Vegetarians enjoy a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit with some also choosing to include dairy products and eggs. Studies suggest that a plant-based diet like this can be a healthier way to eat with fewer reported cases of obesity, heart disease and type II diabetes. Typically, a varied vegetarian diet contains less saturated fat and more folate, fibre and antioxidants, plus as a vegetarian you’re more likely to exceed the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables.
Whether you have made the full vegetarian plunge or just want to mix it up, sans the meat, once a week, these healthy, fruits and vegies will have you swooning.
A protein-based breakfast makes for an ideal choice because it's a filling and sustaining way to start the day and needn't take any longer to prepare than toast or cereal. For example, while your bread is toasting scramble some eggs for a nutritious toast topper and on days when you have a little more time, enjoy our version of a vegetarian kedgeree.
Make every snack count with nourishing options that supply both the 'pick-me-up' you need while topping up your portions of fruit and veg, or deliver key nutrients like iron or vitamin D. Swap your morning biscuits for toast topped with slices of banana, bake a batch of fruit-packed muffins or blend up a fruit smoothie.
At lunch, aim for a mix of protein from beans, peas, nuts, grains or dairy products, combined with starchy carbs. You need carb-rich foods because without them you're likely to suffer that classic mid-afternoon slump. The key is to choose carbs that produce a steady rise in blood sugar, which means passing on the sugary 'white' foods and going for high fibre whole grains that help you manage those afternoon munchies.
We need some fats in our diet, but it’s important we don’t eat too much and the focus should be on the right type of fat. Fat is not only a source of energy it helps us absorb fat-soluble vitamins including vitamins A, D, E and K. Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat but keep in mind that full-fat dairy, as well as some plant foods like coconut and palm oils, are high in these saturates. Heart-friendly mono-unsaturated fats are found in plant foods like avocado, olive and rapeseed oils, whilst nuts and seeds supply the heart-friendly poly-unsaturates, including the omega-3 variety. It’s these unsaturated fats that we should be eating more of, so include a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds or two tablespoons of oil, or the equivalent of unsalted nuts, daily.
For many it's not sugar so much as salty, savoury foods they crave in the afternoon. If this sounds like you forget the crisps and opt instead for a spiced seed mix, savoury popcorn or enjoy low-fat cream cheese on crackers or a crunchy colourful salad.
Don't curfew carbs - they're low in fat, fibre-rich and help you relax in the evening, plus they’re filling, which means they’ll get you through to breakfast. Combine them with some healthy essential fats, such as the ones you find in nuts, especially walnuts as well as seeds like pumpkin and some protein from tofu, eggs or dairy. During the night your body will use the protein and these healthy fats for regeneration and repair, which is important for maintaining healthy skin and hair.