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What do you think about cooking vegetables in a microwave?

Categories: Articles, Cooking tips, Food Safety, Vegetables, Vegetarian

For The Vegetarians: Red Curry Kohlrabi

For The Vegetarians: Red Curry KohlrabiHealthy Food Tip

What do you think about cooking vegetables in a microwave?

We get many questions about whether we recommend cooking vegetables in a microwave. As you will see throughout our website, light steaming is our cooking method of choice for most vegetables. Loss of nutrients in the microwave depends on the same factors involved with loss of nutrients on the stovetop.

To predict the nutrient loss, it’s important to know answers to questions like: “Is the vegetable placed in water? How much water? To what temperature are the vegetable and water heated? For how long? We’ve seen studies showing minimal loss of nutrients from microwaved vegetables, and we’ve also seen studies showing substantial loss. In general, we prefer stovetop steaming that can be accomplished in as little time as microwaving while providing a more even heat.

Are the carbs in vegetables the same cooked or uncooked?

Carbs (carbohydrates) in vegetables can definitely be affected by cooking. They are not affected as quickly or as extensively as phytonutrients like flavonoids or carotenoids, but they are still subject to changes from baking, boiling, steaming, and roasting. The exact impact of cooking on vegetables-and on other foods as well -depends on how long you cook them, how high a temperature you cook them at, and how much moisture you use when cooking them. But here are some basics about vegetables, cooking, and carbs that you should know.

Conversion of starch to sugar

Heat can help increase the rate at which vegetable starches get converted into vegetable sugars. A baked Russet potato, for example, will lose about 10% of its raw-form total starch content and convert that starch content into sugar. From a nutritional perspective, this loss of starch and increase in sugar is relatively small and not typically a cause for great concern. However, the baking of a starchy vegetable can also raise its glycemic index (GI) value. This increase in GI (often related to the conversion of starches to sugars) holds true for vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, plaintains, and carrots. A raw carrot typically has a GI value in the 15-20 range. A cooked carrot’s GI will typically fall into the 35-50 range. (You can find a reliable list of GI values in the website established by David Mendosa and based on research at the University of Sydney in Australia at

Changes in resistant starch

Research studies show definite changes in levels of resistant starch naturally occurring in vegetables (and other foods). Resistant starches are generally viewed as helpful carbohydrates that resist breakdown in the digestive tract long enough to reach the large intestine and support the metabolic needs of helpful bacteria and cells lining the large intestine. However, the precise relationship between vegetable cooking and resistant starch is not yet clear. In some cases, the cooking of vegetables has presented some very favorable results with respect to the amount of available resistant starches. In other cases, no change in resistant starch levels has been determined to result from cooking. While the jury is still out in this area of research, look for future studies about the impact of cooking on the levels of resistant starch in vegetables and other foods.

Dry versus liquid heat

When vegetables are boiled in water, some of their sugars and starches are lost into the cooking water. When vegetables are roasted or baked in the oven, this loss of sugars and starches into water does not take place. For this reason, vegetables like boiled green beans will typically lose a small percent of both sugars and starches into the cooking water, whereas oven-roasted green beans will not. However, these changes in carbohydrate composition are once again relatively small and not usually a major factor in deciding about cooking method.

WHFoods Recommendations

When it comes to their carb content, vegetables can generally be enjoyed without problems in either cooked or raw form. Ratios of sugar to starch may change during cooking, as can amounts of available resistant starch and GI value. Among all of these factors, GI value may be the most important factor to consider for individuals who are following a diet that is focused on blood sugar control and insulin balance.

photo by: Tobyotter

Nice explanation of Blood Building Foods

Categories: Blood Vacuity, Eastern Nutrition, Nutritional Information, Western Medicine

The term blood building foods is commonly used in alternative medicine, particularly in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Blood building foods are those foods that contain high quantities of specific nutrients thought to encourage the production of new blood cells in the body. The most important ingredient in a blood building food is iron, but vitamin B12 and folic acid are also key.

Although many choose simply to strengthen the blood by taking iron pills or liquid iron supplements, eating a diet high in blood building foods can be equally effective. Some blood building foods are less appetizing than others, and though they are food, they are generally taken as a supplement rather then simply eaten as a meal. These include foods like animal liver, brewer’s yeast, bone marrow soup, and black strap molasses. Colostrum, the milk produced in mammals during the late stages of pregnancy, is also considered a blood building food. Colostrum is high in antibodies and nutrients needed by newborn mammals to build blood after birth.

