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Meet the Best Meatless Protein Sources


If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you've probably been asked countless questions about how you get your protein. The truth is, it's not as hard as you might think to meet your protein needs when you're going meatless. However, some plant sources are higher in this important nutrient than others. Which veg-friendly food packs more protein: 4 ounces of tofu, 1 cup of cooked lentils, or 1 cup of cooked quinoa
Posted 2/23/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 34 comments   35,213 views
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39 Meat-Free Recipes for World Vegetarian Day


Happy World Vegetarian Day! In honor of this Meatless Monday and the annual day to kick off a month of plant-based eating, we're sharing some of our favorite veg recipes. They're yummy and filling, perfect for meat eaters and veg'ns alike!

Did you know that about 3% of Americans are vegetarian and about 1% are vegan, meaning they don't eat meat, dairy, eggs or anything else that comes from an animal.
  1. 2-Bean Sweet Potato Chili
  2. Baked Falafel
  3. Bruschetta-Stuffed Mushrooms
  4. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
  5. Cheesy Spinach Enchiladas
Posted 10/1/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 11 comments   16,272 views
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Weekly Menu: Meatless Meals


Whether you're vegetarian or just in search of new meal ideas, you'll love these meatless meals. They're easy on your wallet and your waistline.
Posted 7/6/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 17 comments   54,515 views
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You Asked: Are There Any Risks to Becoming a Vegetarian?


Great question. It's more often that we hear the possible health benefits of a vegetarian diet touted than we ever hear people talking about it possibly being unhealthy. But generally speaking, research shows that a well-planned vegetarian diet can be extremely healthy. Plant-based foods are naturally low in fat (and most often feature heart-healthy fats), are free of cholesterol, and are high in fiber, phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. In fact, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has reported that vegan and vegetarian diets can significantly reduce one's risk of contracting heart disease, colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and a number of other debilitating conditions.
Posted 6/3/2012  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 5 comments   2,248 views
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10 No-Recipe Meals for Nights You Don't Feel Like Cooking


Most nights I look forward to cooking dinner. I listen to music on my iPod, perhaps enjoy a small glass of wine, and relax as I chop, sauté and braise. Other nights, when I come home starving, teach a late yoga class, or go for a long run after work, I want my meals to be no-fuss, no-muss, on the table in 20 minutes or less. (I must confess that I have a pretty sweet arrangement with my boyfriend: I cook, he cleans. I'm really good at making messes in the kitchen!) These are my top 10 go-to vegan meals. You can make them as simple or as fancy as you'd like. Use heat-and-eat rice, canned beans, and pre-chopped or frozen vegetables to save time, or gussy up these recipes (techniques, really) on nights when you're feeling creative. Add some fruit and a cup of calcium-fortified non-dairy milk (we vegans need strong bones!), and dinner is served.
Posted 3/8/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 26 comments   114,937 views
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Meatless March: Are You Taking the Challenge?


Happy March, everyone! Are you participating in the 30-Day Meatless Challenge?  
In addition to being the month that spring officially begins, March is also the time of Lent and Purim (did you know that Queen Esther might have been vegan?).

Did you know that during in ancient times, fasting during Lent was much stricter--in some places, all animal products were forbidden--and in other countries, predominantly in the East, only vegan foods are consumed during Lent?

March is also National Nutrition Month, and March 20 is Meatout day.

And SparkPeople's first official e-book, "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet," published earlier this week. (Thanks to you, the book has been #1 in vegetarian and low-fat diet e-books on Amazon all week, and it also was in the top five of all vegetarian cookbooks--"real" and e-books. WooHoo!)

I can't think of a better time to experiment with meatless meals.

Many of you have had questions regarding the challenge. It's simple. We're using the Vegetarian Team as our home base, and I'm posting a new thread each week. (Click here for this week's thread.) Feel free to post your questions and comments there, and on my weekly blogs, which will run Fridays through the month of March.

I called this the "Meatless Challenge" because it allows for some flexibility in your food choices. Meatless includes vegan and vegetarian meals. You can define meatless however you please; I'm not hear to judge!

So what should we be doing?
Posted 3/2/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 73 comments   21,284 views
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The No-Stress, No-Guilt Approach to Meatless Meals


I'm thrilled to announce that SparkPeople has just published the first in a line of ebooks, "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet."

As many of you know, I am editor of SparkRecipes and dailySpark, and co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook." I love food--writing, editing, researching, and, of course, eating it.

What you might not know about me is that I'm vegan, meaning I don't eat meat, dairy, eggs or anything else that comes from an animal. About 1% of Americans eat this way (for reference, 3% of Americans are vegetarian), but that number is growing. Due to my love of creating tasty, easy plant-based recipes, I was really excited to launch our ebook series with a vegan cookbook and guide.

