South Beach Diet - South Beach Vegetarian 101

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05-14-2010, 11:09 PM
I've been consciously shifting towards fufilling my protein needs from vegetarian sources. As I reflected on this past week, I've only had a very small amount of chicken as an addition to a bean soup, and haven't had meat as a main course for quite awhile.

When I got the results from my bloodwork last month, I was a bit disappointed. While my triglycerides have dropped from 141 to 86, my total cholesterol is 209, HDL 36, and LDL 138. I'd really be happy to see positive changes with my cholesterol.

I'm not eating many eggs or much cheese either, so I need some guidance from some of you as to what I need to be looking at for my protein requirements, and what are some good choices. I'm not fond of dairy products other than yogurt.

I've looked at some of the vegetarian substitutes and haven't bought much yet. I eat beans every day, but what do I need to make my diet nutritionally complete? I've had quinoa several times and really like it, but don't know much about it, either.

Pros and cons of some of the popular substitutes would be appreciated. We had OP pizza tonight and I added Morningstar sausage crumbles. We enjoyed it but I have no idea if its a good choice or not.

As I looked at products at the HFS, most have soy. I'm post menopause and have no idea if I should be eating lots of soy or not.


05-15-2010, 03:54 AM
I've been curious about this too - and just did some casual google searches and found these two sites:

05-15-2010, 05:35 AM
Thanks mara11jade!

05-15-2010, 07:49 AM
When I first decided to become vegetarian, I would obsess about how much protein I was eating, but now it's not such a big deal. I eat beans almost every day, and eat lots of greens such as spinach, Swiss chard, escarole, and romaine and redleaf lettuce. I think protein is overrated, and as long as we're eating a balanced variety of healthy foods, we're getting a sufficient amount in our diets. I know I feel better than I have in ages, and don't get that sluggish, run-down feeling anymore.

05-15-2010, 08:13 AM
We don't need nearly as much protein as most people think we do. From the reading I've done 60 - 70 g is plenty for an active woman. I've played with my diet a lot over the last 10 years not just for weight loss but to decrease inflammation and address other health issues and environmental concerns. My choices have been influenced by reading Micheal Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver so , as always, YMMV.

I am a fan of eggs but think it's really important to buy truly free range. I actually dodge the chickens wandering around the yard to buy my eggs so I know they are eating lots of bugs, grasses and other good things instead of lots of nasty chicken feed. There's plenty of research to suggest the omega profile of those eggs is a lot healthier than factory eggs. We have an egg dinner once a week (veggie scramble or frittata) and I eat an egg with breakfast most mornings.

I try not to eat processed soy products more than a few times a week. I have tried to cut them out but the convenience always draws me back. Whenever possible I prefer Sunshine or Praeger burgers. They have more grain in them but no processed soy. Whole soy products like tofu and tempeh are a much better choice IMO. I do have some thyroid issues though so soy is no more than one meal a day for me.

You know how I feel about beans ;) Turns out broccoli is also a good source of protein. I love FitDay! I don't eat much dairy cheese but I love almond cheese, especially the cheddar. I have to special order it but think it's worth it for the low fat protein (7g a serving) and the taste. A bowl of beans, salsa, broccoli & almond cheese has 17 g of protein at the low end of serving sizes. Not too shabby :)

Whole grains also add protein. Mix a 1/2c of brown rice or quinoa into that bowl of beans and you've got a protein filled meal.

Finally I do supplement with some fish. I know that makes me not a vegetarian but it works for me. It's rarely more than one meal a week but the quick, low fat protein and Omega 3s works for me.

ETA - and Greek yogurt, can't forget that. A cup of NF Greek yogurt has 22g of protein!

One more note - I looked over my menus to see where my protein typically comes from. I was very excited to see 12 g of protein next to the asparagus, until I realized that was 2.5c of asparagus. I think that was the first day the stand had any :o

05-15-2010, 09:53 AM
Thanks, girls!

