Tag Archives: vegetarian

Sample vegetarian real food ‘diet’ or what I eat on Sundays

Sunday is my only day off and I tend to take it easy… really easy! I hang at my parent’s. I wake up late. Chill at home. Dont see any clients. Listen to plenty of music. Catch up with friends. You know… the usual drill. In addition to all this, I also make it a point to not workout and/or worry too much about food. I just like to go with the flow.

I don’t count anything. I eat per appetite. And since I’m taking it easy in general, I also like to give my gut a chance to take it easy and hence eat strictly real food.

So here is everything I ate today,

Breakfast

3-4 cups of lemon tea

  • I woke up at like 10:30am and didn’t find the need to eat breakfast as I wasn’t hungry and lunch time was around the corner. That way I get to eat with my mom and grandmom who talk memories and recipes to me. Priceless I tell you!

Lunch

– 4 cups of avial

  • The avial had green beans, potato, carrots, plenty of coconut, coconut oil and yogurt.
  • I topped that avial with 2-3 extra tbls of coconut oil and a handful of fresh shredded coconut.
  • 4 cups = 1 liter

– 3 cups spinach daal

  • Soaked lentils and fresh organic spinach cooked together with spices.
  • I topped this with about 1/2 tbls home made ghee.

– 1 cup whole milk yogurt

  • This if yogurt made at home from fresh cow’s milk

– 1 scoop (not natural, overly sweet) whey in 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt

  • ‘Cos my ON Natural Whey is at my place (and not at my parent’s)

– A handful of organic raw almonds

– 1 small banana

 Snack

– A cup of black coffee with a few almonds and raisins.

Dinner

– 2 cups of leftover avial

  • No excess coconut oil this time.

– 1/2 cup of horse gram sundal

  • Organic horse gram pre-soaked, pressure cooked and sauteed with spices in coconut oil.
  • I had this with about 1 cup of whole milk yogurt.

– Paneer subji country eggs in a tomato base

  • The paneer was home made from fresh cow’s milk
  • The subji had paneer from about a liter of milk and 2 country eggs mixed in.

– Some organic fresh papaya. Say about 1 cup.

Note: All vegetables, fruit and legumes are completely organic. You can find a list of awesome organic food stores in Chennai, India here.

So there ya go. Eating real food is simple, easy, healthy and absolutely delicious. If any of this seems to not ‘fit your style’, make it fit your style. I love avial and so I eat cartloads of it. If you don’t eat, something else there. Eat more food if you’re hungry. Eat less food if this is too much. If fat loss is a goal eat slightly below appetite, skip a meal and eat food that is less dense (skip the oil etc.). If mass gain is a goal, eat up! Eat till your slightly uncomfortable and squeeze in a breakfast and/or a snack.

Keep it real. Keep it simple. Keep it sustainable.

Peace out.

 

Being Vegetarian: Got vegetables?

Sure looks awesome... but is it really that awesome?

Most of you probably know that India is the most vegetarian country in the world and that it houses more vegetarians than the rest of the world combined. Considering we Indians don’t eat meat and we have multiple reasons, ranging from moral to religious to health, to stay the hell away from meat, one would assume that we eat a very nutritious diet comprising mostly of vegetables and fruit. I mean, if meat is out of the plate and whole dairy is to be consumed in moderation, one would imagine that our plates be filled with vegetables! After all we are proud “vegetarians” aren’t we?

But is this really the case?

I was born and brought up in South India and from my experience, a typical south Indian diet contains…

  • White rice
  • Dosa (Rice, lentils)
  • Idly (Rice, lentils)
  • Chutney (Chili, coconut)
  • Molaga podi (Chili powder, vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Vada (Lentils deep fried in vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Chapathi (Wheat)
  • Poori (Wheat deep fried in vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Sambar (Lentils, tamarind, vegetable/sesame oil, negligible vegetables)
  • Daal (Lentils)
  • Rasam (Tomato, tamarind, spices, water)
  • Vegetable poriyal (Vegetables, vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Vegetable kootu (Vegetables, vegetable/sesame oil, coconut)
  • Avial (Starchy vegetables, coconut, coconut oil)
  • Yogurt
  • Coffee (Coffee, milk, sugar)
  • Tea (Tea, milk, sugar)
  • Biscuits (Wheat, sugar and other junk)
  • Muruku, thattai, cheedai (Flour or lentils deep fried in vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Lemon Rice (White rice, lemon juice, vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Tamarind Rice (White rice, vegetable/sesame oil, tamarind extract)
  • Potato subzi (Potato, onions, vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Papad (Lentils deep fried in vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Pickle (Vegetable/fruit pickled in vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Pongal (Rice, lentils, ghee)
  • Idiyappam (Rice)

