Make Your Carbs Work For You
Do you live on pasta, crackers and bread? Yes, these foods are quick and easy. And they easily fit into a vegetarian diet. They are satisfying and filling. But they lack the fiber, vitamins and minerals that unprocessed foods provide. Make room in your diet for starchy vegetables, legumes and whole grains by decreasing refined flour based foods.
Starchy vegetables include: corn, sweet potatoes, yams, butternut squash, acorn squash, red and new potatoes and parsnips. These vegetables provide carbohydrate, fiber, and the orange veggies provide tons of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene.
Legumes are naturally balanced, including both carbohydrate and protein. They top the charts in fiber content and are important sources of iron and magnesium.
Whole grains are either intact or ground into flour. Intact whole grains, such as quinoa, oats, rice, millet and barley provide fiber along with minerals including, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.
Don't forget that all vegetables and fruits provide carbohydrate and are important foods to provide necessary nutrients in a vegetarian diet. Your vegetarian diet should be colorful and crunchy—full of fresh and frozen veggies and fruits.
Balanced Vegetarian Meals and Snacks
Lean protein rich foods help to balance meals and snacks, promote satiety, appetite control and sustained energy. Canned salmon, cottage cheese, string cheese, yogurt and hard-boiled eggs may fit into certain vegetarian diets, but not all vegetarian diets. Finding vegetarian, non-dairy and non-fish sources of protein can be a challenge. Here are a tasty vegan snack ideas that would fit any vegetarian diet:
- Hummus stuffed bell pepper sprinkled with chopped black olives
- Lentil soup and an orange
- Marinated tofu cubes, cherry tomatoes and grapes
- Mashed edamame spread onto whole grain crackers
These snacks are balanced, providing both carbohydrate and protein to fuel workouts and enhance focus and concentration throughout the day.
Vegetarian diets can be nutritionally complete and exceptionally healthful. Vegetarian diets can also enhance exercise performance when high quality carbohydrate rich foods are emphasized. Focus on making high quality food choices that prevent common nutrient deficiencies.
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