A few posts ago I was asked in the comments what I ate if I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t like salad. I’ve been thinking about writing a post on the that for a few days. I was going to list what I ate each day but I wasn’t exactly proud of it so I ruled that out. So I decided to go with my general philosophy of what I should eat.

First of all I will admit that I just finished eating a salad since I’m trying to get into that @#$ dress. It was mixed greens with a dressing made of 2 to 1 olive oil to balsamic vinegar with some capers and a bit of stone ground mustard mixed in. Then the salad was topped with a bit of tomato and some goat cheese. Actually pretty tasty for a salad.

The trouble most people have when they try to change to a vegetarian diet is that they are still thinking in the mold that dinner is a large piece of meat with two side dishes. They try to find something to replace the meat. The elusive “vegetarian main course.” I prefer thinking of meals like Crescent Dragonwagon explains in her cookbook Passionate Vegetarian. She talks about having meals made of equal servings of three or four different foods. Each is a small serving and gives you a variety instead of focusing on one main thing with some minor stuff around the edges. In reality I don’t eat that much food at once. I’m more of a casserole kind of girl.

I also try to make my meals colorful. I heard about this in a newpaper article about a man who was a Seventh Day Adventist and was really old. He was explaining his diet because he had been a vegetarian since birth. (How shocking! the newspaper was saying.) He said that he tried to have different colors at his meals so he knew that he was getting his nutrients. He also avoided white foods. This was long before the ‘carbs are bad’ craze but he was on to something. Avoiding white foods means that you eat brown rice instead of white, sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, and whole grains instead of white bread. I notice this most when I go to buffet restaurants and the only vegetarian foods are mashed potatoes, iceberg lettuce, and vanilla pudding – all white food.

I really try to focus on getting as many fruits and vegetables in my diet as possible. That sounds strange to non-vegetarians because that’s all I eat, right? If I’m not careful it is really easy to eat a vegetarian diet and never ingest a nutritious food. Macaroni and cheese followed by nachos and popcorn can fill you up just fine without ever seeing anything green. When I cook I try to load up my food with extra vegetables by doing things like using vegetable broth or tomato juice instead of water in recipes or adding frozen veggies to the macaroni and cheese.

I try to keep soup in the refrigerator at all times. I love soup. But it also can give you a big dose of vegetables with little effort. Today I’m going to make a batch of the Lightly Spiced Tomato Soup from Sunday’s at Moosewood. I’m living out of this cookbook right now.

1 cup chopped onion
1-2 T vegetable oil
1 small chile seeded and minced or a pinch of cayenne
1 t cumin
1/2 t turmeric
1/4 t cardamom
1/8 t cloves
6 cups tomato juice
1 cup veg. stock

Saute the onion in oil until translucent. Add the chile and spices and saute another minute. Add the liquids and simmer 20 minutes. Serve topped with yogurt.

When I’m really trying to eat healthy I cook ahead of time so I can just heat things up at night. I love to cook but not every day so that works best for me. In the past few weeks I’ve had Sarejevo Mussaka, which is a lasagna with mushrooms and squash instead of tomato sauce and ricotta. The husband liked that so much he went out and bought a cheese lasagna so we’ve had that too. I try not to eat that much pasta but it was good.

Another recipe I found that you can make ahead and freeze is Confetti Potatoes. Take hashbrowns and add cream of mushroom soup and a soup can of milk. Add a cup of shredded cheddar and top with crushed cheese crackers if desired. This will freeze nicely. Bake it for 30 minutes at 350. Not the healthiest thing around but good to make ahead. I’ve also made calzones and frozen them. You can get really creative with the toppings. I like tomato sauce, spinach, roasted red peppers, and goat cheese. I’m also planning on making Biryani. This is a rice and vegetable casserole. I like going through cookbooks and finding new recipes to try.

I don’t know if that answers what I really eat daily but it gives an idea of how I think. There are great vegetarian recipe websites out there like VegWeb and there are lots of cookbooks. In a pinch I always keep veggie burgers around. When I don’t even want to think about cooking I top them with frozen vegetables in sauces like the Tuscan vegetables in tomato sauce from Bird’s Eye or Green Giant or someone like that.

You can check back through the food category here but I think mostly I’ve posted horribly fattening dessert recipes.