Ummm… maybe its just me, but I didn’t see too many “vegetables” in the “vegetarian” diet! I’m sure I’ve missed out of a bunch of other things south Indian people normally eat and I know I haven’t listed what vegetarians from other parts of India eat. But what is obvious here?

  • Clearly 90% of one’s calories come from grains, vegetable/sesame oil, lentils and potatoes!
  • A negligible amount of calories come from vegetables and fruit.
  • Though junk food consumption is less, little to no nutrition exists in the entire cuisine.
  • The majority of one’s calories come from carbohydrates and that too from grains and lentils.
  • Most of the fat consumed is from vegetable and sesame oil which are both super high in the very easily oxidizable polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Protein is almost non-existent

Why is this wrong with this?

Honestly… tooooooo many things! While I don’t have the time to get into great detail, here is what you need to know in a nutshell.

If this is wrong, then what is right?

  • Control the carb intake and include more good fats.

I guarantee you that making just these four changes will cause a very significant improvement to your health and quality of life. Try it for a month! Seriously, whats there to lose? Worst case, you’ll end up not eating your favorite foods for 4 weeks. But best case, you could better you health and possibly cure everything from asthma to diabetes to eczema or chronic fatigue to high blood pressure to high cholesterol to joint aches to sleep issues!

In the next few weeks, I will write about how to modify the current traditional Indian diet to make it more nutritious while still keeping its very own unique flavors and taste. While I do that, why don’t you folks spread the good word around? Sharing buttons below!

Peace out.

Image credit – http://www.tamilspider.com

Being Vegetarian: Protein Pressure

I can’t deny it no more. I love you vegetarians.

So I better not leave you hanging right? Right!

Pic: The Food Guys

While there are many drawbacks to a typical vegetarian diet, the one major drawback is a lack of protein. All vegetarians who chooses to make a change towards the better, face this huge challenge. They all go – ‘Cheese is bad, soy is bad, eggs have cholesterol… what the hell do I eat for protein?!’

So let’s get to the meat of the issue shall we? (See what I did there? Yea I’m awesome like that!)

Slim Pickins:

Vegetarians have few protein options and it is important that they use these options wisely in order to reach their goal of nutritious diet.

  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Legumes and nuts
  • Protein supplements

The deal with these protein options is that in addition to protein these foods come with other junk (phytoestrogens, lectins, phytic acid etc.) which make it unsafe to consume these foods in higher quantities.But fear not…  I gotcha back!

Make no mistake – animal products are an absolute necessity for optimal health, but we’ve got to work with what we have and hence the rest of this post will be dedicated towards finding an optimal mix of these third world proteins to get the most nutrition possible.

1. Eggs:

Eggs are by far your best protein option due to their exceptional nutritional profile. If you don’t know by now, egg yolks are far superior to the whites and yes, you are sinning every time you throw out an egg yolk! Click here to see the detailed nutritional info in eggs. No you don’t get it. Click that link… now!

Every vegetarian should include eggs in his/her diet (unless of course you’re allergic to them). Buy organic cage free eggs and eat at least 2 whole eggs every day. I know I know. You’re worried about the cholesterol in egg yolks. Here you go – Research shows that dietary cholesterol (especially via egg consumption) has no adverse effect on plasma cholesterol. And why organic cage free eggs? – Here’s why.

2. Dairy:

Sure dairy could irritate your gut and a bunch of folks are intolerant, but if you are a vegetarian you better have some dairy in your diet. Dairy proteins are complete proteins and come with beneficial fats.

We can spend days talking about raw dairy vs organic dairy vs regular dairy, but I have more to cover. So here are my recommendations – If raw dairy is available and you can afford/tolerate it, that should be your first option. If not, organic full fat dairy is the next best. If all you can afford is regular dairy, get the full fat version.