If these options seem unappetizing, there are a number of blood building foods which may have wider appeal to the palate. These include meats, particularly duck, goose, lamb, and oyster. Dark leafy greens, such as spinach and wheatgrass, are also particularly high in iron, and are considered a blood building food. Wheatgrass, and other foods such as raisins, prunes, kidney beans, mushrooms, apricots, and soy foods can be particularly effective in building blood, especially if one is following a vegetarian diet.

The iron-rich foods listed above are considered particularly potent in blood building potential. Hypothetically speaking, however, any food that is high in nutrients is beneficial to the blood. Of course, if one wants to encourage the production of healthy new blood cells, it is also wise to stay away from those foods that offer little nutritional value, or rob the body of nutrients. Foods such as refined sugar, coffee, and alcohol are often thought to rob nutrients from the body, not to mention the taxing effect they can have on the liver.

Within the practice of TCM, herbs are also commonly recommended in a blood building regimen. Though they may not be foods in and of themselves, herbs, spices and extracts taken to build blood are often derived from foods, or other edible substances. These include ingredients such as licorice, ginger, red dates, citrus, cardamon, and alfalfa.

Blood building foods, due to their high concentration of iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid, are an effective way to relieve anemia, fatigue, paleness, coldness of the body, and amenorrhea.

What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Seaweed?

Categories: Articles, Cooking tips, Nutritional Information, Phlegm Nodules & Interior Heat, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian, Western Medicine


Sea vegetables, often referred to as seaweed or algae, are not as common in the Western culture as they are in other areas of the world. Sea vegetables come in a variety of colors including green, red and brown, each with a unique flavor, shape and texture. This exclusive family of vegetables absorbs nutrients from the sea and are, therefore, an excellent source of trace elements, vitamins, minerals and protein. Sea vegetables are some of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Proponents claim that sea vegetables can protect against disease including cancer; however, no scientific studies have been done to confirm this.


Dulse is a reddish brown sea vegetable with a chewy and slightly salty taste. It is approximately 22 percent protein, offers more than 100 percent of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin B-6, iron and fluoride in addition to 66 percent of the RDA for vitamin B-12. Dulse is also a rich source of potassium, manganese, iodine, iron, riboflavin, phosphorus, and vitamin A. It offers a variety of trace elements, enzymes and phytochemicals, yet is relatively low in sodium. Dulse is available powdered as a condiment or in whole stringy leaves. One-third cup of dulse contains about 18 calories.

Agar Agar

Sometimes called Japanese gelatin, agar agar is a clear, tasteless alternative to animal or chemical-based gelatin. Derived from red seaweed, agar agar is a natural thickener. You will typically find this sea vegetable used as a gelling agent in desserts, pie fillings, puddings and aspics. Agar agar can also be used to replace eggs and other thickening agents in baking. Rich in iodine, calcium, iron, phosphorus and fiber, agar agar acts as a mild laxative, adding bulk to your diet without the calories. One serving, or 11 g, of agar agar powder has about 40 calories.


Wakame, also known as alaria, is a deep grayish green sea vegetable. Rich in dietary fiber, chlorophyll, beta carotene, B vitamins, calcium, iodine, iron, protein, calcium and vitamin C, this is one of the most tender sea vegetables. It has a subtle sweet flavor and slippery texture and is best eaten in soups or salads. Two tablespoons of wakame has about 5 calories Oriental medicine utilized wakame for skin problems, strengthening hair, thyroid disorders, menstrual regularity and blood purifier.


Nori is 28 percent protein and an excellent source of calcium, manganese, fluoride, iron, copper and zinc. It is the sea vegetable with the highest B vitamins, including B-1, B-2, B-3, B-6 and B-12 as well as vitamins A, C and E. This easily digested, deep purple-green vegetable is sweet in flavor with a slightly nutty taste. Nori is most commonly used as wrappers for sushi rolls. One sheet of nori has approximately 10 calories.


Dark purple, kombu is one of the most commonly used and recognized seaweeds. Kombu comes in thick strips or sheets and will add iodine, calcium, magnesium and iron to your diet. It is also a good source of vitamins B, C, D and E, as well as calcium, beta carotene, potassium, silica and zinc. Tough and chewy, kombu contains enzymes that help break down the raffinose sugars in beans, making them more easily digested. One 4-inch piece of kombu has 10 calories.


A staple of Asian cuisine, sea vegetables are often vastly under-appreciated in the West. Sometimes referred to as seaweed, these vegetables actually include a wide range of different types of algae. Frequently sold dried, most sea vegetables need to be reconstituted before or during cooking. Sea vegetables may also be sold as dietary supplements in powder, tablet or capsule form.


