These healthy vegetarian recipes are a winner for any occasion, from a simple family meal to a dinner party. Meatless meals are a good idea, both in terms of your health and your pocketbook. And eating less meat also helps conserve our planet's limited resources. Whether you are a vegetarian or are just interested in eating less meat, these recipes will satisfy your hunger and your palate!
Around 5% of US citizens consider themselves to be vegetatarian, with this figure being slightly higher in the UK (7-11% depending on different sources). The American Dietetic Association considers vegetarian eating to be suitable for everyone at any stage of life, even for athletes and bodybuilders. Furthermore, large-scale studies have shown that vegetarians have significantly reduced chances of heart disease (30% less in men and 20% in women) compared to meat eaters, lower BMI (body mass index), reduced levels of cholesterol and lower blood pressure. It has even been found that vegetarians visit their doctor less often than omnivores! However, many nutritionists believe that similar health benefits can be obtained by just cutting down your intake of meat (particularly red meat) and eating more and a greater variety of vegetables. In any case, including some meals featuring healthy vegetarian recipes in your weekly diet is a good idea.
The most important part of vegetarian cooking is to be sure you are working with the freshest ingredients available. Organic vegetables and fruits picked at their ripest and bought soon after they are harvested will be the most flavorful and nutritious. Apart from growing fruits and vegetables in your own garden, your local farmers' market is probably the best bet for finding top ingredients for these healthy vegetarian recipes. Eating food that is in season is also a good idea, especially since your body tends to need more carbohydrates in the winter to keep you warm, and this is the time that the sweet root vegetables like carrots, parsnips and swede are most abundant. In the summer, ripe tomatoes, salad crops, peas, beans and soft fruits suit your need for lighter meals with delicate fresh flavors.
Vegetables, aside from their wonderful taste, are important in your diet because of the essential vitamins and minerals they contain. This is especially the case for magnesium, potassium, folic acid and vitamins C and E, all of which play a key role in helping your body to work properly. Many vegetables are also a great source of antioxidants, such as bioflavonoids, which act to boost your immune system, preventing colds and reducing your risk of cancer.
One frequent concern expressed about following a vegetarian diet is about ways of ensuring that you are getting sufficient protein. Dairy products and eggs are clearly one way of providing an excellent source of amino acids (the building block of protein) in your meals, but complete protein (containing all nine of the amino acids needed for human health) can also be easily obtained through combining grains together with nuts, lentils or beans. This is quite a natural mix that can be seen in the basic meals of many cultures, such as lentil dhal and rice from India, refried bean fajitas in Mexico and falafel (chick pea fritters) with couscous, commonly eaten in North Africa. Beans on toast is an excellent modern western example!
With all that said, we hope you enjoy our healthy vegetarian recipes
as much as we do and think you will find that, regardless of the
numerous health benefits they provide, the best recommendation for
eating meat-free meals from time to time is how good they taste!
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