For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/
On Monday why not take part in ‘meat free Monday’ and go veggie for the day. There are now an estimated two – three million vegetarians in the UK, who for a variety of wide-ranging reasons have given up meat and fish.
Why should you bite the bullet (or rather the carrot!)?
- Weight – According to recent research by Cancer research UK vegetarians have a lower body weight. Meat eaters who continue eating meat will carry on putting on more weight over a five year period, compared to those who switched over to vegetarianism. The World Health Organisation believes being overweight can increase the risk of serious health consequences such as cardiovascular disease (mainly heart disease and stroke), type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis, and some cancers. What is not widely known is that the risk of health problems starts when someone is only very slightly overweight, and that the likelihood of problems increases as someone becomes more and more overweight
- Cholesterol – vegetarians generally have lower cholesterol levels. A recent study demonstrated that a vegetarian diet made up of specific plant foods can lower cholesterol as effectively as a drug treatment. Click here for my previous related blog about lowering your cholesterol level. It could help you avoid serious health conditions
- Longevity – many vegetarians will live longer due to their reduced risk of becoming obese, developing diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases; in fact vegetarians have 32% less chance of having heart disease than their meat-eating friends.
- Saturated fat – Red meat, especially processed meat, contains saturated fat (plus sodium, nitrites etc) that have been linked to increased risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. See my blog about a healthy heart
- Cost – as food prices rise its good to know that you can still buy good quality inexpensive protein like beans and pulses and turn them into delicious meals like veggie chilli or chickpea curry. Buying seasonal vegetables and fruit will also make your meals less expensive and more nutritious. Click here for a lovely mushroom dish from this years vegetarian week blog
However the vegetarian garden isn’t completely rosy. There is a higher risk of developing a B12 deficiency, which can lead to anemia. Eating plenty of milk, cheese, eggs and certain fortified breakfast cereals should provide enough of this essential vitamin
If the evidence above doesn’t persuade you to go meat free on Monday then maybe this delicious and nutritious veggie recipe will
Aubergine & Chickpea tagine serves 3, approx. 200 calories per serving
|½ tsp ground cinnamon and ginger1tsp ground cumin, paprika and turmeric
1 chilli finely chopped, or a few chilli flakes
|1 tsp olive oil1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can chickpeas
|2 handfuls of chopped parsley.1 aubergine
Finely chop the onion and the garlic. Cook the onion in a small amount of olive oil till soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spices and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.
Empty chickpeas with some of the liquid (keep the rest in case you need it) into a saucepan. Add the tinned tomatoes, onions and spice mix, honey and tomato paste, stir well cover and cook for about 20 mins for flavours to combine.
Meanwhile turn on the grill, cut the aubergine into thick slices and lightly brush them with a small amount of oil and brown them on each side, just to colour not to cook.
When they are all done add them to the chickpeas and mix together gently to combine making sure you don’t break them up.
Cover the pan and cook for about another twenty minutes
Add more chickpea liquid if you need to, season to taste.
Just before serving stir in the chopped parsley.
Apart from going veggie what else can you do to make sure you maintain a healthy weight?
Fats- watch the amount of fat in your diet and move away from saturated fats (which are solid at room temperature) i.e. butter, large, visible fat on meat) to unsaturated fats i.e. olive oil, vegetable and nut oils
Sugars – limit your intake of sugars including those found in fizzy drinks. Not only could it lead to tooth decay and weight gain, but also increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes
Salt – try and reduce the amount of processed foods you buy as these can often contain high salt levels. There is no reason why you need to put salt in cooking water and always taste food before you automatically sprinkle on salt
Exercise – increase calories burned during activity, aim for at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. This doesn’t have to be structured it can include housework, gardening, walking the dog, shopping, playing with the family etc.
More detailed information about healthy eating can be obtained from my previous healthy diet blog
You can find more information about being a part time vegetarian