With Janet Tubbs
Janet Tubbs is a leading authority on being a vegetarian and author of If You Can't Pronounce It, Don't Eat It - A Basic Guide to Veganism.
Q: I'm a vegetarian and now that summer is here, I'm being asked to barbecues. It's embarrassing to make a big deal out of not eating meat.What should I do?
A: Lucky for you it's becoming easier all the time to be a vegetarian among meat eaters, even at a picnic where everyone else is eatinggrilled hamburgers and hot dogs. Health food stores and even somegrocery stores carry wonderful meat substitutes that work well for barbecuing.
There are several varieties of burgers available, the most well known being Boca Burgers that come in a variety of flavors. Smart Dogs arejust one several brands of faux franks. Take a hot dog or burger to your next picnic and tell the person who is doing the grilling (no apologies necessary) that you don't eat meat and would like to keep your burger ordog separate. I can almost guarantee you that he or she won't blink aneye.
Some vegetarians and vegans refuse to have their burger or frank on thesame grill as meat. Each to his own, but I think that's a little fanatical.
Q: I just turned vegan and love whipped cream. Any suggestions about asubstitute for the real thing?
A: Most people open a package of tofu, taste it and dismiss it as abland, white, creamy and tasteless product. I can't really argue withthat, but the trick is in knowing what to do with this incredibly versatile product. Not many people would even think about using it as as ubstitute for whipped cream, but I found a recipe that does just that.In a blender or food processor, blend until creamy:
1 package of tofu, well drained and cut into chunks
1 1/2 T of maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract (buy the best in a health food store)
pinch of nutmeg
Chill for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Q: I need some quick and easy recipes for picnics. Can you help?
A: This is the time of year to be inventive with hot weather meals and snacks.
Here's a yummy dip or spread.
Blend until smooth:
1 c mashed tofu
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 c cashews chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
1 T yellow miso
1 T Dijon mustard
Put in covered container and chill for 1/2 to 1 hour.
This is a favorite of mine. Be creative with this and add a pinch ofthis, a handful of that. That's how recipes are born.Dice 4 potatoes and boil until tender. DrainIn a bowl, mix a 1/4 c salad dressing with 1 T either water or soy milk.Whisk or stir until the consistency of cream (or melted ice cream).Pour over hot potatoes and mix well. The hot potatoes will absorb thedressing for terrific flavor. Add more dressing if necessary.
Add:1/4 c chopped onion or green onion.Adjust seasonings to taste.
Pinch of salt
1 package of tofu, cubed
One minced sweet pickle or 1 tsp pickle relish
Chopped green and black olives
Pinch of garlic powder
Put in bowl, sprinkle with chopped parsley and a little paprika and chill.
Q: I've been a vegetarian who eats dairy and eggs for a long time nowand I've always wondered if I might be missing some major nutrients that only meat can supply. I eat well rounded meals to get all of the proteins I need.My concern is that my skin is highly susceptible to rashes, dryness, andacne. I take EFA oil at times and consume olive oil and nuts regularly. Am I doing anything wrong?
A: Here are a couple of suggestions. Take FlaxSeed oil instead of the EFA oil for a couple of months and see if you notice any difference inyour skin.
Also, for dryness you might try lecithin granules. I like them muchbetter than liquid lecithin which I just can't swallow. Mix the granules into soup, rice,salad orsometimes just eat a spoonful right out of the container. They providemuch-neededlubricant for the body.
If you're eating a well rounded diet, you're probably getting plenty of nutrients and I doubt very much if you need meat. Most people don't but we are so accustomed to advertising and tradition that people often worry that they are missing something vital. Just the opposite....you're making sure you don't get unwanted and potentially harmful antibiotics and illnesses such as mad cow disease.
Diet and stress are two causes of acne. If your personal life and/or job is stressful, it may be contributing to it. Look at your diet to see if you're eating chocolate, preservatives, colorings, or chemicals without knowing it. Read the labels oneverything. Cut down on sugar. You may want to cut down on the dairy products too.
