What is a Vegetarian?

It has been over one week since I committed to a vegetarian diet and lifestyle. I feel incredible and as an added bonus I have lost 2 pounds! The biggest obstacle this past week was when I had to do a taste testing of a recipe that included turkey pepperoni. My preceptor was surprised that I wouldn’t taste it when I told him that I was a vegetarian earlier that week. And of course, I didn’t, but it also made me think about one of the things that I learned when I was at FNCE: A lot of people that say they are vegetarians do not know what it means.

There are varying degrees of vegetarians, which is why it can be confusing to so many. Here is a breakdown:

Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian: does not consume beef, poultry, pork, or fish. Still consumes milk (and dairy products) and eggs.

Lacto-Vegetarian: all of the above, but they omit eggs as well.

Ovo-Vegetarian: does not consume the meat listed above or dairy, but does eat eggs.

Pescetarian: some consider this a version of vegetariansim as they consume no meat with the exception of fish. Sometimes they will leave out eggs/dairy as well.

Vegan: does not consume beef, poultry, pork, fish, eggs or dairy. No animal products or byproducts are consumed, including honey.

So what does a vegetarian eat? Grains, nuts, beans, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and meat/dairy alternatives. It may seem limiting, but the options are really endless! FitSugar did a great post the other day about some products that one may assume were vegetarian, but had ingredients that were not vegetarian.

A vegetarian diet is not any more restrictive than a normal, healthy, balanced diet. While I definitely feel conscious of what I eat, I am not more so than I was before. Part of that came with the dietitian-in-training mindset (i.e. food on the mind all the time!), and part of that came from being overweight several years ago and knowing that I have to plan in order to succeed.

And yes, you can get all of the nutrients you need, whether you are a child, teenager, young adult, pregnant mom, breastfeeding, or aging adult. These will likely be future posts for future days.

What questions do you have about vegetarianism? What surprises you most about the vegetarian diet?

To Your Health,

Megan (Nutmegs)

(Images from here and here)


Roll with the grains

I love bread and rolls, especially homemade versions of both.  So when I stumbled across this recipe for multigrain rolls that included whole wheat flour, oats, and oat bran, I knew I had to make them. I have made them several times now, always freezing what I don’t need to reheat later with a subsequent meal.

The addition of nutrient packed seeds in this recipe really makes it that much better.  But let’s talk about the grains.  This recipe includes two types of whole grains – oats and wheat – and two different types of processes of oats.  These types are fascinating in their differences (a #youmightbeadietitiantobeif moment), and will be talked about in an upcoming post.  I wanted to delve into grains in general for this post, however.

The USDA recommendations for whole grains is at least 3 servings a day, or half of all the grains eaten.  A serving of grains would be equivalent to 1 slice of 100% whole wheat bread, 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice, whole wheat pasta or cooked cereal (like oatmeal) or 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal. They actually have a very handy chart that lists which items are whole grains and how much is needed to equal a serving found here.

The reason for whole grains is that they contain more nutrients than the stripped down, regular grain version. Whole grains contain the germ, endosperm and bran part of the grain. They are higher in fiber, which reduces constipation, regulates blood sugar and dissuages the feeling of hunger.  They also contain multiple B vitamins, such as thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and folate (B9), which help maintain healthy metabolism, nervous system, digestion and blood cell production. Whole grains are also one of the handful of sources of iron not from meat (non-heme).  Magnesium and selenium are also in higher density in whole grains.

When buying grain products, be sure to look at the first ingredient in the food to make sure it is a whole product (such as whole wheat). Other grains to consider adding to your diet besides oats and wheat are amaranth, quinoa, cous cous, buckwheat, wheat berries, brown rice, barley, spelt, teff and maize (corn). 