Whole milk and whole milk yogurt are calorie dense and contain ~ 12-15 gm of protein per cup. In addition to this, yogurt (which is produced by bacterial fermentation of milk) contains helpful live cultures that aid digestion. Yes, yogurt > milk.

(Note: Yogurt can be consumed in modest quantities by those who are lactose intolerant since the lactose has been fermented by the bacterial culture.)

Cheese is a great source of dairy protein (especially for those trying to keep the carbs low) offering ~ 6-7 gm of protein per ounce. Yes, cheese has some saturated fat, but there is no real evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease. So get some awesome full fat, unprocessed cheese and top your vegetables or eat it with some berries or have a couple of ounces with some fine wine.

If you want to cook with cheese, your best options are paneer and halumi. These two can be grilled, browned, used in a curry or however else you like to cook ’em. If you’re a cottage cheese lover, then that’s definitely another option. Each cup offers ~ 25-28 gm of slow digesting protein (casein).

3. Soy:

I’m sure you’ve heard the good and the bad about soy. The funny thing is, people who promote soy describe it a freakin super food and those who demonize it deem it pure evil. While it is easy for meat eaters to hop on and call it evil, the decision isn’t that simple for vegetarians.

Since this could get VERY long, I’m going to present to you just the facts.

Just so we’re clear – whole soy beans and fermented soy are possibly good for you in moderate quantities… processed soy products are NOT!

From a proteinstand point – soy is a complete protein and a couple of ounces of tempeh 3-4 days a week will probably help more than hurt, but consuming large quantities of soy products (tofu, fake meat etc.) will mess you up!

4. Legumes & Nuts

I have no idea where this ‘Oh lentils/beans are all protein’ nonsense was born, but this is where it will die.

Lentils and beans contain protein, yes. But they also contain 3-4 times more carbs. But when was the last time you ate just lentils/beans? Most people eat them with other grains like rice or wheat and now the carb to protein ratio shifts to ~ 10:1. Are you with me here? When you eat rice and beans, you’re not eating a protein rich meal. Wake the hell up!

In addition to this, in their unfermented form, legumes/beans contain enough phytic acid to harm you. I want to write about soaking/fermentation of legumes/beans, but most of you wont do it right anyways so I will just direct you to this article from the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF).

Summing up – legumes are not a great source of protein, but if prepared per the WAPF guidelines, can offer some protein and a good amount of fiber.

From a protein standpoint – eat soaked legumes/beans in limited quantities 2-3 times a week.

Nuts? Well, they’re pretty much all fat and contain negligible protein. Enough said.

5. Protein Supplements

Protein supplements are exactly that… supplements. You can use them to supplement a nutritious diet. In other words, if you have removed the junk, sugars and grains from your diet and if your diet revolves around real foods with plenty of vegetables and healthy fats you can include protein supplements in order to obtain your protein requirements.

Your options for protein supplements are whey protein powder, egg protein powder and hemp seed protein powder. I don’t want to spend too much time on this, but if you buy one of these look for a brand that offers high protein (>20 gm), low carb (<5 gm), low fat (<4 gm), low cholesterol (<15%) and low sodium (<15%).

Note: An exception might be hemp seed protein powders which contain more carbs, but most of them are fiber.

Mixing it up!

Now for the important part – How does all this come together in a vegetarian diet?

Repeat after me – Variety. Is. Key!

Eating any food item (and that means ANY food item) over and over again will create deficiencies over the long term and hence it is critical to consume as many different types of foods as possible. This holds true for vegetarian protein sources as it does for fruits, meat, vegetables and everything else.

