Vegetarian diet: The green way of life

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Updated 04 December 2013

Vegetarian diet: The green way of life

You might think maintaining a healthy body weight would be easier for vegetarians as they eat mainly fruit and vegetables? Actually, vegetarian food includes many items that are rich in fat and carbohydrates, such as cheeses and potatoes.
Nutritionist Hessa Al-Saeed will help our readers understand more about being a vegetarian and how to lose weight and eat healthy. She also shared a great recipe for you to enjoy and benefit from.
“Before beginning I would like to clarify the different kinds of vegetarians. Total-vegetarians, or vegans, only eat foods that have a non-animal origin. These can be vegetables, legumes, fruits, grains, seeds and nuts. Then comes the lacto-vegetarian who eats plants plus cheese and other dairy products. The ovo-lactovegetarian adds eggs to their diet. A semi-vegetarian does not eat red meat but includes white meats as well as plant foods, dairy products and eggs,” said Al-Saeed. “Most vegetarian diets are lower in fat than non-vegetarian diets. This is better for the health, as most of the foods they eat contain a rich amount of vitamins and natural oils. Studies also shows that vegetarians have a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, coronary disease and cancer,” she added.
All vegetarian diets should include a wide variety of foods to obtain the energy and nutrients a human body needs. “I highly recommend vegetarians to stay away from foods that are rich in fat and sugar because they are low in nutrition and high in calories,” said Al-Saeed. “Choose fat free or low fat dairy products and stay away from artificial and non-beneficial additives,” she added.
Salads and soups are the best kinds of foods to help you lose weight, while keeping you full and comfortable. “When making a salad, try to choose a dressing that contain citrus juice, and herbs. Stay away from fatty dressing that contain mayonnaise, oils and butter,” said the nutritionist. “When at a restaurant, ask the waiter to put your salad dressing on the side so you can control the amount you add to your salad. Remember to not overdo it,” she added.
Soup is the best comfort food because it is warm and fulfilling. Soups contain much more of the natural nutrients, vitamins and general essences in vegetables and beans than you would get by frying or stewing them.
Al-Saeed recommends making sure your soup is rich in protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins that come with vegetables and beans. “Soups are great for your body, cold or hot. They will fill your stomach with comfort and love so try to take advantage of that and add a bowl of soup to your daily diet,” she said. “Add all the vegetables you love, from carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, beans, zucchini and more and try to stay away from potatoes. These are filled with carbs that your body does not need, especially when you want to lose weight,” she added.
When on a diet, limit your intake of pasta, rice, bread and other carbohydrates. “Focus on eating fresh greens and other colorful fresh foods instead,” said Al-Saeed. “If you fancy having cooked vegetables, just eat them with a fork and forget about rice or dipping your bread in a sauce. That will make you feel full but it won’t provide many nutrients. If you must have a small amount of rice or bread, make sure they are brown to at least gain some nutrition,” she added.
When you are on a diet, it’s all about losing weight in a healthy way. A food pyramid can be a helpful tool to guide you to the quantity and amount of foods you should eat in every meal, said Al-Saeed. “The Vegetarian Diet Pyramid suggests the types and frequencies of foods that your body required for healthy reasons. The pyramid is divided into daily, weekly, and monthly frequencies, but does not recommend serving sizes,” she said. “Your vegetarian diet pyramid should include whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables and includes moderate amounts of nuts and seeds, soy, egg whites, dairy products and plant oils,” she added.
Finally, water. Al-Saeed said she could never stop talking about the importance of drinking water. “Make sure you always carry a bottle of room temperature water. You need at least eight full cups a day to benefit from it,” she said. “It helps with balancing the diet structure and it prevents dehydration,” she added.
A plant-based diet can be an excellent source of all the necessary nutrients, such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and all nine essential amino acids. Some vegetarians will need to add supplements to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need. Al-Saeed also recommends drinking green smoothies or juices that are filled with vegetables and fruits for a great alternative drink in a hot summery weather.

This recipe is great to jumpstart your morning with a high-fiber, low-calorie breakfast drink.

2 cups of spinach
1 cup of kale
½ cucumber
¼ ginger
¼ head of celery
½ bunch parsley
1 bunch mint
3 carrots
2 apples
¼ orange
¼ lime
¼ lemon
¼ pineapple

Combine all ingredients in a blender, add ice and enjoy.

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Startup of the Week: Protein Laboratory: Making healthy eating fun and easy

Updated 17 September 2019

Startup of the Week: Protein Laboratory: Making healthy eating fun and easy

  • And with growing health awareness, many Saudis are switching over to more nutritious dietary habits

JEDDAH: An enterprising Saudi family is aiming to take the world by storm with its scientific approach to healthy eating.

The Bogari’s newly opened Protein Laboratory restaurant in Jeddah is the brainchild of brothers Ahmed, Hussain and Hassan.

The three doctors got the inspiration for their startup from hospital laboratories while studying in medical school, and with the help of their parents set about establishing their innovative culinary venture.

In recent years the health and fitness fad has become a flourishing business sector in the Kingdom, which has witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of gyms and fitness centers.

And with growing health awareness, many Saudis are switching over to more nutritious dietary habits. However, eating clean can be a challenge for those with busy, modern lifestyles who do not have the time to prepare meals.

Enter the Protein Laboratory, opened to add fun to the idea of healthy food. “We wanted to reintroduce the concept of healthy food to the Saudi health and fitness community,” Ahmed, 27, told Arab News.

“We believe that healthy food does not have to be boring and achieving your goal of fat loss can actually satisfy your taste buds and leave you happily full at the same time.

“We are planning to expand in Jeddah and Makkah to help more people achieve their fitness targets while enjoying tasty food, and we are aiming to be recognized globally,” he said.

The trio started planning their enterprise while studying at medical college but credit their parents’ support for helping turn their vision into a successful business launch.

Their father guided them in setting up the company and their mother took responsibility for the restaurant’s kitchen, playing a major role in developing recipes and supervising operations.

The brothers’ association with the field of medicine also helped them in their efforts. Ahmed was first inspired by hospital laboratories and the way researchers worked on minor details to get the best possible results.

“The long counters, glass walls, and test tubes are what I liked the most, in addition to the complete transparency of the place. It is exactly how I wanted our restaurant to be. Everything to be prepared and cooked just in front of the customer with a high level of attention to detail,” he added.

The idea behind the name Protein Laboratory was to ensure customers had the option to select, mix and create ingredients according to their taste or preference.

“Customers can order their meals according to their nutritional needs and preferences, starting with selecting the protein base, cooking method, side dishes, the sauce and portion of the meal’s components in grams.”

Ahmed said: “We use the healthiest cooking methods possible. We don’t use frozen meat; we blend our own spices and make sure everything is always made in the healthiest way.”

The brothers and their mother work like scientists. “We spent one year testing ingredients and creating healthy recipes. We had only one goal in mind: High protein in a healthy meal and a portion that could help us and others to stay healthy while still eating the food we desired with higher quality and better taste,” Ahmed added.

Their lab salad dish includes more than 20 organic ingredients high in protein, fiber and antioxidants. The restaurant’s burger has only 396 calories, and one of their best-selling desserts is a sugar-free banana pancake.

“We aim to make our prices within everyone’s reach,” Ahmed said.

One of the services offered by the restaurant is subscription to a meal plan drawn up according to the nutritional needs of the customer and delivered to their workplace or home.

Protein Laboratory is located in Helmi Kutbi Street, in Jeddah’s Al-Zahra district and can be followed on Instagram @proteinlabsa.