A Healthy Vegetarian

Since today is Tuesday and I am not quite back to cooking regular dinners yet, I thought instead of a Last Nights Dinner Post I could talked a little about being a vegetarian. I have gotten a couple questions lately on my formspring about being a vegetarian and healthy eating and thought I could answer them in a little more detail here.

I have been a vegetarian for quite sometime now and I really can’t imagine ever not being one. I hate in our culture it is assumed by most people that being a vegetarian automatically means you are not getting enough protein. Sure if you are lazy and only eat pasta maybe you aren’t, but there are so many alternatives out there that easily fill your protein quota. My sister is a vegan and she has been a great example to me for getting creative and eating nutrional meals. I am not one for diets. I am much more into a healthy and balanced life style. I think that is something that sticks with you long after you get tired of your diet. Here are some excellent sources of protein for a vegetarian…

1. Beans. There are so many out there! I am a big fan of chicpeas. They go with so much stuff, not to mention how tastey is hummus? Plus Black beans! I could eat mexican food every night of the week!

2. Dairy Products. I will say I don’t eat a lot of dairy products. I am a little more half way between Vegetarian and Vegan, but it is a great source of protein. I do like cheese. I don’t think I could give that up. Plus greek yogurt saved me during pregnancy when I need extra protein to grow a baby. One of those yogurts are like 13grams of protein.

3. Nuts. Next time you make a stir fry add some peanuts/cashews or pine nuts to the dish. Almonds make a great afternoon snack.

4. Soy. There are lots of soy products out there and its easy to think this is the only source for protein, but it’s a lot healthier if you use it as part and not all of the protein in your diet.

5. Whole Grains. Try eating wheat pasta or a multigrain pasta. Look for cerals that are high in protein for breakfast. Eating whole grains is an easy switch in your diet to add some protein.

6. Fruits & Vegetables. EAT YOUR GREENS!! Kale is so freaking good! eat veggies like kale, collared greens and broccoli. Fruits are excellent for when you are craving something sweet. When you want ice cream try a homemade fruit smoothie instead. Mmm they are so good.

There are other sources out there but these are the main ones that make up my diet.
Lets look back at some of my favorite Last Night Dinner Posts that were good well balanced, high protein meals.
Homemade Black Bean Burgers
Around Clockwise
1. Acorn Squash stuffed with Cranberry and Pecan Multi grain Stuffing
2. Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
3. Sweet Potato and Kale Burritos
4. JenÒ€ℒs Crazy Awesome Protien Packed Marathon Soup


  1. Jen, thank you for this post! I just started eating vegetarian, and your words were really encouraging me to keep it up. These meals are such great ideas, too! That black bean burger looks delicious.

  2. My husband is a total carnivore and he raves over your sweet potato and kale burritos! Thanks for all the yummy healthy recipes!

  3. Thanks for laying it out there. I often struggle to get enough protein as a vegetarian but I am working on it! For me, it just a matter of planning. Btw, your soup recipe looks delicious.

  4. Thanks so much for posting on this Jen! I’ve been really struggling with cooking for myself lately. I’m technically not a vegetarian (I eat fish and birds) but I very very rarely make any meat for myself and I can’t eat any dairy. I’ve been finding it hard to be excited about dinner anymore, usually I just want it to be over. Which is so sad because I love food I just don’t know how to liven up the few recipes I always fall back on.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing your last night’s dinner posts again!

  5. Jen. I’m just going to keep it short, sweet and simple… WoW!!! I’m drooling over each recipe.

  6. Thanks so much for writing about this. Although I am not vegetarian (yet), my boyfriend is so all the meals I cook at home are vegetarian. I tend to worry that he’s not getting enough protein and sometimes I run out of ideas, so this post was a great reminder that there are many ways to add protein to any meal. Also, I really love your recipes and I’m trying that soup this weekend!

  7. Great recipes Jen! It kills me every time someone tells me that being vegetarian isn’t healthy because of a lack of protein. A lot of people really just aren’t aware. When I was teaching high school I had a couple students choose vegetarian vs. meat eaters for their topic and they literally thought that meat is the only source of protein. And these were juniors in high school. Kind of scary.

    Anyway! I’d love to add chia seeds to your list of proteins if you don’t mind! πŸ™‚ And your pictures look great!

  8. fantastic! All of those dishes look so yummy. I’m an omnivore but tend to eat a lot of vegetarian and vegan foods so i really appreciate your views and input!

