Top 5 Pantry Staples for Vegetarians
Becoming vegetarian is not always easy, but keeping a few staple foods in the fridge and pantry will encourage a smooth transition! Here are 5 nutritious foods to keep in the fridge when you are saying goodbye to meat:
1. Lentils & Beans
These little legumes are super nutritious, low glycemic, and packed with complex carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. Protein and fiber help you to feel fuller longer, and complex carbohydrates digest slowly, keeping your blood sugar steady. They also contain a fair amount of iron, which is an important mineral for vegetarians to focus on, since it is predominantly found in meat. Cook lentils or beans alone with herbs, salt, and olive oil or add them to soups, salads, rice dishes, and more!
The craze about avocados is true! They are low glycemic and filled with fiber and nutrients, such as vitamin K, healthy fats, and B-vitamin pantothenic acid. Adding avocados into your diet can help a transitioning vegetarian feel full and satisfied without the meat! Mash them over toast with salt, pepper, and lemon; add them to your smoothies to create a creamy texture; or slice them over a healthy vegetarian chili!
3. Nuts & Seeds
Like avocados, nuts and seeds are full of protein, healthy fats and fiber that help you feel full. A variety of nuts and seeds offer a variety of nutrients. Find selenium (an antioxidant) in Brazil nuts, Omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts and chia seeds, vitamin E (an antioxidant) in almonds and sunflower seeds, manganese in pumpkin seeds, and the list goes on. Fold almond butter into oatmeal, sprinkle chopped nuts or seeds over a salad, or grab a handful of nuts as a midafternoon snack!
Quinoa is a nice hearty grain and unlike many other plant proteins, it is a complete protein. This means it contains all of the essential amino acids. Protein can be a concern for many vegetarians, but by adding this wonderful grain into your diet you can be sure you are eating enough. An added benefit is that it is gluten free! Mix it with roasted veggies and herbs, use it as a base in veggie burgers, or add it to a salad!
5. Mushrooms & Eggplant
When becoming a vegetarian, you may wish to recreate the texture of meat. Mushrooms and eggplant serve as a great alternative and can provide that meaty texture you’ve been missing! Mushrooms are high in selenium (an antioxidant), copper, B-vitamins riboflavin and pantothenic acid, and eggplant is low glycemic and low calorie! These two foods offer many health benefits and can be used in a variety of ways. Use them as the base of a veggie burger, make a Portobello mushroom and roasted veggie sandwich, or replace the chicken with eggplant in eggplant Parmesan!