Wednesday, 13 April 2011

My diet (and a recipe)

I have been a vegetarian for about two decades now. I became a lacto-ovo vegetarian in my early 20's for ethical reasons and it wasn't until I was in my 30's that I started paying more attention to the health reasons. These days I'm still a vegetarian. I eat free range eggs, drink skim milk and avoid all other animal products (including rennet and gelatin).

I try to eat as natural as possible, avoiding artificial sweeteners and highly processed food. Some days it's easier than others. Both my teens love "Yves Veggie Ground Round" in tacos, chili, and spaghetti sauce and both love "President's Choice Blue Menu the world's best meatless breaded chicken strips". While both are processed they're high in protein, low fat, and contain fibre which makes them worth my while to add to our diet as a treat. And eating naturally makes it tricky buying yogourt some days. Both my teenage daughter and I sigh over the dessert lines for yogourts but with artificial sweeteners and gelatin in them they just don't seem worth it - even with the leopard print designs and the 30-something calorie servings. Astro has a line of gelatin free yogourt and I buy the one with the least calories (100 calories per cup).

I often get comments and questions when people find out I'm a vegetarian and usually they're the same ones over and over (and over and over LOL). The comments tend to be "I thought about becoming a vegetarian but..." and end with either "I love meat too much" or "I couldn't do it, I'm just not cut out to be a vegetarian". The fact is that even people who love the taste of meat become vegetarian. No one who knew me thought I'd stick with being a vegetarian as I was a huge meat eater. Even as a baby I used to cry for bacon. And I have to wonder what on earth people were eating that they couldn't be a vegetarian. I get that not everyone can be a vegetarian. Someone who's allergic to wheat, soy, nuts, peas, nightshade plants, milk, and oranges is going to find eating a vegetarian diet a tad tricky for example. But I wonder how many people became junk food vegetarians as teens, subsiding on macaroni and cheese with fries (hold the gravy) and twizzlers then gave up on the whole idea of being a vegetarian when they became anaemic.

The main question I get is "what on earth do you eat?" and the answer is "pretty much what everyone else eats but without the meat". We eat spaghetti with homemade vegetable-tomato sauce, soup, chili, curry, tacos, lasagna and so on. Plus lots of salads (my teenage daughter loves spinach salads), fresh fruit, and fresh veggies. And muffins... healthy homemade muffins :o) Which leads to my recipe (based on my Mom's banana bread recipe).

Low Fat Banana Berry Muffins
~ makes 16 muffins

1¾ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ cup ground flax
½ cup sugar
¼ cup pureed mixed berries (thinned with grape juice enough to blend)
2 tbsp vanilla yogourt
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3 medium mashed ripe bananas
½ orange (juice and zest)

Preheat oven to 350F and spray muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray. Grate orange zest into a small bowl then cut and squeeze the orange into the bowl. Mash bananas with the orange and add berry mixture. Set aside. Blend flour, baking powder, salt, soda, and spices. Stir in flax.

In a separate bowl stir together sugar, applesauce and egg whites.

Add dry ingredients alternately to wet ingredients with mashed bananas. Blend well after each addition. Scoop ¼ cup batter into the muffin pans. Bake for 25 minutes.

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