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Vegetarian Delights and Other Recipes

Questions and Answers - More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Vegetarian Cuisine
Veggies
Tips, Ideas and Suggestions

So now you have the recipes, but you have some questions too.  I will try to answer some of the basics, but if there is something I have forgotten, please contact me using the link above, and I will try to get you an answer.

Q: What about protein?  How do I get enough?
A: Ah, protein, that famous sticking point.  Actually, it is really easy to get more than enough protein in our diets.  The recommended daily allowance for protein for adults is .8 grams per kg body weight, or about 55 g for a 150-lb adult.  That said, the average American adult consumes about 100 g of protein each day.  So even if we almost halve the amount of protein consumed, we're still getting enough.  And even there, never fear!  A diet rich in vegetarian staples such as legumes and whole-grain carbohydrates has plenty of protein for even the most active person.
 
To really ensure that you're getting enough protein, serve dishes that combine legumes with grains.  That's a lot easier than it sounds, actually.  Chili with nachos, minestrone soup with kidney beans and pasta, Indian chana  masala with basmati rice, falafel with pita, a warming lentil soup with a loaf of fresh bread... these all have complete protein combinations.  So don't sweat the protein.
 
Q: Is there anything I should be worried about?
A: If you are only eating a few vegetarian meals a week, relax.  It's all perfectly healthy.  If you are vegetarian, but consume eggs and dairy, relax as well.  You're getting everything you need.  If you are vegan - consuming NO animal products, including eggs and dairy - you only need to think about one little thing, and that is vitamin B12.  But even there, nature has an answer, and that answer is called Nutritional Yeast.  Sounds weird, but tastes pretty yummy, and it's the one vegan source of B12 around.  Marmite, that salty British delight, is packed with the stuff too.
 
Q: What types of wine go well with vegetarian food?
A: There's a saying that you know you're really vegetarian when you think that white wine goes with tofu and red wine goes with tempeh, a meaty tofu derivative. 
 
The rules of wine have changed.  We no longer feel that red wine and red meat MUST go together, or that to serve anything but a white with fish is a hanging offence.  Balance the wine to the meal.  A light salad-based meal demands a light wine, usually white, but a heary stew, full of tomatoes and beans, could well stand up to a French bistro red.  Tomatoes have acid, and that is something to consider when chosing a wine.  Reds usually stand up to acids more than whites.  Spicy foods, such as Thai or Indian curries, need a lighter wine, but one with enough punch of their own.  Here, a good Gewurtstraminer might be the choice to make.  The real trick is to experiment and see what suits your own palate.
 
Q: What's with these weird ingredients? And where do I buy them?
A: Because our western diet is typically so heavy in meat, we forget about the wonderful world of flavours and textures found in vegetables and non-meat foods.  Many of the recipes I use are non-western, and in relying on Asian or Indian or other 'ethnic' cuisines, I have come to learn about the various ingredients they rely upon.   So my recipes will include tofu, soy sauce, various spices, and some combinations that may seem totally bizarre at first (peanut butter and vinegar???) or some food that you've never heard of (just what IS silken tofu, anyway?).  As vegetarianism becomes less of a fad and more common, regular old supermarkets are starting to stock some of these strange foods, and a visit to a natural food store or a health food store should readily supply you with the rest.  There are mail order places available as well for non-perishables. 
 
Since legumes now form the protein foundation of the diet, rather than meat, you'll want to have a few choices on hand.  Legumes (beans, lentils, peas, etc) come either dried or canned, and you'll find rows of various varieties at your local supermarket.  Along with these legumes in their natural forms, you many also want to find where to buy tofu and other soy products, such as soy milk and soy sauce. 
 
Many of my recipes have long lists of spices, but don't let them scare you.  A bulk food store often has bins of these, and a fairly extensive spice collection can be built up for very little money.  (I equiped my mother-in-law's kitchen a few years back for a grand total of $10, including some spice jars.)  Also, don't forget that spices can go stale, so only get a bit at a time.  You'll soon learn what you can buy in larger quantities.
 
For a list of ingredients, and what can be substituted for what, see my ingredients page, listed above.