Becoming a vegetarian is not your meal ticket to a fit and healthy body. Everyone is entitled to individual food choices, whatever those may be. And the choice to tread lightly on the earth is one which is nothing but admirable. But, it’s important to note that vegetarians more often than not carry more weight than those who eat meat. It’s unfortunate but true that these days a vegetarian is most likely to have a less than perfect diet, maybe even worse than those who eat meat and seafood.
Adopting a vegetarian diet does not guarantee a trim, taut and lithe bod. In fact, the modern vegetarian diet is likely to consist of substitute, off the shelf, ready-made, cheap to buy, fake-meat proteins that will only add bulk. Why? Mainly, because they contain a mass of added sugar, gluten and other high allergenic proteins, oil and fats, and artificial flavoring. Plus, the fact that many vegetarians are simply nutritionally unsatisfied from a diet such as this. They then eat a lot more, seeking out those missing nutrients.
This does not have to be the case! It is still possible to eat well as a life long vegetarian or vegan, or a sometimes vegetarian. Remember, any healthy diet involves careful planning and mindful choices, a knowledge of what and where to find better food options, and how to put these to use in the kitchen. Quinoa is a great starting point.
Quinoa is a grain. It’s high in calcium, iron and protein, whilst being relatively low in calories. You can buy quinoa readily from the health food section of most supermarkets and health food stores. It has roughly half the calories of rice, contains a mass of essential amino acids, is low GI (meaning it’s burned slowly) and is gluten free. It is available in it’s grainy form suitable to be used like rice for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and is also terrific in flour form to be used in baking. The recipe below is your traditional Tabouli but with a twist. It uses this nutritious super-food instead of cracked wheat and has the benefit of added chickpeas and tofu for extra protein content. This will leave you not only energised and raring to go, but also a somewhat rare find – a satisfied vegetarian (or pseudo-vegetarian).
Quinoa, Chickpea and Tofu Tabouli
365 calories per serve
1/4 cup quinoa
75 g firm tofu, cubed
½ can x 400g can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
1 handful fresh mint, leaves washed, finely chopped
1 handful fresh continental parsley, washed, finely chopped
1 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cloves of garlic, crushed – added for immune boosting properties
2 green spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
Fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Mirin, Japanese Rice Wine
Cook the quinoa, covered over low heat in a saucepan with ½ cup of water until all liquid is absorbed, this may take an average of 10 minutes over low heat. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, heat coconut oil in frying pan over medium heat. Add tofu and cook for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Towards the end of the cooking time add a dash of mirin to caramelize the tofu. Add the tofu, chickpeas, mint, parsley, tomato and spring onion to the quinoa and combine. Mix through lemon juice and season with unbleached sea salt or sea salt flakes.