“If you are a vegetarian why are you fat? Aren’t all vegetarian’s skinny?” Oh contraire! Some of us are Junketarians. “Junk-a-what-a?!” A Junketarian is someone who is a vegetarian but mostly eats junk food. Junk food covers a lot of bases from cakes to cookies and from pizza to white pasta . This blog will offer healthier alternatives for all of the unhealthy foods we love and crave. Don’t worry! If you are a pizza lover (like me!) there is hope. You do not have to give anything up, just swap it out! (Please note that some vegetarians are naturally chubby that are not Junketarian- we are all made differently-just saying.)
Baked vs. Fried
I grew up eating lots of fried food, as most people did. As an adult, I still ate fried food because it was fast and I thought it tasted good. Fortunately, I stopped eating most fried foods long ago just to avoid acne breakout. When I started cooking for myself, I always burned whatever was frying in the pan! Now, you may be reading this thinking “I am the Fry Master!” or “I love my Fry Daddy!” But really, baking your food much better and less greasy. When I ate meat, I baked it. Take Chicken for example- Fried chicken is crispy, juicy and greasy. Baked chicken is crispy, juicy and not greasy. It was just as tasty and way healthier. French fries can even be baked instead of fried and still be crispy and delicious- along with everything else you love. And really, all you have to do is turn on the oven, pop the food in, set a timer and read a book while the oven does the rest!
Store brought vs. Homemade
I love to cook! And though you may not like to or may not know how to, there are ways to improve. Just because something is homemade does not mean it is extremely labor intensive or takes 3+ hours to make and enjoy. The truth is, you will not only be proud of your creation but you will have peace of mind knowing what is in the food you eat. That anxiety of “Was that healthy?” will go away. The other good thing is, many foods can be made ahead for the upcoming week or frozen for later use.
Example: Marinara sauce. Let’s just get a jar of tomato sauce and enjoy that with pasta. Not! There are so many additives and unknown things that it is not worth it. Blending fresh tomatoes, herbs and garlic only takes minutes. It is cheap and easy and not very labor intensive. People are shocked when they find out I make my own sauce. It’s really not hard at all!
Pasta & Bread Alternatives
White bread, pasta, potatoes and rice are typical in most daily diets. All of these white versions contain refine sugars. You are probably thinking you already know this. And will probably say wheat bread, for example, is a healthy alternative. Well, it is not. I could go on and on about wheat and why it is bad but the short answer is, it contains gluten. Gluten can fatten you up in no time and bloat you, among other things. In fact, you are probably just bloated right now and you think your belly is big. Gluten should be avoided when possible. If you absolutely want gluten in your life, aim for 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat. The key is looking for “100%”. Here is a chart of just a few alternatives:
|Unhealthy version||Healthy Alternative||Tip/Note|
|White/Wheat Bread||Gluten-free bread (rice breads)||The best gluten free breads are found in the freezer section.|
|White rice||Brown Rice||Only difference is brown rice has more texture.|
|White/Wheat Pasta||Gluten-free Pasta (Brown rice or Quinoa)||Gluten-free cooks faster! No difference in the tastes.|
|Vegetable/Canola Oil||Coconut or Olive Oil||Coconut oil does not taste like coconuts. Olive oil does not taste like olives|
|White/Wheat Wraps||Brown Rice wraps||These are usually in the freezer or refrigerator section|
|All fried foods||Bake instead of fry||Give it a try!|
|Frozen pizza||Thin crust||Amy’s Kitchen is a good brand|
Recipes Du Jour: Green Pizza and Spicy Pizza
Pizza is just about everyone’s favorite food. Specifically, a go to comfort food. I created 2 pizza recipes below. Both have cheese but simply omit the cheese or use vegan cheese for a vegan option. I included a Gluten-Free Vegan Pizza Dough by Kimberly Snyder. I use this every time I make my pizza’s homemade.
Ingredients for Kim’s Gluten-Free Vegan Pizza Dough
- 1 ½ cups brown rice flour
- 1 ½ tsp xanthan gum
- 1 ½ tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp powdered stevia
- 1 tsp italian seasoning or oregano
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp arrowroot starch
- 2 tbsp tapioca starch
- 3/4 cup cold water
- 1 organic egg OR Ener-G egg replacer (2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 4 tbsp hot water
Pizza Dough Instructions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking with parchments paper.
- Sift the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, stevia, Italian seasoning, arrowroot and tapioca starch together into a large bowl.
- Pour the cold water into the bowl slowly and stir. Next, add your egg/egg replacer mixture and mix well till incorporated.
- Wet hands with water, form the dough into a ball and place on the center of the greased baking sheet. Wet hands or lightly oiled hands are an absolute must to prevent sticking. Wet hands periodically while pushing down firmly on the dough and pressing it into a 10-inch round pizza shape, working from the center out.
- Bake for about 9 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (directions continued in “Assembly before baking” below)
Note: If you want to use store brought pizza dough or your favorite recipe, go for it! Just remember gluten-free is best.
Green Pizza Topping Ingredients
- 4 brussel sprouts, sliced
- 1 broccoli floret, chopped
- ½ tsp olive oil
- ¼ white onion, sliced into thin rings
- ½ cup packed baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 cup Pesto, homemade or store brought (see recipe below)
- 2 tbsp skim ricotta or feta cheese (optional)
Pesto Ingredients and Instructions for Green Pizza
- 2 cups basil, packed
- 1 tbsp Nutritional yeast
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- ¼ tsp of salt
- Pinch of pepper
1. Blend all ingredients in a blender
Note: This is a vegan pesto. A store brought jar version will be fine too.
Assembly before baking
- In a bowel add the brussel sprouts and olive oil with a pinch (or sprinkle) of salt and pepper then mix with hands. Set to the side.
- After 9 minutes, evenly distribute pesto on the pizza dough.
- Add half of the spinach, onion rings, and broccoli. Then add, the ricotta or feta cheese-teaspoons at a time- if desired. (If you are using ricotta, add a pinch of salt and pepper before adding.)
- Add remainder spinach then bake for another 30 minutes (depending on your oven) or until the edges are crispy and the bread is well done.
- Remove from oven, turn on the broiler. Top the pizza with brussel sprout mixture.
- Broil for 1-2 minutes, or until brussel sprouts are slightly golden.
Spicy Red Pizza Topping Ingredients
- ¼ red peppers
- ½ red onion
- ½ cup mushrooms
- Fresh or vegan mozzarella cheese, sliced into rings
Spicy Pizza Sauce Ingredients
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ white onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- ¼ tsp oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp stevia
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper, or desired amount (optional)
- 6 tomatoes
- ½ can/jar of tomato paste
- ¼ fresh basil, packed and chopped
Tip#1: This sauce can be used on pasta, too!
Tip#2: Excess sauce can be used to dip the crust.
Note: A few tablespoons of dried basil can be used if you don’t have fresh.
Red Sauce Instructions
- Sautee onions and garlic with olive oil. Once onions are translucent, add salt, pepper and crushed peppers.
- Meanwhile, puree tomatoes in a blender. Add the blend to the sauce pan. Then add the basil and stevia.
- Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Adjust salt and pepper
Assembly for baking
- After 9 minutes, evenly distribute tomato sauce on the pizza dough.
- Add red peppers in a ring, scatter the red onion and mushrooms. Then add, the mozzarella cheese-teaspoons at a time- if desired.
- Bake for another 30 minutes (depending on your oven) or until the edges are crispy and the bread is well done.
This may look like a personal size pizza but don’t eat it all in one sitting. Pair with a salad or even soup.