Last updated: March 18. 2013 5:32PM - 847 Views

green lettuce salad in colander with fresh vegetables
green lettuce salad in colander with fresh vegetables
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Buffalo real estate broker Cristen Gregory learned early that vegetables could become the focal point of a tasty meal. That’s what happens when your parents favor a European diet.

“The main emphasis of the meal was never meat,” said Gregory, a Toronto native and vegetarian whose business card, unsurprisingly, is green.

For lifetime veggie lovers like her, it’s easier to eat green, one of the healthiest nutrition decisions one can make.

Healthy eaters say a vegetarian lifestyle has good lessons for everyone. If you follow their advice, you will learn to:

Check the labels: Everyone should pay more attention to them but vegetarians have an extra incentive: making sure a product doesn’t contain meat. Some yogurts use pork jelly; some curries or MSG contain shrimp; even some pain medications contain animal flesh. Those who check labels also can assure they’re not getting too much sugar, salt, fat or processed food ingredients.

Go with alternatives: “Without meat stock, it’s harder to make food taste full,” Chris Connolly says, but it’s not impossible. Vinegar, wine, sherry, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and cheese all add plenty of richness. “Different oils can really make a difference, too,” he said. A healthy red sauce can be made with tomatoes, light olive oil, extra garlic, extra onions and wine. Then there are healthy juices that can include kale, cucumber, ginger, pear, watermelon, carrot and celery.

Get roasted: Roasting adds more taste to vegetables “and really changes the flavors,” Connolly says. “At the cafe, we do all of our vegetables the same way. We toss them in olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder and we throw them in a really hot oven until they’re starting to brown up around the edges a little bit.”

Enjoy the savings: Gregory often hears complaints that vegetarianism can get expensive, but fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables, when compared to unhealthy foods, are generally reasonably priced ounce per ounce, especially for those who grow them in their own gardens.

- MCT Information Services

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