Don't worry--SparkPeople isn't taking the stance that we all need to ditch meat forever. But with at least 325,000 vegetarians and vegans on our site, we know that many of our members are interested in eating less meat and more plants. This book fills a niche, and I wrote it with the SparkPeople philosophy in mind--moderation, no fad diets, and taking small steps along the way to a healthier you. 

I am passionate about sharing the vegan lifestyle with others, but I (and SparkPeople) will never pressure you or guilt you into giving up meat, cheese, or eggs forever. I'd rather have each of you take one step toward a healthier you than alienate even one reader with a "diet" that seems complicated and stressful.

Why vegan for me?
In 2010, I adopted an all-plant diet accidentally, unintentionally and without fanfare--all the while claiming that I could never be a vegan. (That's a good story--I explain in the ebook.) My excuses varied depending on the situation: it would be too costly, I loved cheese too much, I couldn't imagine interrogating every server at every restaurant for the rest of my life. I admit: I was wrong about veganism. Today, I remain happily, healthfully vegan.

I've discovered that a plant-based diet is neither restrictive nor difficult, neither expensive nor time-consuming, and I'm hoping you'll give it a try--at least for a little while. 

My body is the strongest and healthiest it has ever been. A vegan diet allows me to maintain a rigorous six-day-a-week Ashtanga yoga practice while training for half-marathons and teaching yoga.  My boyfriend, a competitive cyclist, fuels with a plant-based diet as well. We each became vegan shortly before we met (within a week of each other, it turned out!), and the early days of our relationship were spent cooking up vegan feasts in my tiny apartment kitchen. 

The motivators for a vegan diet can be pretty heavy topics, but what they all have in common is compassion and kindness: for others, for yourself, or for the earth and its animals. That's why I believe in the "no-stress, no-guilt" approach to meatless meals. 

That's also why, along with other experts and members here at SparkPeople, I wrote "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet," which is available for $2.99 on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

To celebrate this new e-book and encourage others to embrace more plant-based meals, I'm launching the 30-Day Meatless Challenge, starting March 1.

As I said, this isn't like other books on veganism. We focus solely on the positive aspects of a plant-based diet. Whether you are looking to add a few vegan recipes to your weekly meal plans, experiment with plant-based eating for a few weeks during Lent, or make it a lifelong journey, I hope you'll be inspired to embrace meatless meals at least for a little while from a healthy, whole-foods perspective using the new book.

If you want to eat plants 100% of the time and get healthy while doing it, I'm thrilled--and this is the book and the challenge for you. But remember that if you want to experiment with more meatless meals, learn how to cook for a vegan in your life, or just learn what the heck vegans eat, this book is for you, too.

Click here to buy or preview "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet" on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Posted 2/27/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 101 comments   97,782 views
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The No-Stress, No-Guilt Approach to Meatless Meals


I'm thrilled to announce that SparkPeople has just published the first in a line of ebooks, "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet."

As many of you know, I am editor of SparkRecipes and dailySpark, and co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook." I love food--writing, editing, researching, and, of course, eating it.

What you might not know about me is that I'm vegan, meaning I don't eat meat, dairy, eggs or anything else that comes from an animal. About 1% of Americans eat this way (for reference, 3% of Americans are vegetarian), but that number is growing. Due to my love of creating tasty, easy plant-based recipes, I was really excited to launch our ebook series with a vegan cookbook and guide.

Don't worry--SparkPeople isn't taking the stance that we all need to ditch meat forever. But with at least 325,000 vegetarians and vegans on our site, we know that many of our members are interested in eating less meat and more plants. This book fills a niche, and I wrote it with the SparkPeople philosophy in mind--moderation, no fad diets, and taking small steps along the way to a healthier you. 

I am passionate about sharing the vegan lifestyle with others, but I (and SparkPeople) will never pressure you or guilt you into giving up meat, cheese, or eggs forever. I'd rather have each of you take one step toward a healthier you than alienate even one reader with a "diet" that seems complicated and stressful.

Why vegan for me?
In 2010, I adopted an all-plant diet accidentally, unintentionally and without fanfare--all the while claiming that I could never be a vegan. (That's a good story--I explain in the ebook.) My excuses varied depending on the situation: it would be too costly, I loved cheese too much, I couldn't imagine interrogating every server at every restaurant for the rest of my life. I admit: I was wrong about veganism. Today, I remain happily, healthfully vegan.

I've discovered that a plant-based diet is neither restrictive nor difficult, neither expensive nor time-consuming, and I'm hoping you'll give it a try--at least for a little while. 

