Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Categories Free Resources, How To’s, Wellness

7 important things to know about protein intake

How much protein do we really need? How do we get enough of it? Should we follow a high-protein diet?
Protein is found in every cell of our body and has many functions. It is involved in many chemical reactions and is an important macronutrient for putting some meat on our bones, making blood, skin, hair, enzymes and more.
To keep our body in a healthy state, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) per day for an adult is 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight. However, depending on our sex, age, lifestyle, frequency and intensity of physical activity, goals and other factors, an individual may need more than that. Let’s look at some important points to consider:

1. Too much of a good thing

Although protein is an important macronutrient, the expression “the more, the better” does not apply to its daily intake. A healthy diet should consist of all 3 macronutrients which are properly balanced and designed to the individual and their personal goal.

2. Remember your personal goal

Different people may have different goals when it comes to weight management, health and fitness. If someone is a bodybuilder, while your lifestyle is sedentary, the amount of protein requirements will be substantially different for the two of you. Your protein intake should be matching your goals, life choices, biology and other factors. Remember we are not all the same.

3. Consider the source of protein

Protein can come from animal and plant foods. When choosing your protein, remember it comes in a package that normally includes other macronutrients or other characteristics. For example, animal protein such as beef, chicken, fish, dairy and eggs, will also include some fats. While fats are an important macronutrient, some animal protein provide high amounts of saturated fats aside from protein. Saturated fats should be consumed in moderation.
On the other hand, protein from plant sources may have a reduced bioavailability. Being aware of that and incorporating cooked veggies and grains into our food intake can help increase bioavailability.

4. Adjust the total food intake

When our goal is to maintain or lose bodyweight, whenever we increase the intake of a certain macronutrient, we should make adjustments so we do not consume more food than we require. Meaning, if you have not changed anything in your diet except increase your protein intake, you may experience some weight gain due to overconsmption of calories. Swapping foods can be a good solution in this case. For example, instead of snacking on a couple fruits, swap with a few carrot sticks and hummus dip, while maintaining a similar caloric amount.

5. Get to know your protein powder

Some people may choose to incorporate protein powder into their food intake. While such powders are a great way to supplement our diet with protein and a great solution when you are in a hurry or on the go, we should learn what is really in our powder. Such powders may come from different sources (dairy, eggs, plant-based) and can often contain other ingredients such as vitamins and minerals, thickeners, added sugars or other sweeteners, as well as artificial flavouring. When choosing a protein powder, make sure to read the nutrition and ingredient labels first and see if you are okay with the final product.

6. High-protein diets

A very high-protein diet normally encourages an extremely low carb intake which may translate into overall minimal consumption of fruits and vegetables. While high-protein diets may offer certain benefits to certain people for a limited time period and under clinical supervision, studies have shown over and over again that daily consumption of enough fruits and vegetables contributes to our health in many ways and can be helpful and even preventative for many diseases.

7. Protein for vegetarians and vegans

Getting enough protein from non-animal sources is possible. Although a bit more planning may be required, achieving the protein intake requirements only through plant protein can be done. While vegetarians who eat dairy, eggs or fish can meet their protein intake requirements quite easily, vegans need to plan a bit more but can still get enough protein regularly. A common concern in some vegetarian diets or a vegan lifestyle is unintentionally creating a deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals. If you plan to become a vegetarian or vegan, a professional nutritional guidance or in-depth planning should be done to avoid such deficiencies.

Categories Recipes, Snacking

Chocolate-Hazelnut Energy Bites

Chocolate-Hazelnut Energy Bites

Author Shani - Lemon Tree Nutrition
I love chocolate. So if I can have both a nourishing and chocolaty snack - now that’s a bonus! These little bites are definitely my go-to whenever I have these cravings. I keep them in the freezer in a container to grab as a pre- or post-workout snack. Sometimes they just call my name and I just have to answer. Wouldn’t you?
Prep Time 15 mins

Equipment

  • Food processor or a powerful blender
  • 2 small bowls

Ingredients
  

  • 15 Medjool dates pitted
  • Some boiling water
  • 1.5 cup raw hazelnuts
  • ¾ desiccated coconut unsweetened
  • cup good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder optional
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract optional

