Vegetarian and vegan meals, tend to have higher fibre levels, with both the vegetables and the protein source being good sources of fibre, and the focus of the meal.
Today Susan made a version similar to Riverford’s Cauliflower Mujaddara, packed full of vegetables, protein and healthy oils. The four main ingredients in this dish were onions, cauliflower, kale and lentils.
The dish contained a large portion of onions, with a generous 1.5 onions per portion. Raw onions are nutritionally better due to the sulphur compounds which can be destroyed by heat, however you can still get many of the benefits from cooked as well. Cooked onions tend to taste milder and are often gentler on stomachs.
Onions have been used in folk medicine for the relief of coughs, colds and catarrh, especially asthma (Susan’s great aunt swore by her remedy of Oh Be Joyful which was honey, lemon, onion and whisky! to cure most colds). One medium onion can provide 20% of RDA of Vitamin C, 4% calcium and 4% of Iron and 12% of your daily fibre requirements. Most onions are safe to eat, however green onions (spring onions) contain a high dose of vitamin K, therefore those on Warfarin need to take care.
Kale, over the years has been classed as a super food, just one cup will provide you with 3g of protein, 2.5g of fibre, vitamins A.C and K, folate, Alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, Lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that give kale its deep dark green colouring and may protect against macular degeneration and cataracts. It also includes minerals such as potassium, calcium and zinc.
Kale being a dark green leafy vegetable, is better cooked than raw due to its indigestible fibre. Kale is a goitrogenic vegetable and when eaten raw, this vegetable can inhibit the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. If it’s eaten in excess, these chemicals can inhibit the incorporation of iodine into thyroid hormone. Also since its a good source of vitamin K those on blood thinner medication need to take this into account.
The body relies on iodine (and tyrosine) to make thyroid hormones, so continually eating these raw greens can cause a thyroid hormone imbalance. Raw kale also contains oxalic acid, which binds with minerals such as calcium and magnesium in the body causing them to crystalize. These crystals can damage tissues, cause inflammation in the body and kidney stones. So, a daily dose of raw kale and other goitrogenic vegetables may not be such a great idea.
Cauliflower is currently a popular food with cauliflower rice, being a common ingredient for those on diets, it can be boiled, steamed or roasted.
A cup of boiled cauliflower is just 30 calories, provides 4% of daily protein, 92% of vitamin C, 22% of vitamin K, 14% folate, 12% of fibre, 6% potassium and 8% manganese.
Brown, green, yellow, red or black — lentils are low in calories, rich in iron and folate and an excellent source of protein. 1/2 a cup of lentils provides 12g of protein and 32% of your daily fibre requirements. Women need 2,320mg of Potassium per day (possible more if on a diuretic), a 1/2 cup portion provides, 12% of your requirement and 15% of your iron requirement. For vegetarians and vegans, getting enough iron may be particularly challenging. Regularly including lentils in your diet can help boost your iron intake.
If you are not used to eating lentils it is advisable to slowly increase the amount in your diet to give your digestion system time to adjust to the increased fibre in your diet.
The whole meal provided a very nutritious balanced meal, at 600 calories per portion, it provided 55% of daily fibre requirement, 280% of vitamin C, 34% of protein, 17% of calcium and 30% of iron.
Try one or two vegetarian or vegan meals per week, to see if you can increase your vegetable and fibre intake.