My body is the strongest and healthiest it has ever been. A vegan diet allows me to maintain a rigorous six-day-a-week Ashtanga yoga practice while training for half-marathons and teaching yoga.  My boyfriend, a competitive cyclist, fuels with a plant-based diet as well. We each became vegan shortly before we met (within a week of each other, it turned out!), and the early days of our relationship were spent cooking up vegan feasts in my tiny apartment kitchen. 

The motivators for a vegan diet can be pretty heavy topics, but what they all have in common is compassion and kindness: for others, for yourself, or for the earth and its animals. That's why I believe in the "no-stress, no-guilt" approach to meatless meals. 

That's also why, along with other experts and members here at SparkPeople, I wrote "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet," which is available for $2.99 on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

To celebrate this new e-book and encourage others to embrace more plant-based meals, I'm launching the 30-Day Meatless Challenge, starting March 1.

As I said, this isn't like other books on veganism. We focus solely on the positive aspects of a plant-based diet. Whether you are looking to add a few vegan recipes to your weekly meal plans, experiment with plant-based eating for a few weeks during Lent, or make it a lifelong journey, I hope you'll be inspired to embrace meatless meals at least for a little while from a healthy, whole-foods perspective using the new book.

If you want to eat plants 100% of the time and get healthy while doing it, I'm thrilled--and this is the book and the challenge for you. But remember that if you want to experiment with more meatless meals, learn how to cook for a vegan in your life, or just learn what the heck vegans eat, this book is for you, too.

Click here to buy or preview "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet" on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Posted 2/27/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 101 comments   97,782 views
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5 (Almost) No-Cook Summer Recipes


 In the summertime, I eat a from-scratch meal almost every night, but I only turn on my stove and oven once or twice a week.

I don't like air conditioning, so I take creative steps to avoid having to turn it on. So far, despite several stretches of 90-degree weather, I haven't been tempted to turn it on, and my first-floor apartment hasn't been warmer than 78 degrees F.

That said, I keep windows open when I'm home and closed--along with the curtains and blinds--when I'm not. I take cooler showers. I wear as little as possible while not giving the neighbors a show--tank tops and running shorts or sometimes just sports bra and shorts.

I have noticed that this summer, unlike years past, I haven't gained weight. I think it's because I am not craving large and heavy meals or snacking mindlessly because my body is more in tune with the weather. When it's cold, I crave heavier fare, but then I feel miserable when I step out into the heat if I eat a large meal.

And I turn on the stove only when necessary, and I rely on big-batch cooking a couple of times a week. I cook quinoa, rice, beans, and the like, then store them for use later in the week. No-cook meals save time and energy. When I come home from yoga practice or a run, and I'm so hungry I could eat my arm, these meals are life-savers. They require a little more time than a standard salad (like Coach Nicole's latest favorite salad), but they're still easy enough for a weeknight meal. I often pair them with big batches of gazpacho (lately I've been adding watermelon--yum!) or another chilled soup.

Other favorite no-cook meals: pita pocket sandwiches with homemade hummus and veggies (or you could add grilled chicken), black-bean and corn salsa with baked tortilla chips and avocados, almond butter-and-jelly sandwiches with fresh fruit and carrot sticks, smoothies, and leftovers of any sort. (Eat them cold or at room temperature--you might like it!)
 
My boyfriend is thoroughly impressed each night that I am able to create such filling and beautiful fare without turning on the oven. And, these meals showcase the beautiful colors and textures of summer.
Posted 7/5/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 16 comments   14,424 views
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All You Ever Wanted to Know about Vegetarian Protein


Not sure how to meet your protein needs without meat? Look no further! We've rounded up a variety of resources to help you learn all you ever wanted to know about vegetarian protein.

Reference Guide for Proteins

How to Meet Your Protein Needs without Meat

Meatless Meals Benefit Your Health

Tofu 101

So Many Ways to Enjoy Soy!

Posted 6/8/2011  10:00:35 AM By: Denise Tausig : 14 comments   15,322 views
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Veg-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes


Editor's Note: Did you know that SparkPeople was home to almost 250,000 vegetarians and vegans? It's true. In addition, 4% of Americans are either vegetarian or vegan, according to a Vegetarian Times survey, and up to 10% of Americans follow a partially vegetarian diet. That said, this Thanksgiving, we wanted to highlight some vegetarian recipes.

(Have you tried Chef Meg's new, healthy Thanksgiving recipes? Find them here.)

I reached out to my friend and fellow blogger, Angela, for some vegetarian and vegan recipes that would have mouths watering!
Posted 11/15/2010  1:45:38 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 26 comments   23,398 views
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Vegetarian Recipes for the Slow Cooker


Looking for some new ways to spice up your slow cooker recipes? We've rounded up a variety of vegetarian recipes for the slow cooker that are quick, easy, and full of flavor!

