Hey guys! Jumping right into today’s post, I want to address some questions that I frequently get asked regarding my vegetarian journey.

  1. Do you eat any meat at all? What type of vegetarian are you?
    Technically speaking (giggles), I am considered to be a lacto-ovo-pescatarian. That’s a mouthful, and that is why I just deem myself “vegetarian” unless someone wants specifics. This means that I eat some dairy (yogurt, cheese and the occasional chocolate milk following a workout), eggs, and fish.
  2. How long have you been vegetarian?
    It’s been a fairly slow and steady process over the last few years. I cut out red meat and pork a couple of years ago, and I decided to cut out all other forms of meat 13 months ago.
  3. Do you ever want to eat meat? Have you had any slip ups or “surprise” meat dishes?
    I have had chicken probably a total of 5 times over the last year. This was by choice, and not necessarily because I had a “meat craving,” but because my body felt extremely fatigued, and I was having excessive bruising. This led me to believe that I was lacking in iron, and unfortunately spinach, seeds and lentils (typically good sources of iron), weren’t doing the trick.  I found however I didn’t enjoy the texture or the flavor of chicken once re-introduced. I did have a huge craving for red meat just about a month ago. I actually planned on eating a Five Guys burger for my birthday when on vacation, but ended up passing.
  4. Why did you decide to become a vegetarian?
    I think people often assume it has to do with a love of animals. Don’t get me wrong, if I had a pasture of cows, or a yard full of chickens, I probably couldn’t feed them, see them everyday, and then turn around and serve them up for dinner; however cruelty to animals wasn’t my first deciding factor. I cut out pork years ago because of the mere fact that I think pigs are disgusting animals (I am absolutely certain that someone will DM me with lots of kind words over that one), but that is my truth. The real deciding factor for me came about when I was doing research for school. Most of my followers know, but if you’re new to my blog (hello, welcome, and thanks for stopping in), I am a dietetics student focusing on sports nutrition, and am obsessed with the power of food. After numerous studies, I decided that a vegetarian diet may be a good suit for me. I have had sensitivities to numerous foods over the years and once I adjusted to this way of eating, it seemed to work well for me.
  5. Do you think that a vegetarian diet would work well for everyone?
    You have to ask yourself the most important question when it comes to determining  if this lifestyle would work for you, “do you love vegetables?” I mean really. love. vegetables. If you would have asked me this question 7 or 8 years ago my answer would have been completely different than what it is now. Personally, yes, I love vegetables! I mean I really. love. vegetables: broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant, carrots, sprouts, asparagus, peppers, and the list goes on. All of it. I love all of it. I think people often get the misconception that vegetarians fill up on carbs in the forms of breads, fruits, and pastas. While yes, I do occasionally include these within my meals, people often take for granted that vegetables are carbs too.
  6. What are your forms of protein? Do you find it hard to get in enough protein?
    I mostly rely on eggs (primarily egg whites), and fish. I eat eggs every single day, usually twice a day (at least), and I allow for fish about three times a week. I eat a lot of rice and beans, which most people don’t know make for a complete, well-rounded protein. Many vegetables contain a lot of protein as well. If I were under the age of 30 I wouldn’t worry so much with adding in additional protein, but now that I am at an age where protein intake is extremely important, I typically have 1-2 protein shakes  per day.
  7. Do you find that you get bored with a vegetarian diet?
    In fact, for me it’s the complete opposite. I feel that my choices are endless; however, this leads back to the fact that I love vegetables.
  8. Do you eat Tofu, veggie burgers, and imitation meat products?
    I will occasionally eat Tofu if I order out, but I haven’t mastered cooking it myself quite yet. I recently saved some recipes on Pinterest for the air fryer, so fingers crossed I can find some tasty methods. I love Veggie Burgers! Again, this is when dining out though. I have found that most sit-down dining restaurants (at least in Vegas), offer a veggie burger of some kind. I typically choose this option if available on the menu, but I don’t usually prepare them at home. When I first transitioned into this way of eating, I did find myself eating frozen veggie patties, imitation chicken, and soy burgers; however, over the last few months I have cut these things out. The taste was great, but the sodium content was usually insane.
  9. Is it hard to find vegetarian options when eating out?
    Luckily, I live in Las Vegas where more healthier options are available, compared to other locations across the map (for instance when I headed down south to Alabama). Dine in restaurants sometimes offer some sort vegetarian option, but I can almost always create vegetable plate out of a menu’s side options. Unfortunately, fast food is where it gets tricky. A non-vegetarian diet is a bit easier for fast food. You can almost always find a grilled chicken sandwich on the menu, but a veggie burger isn’t usually an option. A lot of fast food joints offer salads, but more often than not, they are made up of Iceberg lettuce, and (if you’re lucky) will have a couple of grape tomatoes and a cucumber slice. Not my idea of a complete, well-balanced meal.
  10. Is it hard to go to social gatherings that include eating or pot-lucks?
    It can be, sure. I will usually take something that I feel everyone will like as well, but also something that I know I can depend on if there aren’t more options. You can almost always count on someone bringing a veggie tray, or a fruit tray. Bottom line, this is a way of life that I have adopted and it works well for me. I am not the type of person that will put a damper on someone else’s plans because the menu doesn’t cater to my lifestyle.

