This week we went Vegetarian for National Vegetarian Week. As a family we always have at least 3 meat free meals a week, so this was a good chance to unleash some new recipe ideas. To be honest I don’t think the family really noticed the lack of meat, though they would do if carried this on for a few weeks. I love vegetarian meals and would probably be one if I wasn’t cooking for the whole family. Eating more plant based meals is better for the environment, a more sustainable way of eating and has some fabulous health benefits too.
Our week of vegetarian meals:
Vegetarian Moussaka, Leek and Stilton Risotto, Courgette and Lentil Lasagne, Vegetable egg Stir fry rice, Quorn Bolognaise and Roasted Veggie Pasta.
The moussaka is something I’d seen a variation on in a gluten free recipe book that I’ve had hanging around for ages. I used soya milk to make it lactose free for my boy – omit the cheese to make it dairy free. A few adaptations made this a super simple meal that is going to stay on our meal list.
Breakfast….it’s one of my favourite meals of the day, and even more so when I’m in Sri-Lanka.
I’m half Sri-Lankan and so I have a special love for this teardop shaped island in the sun. We visit regularly as we have lots of family and also work with Young Hope – a charity that supports children orphaned post tsunami and the civil war.
One of the best bits about visiting Sri-Lanka for me has to be the food. I am a true food-a-holic. Good food makes me happy. Tasty, healthy food is even better. Sri-Lankan cuisine can be great for hitting that food spot for me.
In the UK breakfast can be a bit of a dull affair, lots of toast and cereal. Over in Sri-Lanka it’s a whole different story…. think tropical fruit, Hoppers – special pancakes that are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, string hoopers – rice noodles shaped in a round design, omelettes, kiri-bath – coconut rice and many varieties of rice and curry. Yup that’s right, rice and curry for breakfast. I love to embrace all of this and actually rice and curry for brekkie is pretty good. My personal preference is for lentils with a fish curry served with a spoon of chilli hot sambol…..and it’s all wheat free, yay!
What’s the strangest thing you’ve had for breakfast?
Carbohydrates are often seen as the baddies of the nutrition world. There are so many low carb diets out there and lots of claims about carbohydrates being the reason people can’t lose weight.
Carbohydrates are actually the bodies favoured energy source. Given a choice of protein, fat and carbohydrate the body will always choose to use the carbohydrate first. Why? Because carbohydrate foods easily break down to simple sugars that are the fuel the body needs. Proteins and fats needs to be converted to sugars in order to be used, a time consuming process that uses energy up. However you will put on weight if you OVEREAT carbohydrates or eat too much of the wrong kinds.
So where do these anti-carbohydrate claims come from?
After we eat carbohydrates, blood sugar levels increase and insulin is released. Insulin moves the sugar in the blood into the bodies cells and it will be used as fuel or stored as glycogen to be used later on. Eating too much carbohydrate in one go or more white, processed carbohydrates cause a larger, rapid peak in blood sugar levels. In response lots of insulin is released, which can cause a problem. After the insulin has done it’s job it takes a while to drop back down to normal levels, so you have insulin in the blood stream asking the body for more sugar. It’s this lag phase that can lead to you craving sugary food or wanting to eat a short while after a meal. If you eat like this you are likely to put on weight. Those hunger cravings will get the better of you and you’ll eat more than you need.
What happens if you avoid Carbs:
If carbs are the bodies preferred energy source then it makes sense that avoiding them can lead to you feeling tired, grumpy, lethargic, perhaps dizzy and shaky. Ever had that energy slump after skipping a meal?
How to eat Carbohydrates without gaining weight:
Eat carbohydrates at every meal. Just watch your portion size. If you are trying to lose weight keep those carbs to 1/3 of your plate, steer clear of adding creamy sauces, butter and oils to them.
Go Wholegrain. Wholegrains have been shown to protect against cancer, obesity, diabetes and obesity. Choose wholemeal, granary or multi-grain bread, whole oats, weetabix, shredded wheat, bran flakes, rye bread, oatcakes,brown rice and pasta, bulgar wheat, quinoa, pearl barley and anything with the word whole/wholegrain in from of it!
Lower the glycaemic index of meals. Adding lower GI foods (many of which are wholegrains too) will help stabilise your blood sugars, preventing the peaks and dips that can cause those sugar cravings. Also try adding beans and pulses to your main meals.
This post was written for Slimsticks and can be seen on their website here.
Freelance Dietitian specialising in helping those with Eating Disorders and a Media Spokesperson for the profession.