Let me say, right off the top, that I could never be (nor would I even hope to be) a vegetarian. I love seafood, chicken, smoked turkey, grilled hotdogs, and the occasional burger or steak way too much to even consider the idea. My middle daughter, Brittany, is a vegetarian, however, and has been since she was 12. Naturally, like any self-respecting overly-protective mother, I researched vegetarianism and vegetarian diets like my life depended on it. Actually, more importantly – like my daughter’s life depended on it.
I only wish I’d had the book I just read (The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being Vegetarian) all along. This one book, not only answers every single concern I ever had about vegetarianism, it taught me just how important it is that I start serving even more vegetables and fruits to the entire family. Whether or not you have a vegetarian in your family, you really should add this book to your home library. The updated and revised guide features countless tips for healthier cooking and eating as well as 75 delicious recipes.
When reading a book, I always know I’m in on a good thing when I find myself reaching for my pen and notebook. I’m checking my notes now to review a few of the interesting things I learned courtesy of this book and it’s very pretty author, Frankie Avalon Wolfe, M.H., PhD. Yes, “very pretty”…he‘s a she and looks like a cross between Denise Austin and Diane Kruger.
From My Notes:
- There are 22 grams of protein in 8 oz. firm tofu, 13 grams in 1 cup cooked black beans, and 12 grams in 1/2 cup sunflower seeds.
- B12 is critical for the metabolism of every single cell in the body. It may eliminate fatigue, prevent Alzheimer’s, and support memory and thinking. Sometimes antacids or laxatives can inhibit the absorption B12.
- Tofu, which takes on the flavor of anything it’s cooked with, is low in calories and high in protein. That much I knew, but I didn’t know that it could be frozen. Apparently, when frozen, tofu becomes more porous and gets a gritty texture that makes it even more meatlike.
- Something I knew absolutely zilch about was Tempeh. Tempeh is a mix of whole fermented soybeans, sometimes mixed with grains such as millet or rice, and made into cutlet-shaped patties. It has a pale brown color and a bumpy-looking texture and has a somewhat nutty flavor. One of the reasons vegetarians love Tempeh so much is the fact that it’s filling – so it subs for meat “heartily.” It contains no cholesterol, almost no fat, and is high in protein and fiber. (The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being Vegetarian
includes a recipe for Tempeh Sloppy Joes that I plan to test out tomorrow. I’m going to serve them with another recipe from the book, Baby Spinach, Grape, and Walnut Salad. Does that sound amazing or what?! )
- Chapter 16 describes how being vegetarian and living the typical vegetarian lifestyle has been proven to lower the risk of developing cancer. The author’s description of free radicals has forever changed the way I think about food choices. I’m also much more determined to fill my family’s world up with more antioxidants, since they tame free radicals. They’re abundant in fresh fruits and vegetables.
I don’t want to give anything else away but know that I have pages and pages filled with notes – punctuated with exclamation marks, smiley faces that lost their traditional smiles to open-mouthed gapes, and a few “OMG”s. There are also many, many, many notations about which of the 75 recipes I want to try first. I wrote, “Make the Veggie Spring Rolls on page 205 as a Biggest Loser snack next week…” and “Make the Asparagus and Cream Cheese Risotto asap!” I also wrote down the following recipes to take for a test drive during the next couple of months:
Vegetarian Lasagna (page 254)
Pine Nut Manicotti (page 255)
Samosas (page 266)
Veggie Fried Rice (page 279)
Garlic Green Beans (page 278)
Couscous Pita Sandwiches (page 291)
Avocado Rolls (page 327)
Spinach and Artichoke Dip (page 326)
Mexican Layer Dip (page 324)
The Mexican Layer Dip sounds amazing! It includes Veggie refried beans, diced green chilies, vanilla yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, avocados, salsa, cheese, scallions, jalapenos, and tortilla chips. Unless I miss my guess, my family will be diving into some during this weekend’s football games.
There’s also a chapter (#24) devoted entirely to grilling out – or, what many of you in other parts of the country refer to as “barbecuing.” In our part of the world (the south), barbecue goes between two buns, accompanied by a little sauce, pickles, and a sweet onion. When we were first married, my husband was in the Air Force, and we were stationed in beautiful Wichita, Kansas for a few years. When I first heard someone say they were going to “barbecue” in their back yard, animated question marks danced over my head. I’m sure they would have thought the same thing if I’d said, “We’re grilling out tonight.”
At any rate, whether you barbecue or grill out, Chapter 24 will be one of your favorites. My family loves grilled food, and my husband practically lives on the patio from March to September. The recipes in this chapter include Tofu Veggie Kabobs, Black Bean Burgers, and Horseradish Corn on the Cob, among others.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being Vegetarian suggested doing something that I’ve been doing for a while, now: pick a day of the week to go completely meatless. With humus, Boca Burgers, colossal tossed salads, baked potatoes, pasta salads, veggie subs, spinach manicotti, and soups – not only is it doable, it’s delicious. My family never even notices the absence of meat. With the recipes in this book, this day of the week will be even more delicious and varied.
Click the links in this post to learn more about this wonderful and informative book. (Did I just say “learn more” after everything I just typed out. Okay, so there isn’t any more to learn. Just go buy the book! )