It’s that time again…my guest blogger, IsoWhey Chef, Janine Royce, has been putting pen to paper and is here talking about the challenges of putting together a meal for a large wedding party – especially trying to cater for the many different diets people now follow – see how she went…. over to you Janine!..
A friend of mine is getting married and I was discussing with her about the menu and we got on to the dietary requirements for the guests and it turned out there is such a variety of requests!!!
There are vegans, vegetarians, gluten intolerant and no onion or garlic just to add to the challenge.
Not to mention those that could be following a weight management plan that may prefer a lighter, healthier meal. We haven’t even got to allergies…..
Some people may comment it is one day only, its free food you shouldn’t complain, you should eat what is provided as it is being kindly paid for and its impossible to please everyone?
It got me thinking about all sorts of things like what would I cook for vegans and what would it be like to try a vegan diet? There are so many different diets adopted today and with a minefield of information out there, which one really is best? I thought I would do some research…..
SO, what is a vegetarian diet? Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, poultry. The pure vegetarians only eat plant foods and are known as “vegans”. Vegans avoid all animal products in the diet, including eggs, dairy products, and honey. They also avoid any animal products in daily life. No leather, no wool, and no cosmetics tested on animals.
There are a couple of spin offs from these pure vegetarians and this is the “lacto-ovo vegetarian” who eats dairy products and eggs, and a more recent addition the “pescatarian” who eats no meat but does eat fish and dairy products and eggs.
There has been many studies supporting the health benefits of vegetarian diets such as cholesterol-lowering, the decreased risk for coronary heart disease, the improvement of the condition of heart patients, lower rates of high blood pressure and the decreased risk of colon and breast cancers.
So if you are going vego, you need to be sure you are planning meals that meet nutrient needs and include adequate intakes of protein, minerals, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Add in lots of green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, asian greens and broccoli plus lentils & beans which will provide iron, calcium and zinc. If you are vegan and not eating any dairy products then you will need to ensure that you are eating leafy greens, tahini, sesame seeds, broccoli, almonds, soy beans and rice milk. If you are unable to obtain enough calcium through the diet then you will need to supplement.
If you are a “pescatarian” and eating fish, then oily fish such as salmon, tuna, trout & mackerel will provide omega-3 essential fatty acids. If you are not eating fish and are vegan then plant based sources are found in walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, sea buckthorn and hemp oil. If you do not get adequate amounts of these good fats in your diet then you may need to consider a fish oil or plant based supplement.
Eating eggs, beans such as chickpeas and lentils, grains such as quinoa and brown rice, nuts, seeds and vegetables will ensure you are getting all the protein and essential amino acids. Isowhey complete is good here as it can help top up protein intake.Vitamin B12 deficiency can be common as it is not found in plant foods and is found in animal products such as dairy and eggs. Pure vegetarians such as vegans will need to take a B12 supplement to prevent deficiency which will present as anaemia with symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath, pale skin, loss of appetite etc.
Vitamin D deficiency is also common for all diets and not just vegetarians & vegans. Vitamin D3 plays a role in many processes in the human body including immune responses, cell division and bone structure & maintenance to name a few. The main source from foods is fatty fish (as detailed above), liver and eggs. If you are vegan or not eating fish or eggs and dont go in the sun (what sun – we havent had a summer this year) then a supplement could help to prevent any deficiency. It is always good to have your levels checked and see where they are at.
So, there are good reasons to be a vegetarian, as in health and environmental issues and you will find that your bill at the supermarket is a lot less and will save you money in the end. Not to mention feeling great with possible weight loss, more energy and better health outcomes.
Where things could go pear shaped is if you were limiting your menu choices and not being creative, eating lots of refined carbohydrates such as white pasta, rice and bread which will not be providing the full spectrum of nutrients as described above and will contribute to weight gain.
You need to be making healthy choices. Hot chips, cheese pizzas or fried falafels will load your diet with high fat and calories.
Those that are thinking of making the switch to a vegetarian diet could start off slowly by introducing meat free meals into the diet: Meatless Mondays http://meatlessmondays-australia.com/ is a non-profit initiative that is part of an international campaign to encourage people to cut out meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Did you know that animal agriculture contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation!! Reducing your meat intake can be a personal strategy for slowing global warming….
I did get inspired from my research, and do practice my meat free meals – I guess I am more of a “pescatarian”, and even came up with a great little vegan recipe: Polenta crusted mediterranean tart or tartlets:
For polenta crust:
1 3/4 cups plain flour
3/4 cup polenta
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ice water
500gms pumpkin steamed
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
1 medium eggplant
fresh mediterranean herbs – basil/rosemary or sage
Preheat oven on to 180 degrees.
For polenta crust: sift flour, add polenta, olive oil, salt and water and mix to a pastry dough.
Need lightly and roll out. Cut to fit patty tin (for small tarts) or roll to fit a quiche size pan.
Mash steamed pumpkin. Mix in chopped herbs.
Slice eggplant thinly and salt. wash and drain, then pan fry in olive oil till cooked and browned.
Slice cherry tomatoes in half and roast lightly in preheated oven.
To assemble: Add a tablespoon of mashed pumpkin, slice of eggplant, 2 halves of cherry tomatoes to the tartlets OR spread the mashed pumpkin on the quiche size and layer with eggplants and cherry tomatoes. Bake in oven till pastry is cooked and vegetables lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes.
Optional: You can top with pesto (dairy free) before serving.