Case 1: 150 lbs male (Sedentary)

Protein requirement ~ 70-75 gm

  • 2 eggs [~ 14 gm protein]
  • 2 oz tempeh/tofu [~ 14 gm protein]
  • 2 oz paneer [~ 14 gm protein]
  • 1 cup whole milk [~ 12 gm protein]
  • 1 cup whole milk yogurt [~ 15 gm protein]

Case 2: 150 lbs male (Active, strength trains, interested in muscle gain)

Protein requirement ~ 140-150 gm

  • 4 eggs [~ 24 gm protein]
  • 2 oz tempeh/tofu [~ 14 gm protein]
  • 2 oz paneer/cheese [~ 14 gm protein]
  • 1 cup whole milk [~ 12 gm protein]
  • 2 cups whole milk yogurt [~ 30 gm protein]
  • 1 cup cottage cheese [~ 30 gm protein]
  • 1 scoop hemp/whey/egg protein powder [~ 25 gm protein]

But my case is unique…

  • If you have allergies/health conditions, talk to your doctor first.
  • If you weigh more/less, increase/decrease quantities.
  • If you dislike cottage cheese, have an extra scoop of protein powder.
  • If you’re moderately active, your protein requirements will fall between these two extremes and I’m sure the post has enough information for you to create your protein menu.
  • If you don’t eat eggs and milk products, this is not the blog for you!

Peace out!

PS: This post, like other long informational posts, took a lot of time and effort. So please share your thoughts in the comments section and spend a short minute to share this post. Buttons below!

Some paleo love for the vegetarians?

I’ve been living the paleo/primal/real foods way for a while now and…

  1. Most paleo folks hate dislike are not really fond of vegetarians.
  2. A bunch of folks tried out ‘vegetarian-paleo’ and it sucked their efforts were not too fruitful (at least not shared publicly on the web).

In this post…

  1. I will try to act as a mediator/translator between the vegetarians and paleo community explaining one side’s arguments to the other.
  2. I will take a stab at making the generic vegetarians a little (more) healthy by recommending a make-believe ‘vegetarian ancestral diet’.

Realize that…

  1. I will be talking only about ‘vegetarians’ in this post. No vegans. No frutarians.
  2. Being vegetarian does not mean you’re healthy by default.
  3. Being vegetarian does not make you better than anyone else in any damn way. The relationship between morality and food is just as stupid as the relationship between wealth and happiness.
  4. I come from a country where a lot of people are vegetarian by birth (almost never by choice) and you need to be one of them to understand ‘why’ they are vegetarians. So my argument here might be more pertinent to these folks than those who chose to be vegetarians.
  5. Anything titled ‘vegetarian-paleo’ is retarded. It’s an oxymoron for all practical purposes… you know like Microsoft Works.

To everyone:

Paleo is a simple dietary lifestyle that is based on foods being either in or out. In are the Paleolithic Era foods that we ate prior to agriculture and animal husbandry (meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts, vegetables, roots, fruit, berries, mushrooms, etc.). Out are Neolithic Era foods that result from agriculture or animal husbandry (grains, dairy, beans/legumes, potatoes, sugar and fake foods). – From www.paleodiet.com

A vegetarian does not eat meat, including red meat, game, poultry, fish, crustacea, and shellfish, and may also abstain from by-products of animal slaughter such as animal-derived rennet and gelatin. An ovo-lacto vegetarian is a vegetarian who does not eat animal flesh of any kind, but is willing to consume dairy and egg products. – From www.wikipedia.org

To the vegetarians:

While a lot of paleo folks are against a vegetarian diet, I, personally, am not against any way of eating (except this guy’s twinkie diet) as long as it encourages consumption of wholesome and real ingredients. Make no mistake, the folks who hate you because you don’t eat meat actually care about you. They believe that the pinnacle of human health was reached when man ate meat and you can’t hate them for trying to help you make the choices that (they think) are best for you.

Keep in mind that these paleo rock-stars are not idiots like your average dietitians/nutritionists. These folks are a part of the select few (I’d say 0.0001% of the population) who have the balls to go against conventional wisdom that is prescribed worldwide today by doctors, nutritionists, dietitians, the respective governments and well, the World Health Organization itself. Check out some of their advice – ‘Eat more meat’, ‘Saturated fat is good for you’, ‘Skip the olive oil. Go for the butter’, ‘Eat lard’, ‘Don’t eat breakfast’. For someone to make such bold statements/claims there absolutely has to be solid evidence available. And guess what… there is. Look into Dr. Loren Cordain’s ‘The Paleo Diet’ or Robb Wolf’s ‘The Paleo Solution’ or Anthony Colpo ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’ or T. S. Wiley’s ‘Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar & Survival’. I kid you not, ~ 30% of each of these books (~ 100 pages in each book) has nothing but references of published literature! These guys are  extremely well-versed in nutrition and the human body and understand extremely well, how what goes in your pie-hole can lead to your coffin. These guys are indeed elite.