  9. Hi Jen!

    I’ve been reading for a long time, but this post made me want to stop and say thanks. I’m a full time law and graduate student (actually Kyle of b&b is my classmate and bff…I showed her your website because I liked the fig and ginger necklace so much…and she showed it to my husband who in turn bought it for me :)…and anyway now you guys know eachother which is super cool but totally off topic) and so finding time to cook lately is hard. And my husband and I made the switch to vegetarian in the spring so we’ve had to totally re-work our routine. To be honest we’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. But this really made me want to go back out there and experiment and play and reconnect with food in a way I can be proud of!

    So if you keep posting recipes I am definitely going to keep trying them!!


    PS – Quinoa is one of our FAVORITE proteins….so easy to add to everything! Quinoa and black bean enchiladas are TO. DIE. FOR.

  10. AshleyG •

    WOOHOO! Yes, don’t let ANYONE ever tell you that you or your baby are unhealthy because of your decision. My hubs is Vegetarian and myself and my son (13mo.) are high raw Vegan and let me tell you, I get crap alllll the time from other moms and even from some of the nurses at my Ped’s office. My Ped. is super nuetral about it so he’s great but I have had to really work on not letting others make me feel ‘bad’/nervous about my choice. Personally, I think others are just guilty and it comes out as descending πŸ˜€ lol! And I’ll have to second the Chia seeds! and Hemp seeds!!! Do you have a vitamix? if you do, you should make green smoothies my son has pretty much lived on them since he was 8 months!

  11. You’d be proud- we had spaghetti squash and tempeh “meatballs” last night- so delicious!

  12. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve slowly been trying to make the switch to vegetarian for various reasons, but to be honest I have no clue about HOW to go about doing that. It’s hard to imagine not eating meat for protein when that’s all you’ve done for 23 years. I was getting discouraged and bored. Anyway, this post is amazing and I feel empowered to keep going. PS: I’m following your delicious recipes as I try to guide my way through vegetarian land πŸ™‚

  13. These are great tips. Thanks so much!

  14. Our culture, as a whole, has no idea about nutrition… Vegetarian or not! This is why we have so many fad diets or extreme diets for weight loss and people buy into them. They don’t realize that food needs to be a part of a healthy lifestyle. Gah! Sorry, off my soap box…

    I am an omnivore, but my brother and his girlfriend are veggies (she is allergic to chicpeas, so no hummus… tragedy!), so I make a lot of vegetarian dishes and my meat-loving husband loves them. If tofu and/or soy is done right, no one knows the difference!

  15. The thing that people don’t realize that is of more ‘worry’ for a vegetarian is iron. Protein is actually the least common deficiency in 1st world countries and the average American eats about 50% more protein than what is required. That’s not bad unless you have kidney or liver problems but what can lead to those problems is too much protein. It has also been shown that diets high in animal products can cause cancer as well. And the ratio of well fed beef/starving people in the world is relatively the same. It’s astounding what our priorities are when we aren’t educated.

  16. Looks really yummy. I am working on a blog for organic & natural babies. I would love to be able to share in healthy baby yummies.

  17. Yay Jen! I’ve been a strict veggie for several years now and I’ve never felt more healthy. But I do get crap ALL the time from people who don’t have a clue about the topic. Books I highly recommend to anyone thinking of going veggie: Eating Animals, Omnivore’s Dilemna, Slaughterhouse, The Jungle and Skinny Bitch.

  18. I love beans too, they’re so versatile and cheap. Your recipes look so tasty!

  19. I love all your tips and I totally agree! I’m vegetarian too and there are SO many great sources of protein!

  20. hey, i’m not really sure the rules on what to do in this situation, but i wanted to let you know that i wrote a post tonight about blogs that i absolutely love and linked yours into it. barely anyone reads mine i’m pretty sure, but i figured you’d want to know πŸ™‚ happy tuesday!

  21. As a vegan who had gestational diabetes (go figure), I learned a lot about vegan protein sources very quickly. Tempeh and Seitan are really high sources of protein, as are lentils. But, honestly, even a bagel has 9 grams of protein. It’s ridiculously easy to get the recommended amount of protein and we tend to overlook the fact that too much protein also has its potential problems. I wish we’d focus more on D, B12, DHA’s, and iron. Seriously.