Sea vegetables come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and flavors. The most familiar for most people is nori, the green or dark purple sheets used to wrap some types of sushi rolls. Arame looks like thin black shreds and is cooked in stir fry dishes or used in salads. The brown sea vegetable dulse is frequently served in powdered form as a condiment but its leaves can also be pan-fried. Kombu comes in dark purple sheets that are often added to soups. Sweet and salty sea palm and tender wakame can both be eaten raw or served in salads or cooked dishes.


Sea vegetables are all typically high in iodine, iron, fiber and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. The iodine in sea vegetables is highly concentrated, but may dissipate some when the vegetables are reconstituted in water. The iron in sea vegetables is accompanied by vitamin C, which helps in making iron bioaccessible. Sea vegetables are also a good source of antioxidant micronutrients. In addition, they contain high levels of selenium, manganese, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin E.


In addition to the micronutrient antioxidants, sea vegetables also supply phytochemicals with antioxidant properties. Different varieties of sea vegetables contain differing levels of carotenoids and flavonoids. For example, nori contains high levels of beta-carotene, the carotenoid that can be converted into vitamin A and benefits visual health. Sea vegetables also contain alkaloids, compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. Because of the complex interactions between the phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, sea vegetables are best eaten whole instead of taken in supplement form.

Health Benefits

Proponents of sea vegetables promote their consumption as good for cancer prevention, particularly colon and breast cancer, and healing degenerative diseases. Extracts from sea vegetables have been shown to halt cancer cell growth in the lab, but these results have not yet been replicated in human or animal models. Research on the health effects of sea vegetables have been mostly limited to laboratory studies thus far. Human clinical trials are needed to determine the effects of sea vegetables on diseases such as cancer, diabetes or asthma.

Source of Nutrients

Most seaweeds are high in essential amino acids, which makes them valuable sources of vegetable protein in a vegetarian or mostly meatless diet.

Like most land vegetables, seaweeds contain vitamins A (beta carotene) and C. Seaweeds are rich in potassium, iron, calcium, iodine and magnesium because these minerals are concentrated in sea water. They are also one of the few vegetable sources of vitamin B-12.

Weight Control

Seaweed is a “free food” when it comes to weight control because it provides only 5 to 20 calories in a serving and contains virtually no fat. Its fiber content also contributes to a feeling of satiety, or fullness when eaten in a meal.

Japanese researchers at Hokkaido University have discovered that a substance in brown seaweeds called fucoxanthin helps reduce the accumulation of fat in the body cells of laboratory animals–although there is no evidence that these results carry over to humans.

Salt Substitute

Seaweed granules have been tested in the United Kingdom as a flavor enhancer that could replace sodium in snack foods and other processed food products. Cutting back on salt can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Blood Sugar Regulation

When eaten as part of a meal, seaweed can help balance blood sugar because its soluble fiber content helps slow the rate at which foods are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream.

Digestive Aid

Agar agar is a gelling agent made from seaweed that’s high in soluble fiber. When used as a laxative, agar agar soaks up water in the intestine and swells up. This creates movement in the bowels that helps with elimination of waste.

Other Possible Benefits

Seaweed extracts have been shown to have an anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effect on laboratory animals, though this has not been scientifically proven in humans.

1. Sea Vegetable History

People from all over the world have eaten sea vegetables for centuries. In Boston, years ago, dulse, a purple-colored sea vegetable, was available to purchase in the street markets. Russians and Irish have favorite sea vegetable dishes. Nevertheless, nowhere are sea vegetables as popular as they are in Japan. In Japan, an organization grades sea vegetables for quality as the United States Department of Agriculture grades meats. Sea vegetables are an important part of the macrobiotic diet.

2. Most Nutritious of Food Groups

Due to modern farming techniques and poor topsoil quality, vegetables today are not as vitamin-rich and nutritious as they were in times past. Sea vegetables may be one of the only ways to get precious trace minerals such as cobalt, copper, chromium, fluorine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc back into our diets. These minerals are necessary in small amounts in our bodies. Of all the foods recommended in the macrobiotic diet, sea vegetables are the richest source of minerals.

3. Sea Vegetable Variety in the Macrobiotic Diet

The most popular sea vegetables used in the macrobiotic diet are arame, dulse, hijiki, kelp, kombu, nori, wakame, Irish moss, and agar-agar for thickening. Their benefits are unmatched. For instance, arame is very high in calcium; dulse is 30 times richer in potassium than bananas and has 200 times the potency of beet root in iron; hijiki has 4 times the amount of calcium of whole milk; kelp has 150 times the amount of iodine and 8 times as much magnesium as garden vegetables; kombu equals corn in phosphorus; nori has as much vitamin A as carrots and twice the amount of protein as some meats; wakame is high in calcium and phosphorus also.