Multigrain Rolls

Printable Version

(From Annie’s Eats, which was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook)

For the dough:
½ cup oat bran
¼ cup flax seeds
½ cup boiling water
1 cup warm milk (105-110˚ F)
2¼ tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast
¼ cup honey
2 large eggs
2/3 cup old-fashioned (not instant) oats
7 oz. (1¼ cups) whole wheat flour
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. salt
15 oz. (about 3 cups) all-purpose flour
Oil, for greasing the bowl
For the topping:
1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. mixed seeds (poppy, sesame, fennel, etc.)
Coarse salt, for sprinkling


Combine the oat bran and flax seeds in a small bowl.  Pour the boiling water into the bowl and mix to moisten.  Let sit until the water is absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the milk, yeast and honey; mix briefly to blend.  With the dough hook and the mixer on low speed, mix in the eggs, oats, wheat flour, pepper, salt and oat bran mixture until combined.  Slowly add enough all-purpose flour, ½ cup at a time, to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.  Continue to knead on medium-low speed, about 3 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1½-2 hours.

Brush a baking dish lightly with oil (I used a 10-inch round baking dish).  On a lightly floured surface, turn the dough out and divide into 16 equal pieces, about 2½ ounces each.  Form each portion into a ball and place the dough balls in the baking dish, spaced slightly apart so they have room to grow together.   Cover and let rise until puffy and nearly doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolk and water.  Brush lightly over the proofed rolls.  Sprinkle the unbaked rolls with the seed mixture and coarse salt.  Bake until the tops are golden, about 26 minutes.  Let cool 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan.

Yield: About 32 small rolls or 16 large ones.

Nutritional Facts: (approximated, based on 32 small rolls, dependent on how much/type of seeds and salt you add on top of rolls)
Calories: 94; Fat: 1.6 g (0.3 g Sat, 0.7 g PolyUn, 0.5 g MonoUn); Cholesterol: 18 mg; Sodium: 300 mg; Potassium: 48 mg; Carbs: 17.2 g; Fiber 1.6 g; Sugars: 2.7 g; Protein: 3.3 g

Cooking for less

These days, everyone is trying to cook more, but for less. Sometimes this means that healthy diets are put aside and “cheaper foods” such as chips and prepackaged meals are purchased, and produce is left out of the equation. This may seem like the best way to do it, but I would like to give you the tools to not only eat healthy, but for less.

About 6 weeks ago, I took a new job in favor of experience and enjoyment. However, this also meant a cut in my pay and therefore a cut in our budget. I have come up with several ways to stretch a budget and while these may be old news for you, I never know for whom, in the wide world of the Internetverse (Webverse? Webtropolis? Cyberworld?) it may be helpful.

Meal Plan: The biggest way to make sure you don’t buy what you don’t need to is plan for a week, at the least. Some people plan for two weeks or even a month (!), but I find that since I use a lot of fresh produce, it works better to just plan for a week. If you struggle to find a variety of meals or get tired of making new things, mix in some staples into your plan. Things such as spaghetti, stir-fry, grilled cheese and tomato soup, baked potatoes, salad, and chili are some of our fall backs.

More vegetarian meals: Meat can be expensive and can be unhealthy if too much is consumed. I like to plan one red meat, on chicken, on fish and several vegetarian meals throughout the week.

Frozen goods: I really try to emphasize fresh produce in my meal plan, but sometimes frozen is cheaper and an easier way to eat your fruits and veggies without breaking the bank. Frozen goods are no less nutritious than the original and can be used in a variety of ways – as stir fry, sides and within soups and casseroles.

Buy seasonal produce: Trying to buy some berries in the winter can get expensive, so try to save dishes like these and other non-seasonal items for when they are in season and on sale. If you can, plan your menu around produce that is available on sale. If you live in the Denver area, Keri with Deals in Denver does a great weekly round up of the items that are the cheapest based on the weekly ads. There are also circulars that come around in the mail and are available at the front of every grocery store. Squash is a great deal currently!

Only what you need: Making a list is crucial to sticking to a budget. It helps you focus on what you need and avoid those impulse buys.  Did you know that the layout of the store is made to make you buy more?  Don’t give in – make a list!!

Buy local: Local produce can sometimes be cheaper – farmer’s markets, farms, and orchards offer some of the best, freshest produce and are generally less expensive than the grocery stores.  Not only are you supporting  the local economy, but you are also saving the environment a little by not purchasing something that has been shipped from far away!

