I want to replace one meal a week for my family with a vegetarian option. Do you have any suggestions for recipes or cookbooks?

Moving towards a more plant based diet is such a great way to improve the overall health of your family! Many people believe that a meal has to revolve around a serving of meat, which is absolutely not the case. I would first recommend that you check out this website: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/vegetariannutritionresourcelist.pdf

Here you will notice that there are approximately one hundred or more listings for various websites, books, and publications that you may find helpful in planning vegetarian meals.

A vegetarian diet can be a healthy alternative for people with high intakes of meat and animal products. Not everyone needs to follow a strict vegetarian diet, but I do urge people to slowly reduce their meat intake. I think you are going about it the right way. Taking it a meal at a time will hopefully allow you the most success for creating dishes that your family loves and my hope is that they get to a point where they are eating more meatless options than not. Vegetarian meals can certainly provide you and your family with all of the nutrients that you need. But because you will be eliminating meat, you will just need to make sure that you are including other nutrient sources that you will be missing.

Protein is a nutrient that is essential for building new cells and for the growth and repair of damaged tissues. Non-meat sources of protein include legumes, lentils, meat substitutes, soy products, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Calcium is essential for building and maintaining strong teeth and bones. Sources of calcium include: low fat dairy products (if you include these), dark green vegetables (such as broccoli, kale, and spinach), and enriched tofu, soymilk, and fruit juices. Vegetarians need to include non-animal sources of vitamin B12 to ensure proper production of red blood cells. Examples include: enriched cereals, fortified soy products or by supplementation. Iron helps carry oxygen to cells. A few sources of iron are dried beans, peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole grain products, and green leafy vegetables. Finally, zinc is an important nutrient in the wound healing process and is vital for many enzyme reactions. Good sources of zinc are nuts, wheat germ, soy and green leafy vegetables.

My advice would be to check out the above website and then head to your public library or favorite bookstore. Try to find a book that encompasses your family’s tastes and includes recipes that are not impossible to create. Then get your family involved! Meatless meal days will be more fun if everyone is involved. Good luck!

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