Instructions
 

  • Place the dates in a heat-proof bowl and carefully cover with boiling water. Allow the dates to soak for about 20 minutes.
  • While the dates are soaking, place the raw hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake at 350 F or 180 C for 5 minutes or until hazelnuts are warm to the touch. Carefully remove from the oven and divide hazelnuts into 1 cup and 0.5 cups.
  • Place 0.5 cups of hazelnuts in the food processor and process to a meal texture. Place the hazelnut meal in a small bowl and set it aside. No need to clean the food processor container before the next step. Simply place it back on its engine.
  • Drain the softened dates discarding the water.
  • In the food processor place dates, the remaining whole hazelnuts (1 cup) and the desiccated coconut. Process until a crumbly mixture has formed.
  • Add the cocoa powder, cinnamon and vanilla extract (if using). Blend until a sticky dough-like texture has formed, and most of the mixture is coming together. Stop blending to scrape the sides if needed.
  • With a teaspoon, scoop enough mixture to create 1-1.5 inch size balls. Roll the balls in the hazelnut meal.
  • Keep bites refrigerated or place in a freezable container to enjoy later.

Notes

For additional coating options, roll the balls in a ⅓ cup cocoa powder or desiccated coconut.
Categories Dining, Recipes

Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza

Author Shani - Lemon Tree Nutrition
If I had to choose one food that I could eat quite often, it would be Pizza. I enjoy making the dough from scratch at home, choosing toppings from what I can find in the fridge. Plus it does not get fresher than that. I love the sizzly sounds as it comes out of the oven and the endless options I have for toppings. Making homemade pizza is easier than you may think and worth the effort.
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 20 mins

Equipment

  • Mixer - optional
  • A large bowl
  • A cookie sheet or pizza stone - optional

Ingredients
  

  • 500 grams 00 pizza flour or unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 30 grams fresh yeast or 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1-1.5 cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 large jar tomato/pizza/pasta sauce of choice
  • 300 grams grated Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ½ onion very thinly sliced, layer separated
  • Good quality dried oregano

Instructions
 

  • In a medium bowl, place 1 cup of warm water. To ensure the temperature is proper for the yeast and warm enough, you should be able to safely and comfortably dip your finger in the warm water for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and crumble the fresh yeast or sprinkle the dry yeast onto the water. Mix with a fork. Let sit until frothy (about 10 minutes).
  • In the mixer bowl with a kneading hook (or in a large bowl if you have no access to a mixer) place the flour and olive oil.
  • Once the yeast has some froth at the top, begin mixing the flour and oil at low speed, slowly pouring the yeast mixture into the flour. After about 1 minute add the salt and continue kneading until a ball is formed, which is a little sticky. If it is too wet or sticky, add a little flour. If too dry, add a bit more warm water.
  • Remove the mixing bowl from the mixer. Remove the dough hook. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap or a clean, slightly wet kitchen towel. Place at a warm spot and allow to rise for about 60-80 minutes until doubled in volume. If kneading by hand, place in a large bowl and cover.
  • Once the dough has doubled remove the plastic cover or towel. Prepare a surface to roll the dough on, sprinkled with flour to avoid sticking to the surface. Cut the dough into 4 equal parts and begin rolling each section into a thin layer.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 F. If using a pizza stone, place it in the cool oven and heat them together. If using a cookie sheet, sprinkle some flour on the cookie sheet. Place the dough on the cookie sheet or heated pizza stone.
  • Spread ¼ of the pizza sauce on the dough. Top with ¼ of the thinly sliced onion, oregano, and mozzarella. Sprinkle ¼ of the Parmesan cheese last.
  • Place in the bottom rack in the oven and bake for about 10-20 minutes until cheese is golden and the dough is cooked (time depends on the thickness of dough and if using a cookie sheet or pizza stone).
  • Repeat with the other 3 pizza doughs.
  • This pizza freezes well and can be kept in the freezer for up to a month in an air-tight container. When ready to enjoy a slice of pizza, remove the desired amount from the container and place in a preheated oven to 350 F until the pizza is hot.