  22. I have thought long and hard about being a vegetarian. The biggest problem I have I am allergic to nuts, most whole grains and soy. It’s not that I wouldn’t be able to do it; I just haven’t put the time and research in to be able to understand how to stick to a vegetarian diet and be healthy with my crazy travel schedule for work (at least two weeks a month in airports and hotels.) Any tips?

  23. I love this post! I have been a vegetarian for 13 years and for a long time was only a “carbotarian.” since moving into my own place, i have started to eat alot more veggies and alot more of the foods that you listed on this post! i would love if you would ever write about staying a veggie while pregnant. i have often wondered if i would all of a sudden start craving meat some day when i am prego! good to know that’s just a myth!


  24. I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life but only strictly so for the past three years – I loved reading this. I hadn’t seen those recipes of yours but I’m going to have to take a look! They look amazing.

    I hate a lot of the misconceptions about vegetarianism. When I told my boss I was a vegetarian he said ‘Oh, that’s why you’re so pale’. Um, NO. Haha!


  25. I have been vegetarian during my whole life (55 years).Never had any problem with protein.

  26. I am not a vegetarian and could never give up meat but these recipes look so freaking delicious, I will absolutely be making that soup sometime this winter πŸ™‚

  27. I’m a carnivore, but have no problem eating vegetarian a few days a week… I don’t even think about it much, it just happens as I like veggies – especially vegetable tarts & quiches! Your meals look so colourful, you really got me hungry here and it’s only 9:30…

  28. I was vegetarian for seven years. Now I eat only local/organic meat 2-3 times a week, but I feel vegetarianism is a wonderful diet as long as you eat smart – of course, that goes for anyone, whether they are carnivorous or not. It always surprised me how so many people were easy to reject a vegetarian lifestyle. I live in the south and many coworkers and family members seemed downright offended when I mentioned I was vegetarian. Always with the argument that I didn’t get enough protein. Give me a break. With that said, I do know so many vegetarians who eat like crap – just because they forgo meat doesn’t mean they’re healthy or thin, another misconception. Your Last Nights Suppers are always so colorful, fresh and nutritious! I’ve made your vegetarian chili before- it’s my jam. πŸ™‚

  29. i’ve been a vegetarian going on 11 years, and i come from a rather meat and seafood-oriented culture (portuguese). it’s such an american, meat industry-driven pov that thinks the main concern for vegetarians is not getting enough protein. chickpeas, nuts, quinoa, greek yogurt– it’s all there. as others have mentioned, nutrients like iron and b12s are very important and sometimes overlooked. spinach and kale are awesome! ground flaxseeds are another essential item in my fridge. non-veggies could stand to eat more of those, too! πŸ™‚

    i am less militant these days; it is more important to eat local and organic. if that includes some local free range chicken or eggs, then ok. i’m not going to get into arguments with friends/family anymore, but when they do eat meat, i hope to influence them to make more educated choices.

  30. Glad you posted this. I have been a vegetarian for many years and hope to stay it forever.

  31. I have been a vegetarian for about 9 years now. I have gotten so much flack from people about my diet. I think it is because they are just unaware or not educated on the diet. They believe that meat is the only source of protein. So many people have rejected my vegetarian lifestyle that I do not even mention being a vegetarian anymore. I just avoid the products that I don’t eat and if someone asks me about it, then I will divulge. I am also raising my daughter vegetarian and I have gotten so, so much grief from other people about it. When we were shopping around for daycares I was looking for some place that would allow me to bring my daughters lunch everyday. At one place, the lady looked at me like I had a tree growing out of my head and actually told me that no I could not and she would just leave the sausage and bacon off my daughters plate. Umm.. ?!

    Our favorites are hummus, quinoa, and lentils. We also make homemade black bean burgers & they are AMAZING! Sweet potato quinoa patties are also really great– with a mango salsa on top!

    Thanks for this post!

  32. @ Katie
    For our kids we found a Rudolf Steiner school. Their philosophy promotes vegetarianism (especially for children), so it was no problem that our children were vegetarian. They are adult now and still vegetarian.

  33. Oh my gosh Jen this just made my morning so much better! I am a vegetarian too, and I still get lots of comments about not getting enough protein, even though I have been a vegetarian for 13 years! When I was vegan I once even had an overweight (and to me, very unhealthy looking) doctor tell me that what I was doing was bad for my body. It’s hard sometimes!
    These meals that you showcased are right up my alley; I mostly rely on legumes for my protein because soy gives me bad headaches. These all look delicious. I’m going to try them out soon!

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