in toppings such as spices, slivered almonds, coconut, granola, or berries. Yogurt parfaits are also a delicious breakfast, and they’re high in protein, calcium, and vitamin B12. This can be prepacked by mixing 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt with 1 teaspoon honey in a container, then adding granola and fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, grapes, or pineapple. The honey and fruit will add a natural sweetness to the yogurt, but if it is still too bitter you can swap plain for vanilla Greek yogurt. Mina Snyder (10), a vegetarian at Patterson Mill said, “I love yogurt parfaits”, and also says “I have made the oats and they are pretty good.”

Another vegetarian breakfast is peanut butter and jelly, but with a twist. Store bought jams aren’t a very healthy option since they are high in sugar and usually have other additives like high fructose syrup and artificial colorings. To still enjoy a delicious PB&J, you can top your bread with fresh berries or banana slices. It is also important to buy an all-natural peanut butter and to use whole wheat bread rather than traditional white which is lacking in nutrients.

One of the most popular lunches among students is sandwiches, but they often contain meat. Vegetarians may be reluctant to give them up, however they don’t have to. An easy and healthier substitute is chickpea and spinach sandwiches. These can be made by mashing ¼ cup canned chickpeas and adding in a tablespoon of chopped bell pepper, a teaspoon of salt, a pinch of ground pepper, and 1 tablespoon mustard. Next, thickly spread this mixture across your toast, and top it with tomato slices, spinach, lettuce, or any other desired toppings. You can enjoy it fresh or wrap it up and take it to school for the next day.

Pasta salads are also a tasty lunch that can easily be made without meat or seafood. Start by cooking 1/2 cup (dry) pasta (bow tie or rotini are good choices). Once you have drained the water and the noodles are cooling, cut up a sweet bell pepper, grape tomatoes, and/or black olives. Mix this together with the pasta in a bowl, and then add in ¼ cup of canned black beans or chickpeas. Too add some flavor, you can either add a homemade or store bought balsamic vinaigrette, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon oregano. Mix it up, and then refrigerate it for up to one week.

Many people worry that if they go vegetarian, they will start lacking protein and other important nutrients, but this is not true. Four ounces of steak contains about 28 grams of protein, 2.5 milligrams of iron, 22 grams of fat, and 89 milligrams of cholesterol. ¼ cup of quinoa and 2 ounces of black beans contains 30 grams of protein, 7 milligrams of iron, 4 grams of fat, and 0 grams of cholesterol. When comparing the nutrients, the quinoa and beans are much healthier than the steak and actually have more protein. A simple recipe to use these ingredients is veggie bean quinoa. All you have to do is cook ¼ cup of dry quinoa in ½ cup vegetable stock. While this is cooking, cut up ½ a bell pepper, ¼ cup mushrooms, and ¼ a yellow onion. Lightly grease a pan with ½ a teaspoon of olive oil, and then sauté the vegetables. Once both things are done cooking, remove from heat and mix in a large bowl, adding in ¼ cup canned black beans. The vegetable stock that is used to cook the quinoa and the sautéed vegetables will add all the flavor needed for the dish, but if you would like to you can add shredded cheese or green onion on top.

A vegetarian lifestyle can improve your health and the environment, and although it is different, it’s not hard or boring once you have acquainted yourself with the new diet. Jenna Beshara, a sophomore says that, “A lot of people think vegetarian foods are boring and bland but there’s so many great options to choose from and being a vegetarian really pays off in the long run for your health.” Switching to this plant based lifestyle seems challenging, but it can be made simple with the right recipes and brings great benefits to your health, the environment, animals, and more.

Gracie Tasel (9) eating vegetarian lunch. She is eating a homemade black bean and quinoa burger, almonds, and a cheese stick.
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Vegetarianism 101: Recipes for trying a plant based diet