If you haven't already done so, I'd suggest a visit to a homeopath or naturopath to determine if there is a creme or remedy that will helpyour skin. I have been told that Wild Cherry bark when boiled and cooled is an excellent topical remedy for acne. Although I can't attest to it, you might try it as a compress and see if there is any change.
The rash may be an allergy to soap, hair spray, mascara, blush,lipstick, detergent, new clothing or any number of things in theimmediate environment. You can check this by eliminating one thing at atime for 2 or 3 weeks and seeing if your skin improves, then add it andsee if it worsens. It's a long process but a very effective way of finding an allergen.
Q: I have long wanted to be a vegetarian. Then what is stopping you,you might ask. Well, I did succeed for over a year of not eating anymeat. However, I didn't gain weight, I just didn't lose it. I now understand that all the pasta and starches that I substituted for themeat is the cause, and when I incorporated meat back into my diet, Ilost 20 pounds. Okay, so here is the problem. We are of very low income and when we stop eating meat, our food cost go up tremendously. Not to mention that I can't understand the recipes or what the ingredients are or where to get them.
Then those odd ingredients cost a ton. Well, I have begun my environmentalist behavior again and wish to stop eating meat. Please help me find a way to do this, that won't cost a zillion dollars and is easy to understand. We live in the NW area and fresh fruits and vegetables are not always available or appealing during the winter.
A: Thanks for writing with very important questions. I've learned thateverybody has their own opinions about every subject imaginable and theyseldom agree :)
However, as a vegan for over 25 years, I can give some tips that I share with people in my workshops. First, bravo for wanting to give up meat. It's simply not good for you.
Second, it can be very, very easy to be a vegetarian and easy to be avegan for many people. For some, vegetables and soy products aren't enough for their body type and they actually need heavier protein.
You need some basics for getting started and some easy recipes. Years ago when I was doing a workshop at an international conference, people kept asking how to buy, how to cook, how to maintain health, so I put itall in a book that is now in book and health food stores throughout theUS. It's called IF YOUCAN'T PRONOUNCE IT, DON'T EAT IT and it has nomeat, sugar, dairy, colorings, preservatives or chemicals of any kind.It's a basic guide for people wanting to change to a healthier lifestyle and every ingredient is available either in your local supermarket or health food stores. Even tofu now is a staple in supermarkets. The recipes are "kid-tested", easy to prepare, delicious and nutritious.
I think I had an easier time giving up meat than most people. I had 4 children and loved to cook big meals with meat, potatoes, at least one veggie, a salad and dessert. I simply didn't eat the meat and it was nobig deal.
A mistake many people make is to substitute pasta for meat. I may eat pasta every couple of months, rarely eat bread or "junk food". There are a lot of healthy snacks you can buy or make. A general rule of thumb forme is not to eat anything white. There are exceptions...like tofu and occasionally rice milk. Don't eat anything with preservatives or very long words on the labels. They're chemicals.
Q: Now that the flu and cold season is almost over and I had a reallybad case of it, what suggestions can you give for next year to prevent it? This is not something I want to go through again and I'm wondering if my diet might have something to do with whether people get sick or not.
A: I definitely feel diet has a great deal to do with resistance to colds, viruses and upper respiratory infections. Starting in October,I'm very conscientious about taking fresh garlic every day to startbuilding my immune system. Several times a week I take Echinacea and goldenseal in addition to a potent vitamin.
In addition to supplements, I'm sure to eat plenty of vegetables. Andabove a lot of distilled water. Not purified. Not drinking, butdistilled. Eat at least an apple a day to keep your digestive system free of toxins that build up.
Give your system a break every once in a while with a 1, 2 or 3 day fastwith broth and fresh carrot juice. And finally, this year, I took a homeopathic flu preventive and never had a sniffle during the worstoutbreak.
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