Whether you’re going veggie or simply looking for more meal inspiration, our panel of experts’ top tips help ensure your diet is healthy
Keep an eye on fat
‘Going veggie won’t automatically make you slimmer,’ warns dietitian Juliette Kellow. ‘In fact, you could even gain weight.’ Avoid replacing meat with large amounts of high-fat and starchy foods and introduce healthier fats, leaner proteins and more grains.
Eggs are good for you
‘Don’t worry about the dietary cholesterol eggs contain as it has little impact on the blood levels in most people,’ reveals Prof David Haslam, GP. High in protein, versatile, good value and calorie-controlled, eggs are a versatile way to add tasty protein to your meals.
Alternatives to rice
Bored with rice? Get stuck into quinoa, says Tracy Kelly, Diabetes UK dietitian. ‘Delicious with veggie chilli, it contains all the essential amino acids, fibre and magnesium you need and it’s even gluten free,’ she adds. Try cauliflower chopped and pulsed into rice-like pieces – you can serve it raw or lightly sautéed, and it’s delicious when flavoured with herbs and spices. Read our blog on how to make cauliflower rice.
Spice is nice
Do your vegetarian friends a favour and don’t default to obvious dishes like meat-free lasagne. Phil Mundy, HFG’s recipe consultant, suggests you take inspiration from your spice drawer and transform mushrooms, an onion and a handful of spinach into a tasty, healthy curry or a filo pie filling. To bump up the protein, simply add beans and pulses or a little white paneer (unsalted white cheese curd).
Nutrionist Amanda Ursell recommends baked beans (choose reduced sugar and salt beans) served on wholemeal toast with grilled mushrooms and tomatoes. It provides protein and, crucially, iron, one of the main nutritional concerns for a meat-free diet. It is also packed with soluble and insoluble fibre, which keeps the digestive system healthy and is great for controlling blood sugar and cholesterol.
Combine iron with vitamin C
‘It can be tricky to get enough iron from a meat-free diet,’ admits senior nutrition scientist Bridget Benelam. ‘Vegetarian foods tend to offer a lower level of iron and the plant form of iron (non-haem iron) is more difficult for the body to absorb.’ The good news is you can help your body to absorb more of this essential nutrient by combining vitamin-C rich foods with non-haem irons sources such as eggs, pulses and dark green vegetables.
FIND ALL OUR HEALTHY VEGETARIAN RECIPES here