by Lesley Scott
Seems like more and more of our readers are keen to try meat-free meals on more than one night a week.
Whether it’s for convenience, cost, moral or religious reasons, we think it’s great that you’re willing to give it a try, but realise that it can be quite a challenge – there’s nothing like eating the same veggies prepared in the same way over and over again to get you ditching your meat-free meals faster than you can say ratatouille.
So here are five things to keep in mind to make sure your food stays nutritious and flavourful:
- Don’t miss out on the power of protein – this is so important! One scoop of chickpeas is not going to give you enough protein for a day. Good sources of protein, which should be added to each meal, include eggs, cheese, yoghurt, chickpeas, lentils, beans, nuts, nut butter, seeds and tofu. Grains such as quinoa also contain some protein. It’s needed for your body to work optimally and increases feelings of satiety, so don’t skimp on it just because you’re leaving out the meat.
- Use fresh produce whenever possible and combine different textures – the freshness contributes so much to the flavour, and various textures add to the enjoyment of a meal.
- Really make the time to plan these meals – as with anything new, it takes a little time to learn the ropes before you can throw the meal together without giving it much thought. Choose recipes that sound appealing, experiment with herbs and spices, try different types of cheese, sauces and cooking methods and before you know it the same main ingredients give you five different meals.
- Remember that vegetables are not carbs – except for some foods like butternut, peas and corn, other veggies supply us mostly with micronutrients, water and fibre and can’t be used as a good source of long-lasting energy. Have your veggies, especially ones with a lot of zinc and iron which you’d normally get from meat, but be sure to add some unrefined carbohydrates or fruit which your body can use for energy.
- Up your water intake – if you’re going to increase your intake of legumes, which are high in fibre, you should make sure you’re drinking enough water too
If you really give it a go, you’ll be surprised by how filling and flavourful vegetarian-style foods can be!