The first question people ask me when they hear I’m a gluten-free vegetarian is, “so what do you eat?” I’ll admit, my diet sounds intense (and boring) at first. But honestly, I eat really delicious, really healthy food. And the truth is, anyone can do it.
I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 5 (it’s a long story, but basically I’m just super independent and decided I didn’t want to eat meat anymore, and thankfully my parents put up with my decision), and gluten-free since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease during my sophomore year of high school. It was definitely a shock to my system when the doctors told me I couldn’t eat the pasta, pizza, and grilled cheese sandwiches I had lived on for years. But after a few years and a bunch of inedible meals, I learned how to prepare meals that were super easy, but also satisfying and healthy. I’m going to take you through a typical day of eating gluten-free vegetarian, and maybe it will inspire you to give it a try! (PS, everything I’m including can be purchased at Kroger or any well-stocked grocery store.)
Breakfast - Siggi Icelandic Yogurt
These individual-sized yogurts are really popular right now, and for good reason: they are delicious. I go for the 2% milk-fat ones for two reasons: 1) the fat in yogurt is healthy fat, and 2) the higher fat content keeps me full for way longer than the non-fat versions (non-fat versions can also be sneakily full of artificial sweeteners).
Morning Snack - Peanut Butter Power
Everyone has their own eating schedule that works best for them- three big meals a day, grazing on snacks throughout the day, whatever you like! Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle and usually have tons of snacks in my purse at all times, just in case. I’m a huge sucker for the creamy peanut butter Think Thin bars, or if I want some fruit early on in my day, green apple slices with some Jif natural peanut butter. Both snacks are healthy and filling because of all the protein in peanut butter.
Lunch - Tomato Soup & Leafy Green Salad
On a rainy day, all I want is a big bowl of tomato soup for lunch. I love the Pacifico brand boxed soups, but would recommend the low-sodium options if you can find them because pre-made soups can have a lot more sodium than you’d think! I like to sprinkle the soup with black pepper, fresh basil, and a bit of Parmesan cheese just to give it a little extra something. On the side I will usually throw together an easy salad from whatever I have in the fridge at the time: spring mix lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and white mushrooms. Finish by topping the whole thing off with full-fat feta, pine nuts, olive oil, balsamic glaze, and some fresh-cracked black pepper.
Dinner - Pan-Fried Teriyaki Tofu over Sautéed Veggies & Quinoa
Dinner is one of my favorite parts of the day; I come home, kick off my heels, pour a glass of wine (I’m a fan of anything Italian and red), and turn on some music and the stove. This meal takes less than 30 minutes to throw together and is so yummy. First, get quinoa cooking on one burner (instructions on package). For the veggies, dice some sweet onion and let cook for 3-5 minutes in a skillet with olive oil and garlic until onion becomes clear. Add diced bell pepper and asparagus (or whatever veggies you like) and sauté until they are cooked through but still firm. Finally, cut extra-firm tofu into cubes (or skip the work and buy it pre-cubed) while you heat a skillet on the stove with a teaspoon of olive oil. **Make sure you dry out the tofu by pressing it with a paper towel- wet tofu won’t absorb the teriyaki sauce.** Once the skillet is hot, add tofu and 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce (my favorite gluten-free one is from the brand San-J, but make sure you watch the portion size because packaged sauces can be packed with tons of sodium). Keep turning tofu until it has soaked up all the sauce and the edges are browned. To plate: quinoa (~1/3 cup is a good serving size), veggies, and top with tofu. I usually drizzle a little more teriyaki over the whole thing and crack some pepper, and there’s dinner!
I always like to finish my day off with something sweet, and while tons of desserts aren’t gluten-free, chocolate always is! I usually opt for the Endangered Species Chocolate Bars because they are delicious and the proceeds go to a great cause.