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Old 05-06-2005, 04:37 PM   #1
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New vegetarian, novice in the kitchen. Suggestions appreciated.

I am new to cooking, vegetarianism, and these forums. I'm just new :P. Anyway, I'm a college student who just switched to vegetarianism for a variety of reasons, and am looking for a few pointers as to how to the basis of my every day meal. Basically just how to replace meat as the staple of every meal (I was quite the carnivore prior to my decision to go veggie).

I basically just try to either sub in a non-meat where meat used to be for each meal. Typically mushrooms, cheese, eggs, something like that. I'm concerned, however, as I eggs and cheese aren't the healthiest food you can eat, so I don't think I should be eating tons of those. I am also concerend because as a novice in the cooking world, I often times just end up frying a bunch of incredients in a big pan in oil. That can't be too healthy for me either. A friend suggested switching to a vegetable spray like Pam. Are sprays like that really much healthier than olive/canola oil? And while we're at it, which is the healthier of those two oils? A bio professor says canola oil is the healthiest you can get, my roommate claims it's olive oil. Pro chefs?

Anyway, I suppose I'm just looking for some simple options for me as a vegetarian to cook myself, considering I have limited space, resources (ie ingredients), and funds as a college student. Buying bulk produce seems a good way to go, but it tends to go bad on me before I have a chance to use it all. One thing is for sure, I have got to stop relying on the old egg and bagel sandwhich. That can't be good.

So thank you in advance for your suggestions and I'm looking forward to becoming a regular around these forums.

Take care!

EDIT:
And actually, I'm going to do some shopping tonight. What're some simple things I should pick up to just have around for general vegetarian cuisine? Vegetables, obviously, but what'd be good for me to just have around that wouldn't spoil quickly? I find if I buy more than one loaf of bread at a time, the second spoils before I eat it, but the first doesn't last too long either. Perhaps I should make trips to the store more often?

Anyway, I figure it's good to have a few kinds of pastas hanging around, an onion or two (how long does a brown onion last in the cupboard?), some potatoes, scallions, garlic (seems to last forever), carrots, some canned tomatoes, various cheeses, eggs...what am I missing? What're those simple things I can keep on hand that'll ensure I can always whip something up when I get hungry?

Thanks again! Can you tell I'm new to the kitchen? [wink]

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Old 05-06-2005, 04:53 PM   #2
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Welcome aboard! I use canolla oil, but I hear the olive oil is suppose to be better for you, I personally only use olive oil when making something italian, I prefer the light flavor of canolla, but both oils are very good for you.

Here is a dish I whipped up today for lunch:

green and red bell peppers, cut into strips
scallions, chopped with the green part too
onion, chopped
mushrooms, chopped
sundried tomatoes in olive oil, cut into strips
grape tomatoes, sliced in half, added at the last minute so they dont get mushy
garlic, chopped fine
romano cheese, fresh or dried, I used dried from a can

Saute the veggies, garlic. Add the cheese and grapes tomatoes at the end. Thats it! You could also add all these on top of some pasta too if you need more bulk in your meal.
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Old 05-06-2005, 04:58 PM   #3
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Thanks, amber. That sounds nice and simple. I will indeed do pasta as I'm a pretty big guy. I'll try it this weekend some time.

Quick question, though. Saute means quick on high heat, right? So do I heat the oil on high, throw in the veggies (gently, of course, as hot oil hurts), add the lid, stir occasionally, and just kind of pull it off when it seems done?

Also, do you use anything to season the dish? Or are the garlic and cheese typically enough?

Thanks!
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Old 05-06-2005, 05:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CyberSlag5k
Thanks, amber. That sounds nice and simple. I will indeed do pasta as I'm a pretty big guy. I'll try it this weekend some time.

Quick question, though. Saute means quick on high heat, right? So do I heat the oil on high, throw in the veggies (gently, of course, as hot oil hurts), add the lid, stir occasionally, and just kind of pull it off when it seems done?

Also, do you use anything to season the dish? Or are the garlic and cheese typically enough?

Thanks!
Yep I use medium high heat, heat your oil first, then add the veggies, turn it down a bit then add a lid, stir occassionally til it's done to your liking. I forgot to add that I put in some strips of fresh basil too, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
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Old 05-06-2005, 06:03 PM   #5
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Cyberslag, I am not vegetarian, but I have a few friends who are. One thing you need to be aware of is your protein intake. You can substitute beans, and other legumes, and tofu in a lot of places for meat.

If as you say, you are a big guy, it is especially important to make sure you get enough protein. I know there is a chart around here somewhere on equivalent proportions of proteins. I will see if I can find it and post it for you. Welcome to the boards and good luck in your cooking endeavours!

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Old 05-07-2005, 07:05 AM   #6
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HI, Both hubbie and son are vegetarians, so I've had lots of experience with coming up with new ideas for them!

I would absolutely recommend some of the veggie 'meats' that are pretty available on the market now. 'Yves' is a good brand; they make veggie lunch meat, Canadian bacon and veggie pepperoni - and the last two are so awesome, you can hardly tell the difference! Morningstar Farms, Bocca Burger, Gardenburger, and Quorn products are also excellent. They're pretty high in protein, low in fat and carbs, and although the cost seems a little high, when you do a comparison to the meat product, it's not that different.

