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Guidelines for Planning Vegan Meals

The term vegetarian is nothing new to me since I have been a veggie pretty much most of my life. So a vegetarian diet basically excludes meat, poultry, and seafood. There can be exceptions to vegetarians, like some may choose to leave out dairy products from their meals while others like me may include eggs in the diet plan.
So then, what is a vegan diet? It seems to be the latest fad today. Vegans not only avoid meat, poultry, and seafood, but they also eliminate milk, eggs or honey. In simple words, they avoid eating anything that produced by an animal.
Let us say, you are planning to throw a party over the weekend for your friends. The circle also includes some friends who are veggies or vegans. Here are some tips you can follow to ensure you serve up the right dishes on the table.

3 guidelines when planning vegetarian meals

Remember vegans don’t have any animal produce, but no worries you still can cook up a nutritious meal without it.
Include the green vegetables, especially the red, yellow or orange kinds. Serving salads with a dash of flaxseed oil would be a great idea. You can use vegetable protein in the form of legumes, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds or soy. Potato, rice, pasta, bread can be added as a source of carbohydrates.

You add flavor to the meals by including other optional ingredients such as mushrooms, eggplant, beetroot, onions, seaweed, sprouts or bamboo shoots. You may also use herbs and spice that are fresh or dried like basil, oregano, coriander, garlic, ginger, chili, pepper or mustard seeds.

You can also add tomato in the paste or pureed form. Organic Soy milk can also be used as a milk substitute for making white sauces. Fruit juices can be served for drinks. Use Olive oil and non-GM canola oils best choices for vegan. However, remember to use oil and iodized salt sparingly.

Tips for planning vegetarian meals

There are essentially two types of vegetarians. A lacto vegetarians are those who do not eat meat, fish, poultry or eggs, but do have dairy products while ovo–vegetarians don’t eat meat, fish, poultry or dairy, but do eat eggs.

Depending on this you can choose what to serve your guest maybe have a balance of both. You can choose from a variety of foods, including grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy products and eggs if desired serve a balanced meal.

Opt for healthier versions, substitute refined grains with whole grains and use brown bread. Add protein to the meal with dairy products like cottage cheese, yoghurt, eggs, quinoa, and protein-rich vegetables like peas, spinach, broccoli, sprouts and mushrooms.

Why is Protein Complementation Important when Planning Vegan Meals

Vegetarians and vegan diet usually lack protein from animal sources, hence including complementary proteins in meals and snacks will protect them against any deficiencies. Combining two or more plant sources of protein allow them to obtain sufficient levels of all the essential amino acids.

Here are some food combinations that provide complementary proteins:

  • Soups or stews that include legumes and grains
  • Salads made with beans and nuts or seeds
  • Peanut butter on whole-grain bread
  • Hummus with whole-wheat pita bread
  • Tofu with brown rice
  • Tofu stir-fry with whole-grain noodles and peanuts
  • Beans and brown rice
  • Yogurt with almonds

Planning vegetarian meals for the week

A good meal plan needs to consider how often you cook, how much time you have to cook, and what you’d most like to eat. Be flexible and switch your options and eat fresh and seasonal vegetables and fruits. Take a cue from some of the meal ideas given here:

Breakfast ideas

  • Pancakes with fresh berries or smoothies
  • Oats with cooked apples, raisins, and cinnamon
  • Plain yogurt with granolas, honey, and fresh berries
  • Scrambled eggs with spinach and steamed vegetables
  • Vegetable omelet with mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, and cheese
  • Peanut-butter toast with a banana and cold cereal

Lunch ideas

  • Tossed salad with fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and dressing
  • Toasted pita with hummus, fruit with cottage cheese, and trail mix
  • Grilled-vegetable and cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • Fruit salad with yogurt and peanut-butter bread
  • Rice with steamed vegetables, nuts, and a piece of fruit
  • Vegetable curry with flatbread

Dinner ideas

  • Vegetable stir fry with brown rice
  • Curry with hard-boiled eggs and sautéed vegetables
  • Pie with a side salad and 100% fruit juice
  • Veggie taco with lentils, tomatoes, lettuce, and seasonings on a whole-grain tortilla
  • Multigrain pasta with fresh tomatoes and pesto sauce
  • Pizza with vegetables and mozzarella cheese

Sample vegan diet for pregnancy

During pregnancy you need to consume added protein to ensure that your baby gets enough of it. It is important to consume 70 g of protein during this period.

Here is a sample vegan meal plan that would be helpful for pregnant women.

Breakfast : Protein smoothie made with two frozen bananas, 1 cup frozen wild blueberries, 1 cup frozen cauliflower, 2 scoops pumpkin seed protein powder, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (plus filtered water as needed).

Mid-Morning Snack: Pink lady apple with 2 tablespoons almond butter.

Lunch: Lentil salad (with about 1 cup cooked lentils) + a dollop of hummus.

Mid-Afternoon Snack: 1 cup red grapes + 1 cup strawberries.

Dinner : Burrito bowl with 1 cup cooked brown rice, 1/2 cup cooked pinto beans, 3 ounces scrambled extra-firm tofu, pico de gallo, 1/2 mashed avocado, 1 cup romaine.

Dessert: A few nibbles of dark chocolate.

Sample Vegan Toddler Menu – What to feed a vegan toddler?

Feeding a vegan toddler need not be challenging if you follow these simple guidelines. Include breast milk and full fat fortified soy milk at least 5 times a day. Serve toddler size portions of vegetable, fruits and beans at least twice a day. Also serve a single portion of nuts and this ensures they get a balanced diet.

Sample vegan menu for weight loss

If you need lose weight in a healthy way be sure to include these in each meal:
One protein (for maintaining and building muscle, which is important for metabolism)
One carb (for energy)
1-2 vegetables (for vitamins, minerals, and fiber)
1 fruit/colorful vegetable (for vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants)
1 fat (yes, your body needs fat for nutrients like Omega 3 and DHA!)
1 green (very important for weight loss and getting enough iron and calcium on the vegan diet)

Planning balanced Vegetarian Meals

Vegetarians needs a lot of proteins if you have eggs helps you meet the required portion. Else you can have cereals or muesli with nuts and top it off with yoghurt. It is a wrong notion that vegetarians are at risk of being low in the mineral iron. There are plenty of plant based foods that are good sources of it. Have this with a small glass of fruit juice, rich in vitamin C, to optimize your body’s iron uptake. For those who avoid dairy, like milk and yogurt, choose alternatives fortified with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium.

Striking the perfect balance

FoodPortion Size
Bakes like brownies/flapjacks (as an occasional treat)2 of your fingers
Butter/spreads/nut butter (no more than 2 or 3 times a day)The tip of your thumb
Carbs like cereal/rice/pasta/potato (include 1 portion at each main meal and ensure it fills no more than ¼ of your plate)Your clenched fist
Cheese (as a snack or part of a meal)2 of your thumbs
Nuts/seeds (as a snack or part of a meal)1 of your cupped hands
Protein like tofu/beans/pulses (aim to have a portion at each meal)Palm of your hand
Savouries like popcorn/crisps (as a snack/treat)2 of your cupped hands

Whichever diet you follow it is important that you eat it in a balanced way. So eat healthy and stay healthy !

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