My point? Keep an open mind. Listen to what these guys have to say. Decide for yourself if it fits your bill. Don’t just hate.

To the paleo folks:

It’s not that vegetarians think meat eaters are evil (at least not everyone), it’s just that they find it hard to wrap their heads around ‘killing something for food’ when it is possible to live without doing so (note that I said ‘live’ and not ‘thrive’). Realize that these folks haven’t eaten meat in a long long time and have been taught over and over again that a vegetarian diet is the healthiest diet there is. They, like most of us, think that they are making smart choices (remember the days you proudly ordered ‘Whole wheat toast with no butter please!’). So even if you do convince them that meat is what resulted in brain development in the early man and that eating grass-fed meat is the healthier option, the texture, taste and smell of meat along with other psychological challenges make the transition painful and, in most cases, impossible.

Proof that stress can get to cavemen too!

While it is true that being vegetarian is unnatural and will not provide the best nutrition possible, it is also true that the benefits of meat consumption can be easily negated with bad meat choices (grain-fed/farm-raised), less than optimal sleep, a polluted environment, chronic stress and  lack of exercise. So, as important as it is to fine tune nutrition, it is critical to grab other low hanging fruits (eating real unprocessed foods, avoiding grains and sugars, increasing activity level, weight training, getting adequate sleep etc.)  first up.

My point? Claiming that eating meat is the be-all-end-all of health is BS and won’t work. There are other changes that can be made in an existing generic vegetarian diet/lifestyle that will produce numerous health benefits. Respect a person’s food choices and try to work with/around it.

Please note that I too have read The Vegetarian Myth and I’m only trying to explain a vegetarian’s perception of food. So please don’t waste your and my time with emails/comments talking about how a vegetarian diet also results in bloodshed and you absolutely have to kill to live blah blah blah. You’ll only be preaching to the choir.

So what is a vegetarian’s ancestral prescription for health and longevity?

1. Eat real food: No brainer. I’ve spoken about this plenty and you can read about it here. Also, be sure to check out this post about how to gradually transition to clean eating.

2. Drop the grains: Grains include wheat, oats, barley, rice, quinoa etc. Just drop ’em. This post will teach you how to gradually reduce/quit grains.

3. Control the sugar: Enjoy your fruit and honey in moderation and drop all other types of sugars. Yep even the zero-calorie sweetener.

4. Love your nuts: Ok that did not sound right. Anyways include nuts as a part of your diet.

5. Don’t worry about macro-nutrients: Unless you’re marching towards a certain aesthetic/performance goal.

6. Don’t fear the fats: Saturated fats are your friends. Enjoy the coconut oil/butter as a part of everyday cooking. Here is a list of other awesome fat sources you can enjoy often.

7. Include a protein in every meal: Since your protein sources are limited, include eggs, cheese, paneer, cottage cheese, whey protein powder and tofu/tempeh (for women) in your diet. Regularly.

8. Eat starch only when you need starch: Sweet potatoes, yams, squash, beets and other starchy vegetables/tubers are your best options.

9. Fish Oil: Please, please, please swig some everyday.

10. Move like the hunter: Sprint, jump, push, pull… you know like when we they used to hunt critters.

11. Sleep like a baby: Getting enough sleep is extremely important in controlling stress and systemic inflammation.

Now the above will be an ideal vegetarian diet. What are some sensible detours that will let you live disease free but also let you enjoy some of the sinful neolithic foods available today?

1. Lentils/Beans: Yes, they contain lectins and yes, they give some people the runs. But if you can tolerate them and the carb-load they provide, lentils/beans are definitely a fair compromise. Tip: Soaking lentils/beans in water overnight (prior to cooking) has proven to remove some of the toxins.

2. The infrequent rice indulgence: The key word here being ‘infrequent’. If you did this everyday then you’re just too stupid to live long enough anyways.

3. The occasional sugar-high: When it’s time destroy that plate of cheesecake! The key word here being ‘high’. Sugar = cocaine. Do it rarely… the sugar I mean.

Since this turned out to be a long-ass post, I will elaborate in the near future by dedicating one blog post to each of the above points.

Peace out.

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