4. Alkalize Acid and Remove Radioactive Substance from the Body

Sea vegetables help alkalize the blood to a healthy pH level. Modern diets and junk food make the blood acidic, which over long periods of time leads to acidosis, which means our bodies do not get enough oxygen. This continued process can lead to cellulite in women, skin disorders and overall unhealthiness. Sea vegetables can also reduce excess fat and mucous. Toxic metals in the intestines turn into harmless salts, thanks to the darker sea vegetables. In 1964 at McGill University in Montreal, an experiment showed sea vegetables removed radioactive strontium-90 from the body.

5. Buying Sea Vegetables

Sea vegetables are in all good health food stories. Usually you will not find the full variety of sea vegetables in one store, but bigger stores may carry most of them. If there is a particular variety, you want talk to the section manager about getting it ordered. You can also order online with Japanese and macrobiotic food outlets.


Some types of ocean plant life are beneficial for human consumption. Seaweed and other types of algae have been eaten for thousands of years. You can buy seaweed in the dried form or as a supplement at most health food stores. Commonly called sea vegetables, seaweed supplements may also go by other names and address a variety of health concerns.

Types of Sea Vegetables

Seaweed, whose varieties include kelp, kombu, bladderwrack, wakami, nori, dulse and algae, grows rapidly in the cool waters of most oceans, especially along the Pacific coast of North America.

Sea Vegetable Claims

According to The American Cancer Society, some proponents of sea vegetables claim they can prevent or treat myriad physical ailments, from cancer to obesity. They claim that these vegetables contain concentrated nutrients not available in land-based foods, as well as some nutrients that are not available to humans elsewhere. Infomercials and other marketing tactics claim seaweed can help control appetite and aid in weight loss.


Seaweed contains high amounts of iodine. According to Dr. Donald W. Miller, the recommended dietary intake of 100 mcg to 150 mcg may be about 100 times too low. Iodine is a crucial element of thyroid hormones and is essential to the proper functioning of the thyroid, the gland located at the base of your neck that regulates your metabolism. Miller says that increased amounts of iodine may protect you from breast cancer and can improve your immune function due to its antioxidant properties.

The “Journal of Nutrition” found that several types of marine algae are also high in iron and vitamin C. Sea kelp may be able to help reduce the uptake of dietary fat by more than 75 percent, according to a 2010 article published in “Science News.”

Some sea vegetables contain varying amounts of carotenoids, flavonoids and alkaloids, which may have anti-inflammatory properties.

The USDA recommends you fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Eating sea vegetables counts towards your daily intake of fruits and vegetables.

Sea vegetables can also be used as thickeners in some food, ranging from infant formula to ice cream.

Iodine Deficiency

Too little iodine in the diet can contribute to hypothyroidism, goiter and mental retardation. According to the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, iodine deficiency is the most preventable cause of mental retardation and brain damage in the world.


Common sea vegetable supplements include kelp and red, green or brown algae. Some manufacturers combine kelp with marine algae or other ingredients, such as sodium and iron.

Vegetarian Athlete Recipes and Training Tips

Categories: Cooking tips, Food Culture, Vegetables, Vegetarian

A great vegetarian site

Categories: Articles, Cooking tips, Food Culture, Nutritional Information, Vegan, Vegetarian

CUTTING COSTS WITH A VEGETARIAN DIET…something to consider in lean times

Categories: Articles, Food Culture, Vegetarian



Are you looking for ways to trim your household budget in the depths of the recession? Well, there is no cheaper way than to eat vegetarian.

If you are new to vegetarianism let me assure you it’s no big deal. The only major change is that you swap one protein (meat) for a protein from other sources (beans, lentils, grains, seeds etc).

Making the switch is easy when there is only yourself involved. It only becomes tricky when a whole family is involved and they haven’t been part of the consultation process. But there are ways to go about it.

You can be subtle and start introducing vegetarian food into their diet by modifying their favourite meals to vegetarian.

I’m thinking of pizza, lasagne, macaroni cheese, rice, pasta or bean dishes, soups, wraps, etc. In other words familiar food – comfort food that doesn’t immediately light up red traffic signals. Make the food colourful and flavoursome; bland food will ignite suspicion immediately. Then gradually as they become more accepting begin introducing a wider range of vegetarian food into their diet.

The other option is to involve the whole family in the process right from the beginning.

