If you choose a vegetarian lifestyle, you’re not alone. Millions of people around the world adhere to a vegetarian diet and many live very active, healthy lives. Protein and iron are the key elements to remember when cutting meat out of your diet. While you can take supplements to add these nutrients into your diet, it is far more efficient for your body to get them from foods. The trick is finding healthy, vegetarian foods that add these essential nutrients back in to your daily food.
To maintain healthy levels of iron and protein while following a vegetarian diet, try to add these foods into your daily meals:
Tofu is a great way to add protein and iron to your vegetarian diet. It’s easy to cook and has a texture that many people enjoy. You can add it to everything from soups to stir fry, or simply eat it with crackers. It does expire quickly once opened, so plan to consume the entire package within a couple of days.
Seitan is known as “wheat meat” or the protein portion of wheat. It is separated from the wheat and looks a bit like meat. Add it into soups, stir fry, casseroles, and pretty much any recipes that call for meat. It is salty and has texture similar to meat, so some vegetarians don’t like it. However, it is a great way to add protein and iron to a vegetarian diet.
Beans, particularly lentils, offer excellent doses of iron and protein. Add beans to toast, eat them on their own, or mix them into soups. You can also add beans to tortillas or refry them to add with your favorite Mexican dish.
Seaweed is an excellent way to add protein and iron, but it also provides many other essential vitamins and minerals as well. Add protein to miso soup, cook it in stir-fry, add it to salads and even blend it in with smoothies. You must soap most seaweed before eating, and some require cooking. Just read the back of the package and follow the directions.
Nuts are a simple way of adding protein and iron to your diet. Take them for snacking or eat nut bars. Mix them with dried fruit to create a trail mix. Add them to stir-fry to give the dish interesting texture. Blend them up to create homemade peanut butter and even add sunflower seeds to make a peanut/sunflower butter concoction that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Fruits and vegetables: Green, leafy vegetables and many fruits supply you with iron. Make sure to eat a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables so you are getting a wide variety of healthy vitamins and minerals. Broccoli and kale are very nutrient-rich and therefore ideal choices. If you don’t like the taste, simply blend them into smoothies to disguise them.
Following a vegetarian diet doesn’t have to be difficult. Just be sure to choose a variety of foods that are rich in protein and iron. Whip them up in tasty recipes and get creative; make the process fun!