    I really enjoy the foods that I eat. I feel satisfied, I feel adequately fueled, and I feel better than I have ever felt. Will I follow this approach to eating forever? I don’t know. It works well for me now and that’s what I have to go by.

    Thanks for stopping in! If you have some banging veggie recipes, feel free to shoot them my way!

    Keep an eye out for my next post, “A full day of eating,”

Hey everyone! It seems as if I have been away from you all for forever! School has been incredibly hectic with exams and assessments, but I had to make some time this morning to share a recent food journey with you all.

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If you follow my food log on Instagram (tiffanydietetics), you have probably noticed that my meals include a lot of greens and fibrous veggies…this is nothing new. What has changed as of recent however, my protein sources. As of June 5th (my 36th birthday), I made the decision to cut out all meat from my diet with the exception of eggs. Although Veganism and Vegetarian diets are more popular now than ever, I know there are many of my fellow bodybuilding friends out there that are saying, “What the hell for?”

I made this decision after completing an assessment for school regarding the effects of a Vegan diet on muscle building. Not only was the information completely opposite of everything I thought I knew, but study after study in my opinion, showed a vegetarian diet to be the healthiest nutritional approach of all.

I would assume this transition would be hard for a lot people, but I can say in all honesty  I haven’t had any struggles. I traded red meat and pork about a year ago for turkey and chicken, so I didn’t have those cravings to worry about. Becoming bored with eggs was a concern in the beginning, but that was never an issue either.

The main highlight of this trial for me has been the loads of energy. Granted, I have since been reverse dieting to increase my overall caloric intake for winter gains, but I noticed the energy increase immediately.

So, were there any downsides? There was something that I found to be really odd and random, and I will say that it almost made me pull the plug on the Vegetarian trial and call it a day…Cellulite!!! What?! Ok, slow down. Don’t let this be a determining factor if you are considering the Vegan road. Let me explain. When I decided to take on this journey I was mid-way through my summer shredding program, which meant a lower carb intake than usual. I knew that once changing to a vegetarian approach I would have to switch up my macros, which automatically meant an increase in carbohydrates to make up for the decrease in protein. Because I had been in a deficit, my carbohydrate intake was around 160 grams per day. When I made the switch, I increased those carbs immediately to 200 grams per day. For someone like myself that doesn’t eat a lot of processed foods to reach 200 grams a day, is a lot when you’ve been in a deficit; therefor, this meant adding in more grains. Don’t get me wrong, I love oats and brown rice, and these are staples in my diet year round; however, when Im doing a cut, I had rather fill my belly with loads of fibrous veggies. Well, keep in mind, I had been doing a cut for about 10 weeks, so my body hadn’t been accustomed to all the grains I was now packing in to make up for the carb increase.  Am I saying that grains give you cellulite?! NO! I am saying that carbohydrates absorb water. When the body is not familiar with something, and then you throw something at it, out of the norm, it’s going to respond negatively. Just like most females, I hold any excess fat in my hips and butt.  I manage to keep excess fat at bay, and stay relatively lean year round, which keeps cellulite to a minimum, but we all have a dimple here and there. But man, oh man…one week in and I was stressing. I felt heavy  and fluffy, and a bit dimply all over. I was ready to call it quits. The best comparison I can give is that feeling when you have had way too much Chinese food and the next day you feel like a puffer fish. Thats how I felt for an entire week. Basically, the increase in carbs was causing me to retain loads of water, and my body wasn’t accustomed to that. To fix the problem, I simply increased my water intake. Although it sounds counter-active, an increase in water will keep you from retaining water, so that was my approach. I also coupled the increased water intake with an am HIIT session everyday for the following week, which forced me to sweat, A lot.

Week one was a hurdle, but by week two I felt great. I stuck to my Ovo-Vegetarian approach for just over 15-weeks. Week 16, I gorged on sushi with my fellow foodies following the Olympia. I have had chicken twice since my Vegetarian food journey, and have since cut it back out as well.

As of now, I will continue my vegetarian journey. Feel free to follow along as I share my thoughts on this approach to nutrition.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapenos, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and jalapeno, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in avocado, lime juice and cilantro.
  • Serve immediately.

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Ingredients:

• 1 12-oz. block extra firm silken tofu
• ½ tsp agave nectar
• 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 1/2 cups dry penne pasta
• 1/8 cup almond milk
• 1 cup mozzarella “cheese” (I used Daiya mozzarella style shreds)
• 1 diced tomato
• 1 diced zucchini
• 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

Equipment:

• Small baking dish
• Foil
• Medium-sized sauce pan
• Mixing bowl
• Colander

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350º.
2. Add the tofu, agave nectar, vinegar and salt to a mixing bowl. Use a fork to mash the ingredients together. This is your tofu ricotta. (How simple is that?!?)
3. Add the milk, ½ cup of the mozzarella, diced tomato, tomato sauce and diced zucchini to the bowl and stir everything together.
4. Fill a medium-sized saucepan about 2/3 of the way full with water. Bring to a boil.
5. Once the water boils, add your pasta and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 11 minutes.
6. Drain your pasta in a colander and add to mixing bowl. Stir everything together.
7. Spray your baking dish with olive oil.
8. Spoon the pasta mixture into the dish and sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella on top.
9. Cover your dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.