My oldest daughter, Caroline, has been a vegetarian for quite some time – at least six months. It seems a bit longer as we continue the struggle of finding foods that she not only enjoys, but that will meet her nutritional requirements. She has been pretty open to trying new foods; however, there are countless times when I bring vegetarian items home for her and she will barely let them touch her lips. Caroline is a lacto-ovo vegetarian, which means she eats dairy products and eggs. Not only does her decision to practice this type of vegetarianism expand our meal options, but these foods also provide many of the vitamins and minerals that can be missing from a vegetarian diet, such as iron, protein, B-12, calcium, vitamin D, and zinc. I have no idea if my eleven year old will announce that she is Vegan tomorrow, but for now, I will enjoy the relative ease of preparing both herbivorous and carnivorous meals for my family.
This will be my first Vegetarian Thanksgiving. Although, Caroline can enjoy most of the foods at the table, there is still the main course that is of concern. The turkey is typically the source of protein and iron, and since she will not be eating that, and has a very important cheer competition the next morning (GO APEX COUGARS!!!), I will need to make sure she has an acceptable substitute. So, where do I go to find one?
A delicious, no fuss way is through Whole Foods. They offer a vegan meal that serves one for just $13.99. Tempting… but, for me, one of the things that makes Thanksgiving most special is the time spent preparing the foods for loved ones. So, back to recipe hunting I go…
I am looking for something that will provide my vegetarian with protein and also iron. Eggs and milk are great ingredients for a lacto-ovo vegetarian meal since they are complete proteins. Nuts and dried beans are protein packed as well, although dried beans do not rank very high on Caroline’s list of approved foods. For iron, I may consider something with lentils or spinach. Plant-based iron sources are not absorbed by the body as well as animal iron sources, so it will be beneficial to have some vitamin C with the meal to assist in delivering the iron to the blood. Conveniently, cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C!
I have recently discovered a blog, Naturally Ella, that has beautiful vegetarian recipes. The Butternut Squash Galette with Balsamic Onions and Ricotta is one recipe that is on my list of main course possibilities. My daughter loves the sweetness of squash and having it in a pie crust may be even better!
Oh My Veggies, another incredible vegetarian blog, has a recipe for Wild Rice, Lentil, and Cranberry Stuffed Delicata Squash. It sounds and looks delicious!
I am not sure which one of these I will make – perhaps, I will make them both! What a feast!
If you have a vegetarian in your family or on your guest list for the holidays, keep these recipes in mind… or call Whole Foods. Becki, our Pretty in the Peak Foodie, also found a great resource in the NY Times. Look for that on our Facebook page, Twitter, GooglePlus, and Instagram later today!
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.
This year, I am thankful for having the opportunity to write this blog with these amazing women – Becki, Korinne, and Trisha and for all of you who read what we write each week. Happy Thanksgiving!
Stay tuned, stay healthy, and stay Pretty in the Peak!
Marianne Lindgren, MS, RD
Resources and further reading:
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: www.eatright.org