Notes

Feel free to add your favourite toppings. Overloading the pizza with topping may result in soggy pizza dough. My favourite toppings are onion, sweet potato (cubed and roasted) and goat cheese in addition to the basics offered here.
You can omit the tomato sauce, replacing it with a generous coating of olive oil before placing the toppings.
Categories Dining, Recipes

The world’s quickest vegetarian meal

The world’s quickest vegetarian meal

Author Shani - Lemon Tree Nutrition
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins

Equipment

  • A medium glass or ceramic mixing bowl
  • A large plate or lid to cover the bowl
  • A medium-sized pot
  • Fork

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup dry couscous fine or medium
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups water boiling
  • 1 can organic chickpeas or beans of choice
  • 1 jar high-quality, organic pasta sauce, 650 ml
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Instructions
 

  • Place the dry couscous in a medium bowl. Add the salt and olive oil. Mix well with a fork until all the couscous turns a bit shiny.
  • Add the boiling water, quickly stir with a fork and cover with a large plate, lid or plastic wrap. Bowl must be completely covered. Set aside for 5-10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, pour the pasta sauce into a pot and bring to simmer. Add drained chickpeas or beans and mix. Bring to simmer again. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder if needed, to taste.
  • With a fork, fluff the prepared couscous to separate the grains as much as possible.
  • To serve, place the desired amount of couscous in a small bowl, top with the prepared sauce.

Notes

For a spicier version, replace the pasta sauce with an Indian-style cooking sauce such as Tikka Masala sauce or a prepared sauce for butter chicken (a vegetarian version).
Categories Free Resources, Health Boosters, How To’s, Wellness

How to Make Healthier Choices on a Budget

A common misconception is that a healthy lifestyle is expensive and only a minority can afford it. Often, when picturing a healthy lifestyle, images of expensive gym memberships, pricey organic produce and some high-cost environmentally-conscious products. While there is definitely a lot of money in the health industry, the wonderful news is that living a healthier lifestyle can be done with little financial investment. In fact, you will find the investment is more of a time & effort one, rather than financial.

The important thing is to be willing to make small changes, start making them and keep consistent. With time, these can help you improve your current situation. It is the little changes we do that slowly and gradually impact our own lives for the better, our community and if we are patient enough, the environment we live in.

I came up with a list for you to have. You are more than welcome to adopt one or multiple suggestions. Please share this with people you think could benefit from it.

1. Cook more at home.

This will save you a lot of money and will provide you with more control over what goes into your food. Eating out or ordering take-out can add up in both money and less healthy choices.

2. Buy seasonal produce.

No one has to have grapes in the winter or oranges in the summer. Imported produce can be pricier and sometimes less nutritious due to longer storage and travel time. Someone has to pay the price of travel and storage and that would be you.

3. Make your own protein/granola/energy bars.

Most recipes available online are easy to follow and most bars freeze well. Most recipes use products that are available at home or can be found in any superstore. Keep a stash in the freezer for you to grab & go.

4. Try frozen veggies & fruits.

There are times throughout the year where the variety of fresh produce is small, or what is available is pricey. Frozen options can often be as nutritious as fresh, and it is better to choose frozen than to not have any fruits and veggies at all.

5. Go for daily walks.

Whether it is a long stroll or a short fast walk, with or without added weights, the benefits of walking are frequently underestimated. It is a great exercise, can be adjusted to any fitness level and can be done by most people year-round.

6. Reduce intake of expensive meats.

Instead of having beef, chicken, turkey or fish daily, consider replacing a few meals per week with a vegetarian option such as lentils and beans dishes, eggs or tofu.

7. At-home cosmetics.

Consider using good quality olive oil or coconut oil to replace some cosmetic products such as hair masks, makeup removers, lip balm and lotions. Often these oils are available at home and are a much cheaper and healthier option than chemically-heavy cosmetics.

8. Double up on your favourite dishes.

When cooking your own meal, consider doubling a recipe to freeze and enjoy later. It will save you time and effort and maybe even help you refrain from ordering take-out.

9. Online exercises library.

Search online for some safe, at-home exercises that require no special equipment or conditions, and use body weight and a small space. There are many completely free options out there that can fit any style and fitness level.

10. Relax for free.

Instead of going to an expensive spa or for pricey massages, try relaxation methods at home, such as meditation, listening to calming music, stretching and/or breathing techniques.

Categories Dining, Recipes

Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

Author Shani - Lemon Tree Nutrition
It’s a chilly evening, and you are craving a super quick, easy-to-make dish that will satisfy your hunger, nourish you and, most importantly, be delicious. I give you one of my favourite soups to make and eat. It’s high in fibre, satisfying, delicious and super-quick to prepare. Plus it’s vegetarian!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins

Equipment

  • A medium-sized pot
  • A sharp knife
  • Serving bowls

Ingredients
  

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ large onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 litre carrot juice or water
  • ½ cup red lentils thoroughly washed and drained of access water
  • Optional your favourite chopped herbs

Instructions
 

  • In a pot, heat olive oil. Add the onion and saute until the onion turns translucent. Add garlic, celery, ginger and carrots. Cook until softens.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 15 minutes until lentils are soft.
  • If the soup is too thick, add some more carrot juice or water.
  • Adjust spices to taste.
  • To serve, place the desired amount in a serving bowl and garnish with your favourite herbs, such as cilantro, basil, parsley, dill or mint.