Do you have any more ways to save on your budget that have worked well for you?  Any other feedback?

I hope this list helps you extend your budget further and decrease your waistline as well! 😉

To your health,


Orange you glad??

Sorry I have not posted in a while; with Easter cooking and studying for a lecture exam tomorrow, I have been pretty stretched!  I will have some recipes from Easter posted soon and there is a good, guilty-pleasure dessert in the mix. 🙂

 But, while I was peeling my orange today, I thought back to a conversation I had a couple of weekends ago with the husband while he was eating his orange rind.  It’s a familiar habit of his and in response to my mom’s question of why he ate it, he responded, “I think it’s actually pretty good for you!”  Oh, that ubiquitous statement that can mean so many things. 


So I decided to look it up.


And it is pretty good for you! It contains fiber and pectin, which is a carbohydrate that helps out the healthy bacteria that are in your intestine. These Pectin particles also prohibit the growth of food-born pathogens by not allowing them to stick in your colon. 

Side note:Did you know that you have 10 bacteria to every 1 of your cells in your body??  Sorry, should have warned the germaphobes first that most of them are where they should be.

If you are reading this and thinking, “She seriously wants me to eat the peel of the orange for good health?”, you are right.  Well, maybe not completely, but it couldn’t hurt to try it!  And if you need a little distraction from the dry bitter taste that ensues, try making chocolate covered orange peels ala Smitten Kitchen.  You know, ’cause sugar makes everything taste awesome.  (Although, I think all of the nutrients get cooked out when boiled.  Oh well)

To your health!

5 Reasons to Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup

As with most additives, there is still ongoing research into the implications and complications of the ingredients, but one thing is for sure – High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is NOT GOOD.  So here are my reasons for avoiding it:

1.  HFCS is not recognized by the body like other sugars.  In fact, the brain will not indicate that one is full upon consumption of HFCS and often the consumer will overeat.  Thereby leading some to be overweight or obese when eating more products with HFCS. 

2. Products made with HFCS are high in calories and low in nutritional value.

3. No matter what those darn commercials tell you, HFCS is not natural. While it is derived from corn, after chemical treatment, it no longer continues to be anything like corn.  Even the FDA specified their natural definition and concluded that HFCS is not so.

4. Fructose is metabolized into fat and has no vitamins, minerals or enzymes to be used by the body.  The body ends up using its own micro-nutrients to assimilate it for its use.  However, the natural fructose that is contained in fruits is assimilated as the fruit contains all of the essentials in order to be broken down.  Fruit also contains fiber – HFCS, not so much.

5. The makers of HFCS claim that it has the same amount of calories as sugar, which is not a good thing in my opinion.  So, uh, if it contains the same amount, but is worse on your body, then why not just use sugar??  Oh, that’s right, because you want your products to last forever, even in landfills. 

Disclaimer: Most of these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.  They are based on my research only and the reader should conduct their own searches in finding the correct information from valuable resources (medical journals, etc.).  As always, the consumer is in charge of what they do and do not eat.  However, do your one and only body right by avoiding HFCS.

Essential Amino Acids

In my last post about fish tacos, I had marked the term essential amino acids with a star, but then forgot to elaborate on it!  That’s okay, though, as it really deserves a whole post about it. Are you ready for a small microbiology lesson?  I promise that I will try to be clean and concise.

Essential amino acids are amino acids that can only be provided by food that we eat.  Some creatures, called autotrophs, can make all 20 amino acids automatically, usually through the process of photosynthesis.  We humans are heterotrophs, which means that some of the essentials that we need must be obtained through other sources.

The essential amino acids are alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine.  If we do not obtain these amino acids in our diet, even just one, our body will degrade as amino acids make up the proteins in our DNA.

So where can we get these important micro-essentials?  Complete proteins.  These consist of most animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.  If one is a vegan or a vegetarian, they can be provided through a combination of whole grains (i.e. quinoa, buckwheat, corn) and legumes (i.e. beans, nuts).

Most people should not have to worry about getting all of their essential amino acids.  But in case you were ever curious as to what the term meant, as I was, I hope this helped you!