Linda, I eat beans everyday, too...and lots of veggies. I guess it would be a good step to educate myself as to the veggies that have more protein. I think I'm eating a balanced variety of foods and I don't ever feel run down. Do you occasionally add any of the "buy it in the store" substitutes?

Cyndi, I've read Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver. I AM a fan of eggs, and I've only eaten free range for years. My CSA sells them. I used to have chickens in Alaska and used to hunt in my yard for them. I didn't know that the omega profile is better. Thanks for the soy info. My thyroid has always been borderline low, so I'll be mindful. I will give the almond cheese a try, too. I, too, will continue to take my fish supplements.

Do either of you find you have any of the SB "grain" issues with quinoa? Do you carefully monitor your portions? Do you think I'd be ok to mix some quinoa with my beans EVERY day?

I hear about TVP? Do you use it? any drawbacks?

I have a protein/greens smoothie EVERY morning. The protein source is amaranth/quinoa/spirulina/greens. It is 20g w/water which is how I mix it. It's looking like between this, my beans and my veggies I should be just fine.

Any meat we use is free range/grass fed, and I'll continue to use it from time to time, I just see a trend of using less and less.

Thanks, friends!

05-15-2010, 10:17 AM
I think that TVP is primarily soy and heavily processed so I apply the same rules. My only problem with quinoa is portion control. It's not a craving trigger for me, I just like it :) I'm actually trying a bean burger recipe tonight that includes quinoa. I'll share if it's good :)

Barbara Kingsolver cited the egg studies. That was the first time I'd read about them.

Honestly based on everything I know now I would add free range, ethically raised and slaughtered chicken a night or two a week if DW would go for it and remove all the processed soy products. The more I learn the less I want to eat the soy stuff. I do love seitan and have always made my own. If you don't have gluten issues it's a great add.

05-15-2010, 05:40 PM
Ok, I might try seitan before I explore making it...go with organic tofu maybe 2x/week and proceed with my ethically raised chix but only in small amounts. I think I'll skip on any of the processed soy with the exception of the "sausage" crumbles on our healthy pizzas. I'm interested in how your bean/quinoa burger turns out.


05-15-2010, 06:43 PM
When you're ready to try making seitan Post Punk Kitchen ( has the best sausage recipe IMO. If you want to branch out into tempeh Fat Free Vegan has a yummy cajun tempeh bacon ( we really like. It's taken me years to warm up to tempeh but now that I've learned to marinade and grill it I use it quite a bit.

05-15-2010, 07:17 PM
Thanks! It looks like I have a kitchen experiment lined up whilst I'm single.

05-15-2010, 08:18 PM
Deb, by "buy it in the store substitutes", do you mean do I buy my veggies and produce at a grocery store? I do when I have to, but I try to buy organic when I do.
I have tofu on the average of about twice a week, and I like the Morningstar Farms veggie burger products and have them maybe once a week or so, too. I've tried tempeh, but am not a fan of it, but I do like seitan and will have it occasionally. I especially like fake chicken seitan in the crackslaw recipe! I tried making my own once, but it was such a hassle that now I just buy it when I want some.
I always buy cage-free eggs, but I don't eat eggs very often, although I do use them in my cooking. And for milk, I buy both organic skim milk, and unsweetened almond milk.

Cyndi, I'm eager to find out how your bean/quinoa burger turned out, too!

05-15-2010, 09:07 PM
Here. the recipe ( It's a keeper. I didn't have the cilantro and didn't make guac and it was still good! My favorite recipe is still the lentil walnut burgers but these held together well and should be grillable. We are eating the leftovers in wraps for tomorrow's on the road lunch.

05-15-2010, 09:16 PM
Thanks for the recipe and the recommendation, Cyndi! I have all the ingredients so I may try this tomorrow. Did you use cornmeal, or make a substitution?

05-15-2010, 09:24 PM
Linda, what I meant were products like Morningstar Farms.

Cyndi, the recipe looks great! Thanks!

05-15-2010, 09:39 PM
I had some local, organic cornmeal so used that. I only used the 3T in the burgers and a light dusting on the chill pan. You could sub it out easily though it made a nice crust for very little cornmeal on the outside.