In my college days (circa 1980 when there were few vegetarian options outside the health food store) I went so low as to order a cheeseburger without the burger at McDonald’s. Another time, during a ten-hour bus ride in Mexico, I ate a lettuce and tomato sandwich on Pan Bimbo. More recently, I saw nothing wrong with eating only whole grain rolls for both breakfast and lunch. My rationale was I hadn’t eaten a donut in about 20 years, and a whole grain rool was low in sugar, low in fat, high in fiber and filled me up. So what if there were no colors of the rainbow on my plate?
After nearly 40 years as a vegetarian, I became a vegan. I swore off dairy and eggs, and cut back significantly on the carbs. At about the same time, I was diagnosed a pre-diabetic, and saw how my sugar level would spike with even small amounts of carbs. While I was never an arrocera, eating a pre-packaged vegan rice and vegetables entrée at one sitting suddenly became a bit too much for my sugar level.
So, finally i believe i follow a healthy vegetarian/vegan diet. I pay more attention to proteins as well as green and orange vegetables. I am very strict with my diet. Maybe that’s why my eyes bulge – sometimes with disgust, other times with envy – when I see what others consume. I realize everyone has a different body chemistry, and most don’t have to watch their calories, sugars or carbs. But speaking as a former carboholic, when you fill up in those areas it’s doubtful you’re getting your share of vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately, my shock observing others’ plates often carries over to fellow vegans or vegetarians. Granted, everyone chooses a plant-based diet for personal reasons. I understand why people choose the easy route, and munch on French fries, tortilla chips, cookies and pasta. However, if you’re going to make the effort to go plant-based, it’s not all that much harder to choose healthy options. It may take a bit more time to prepare your own homemade foods and snacks and take them everywhere you go, but there are plenty of short cuts to make it worth the effort.
As an ex-carb addict, I created the following vegan, diabetic-friendly healthy recipes. Because of the high fiber content, don’t expect these to be light and airy or anything similar to what you’d find at your neighborhood chain grocery store or panaderia.
MORNING GLORY MUFFINS (yield: 12 small muffins)
1 c. raw unsalted almonds
1 c. rolled oats
2 T. flax seeds
½ c. shredded unsweetened coconut
½ c. whole wheat flour
1 ¼ t. baking powder
¼ t. baking soda
1 ¼ t. cinnamon
½ t. ground ginger
1 ½ c. shredded carrots
½ c. coconut or almond milk (preferably unsweetened)
1 t. vanilla
1 T. agave
1 T. oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill a muffin pan with muffin liners.
2. In a food processer, grind the nuts, flax seeds and oats, stirring periodically, until a thick flour is formed.
3. Put ground ingredients into a large mixing bowl and add the remaining dry ingredients, and mix.
4. Add shredded carrots and remaining ingredients, and stir well.
5. For those with a sweet tooth, add more agave, and/or a grated apple to the mix. Non-diabetics can add raisins.
6. Spoon into the muffin pan.
7. Bake about 30 minutes, until a toothpick or knife can be inserted and come out clean.
VEGAN PUMPKIN BREAD (yield: two loaves of bread)
3 ½ c. flour
4 t. baking soda and ½ t. baking powder
1 t. each of nutmeg and clove
1 ½ t. cinnamon
2 T. ground flax seeds
Pinch of ginger
¼ c. agave
2/3 c. oil
1 can pumpkin
2/3 c. coconut milk
2/3 c. shredded coconut
1 c. chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 345 degrees.
2. Mix all dry ingredients
3. In separate bowl, mix oil, milk and pumpkin
4. Combine moist ingredients into dry mix. Fold in coconut and walnut pieces.
5. For modifications, use ½ c. sugar/splenda mix instead of agave, or substitute 1 c. oatmeal for flour.
6. Pour into two oiled bread pans and bake for about 50 minutes or until knife can be inserted and removed clean from center of loaf.