Be up front with them. Tell them times are tough and of the need to cut food costs. They then become part of the process to embrace vegetarianism.

Why not hold a family conference – but come to the table prepared.

Have the necessary data; the grocery bills; and the amount that has to be shaved from the old budget. It may pay to set some ground rules (like – no interrupting when someone is talking, allowing everyone have a say – use a timer to make sure everyone has an equal input).

It may even be wise to assure them that you are not prepared to sacrifice the family’s nutrition, only that in the interest of cutting costs there needs to shift away from eating meat.

How about challenging the children to search out the healthiest vegetarian options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Reward the person, in some small way, who comes up with the best list.

Remember some people are visual and need to see the problem in black and white before they understand. So have some facts/charts comparing the price of a meat meal against the cost of preparing a vegetarian meal (up to 2/3 less).

As an aside: while you have the opportunity why not take the exercise one step further.

Ask each family member what they are prepared to do to trim household running costs (if nothing else it will be good for the planet). Power, heating, water, petrol, etc, and get them to write it down on a chart (have pencils and paper at the ready) so there can be no backing down later.

Explain it is for the ‘common good’ of the whole family and with their full cooperation life will be so much better because you wont be so stressed out about finances, etc.

Highlight the fact that doing things as a family strengthens the bonds and can also be fun.

Do things like –

  • Packing a basket and go on picnic to the local park or beach. Take a bat and/or ball and play games.
  • Go walking if you have suitable tracks nearby.
  • Look for cheap ways to entertain the family in the local newspaper.
  • Google:  100 Fun Things To Do With Your Family if you are fresh out of  ideas.

Do I hear some of you saying that is okay for young children?

Well, I’ve known teenagers who have joined in whatever game we happened to be playing saying at the end of the day they haven’t had so much fun in years. Even indifferent twenty-somethings have joined in playing a game of croquet when they realised we were having much more fun than they were.

You could even turn the whole exercise in to a ‘what can we do, as a family, to help save the planet from global warming’.

Oh, dear! I have wandered off the subject somewhat but it is all relevant to cutting costs.

The food pyramid on the VEGETARIAN DIET page will give you a visual image of a healthy vegetarian diet.



Breakfast time is usually the most hectic time of the day and we tend to resort to boxed prepared cereals. But rolled oats, jumbo oats or oatmeal are the cheapest breakfast fare there is and much better nutritionally for the family. They also have a low glycemic rating which means they stick to your ribs for longer so you don’t feel hungry so quickly.

Try any of these –

  • Porridge
  • Muesli (good if you are in a hurry. Can also be homemade to save costs)
  • Birches’ Muesli (good if you’re in a hurry)
  • Oat hotcakes

A glass of citrus juice with breakfast will raise the uptake of protein from the oats or other cereals.

Dairy products – milk or yoghurt over your cereal will contribute to your daily protein and calcium requirements.

Fruit with breakfast starts you on the fruit requirements for the day.


Lunches can be anything from salad sandwiches, wraps, homemade soup, pasta dishes, baked beans, muffins, etc.

For cost savings homemade lunches win hands down but they need to be up there with cafe looking food for the family to want to eat them. So use crusty breads (home made), pita bread, tortillas, French bread or rolls when making sandwiches.

Replace meat fillings with:

  • Hummus (try making it at home for cost savings)
  • Cheese (get into the habit of reading labels and look non-rennet started cheese. More are being branded as vegetarian cheese these days)
  • Chilli beans are great as a filling with salad items
  • Yeast extracts (ie: Marmite, Vegemite, which apart from dairy products or fortified foods are the only source available of Vitamin B12 to vegetarians).
  • Meat free substitutes

Remember lunch is also another opportunity to eat fruit, yoghurt, vege salads, nut and seed supplement.



Dinner is the main point of difference in a vegetarian diet. Some people prefer their meal to look like “normal” – 3 vegetables and meat lookalike. Others don’t care and Hoover up anything put in front of them.

A home cooked dinner is the most effective way to save money.

Vegetarian protein sources:

  • Soy beans, soymilk, tofu, tempeh, miso and TVP are complete proteins containing all the essential amino acids for human nutrition so do not need the addition of grain, seeds, nuts, or legumes to be cooked or eaten with them. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use them together if you wish too.
  • Quinoa (an ancient grain) is also a complete protein containing the essential amino acids for human nutrition so do not need the addition of grain, seeds, nuts, legumes or beans to be cooked or eaten with it. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t add them to the dish if you wish too.

The rest of the protein sources available to vegetarians need to be used in combination to get the full compliment of essential amino acids.

