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Old 04-29-2009, 09:45 AM   #1  
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Default Wanting to become a vegetarian, need advice on food

I know this seems silly..."want to be a vegetarian, just avoid meat!", but I'm finding as I look at my normal diet that I'm REALLY limited on fruits and veggies that I've tried, and I'm looking for advice on simple things to try to get acclimated to eating different foods. My big fear is that I'll have the old childhood reaction to trying stuff "Ewww, that tastes different, I don't like it! (And won't try it for another 20 years) and will find myself subsisting on pasta and oranges. I really do want to move to a vegetarian diet (lacto-ovo at first, then probably down to ovo, then just good ol' garden variety veggie-head). But I'm looking for advice on what foods are tasty, simple to make, and nutritious. And seriously, what the heck to do with beans...the only thing I've ever cooked beans in is chili. With beef. I don't know how to cook them! Are canned easier than dried? What are the best?

Okay, here's a list of fruits/veggies that I eat now and know I like. If it's not on the list, I probably haven't ever tried it, or haven't since childhood.

Pineapple (favorite!)
Tomato (haven't had raw tomatoes in years, but loooove me some tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes etc.)

Veggies (please don't laugh...)
Lettuce (prefer romaine)
I can do peas, carrots, onions, etc. in small bites in stuff like soup, but I can't tell you the last time I sat down and crunched into a raw carrot, for example. Clearly, I'm veggie challenged. And again, don't know how to cook them! My family was the "boil it until it disintegrates" variety of veggie cookers.

They were also the "if it's white bread, it's tastier" variety, so I do have a fondness for regular pasta of just about any variety, white or jasmine rice, white bread, etc. but I know that there are more nutritious choices out there...I just don't know what tastes good and what is just not so great (I've tried some wheat pastas, and can't really find one I like as much as the regular pasta).

If anyone could point me in the direction of how to get this diet of mine turned around, I'd really appreciate it. I want to become vegetarian for several reasons, but it also kind of intimidates me because I don't want to be the only vegetarian in the world who doesn't know how to put together a varied diet! Please help...happy carrot dances to you!
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Old 04-29-2009, 10:10 AM   #2  
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Ok, I'm not vegetarian right now, but I was for 8 years. I started when I was around 18. It was somewhat easy because my boyfriend (soon to be husband) was vegan. He cooked for me a lot and introduced me to tofu. At first, I could only eat it fried crispy. I can eat it a lot of different ways now.

I bought several cookbooks and looked at the vegetarian times magazine. I would try to make a new recipe every week. I think that mexican food is easy to make vegetarian. You can stuff pretty much anything into a tortilla. I like potatoes or rice cooked with salsa layered with refried beans and some sauted veggies.

I also used a lot of meat substitutes at first. I still do, actually. My kids and I love Tofurky. I use the ground fake in chili or spaghetti sauce. I like morningstar farms and boca.

It gets easier as it goes along. The hardest part was eating at someone elses house or eating out.
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Old 04-29-2009, 10:35 AM   #3  
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Okay I know this is going to sound CRAZY, but Brussels Sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables once I figured out how to cook them correctly:

Cut off the bottom part, slice in half, drizzle a little bit of olive oil on, and put in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Take em out and put a teaspoon of chopped garlic, sea salt to taste and pepper, stir em around, and put them back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so, until they are all slightly browned. SO GOOD.

Mangoes are another fruit that I've started to love over the last few years. Honeydew melon is amazing in the summer, watermelon, too.

I make little bowls of fruit salad sometimes. Cut up some strawberries, blueberries, melon, whatever you want. Add a little bit of lime juice, some coconut flakes or sliced almonds. You can even add a teaspoon of maple syrup if your fruit isn't quite in season.

I'm not a big raw-veggie girl myself, but I've started making salads quite often, and my favorite thing to do is caramelize some onions, add some canned, drained chickpeas, sundried tomatoes balsamic vinaigrette. I have to have something cooked in my salad to make it seem less....salady and more of a meal. Grilled asparagus, grilled mushrooms, baked tofu...sometimes I even make homemade croutons, which are really amazing.

Good luck! It kind of takes a while to get used to eating lots of fruits and vegetables, but give it some time, don't give up, and you won't be able to go the day without them!

I don't know if cookbooks are your thing, but Veganomicon is a really fun book that has an entire front section devoted to all the ways of preparing and cooking vegetables and what to do with them.
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Old 04-29-2009, 11:13 AM   #4  
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There are veggie chili recipes... Honestly, it sounds like you need a cookbook. Your local library probably has at least a few.

My favorite blog has a lot of good recipes:

I highly recommend Vegan with a Vengeance and Veganomicon as cookbooks.

As for beans, there are a lot of things you can do with them.
Roasted chickpeas (with plenty of garlic and some cayenne)
"Refried" beans (I buy them in the can sometimes)
Lentil soup
Hummus (or other bean spread/dip)
Veggie chili
Black bean soup
Bean casseroles

I eat beans basically every day and usually they are just part of my meal.
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Old 04-29-2009, 11:19 AM   #5  
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Pick ONE fruit and one vegetable that you don't normally eat, and try them. Try cooking the veggie a few different ways that week and then at the end of the week you can decide whether you like it or not. You might not like it grilled, but love it sauteed or as part of a casserole, see the distinction?