Moroccan Slow Cooker Stew

Chef Meg's Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry

Slow Cooker Sloppy Jane's

Slow Cooker Lentil & Quinoa Stew

Posted 11/2/2010  4:30:44 PM By: Denise Tausig : 31 comments   22,758 views
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For This Healthy Chef, It All Began with a Walk


Hi dailySpark readers! My name is Emily, and I write a recipe and running blog Ė The Front Burner. I am a vegetarian chef who recently graduated from culinary school, and in just a few short weeks Iíll be lining up at the starting line of my sixth full marathon. But food and fitness havenít always been my passions. In fact it was quite the opposite Ė they werenít even on my radar. For the first half of my adult life, my health and well-being were placed, you might say Ė on the back burner.

My journey to being unhealthy is fairly predictable. Growing up, I probably had it better than most kids my age Ė my entire family sat down together to a home cooked meal each and every night. There was always something green on every plate, and fast food was an indulgence saved only for long road trips. I didnít really know why we ate the way we ate Ė most of the time I was just happy to eat what was in front of me. Even though I ate well and felt healthy, I had no actual understanding of nutrition or personal health.

I went off to college at a normal size and weight but with very limited understanding of health and nutrition, and what sort of choices I should be making now that I was on my own. In college I dragged through life on a cycle of very little sleep, way too much partying, and late night fast food. My main forms of activity came from walking to and from class during the week, and dancing in the bars on weekends. After four years of fun, I packed up my car on graduation day, and headed home with 30 extra pounds on my frame.

But the post-college years were still not my turning point. I landed in a desk job that kept me seated most of the day, and I lived off of Diet Coke, 100-calorie snack packs, and processed food. The problem was not that I was overweight; in fact my weight may have still been in a normal range. The problem was that I was unhealthy. I didnít sleep enough. I wasnít getting necessary vitamins and minerals. I didnít feel alive.

The year 2005 brought a new boyfriend and a new burst of excitement into my days. For the first time in a long time, I wanted to feel good about myself again. I was tired of wearing extra layers to hide what was underneath, and I was ready to finally do something about extra weight I was carrying around. It all started by simply going for a walk.

Posted 10/5/2010  5:29:57 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 43 comments   16,703 views
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Bread Salad: A No-Cook, 10-Minute Meal


Panzanella is an Italian salad that can be found on trendy bistro menus in the hot summer months. I'll share a secret with you: This salad was invented when times were tough, as a way to use up stale bread.

Essentially, you make a salad--traditionally with plenty of fresh tomatoes--toss it with a vinaigrette, then add cubed stale or toasted bread just before serving. You can toast up a day-old baguette or fresh bread, depending on what you have in the kitchen. The bread soaks up all the delicious juice from the tomatoes and the tangy vinaigrette. The rest of the summer-fresh vegetables add crunch and freshness.

NOTE: If you're watching your sodium intake, reduce the amount of feta or omit it.

TIPS:
  • Rub a garlic clove on the bread after toasting for instant, healthier croutons.

  • Instead of cubed bread, you could add two cups of cooked grains (couscous, millet, bulgur, quinoa, or brown rice) or even a small whole-wheat pasta (like orzo or ditalini).

  • Customize this salad to suit your palate, using what you have on hand. This is a recipe that leaves plenty of room for interpretation. Add more tomatoes, toss in some drained and rinsed cannellini beans, or add some oregano. This is a chance for you to be creative!

  • Serve this salad with grilled chicken to boost the protein. For a meat-free meal, add a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas or cannellini beans (white kidney beans) to the dish.


You might notice that we have a new set for the videos. It's my family's farm in Kentucky. We headed there to shoot some videos and promos for the SparkPeople cookbook, which Stepfanie and I have been working on for months! The tomatoes, some of the herbs, and the peppers came straight from the fields that morning.

Posted 8/30/2010  1:03:14 PM By: Meg Galvin : 44 comments   19,957 views
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Part-Time Vegetarianism is Gaining Ground


If I lived alone, I would probably be a vegetarian. I was a vegetarian for a year or two before I got pregnant with my first child, but started eating meat again because I craved it. Thatís the only time in my life I would say that I "craved" meat. In general, I tend to gravitate to the vegetarian items on a restaurant menu and if Iím making a meal for just myself, it doesnít usually have meat in it. But cooking for one is rare in my house. I have a husband who likes meat, and two children who need at least some of the protein that meat provides. My daughter is great about eating alternate protein sources like beans, but my son wonít touch them. In order to provide a balanced diet to my family, I make meat dishes at least a few times a week. And Iím slightly lazy, which means Iím not going to make one thing for them and something different for myself. So I end up eating meat whether I really want to or not.
Posted 8/27/2010  4:02:48 PM By: Jen Mueller : 285 comments   24,480 views
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