  • Grains – Rice (any variety but brown and basmati have higher protein levels); corn; wheat; barley; millet; buckwheat, couscous, bread/bread rolls, pasta, etc
  • Beans (any variety)
  • Legumes – lentils (any variety); peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Nuts (any variety – peanuts are the cheapest)
  • Seeds (any variety)
  • Dairy products – milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream

Some meal suggestions:

Falafels in pita bread
Stir-fry vegetables with nuts and seeds or tofu
Pasta with chickpeas or beans or lentils
Lasagne made with lentils or TVP
Bean Burritos
Corn fritters
Quiche made with tofu
Burgers made with beans or lentils and seeds and nuts
Rice/pasta/vegetable salads with all the extras
Lentil curry over rice
Tomato and beans with pasta
Cornbread with the meal
Soup with crusty bread rolls
Pies filled with vegetable cheesy sauce
Roast vegetables with mock meat burgers/sausages
Casserole of bean or lentils with savoury crumble topping
‘Meat’ balls with spaghetti
Potato topped TVP savoury mince

Although some nut, seeds and cheeses are dear to buy, if you only use a few tablespoons at a time, ie: parmesan cheese or pine nuts, then the flavour boost more than compensates for the cost of buying them.

Include yellow/orange and green vegetables in your meals as they help the liver synthesise proteins.

Including a tomato product, capsicum (bell peppers), asparagus, broccoli, potatoes, citrus juice, raw leafy greens in the meal to help increase your iron absorption from non-heme (non-meat) foods.

Do all your sauteing of vegetables and meat substitutes in oil not fat.

Involve children with preparing vegetables. Teach them to cook simple dishes. The more children are engaged with cooking vegetarian meals the more receptive they are to eating them.


One thing to keep in mind is that babies need to be exposed to a new food up to 10 -14 times before they will accept it in to their diet. Hold that thought tight when you begin changing the family’s diet to a vegetarian one. They may baulk at eating it but eventually when they are hungry enough they will learn to like/love it. You never know, one day they may thank you for their healthy upbringing.


It is just as fast, and far less expensive, to put a meal together at home than it is to send out for takeaways. With a few ingredients stored in the pantry or freezer you’ll be sitting down to a meal in no time.

  • Baked beans on toast is the fastest I know. Serve with side salads
  • Corn fritters with side salads
  • A can of tomato pasta sauce over noodles with added veges
  • Pizza with salads or vegetables
  • Soup with crusty bread rolls
  • Super Spuds with side salads
  • Roasty Toasty vegetables with tofu cubes or feta cheese served over mini salad greens
  • ‘Ham’burgers
  • Stir-fry with tofu or nuts
  • Wraps with chilli bean or tofu and side salads
  • Sauted halloumi cheese served over mixed salad greens with crusty breads rolls



Fresh fruit; raw vegetables; or something from Jeanette’s Nut Supplement (on Nutrition page)
Spread low fat wholegrain or rice crackers with nut butters; Marmite; Vegemite; low fat cheeses; tomato paste; feta. Popcorn; pretzels and salsa; pita bread crisps with hummus



  • Make your own bread, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, French dressings, grow your own vegetables (see below), make your own snack bars, etc.
  • Only eat vegetables that are in season. Out of season veges are always more expensive.
  • Stop buying cups of coffee out. The price of a latte will buy a packet of coffee beans that will keep you going for days at home.
  • Cook up a double batch of food and use it the second night or freeze it to bring it out when you are time poor.
  • Cook dried beans and lentils from scratch instead of opening up canned ones. Cook more than you need for a meal and freeze the remainder in bags to bring out later.
  • Freeze any surplus fruit and vegetables you grow.
  • Never throw away food. Recycle leftovers into crepes, lasagne, casseroles, soups, etc.
  • Don’t buy bottle water. It’s cheaper to filter it at home if you think it’s necessary.
  • Make your own yoghurt.
  • Powdered milk is much cheaper than buying fresh. I’ve used skim milk powder for years and the only difference I notice is in the price I pay for it at the counter. If you really notice a difference in flavour try adding a few grains salt or a few drops of oil when you mix the milk up.
  • Buy from bulk bin stores. Buy only as much as you need at a time – spices, baking things, etc.
  • But it does pay off to buy some things in bulk – flour, dried beans, lentils, oats, etc.
  • Save money by baking healthy cakes, muffins and cookies at home.
  • Make a weekly shopping list and don’t buy anything that’s not on it.
  • Only shop after a meal. It will save heaps in impulse purchases.
  • It’s more cost effective and faster to heat one cup of water in the microwave than in a kettle.