Notes

For a spicier version, while mixing in the spices add some chilli flakes or a bit of chilli pepper powder.
The quantities here are for about 4 servings. You can double all ingredients to have more as this soup is great the next day too.
Categories Dining, Recipes

Epic & Colourful Summer Salad

Epic & Colourful Summer Salad

Author Shani - Lemon Tree Nutrition
I hereby give you your new go-to summer salad. Seriously, it doesn’t get better than this. This salad truly has it all - it’s filling, crunchy, satisfying and colourful. For lunch or as a side for dinner, you pick!
This vegetarian salad provides a nice balance between healthy carbs, fats and protein. It is high in fibre, good nutrients, and the whole family can enjoy it.
Bonus: If you don’t have a certain vegetable, just swap it with whatever you have in the fridge.
Prep Time 20 mins

Equipment

  • Sharp knife
  • Mixing bowl

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup chilled, cooked grain of choice: quinoa, whole-wheat couscous or bulgur
  • ½ can pre-cooked chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper cubed
  • 1 yellow bell pepper cubed
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 2 Roma tomatoes cubed
  • ½ cup fresh peas
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
  • Black olives pitted and halved, optional
  • Dried cranberries or raisins optional for some sweetness

Dressing

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon liquid honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
  • ½ teaspoon teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions
 

  • Begin with preparing the dressing: Place all dressing ingredients in a jar, close with a lid and shake until well combined. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, place the chilled grain of choice, chickpeas, bell peppers, carrot, tomatoes, fresh peas and parsley.
  • With a tablespoon, mix all ingredients. If adding black olives, cranberries or raisins, add them now and mix.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.
  • Refrigerate for an hour before serving to allow the flavours to set.
Categories Dining, Recipes

Classic Chickpea Hummus

Classic Chickpea Hummus

Author Shani - Lemon Tree Nutrition
Chickpea hummus is a staple in Middle-Eastern cuisine. Chickpeas are high in fibre, complex carbs, plant protein, vitamins and minerals. Pair it with some veggie sticks or whole wheat pita bread and you got yourself a nutritious and satisfying snack or even a meal.
Bored with regular chickpea hummus? Look at the notes for optional flavours and colours.
*Please note this dish contains sesame paste.
Cook Time 20 mins

Equipment

  • Food processor or blender

Ingredients
  

  • 1 can pre-cooked chickpeas
  • ½ cup Tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 clove of garlic peeled and chopped or ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • warm water

Instructions
 

  • Place the canned chickpeas in a colander, drain juices and rinse well with tap water.
  • Place drained chickpeas in a food processor or a blender and blend for 30 seconds just to break up the chickpeas a little.
  • Add Tahini (sesame paste), garlic, salt, cumin and lemon juice.
  • Add 1/2 cup of warm water and process/blend to a smooth consistency, scraping the sides and adding a bit more water until desired texture has been achieved. The ideal texture would be silky. Please note, the hummus gets firmer after a while. If you have added too much water, add one tablespoon of Tahini at a time until preferred consistency has been achieved.
  • Taste the hummus and fix seasoning if required. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  • Leftover should be kept in an air-tight glass container in the fridge, for about 2 days.

Notes

Here are some delicious modifications to your hummus:
  • Roasted peppers Hummus- Before starting the blending process, add 1 roasted red pepper.
  • Pink Hummus - Before starting the blending process, add 1 small cooked cubed beet.
  • Bean dip - Replace cooked chickpeas with cooked white beans.
Serving options:
  • With whole wheat pita bread (classic in the Middle East); veggie sticks; or even diluted with some extra water to turn into a dressing to drizzle over greens.
  • Middle Eastern style serving - In a small plate, spread 2 tablespoons of fresh hummus in a circular way (view picture), drizzle with a bit of olive oil, garnish with some whole cooked chickpeas, and sprinkle a bit of sweet paprika and chopped parsley on top.