With time you'll have tons of different fruits and veggies you'll like. Take myself, I'll eat most veggies but there are only TWO things I won't eat, beets and mushrooms. As for fruit- I can't think of one I don't like!

Check out and, TONS of cooking ideas can be found there

Last edited by beerab; 04-29-2009 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 04-29-2009, 03:03 PM   #6  
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I just thought about mentioning There are tons of recipes and it's easy to search through.
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Old 05-01-2009, 10:17 PM   #7  
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Default many levels

This is really a multi-faceted question and comment. I have been a vegetarian for over 21 years. I was a vegan for about 16 years or so, but my doctor got on to me when I was pregnant with my kids (now 8 and 13). I do now eat things with eggs or milk or cheese in them if I am out in public, but not much. But, at my house, I purchase soy or rice milk (but usually throw it out because I don't hardly use any), soy cheese and don't eat anything regarding egg at all. In fact, I would say I am about 90-95% vegan. All that having been said I can tell you that I am a huge fan of romaine lettuce myself. I eat 2-3 heads of it a week. I love salads! I use just a bit of dressing. Enough to give it taste! Hear me clearly: just a bit! I love spices and hot mustards and salsa. These things will really help with your food choices.

But my friends all make fun of me. They tell me I'm the only vegetarian they know who doesn't like vegetables. That's a big joke with me because I don't care for cooked vegetables. I have learned that when people hear "vegetables," they automatically jump to a cooked version in their minds. I like raw foods. They just taste better. They aren't beaten down and void of flavor. For that matter I don't like to cook so it works out for me. Obvious things like corn, potatoes and beans need to be cooked, but other veggies I like raw.

I love dips of all sorts, even horseradish mustard and hummus. Try it and try various tastes and flavors together and you'll see what I mean.

Just try different combinations and see what you like. Canned beans are much easier than raw but check for lard in the cooking.

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Old 05-01-2009, 11:42 PM   #8  
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Thanks everyone -- I'm still not sure quite what to start with to expand my selections (LOL) but I'll hit the library and check out some cookbooks. You've given me a good start, and I plan on making some changes come Sunday (when I go to the grocery store).
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Old 08-16-2009, 03:49 PM   #9  
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Red face I know this is an old post but......

Vegetarian Times magazine has a lot of great recipes for vegetarians and vegans. I subscribe to it and save all the issues. You'll never run out of ideas of what to eat. The recipes are REALLY good! Better than most of the veggie cookbooks I have.

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Old 08-16-2009, 09:00 PM   #10  
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I second Vegan with a Vengence! I just bought it 2 days ago and love that there aren't just strange asian recipes in it. Don't get me wrong every once in a while it's nice to have somthing exotic but most of the time I want somthing that tastes normal, familiar, and traditional and it just seems like a lot of recipes I've been looking at lately don't have that. I browsed through a book called Vegan in 30 days and it sounds like a good book. It takes you into it step by step giving you 1 thing to change every day. So if you just want to be vegetarian than I'm sure you can stop where you feel comfy at. Good luck!
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Old 08-23-2009, 02:22 AM   #11  
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I'm an ovo vegetarian. Right now I am obsessed with Asian food and flavorings. Last year it was Indian Curries and Aloo Gobi. I just delve into cook books for good ideas. I love ethnic cook books because you can find really great varieties of vegetarian food. There are plenty of Mexican, Medeteranian, Asian, North African, Indian sub continent foods that are ripe for the picking.

I find that as a vegetarian, it is very important to learn to cook. This eludes some people. A trick for beans is a Crockpot. I have a tiny little crockpot. Just throw in a cup of dried beans in the morning with enough water, and you get beans when you come home from work. A Rice cooker is important too. In a rice cooker you can make all sorts of rice and small grain (tabbulii, mung beans, steal cut oats, brown rice, Cous Cous etc)

Go to various stores and try new things. Have you eaten buckwheat noodles? Quinoa? Seaweed? Blue Green Alge?

Experiment a lot. Cooking is an art form, you can actually be creative with it. Try new things. I've made bread to Kim Chee, (vegetarian).

Last edited by giselley; 08-23-2009 at 02:24 AM.
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Old 09-02-2009, 08:34 PM   #12  
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I recently (two days ago) became a vegetarian, and right now I'm cooking out of "Easy Everyday Vegetarian" by Betty Crocker, which I got at the library. I have all the recipes that sound good bookmarked with a post-it.

I like this cookbook because in the back it has suggestions of things to stock up on in your pantry.

The recipes I like will go into a recipe box, the book will go back to the library, and another one will replace it until I have a good basis to draw from.

Luckily, my SO has recently had a change of heart and is now willing to try different foods, including veggie burgers. Also, her brother is a vegetarian, so it's nice to have different opinions. (Gotta put it through the "teenage boy" test. )
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