  • If you only have a windowsill then grow potted herbs – parsley; mint; marjoram; thyme; chives; basil
  • If you have a balcony then you will be able to grow salad items – lettuces, mesclun, cress, etc; silver beet, chard or spinach is always a good standby green vegetable; plus herbs – the ones above plus rosemary; a bay tree (keep it clipped); sage; oregano; tarragon
  • If you have room for a vegetable plot you will be able to grow tomatoes, beans, peas, brassicas, spinach, etc, as well as salad items and herbs. Google – no-dig gardening or square foot gardening for heaps of ideas.


Sprouting seeds (alfalfa, mung, etc) to include in salads, stir-frys, wraps, sandwiches or used as toppings or garnishes for eye appeal is also a great cost cutting exercise.

Involve children in the garden. If children plant the seeds or seedlings, then watch them grow, they will be that much keener to eat the end result.

Also involve children in making vinegrette (best made fresh for each meal). Add variety with herbs, spices and sprouts. This way children develop flavour options and combinations (and clashes, too). This will school them in palete appeal and balance and will be with them for the rest of their life.



Read the rest of the pages on this website. They have all the information needed to lead a healthy vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

FAMILY MEALS – Comfort Food for Vegetarians is on sale through the Bookshop on this website and has a good range of simple and nutritious recipes for beginning vegetarians.



Gluten-Free Seitan – Say What?!!

Categories: Articles, Celiac Disease, Gluten-free, Vegetarian

Gluten-Free Seitan – Say What?!!


Today I was looking through the recipes in the last issue of Gourmet Magazine (*shakes fist at Conde Nast*), when I read the recipe on Vegetarian Shepherds Pie which called for seitan as one of the main ingredients.

Seitan is an Asian protein-rich, meat-free food stuff made of wheat gluten that is very popular for creating meat substitutes for vegetarian and vegan cooking.

If you are gluten-free for health reasons, such as gluten-intolerance or celiacs disease, or for diet reasons, also very valid, then navigating the world of vegetarian and vegan cookery can be very tricky as it can be very gluten-full.

After reading the recipe in Gourmet tonight, I decided to Google “gluten-free seitan” to see if there are any good gluten-free, meat-free seitan substitutes. And there are. Not packaged to be bought at your local health food store, but here are a couple of sets of recipes for gluten-free seitan to be used in various veggie recipes:

If you have made gluten-free seitan, please comment and let us know what you thought of it.

Indian Cooking; Nutrition Info

Categories: Articles, Asian, Cooking tips, Food Culture, Indian, Nutritional Information, Western Medicine

This is not how I normally like to look at food, through caloric and fat content counting, but it is useful info to look over to get an idea of what you are putting in your body. I eat mostly vegetarian (flexitarian really) and just a friend just moved to the Devon area. This is THE Indian and Pakistani area of Chicago and so I have been eating rich, delicious vegetarian Indian food just about every night. I hope to cook some tasty, nutritious meals in this style soon. Until there here are a few ideas and tips for those who want to explore this “other” Eastern Culture’s food. It is a deep well to explore. Good Indian is some of the most rich and delicious of meals, maybe because of Yin nourishing aspect and fat content. I don’t know about some of the claims below, but worth noting. Feel free to comment. ~ Enjoy




Nutrition data (calories, carbohydrates, protein) of homemade Indian food are given. Also the ways to preserve nutrition in Indian cooking are discussed.

Many Indian are vegetarians and they eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk and plant-based proteins. These foods contain essential micro-nutrients and vitamins that produce antioxidants which are good for heart, blood pressure and diabetes.

But Indians, in general, consume less amount of vegetables {says who?}. Also reheating of vegetarian dishes, a common practice among Indians, destroys the micro-nutrients. “Indians, therefore, face heart attacks five years earlier than people in the West,” according to Dr Deepak Natarajan of Apollo hospital, Delhi.

Diets rich in saturated fats and hypertension are the main reason for this.

Indian Cooking & Nutrition

By 2010, India will carry 60 percent of the world’s heart disease burden, nearly four times more than its share of the global population, according to a study released by Denis Xavier of St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences in Bangalore in April 2008.

  • Calories in Indian foods and their nutrition depend on the way the foods are cooked.
  • An Indian dish may be very high in calories/energy (mostly from fat) if it is cooked by deep frying, or it may be low in calories or fat if it is stir fried or baked.
  • The rich creamy dishes containing foods covered with lot of spice colored liquid are often very high in fat (mostly saturated fat and trans-fat), while the tandoori dishes are low in fat.