Rice and beans, pasta, etc. are all great 'fillers' for a vegetarian, but that's a lot of starch to eat every day, all the time; it's easy to gain weight eating this way, because your body is basically using these foods to fill you up, and not giving you the protein you need.
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Old 05-07-2005, 05:03 PM   #7
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Welcome Cyberslag!

Iím one of those non-meat eaters too. Iím nowhere near being close to vegan as I consume and love cheese, eggs and seafood. But Iím very glad to have made the switch to they way I currently eat where the focus is on grains, vegetables and fruits.

Instead of falling back to the old familiar add oil to pan and fry veggies, I suggest trying to roast them! Itís very simple, very healthy and the taste canít be beat. If Iím not doing something special with my vegetables, this is my standard default way of cooking them. Any vegetable will work, broccoli, sweet potatoes, sweet or red or regular onions, asparagus, regular potatoes, zucchini, baby beets, brussell sprouts (use a knife to make an X in the root end of the sprout so that it will cook more evenly and quickly), bell peppers, green beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc! Simply put the cut veggies into the pan, sprinkle with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and toss them to lightly coat. Bake in a hot (450 F degree) oven for 15+ minutes, until they are done, but not mushy. Theyíre best still firm with browned roasted bits on them. Potatoes and the heavier vegetables obviously take longer. When done, sprinkle generously with sea salt (and yes, Virginia, there is a huge flavor difference between sea salt and table salt, I highly recommend splurging on some quality stuff! Youíll never think of salt in the same way) and thatís it.

Itís also easy to add a handful of pine nuts or sliced almonds or sesame seeds to the vegetables for added flavor. I tend to be lazy and roast them in the same pan along with the vegetables, but some prefer to toast the seeds or nuts separately (over medium heat in a dry pan, until they brown and start to smell yummy, being careful not to burn them).

You can squeeze a dash of fresh lemon juice over the cooked vegetable or add a splash of balsamic vinegar (again, quality matters with balsamic vinegar, so I think itís a good investment to purchase a bottle of higher quality stuff as the taste of a good one is sublime) or a dash of soy or whatever else floats your boat! You could sprinkle in some fresh basil or thyme for the last couple minutes of cooking too (I donít like to put it in right away because if cooked too long fresh herbs loose their flavor) or just add them after, stirring them while everything is still hot to disperse their flavor.

As for protein and the typical vegetarian, youíve really nothing to worry about. Protein is found in lots of non-meat foods (eating 8 strawberries means you have just consumed 1.5g of protein!). Consider that the typical male requires about 65 grams of protein per day. Or you can calculate how much you need more accurately by using the RDA formula and have 0.8g of protein per 2.2 pounds (kilo) of body weight per day. BTW, our bodies do not store excess protein so once you have consumed all that is needed the rest just goes to waste, literally, which is why high-protein diets are brutal on the kidneys. Itís pretty safe to say that most typical Americans over consume protein. Almost any reasonable diet will give you enough protein each day and eating a variety of foods will ensure that you get all of the amino acids you need. (Beans and rice is a perfect example of a meal that incorporates a perfect balance of amino acids. Funny how those two foods are a classic in almost every culture and had been centuries before anyone knew the scientific reasons of why they work so well together.) Cereal with milk for breakfast, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, and a piece of fish with a side of beans for dinner adds up to about 70 grams of protein which is plenty. If youíre not eating fish, then a serving of tofu or tempura and some cottage cheese or yogurt or a handful of almonds will also do the trick.

So if you let your vegetables be the main attraction on your plate, itís easy to add a grain (rice, brown is yummy!, bulgar, quina, couscous, etc) as an accompaniment. Iím not a huge fan of boxed foods, but if time is of the essence and you donít have tons of time to spend in the kitchen, there are some good ones to be found in the ďnaturalĒ food section of most grocery stores. I find it easy to just cook up a bigger batch of one of them and then dress it up for the next couple of meals as most are fine in the fridge for a few days once cooked.



Wow, this got long! Anyway, glad you found us. People here are full of super ideas and very good about finding answers for every question that pops up, so donít hesitate to ask anything.


Z
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Old 05-10-2005, 04:51 PM   #8
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Hi there :) I see that you have had some great advice already. I am vegetarian going on vegan these days.

I would say that olive oil is the best oil personally. Another great sub for meat for say a sandwhich for me would be some humous. You can then load it up with salad and stuff and not only is it filling but very healthy too. Also, if possible and if you don't already, try to use wholemeal bread as that is so much better for you and tastier too! Good luck! :)
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Old 05-10-2005, 05:14 PM   #9
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Oils

http://www.askdrsears.com/html/4/T043800.asp#T043802
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Old 05-10-2005, 05:46 PM   #10
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Wow, thanks everybody (that was a great post, Zereh). I really appreciate all of your advice and will be incorporating it into my diet appropriately :)
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