Contrary to popular belief, just being a vegetarian does not mean you're automatically going to be skinny -- Far from it actually. In fact, some vegetarians smother their food with cheese, which happens to be a big ticket item when it comes to calories.
To give those vegetarians an edge on weight loss, CalorieLab.com has come up with a few great tips on eating without the meat and the extra pounds:
- Embrace tofu. A longtime vegetarian staple, tofu makes a great low-calorie alternative to meat. Try Nasoya Lite Tofu for even more calorie savings. Each 3-ounce serving contains 7 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fat, all for a mere 40 calories. Add it to stir-fry, wrap it up in a tortilla with some veggies, or mix it with pasta and marinara.
- Make a meal of veggies. All-vegetable meals don’t have to be rabbit food — there’s so much more than celery and carrot sticks. Ratatouille, a French dish of stewed vegetables, makes eating your veggies anything but boring. Chop up some fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, zucchini, or whatever vegetables you have on hand. Fresh not available? Canned can be just as good, and the myriad frozen vegetable blends available make the possibilities endless. Other meal options include easy pasta primavera or supermarket vegetable sushi.
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- Bring beans to the table. Members of the legume family, such as beans and lentils, are all great sources of protein and fiber — both helpful in making you feel full. Although most varieties are available dried, canned beans make meal preparation much more convenient. Dried varieties often require overnight soaking while canned varieties are precooked; however, the canned varieties frequently contain high amounts of sodium. Look for low sodium canned varieties to top salads or stuff burritos. Canned beans also make whipping up meatless chili a snap.
- Skip the cheese. Unfortunately, opting for a meat-free diet does not give you license to dump cheese on everything you eat. While cheese is a good form of vegetarian protein, it is still a good idea to keep an eye on your saturated fat consumption. When dining out, standard vegetarian dishes, such as Eggplant Parmesan and Fettuccine Alfredo, typically contain high amounts of cheese and cream. Consider ordering a hearty salad or soup instead. At home, use low fat cheeses to sprinkle on salads or pasta. Choose other low-fat dairy, such as yogurt and cottage cheese, for a satisfying and protein-rich snack. If you opt for a vegan weight loss plan, there are now low-fat soy versions of cheese, yogurt, and milk available.
- Don’t be afraid of faux meat. In recent years there has been a noticeable proliferation of meat substitutes introduced to the supermarket. Brands such as Boca and Morningstar Farms make a wide variety of meatless wonders, ranging from deli meat to breakfast sausage. While these products often contain a hefty amount of salt, most are high in protein, low in fat, and almost always low in cholesterol. For example, if you substitute an original vegan Boca burger for the real thing, you’ll save 13.5 grams of fat and about 140 calories. With stats like that, it’s clear that faux meat makes slashing calories a cinch.