    The research (Feb 2010) conducted by “Which” magazine of Britain found that a single meal of Indian curry in Britain has more fat than the recommendation for the entire day, an average takeaway contained 23.2gm of saturated fat, 3.2gm more than a woman should eat in a day.  Indian takeaway meals are known for their liberal use of ghee and oil, not only in curries but also breads. The researchers found that a naan contained more calories than a chicken tikka masala.

  • Indian often reheat the food, the reheating destroys the nutrients of the food.
  • Indian food is often overcooked, destroying its nutrition.
  • The North Indian dishes are very rich in taste and presentation as compared to South Indian food. The North Indian foods, especially Punjabi foods, are generally higher in calories and fat and lower in nutritional value, than South Indian foods because Punjabi cooking involves tarka or vaghar (frying of spices, onions, etc.) in pure ghee (high in
    saturated fat), butter, oil or trans fats or trans-fatty acids (hydrogenated oils and fats, dalda) that gives unique Indian taste and texture. Read more on trans fats in Indian foods.
  • The tandoori foods of North India are rich in nutrition and natural flavours, but often these are loaded with fats. A new research reported at a conference on “Fats and trans-fatty acids in Indian diet” at the Seventh Health Writers Workshop organised by Health Essayists and Authors League (HEAL) in 2007 found that the trans-fatty acids in French fries is 4.2% – 6.1%, it is 9.5% in bhatura, 7.8% in paratha and 7.6% each in puri and tikkis.

How to Preserve Nutrition in Indian Cooking?

The health benefits of the Indian food depend on the method of cooking.

  1. If a recipe calls for too much cream, yogurt, ghee or oil and crushed cashews, then the dish will be very rich in taste and texture, but with out any nutritional value. The north Indian food, Punjabi food and the foods available in restaurants are cooked (rather over-cooked) like this and they are higher in fat and lower in nutritional value. These foods are generally prepared with deep frying onions, ginger, and spices in lot of oil or ghee. Read more on Indian
    food nutrition and calories
  2. Instead of deep frying, you can stir-fry or saute them in very little vegetable oil. The over-cooked foods lose their nutrition because, in the process, the vitamins and minerals are leached out. You should leave the cooking of a vegetable when it is still crisp.
  3. Never use trans-fat or vanaspati like dalda, rath, etcfor cooking, these are not healthy. Many restaurants and shops use trans-fats for cooking tikkis, bhaturas, parathas, puri (poori) and even sweets and vegetable curries
  4. Do not chop the vegetbles into too small pieces. The vegetable will lose its nutrients if it has more exposed surfaces to the atmosphere.
  5. Always chop the vegetables only when you cook them, do not chop and leave them for a long time.
  6. Do not wash the vegetables like spinach, zucchini, lauki, etc. after chopping to preserve their nutrients.
  7. When you stir-fry, do not overheat the oil.
  8. If you make pakoras, keep the besan batter thick. Deep frying of thin batter pakoras absorb too much oil during frying.
  9. Do not add ghee or oil for making the dough of poori, otherwise the pooris will absorb too much oil during frying.

However, it is possible to have traditional Indian cooking recipes that produce tasty dishes with very less fat and keeping the natural nutrition values and low calories.

101 Cookbooks

Categories: Blogs, Cooking tips, Food Education

This is a journal/blog that posts delicious recipes one or more times per week. The majority of her recipes are vegetarian, some vegan and all easily adaptable. Just a fresh perspective on random things in your fridge. If you join, you’ll get an email with each new recipe!

Challenges of a Raw Foods Diet

Categories: Articles, Food Culture

Chinese medicine holds long standing advice to avoid over consumption off too much raw food. Some concerns may be from issues with bacteria in raw food centuries ago, but the concept of gentle to digestion remains firmly in the medicine.

As is evident from Karyn’s restaurants and detox program in Chicago, raw food is a huge concept in natural healing circles in the West and holds some useful concepts, such as avoiding preservatives and overeating. However it seems to me to be a relatively new nutrition concept in comparison to eastern nutritional views.

No one has a monopoly on healing, and I do not think it is a problem to try raw food, but to be aware this diet may not fit all. I appreciate Chinese medicine’s flexibility. Some may need raw, some may need more cooked. In this culture if one reduces excesses, something typically beneficial comes from it. If raw food helps someone to do this, this is great. As long as people know there are options in dietary principles.

Here is an article from a raw foodist who has some adice if one does want to try this dietary concept. From a TCM perspective, a yang excess issue would benefit more from this type of diet. If one is deficient it could be problematic.

Here is an articles supporting TCM’s view on raw foods and how to balance.