8 Foods Vegetarians Can’t Do Without

1.              Tofu

Benefits: Smooth tofu is an amazing source of protein, zinc, iron, and even cholesterol-lowering omega-3s. Just half a cup of tofu a day will provide you with 100 mg of calcium. In addition, those same half cups will provide you with 350 mg (about 1/3 of your daily value) of vitamin D, which will help your body absorb calcium better—the perfect combination for your bone health. Pay attention to soy milk, which also contains both calcium and vitamin D.

Tip: Tofu can easily replace meat, poultry or fish in any recipe. Firm tofu is even better for this because it holds its shape and can be grilled.

2.              Lentil

Benefits: Like beans, lentils are a member of the legume family and a great source of protein and soluble fiber. But lentils have one advantage over beans: they contain almost 2 times more iron. It also contains more B vitamins and folate (folic acid) – these elements are especially necessary for women during pregnancy to avoid congenital malformations of the fetus. For vegan beginners, lentils are the best option because (unlike other legumes) they are less likely to cause bloating and gas.

Tip: Lentil soup is good for beginners. Add lentils to vegetable stews, chilies, and casseroles. Mix it with red onion and add some vinegar. Add curry to lentils, or cook with carrots. Experiment with different variations – red lentils cook very quickly and turn into a bright puree just as quickly.

3.              beans

Benefit: A cup of beans a day will provide you with 1/3 of your daily requirement for iron and protein and almost half for fiber. Moreover, the soluble fiber found in beans can even lower cholesterol levels. One cup also contains a good dose of sodium, zinc, B vitamins and some calcium. If you are using canned beans, rinse them well before using them – they are often very high in salt.

Tip: For even more protein, combine beans with cereals (rice, pasta, bread). “Beans can be eaten all day long,” Sass says. Just mix it with vegetables and whole grain pasta, make a soup, add some beans to a salad.

4.              Nuts

Benefits: Nuts are a great source of easily digestible protein. In addition, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts are rich in zinc, vitamin E, and omega-3 acids. Some – like almonds – even contain a decent dose of calcium (about 175 mg in a half cup). More great news: “Recent studies have shown that although nuts are high in calories, they do not lead to weight gain,” Sass says. Nuts can even help bring it down because they fill you up quickly and you don’t want to overeat at your next meal. Other experts believe that the act of cracking nuts burns calories in and of itself.

Tip: Different nuts will provide you with different nutrients. So, half a cup of almonds contains 4 times more fiber than the same amount of cashews. Cashews, however, contain 2 times more iron and zinc than other nuts. Pecans and walnuts lead in magnesium, sodium, zinc and calcium. Feel free to add them to salads, keep a bag of nuts in your bag or on your desktop. Garnish with whole nuts in pureed soups, use as a filling for muffins, and add nut crumbs to the crust dough. 

5.              Cereals

The Benefit: Many whole grain cereals are specifically fortified with vitamin B12—some even provide 100% of your daily requirement. Cereals also contain iron, calcium and many other trace elements. Please note that if you do not eat eggs, you must take B12 in supplement form. Cereals and other whole grains (whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice) are also rich in B vitamins, zinc, and, of course, soluble fiber, which not only lowers “bad cholesterol”, but also reduces the risk of colon cancer and other diseases of the stomach. -intestinal tract.

Tip: since different cereals contain different trace elements, they need to be combined. “It would be too easy to eat, for example, brown rice all the time. However, it is much more useful to use different cereals: rolled oats, bulgur, wild rice, whole rye and wholemeal rye bread,” says Sass. Also try spelled, kamut – long forgotten cereals, which now, fortunately, are again sold on supermarket shelves. 

6.              Green vegetables

Benefit: Unlike most vegetables, greens like spinach, broccoli, kale, chard, and kale are high in iron—especially spinach. Green vegetables are also a great source of antioxidants, they are rich in folic acid and vitamin A, and they also contain calcium, but in a form that is difficult to digest. “Cooking green salads with lemon juice or vinegar makes calcium more available for absorption,” says Cynthia Sass.

Tip: Always pair iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C, as it improves the absorption of iron by the body. For example, toss dark leafy greens with yellow and red peppers, tomatoes, carrots, tangerines, or other citrus fruits in a salad. Or, if you prefer cooked vegetables, drizzle them with an olive oil sauce with sweet peppers, garlic, and onions.

7.              Algae

Benefits: In addition to being high in iron, algae – such as alaria, crimson seaweed, kelp, nori, spirulina, and agar – are excellent sources of minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iodine, chromium, as well as vitamins A, C, E, and the B group. These are real superfoods!

Tip: Add crimson seaweed to sandwiches, dressing salads, and topping soups. Use nori sheets in vegetarian rolls and sushi. Dry the kelp and feel free to add it to pasta, rice or vermicelli soups.

8.              Dried fruits  

Benefits: Dried fruits are a source of highly digestible protein and iron – especially if you combine them with nuts. In addition to this, dried fruits and berries – dried apricots, raisins, prunes, mango, pineapple, figs, dates, cherries and cranberries – contain a lot of other vitamins, minerals and a lot of fiber. They have one indisputable plus – they are adored by everyone, even children.

Tip: Add dried fruit to a salad, use as a dressing for sweet potatoes in chutney, or mix to taste with nuts of your choice. Also, dried fruits will be an excellent and healthy addition to puddings, pies, muesli, oatmeal bars, liver, hot and cold cereals.


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