All in a day's work: Heather the vegetarian mum
Heather the vegetarian mum
Heather is a stay-at-home mum in her late 30s. A typical day involves getting the kids off to school then organising and cleaning the family home, picking up the kids at 3pm before heading out to various activities and getting dinner on the table. She and her husband are both strict vegetarians; however they try to feed the kids fish a couple of times a week. As Heather doesn’t eat fish herself she lacks the confidence to cook it so worries she’s already putting the kids off fish with her bland, dry fishy cook ups. Would she describe her diet as typical? "No, I think the vegetarian thing is still very uncommon; we struggle when we attend parties and other events where there is food served. It’s hard work for the kids — our son who is 8 understands what he can and can’t eat but the 5-year-old is still struggling."
6:30am Bowl of packet cereal with milk. Half of my daughter’s pancakes and sugar. 2 cups of tea. I eat cereal because it’s quick and easy but then spend my time making pancakes for my daughter because it’s the only way I can get an egg in to her. She won’t eat them without sugar though.
10:00am A large slice of banana cake. My sister-in-law made it so it’s a bit of a treat — I don’t bake.
1:00pm Lunch is leftover lasagne from last night’s dinner with a green salad. My husband makes a lasagne sauce that is full of kidney beans, and chopped up vegetables. He layers it with lasagne sheets and feta cheese and grills cheddar cheese and some sunflower seeds on top.
3:30pm Another slice of cake and a cup of tea when the kids get home from school.
6:00pm 2 vegetarian sausages and a green salad. We eat vegetarian sausages at least once a week, especially in summer on the barbecue. We are not great cooks, but I do intend to start trying a few new dishes.
Nadia Lim’s nutrition quick fix
Eating a meat-free diet can be very healthy as long as it is done properly, and meat is replaced with legumes, whole grains, and more fruit and vegetables, not refined/heavily processed carbohydrates like sugar and white flour (cakes and pancakes). Cut back on processed food products — try making chickpea patties jazzed up with herbs and spices, instead of resorting to "mock meat’’ sausages (made of textured vegetable protein, or TVP, with flavour additives). Vitamin B12 and iron are the nutrients possibly lacking with vegetarianism, however as long as food of some animal origin (like eggs or milk) is eaten, being meat-free will not affect nutritional status. To get eggs into your kids, try mixing mashed potato, kumara or pumpkin with beaten eggs, then cook as fritters — full of good complex (not refined) carbohydrate, protein and vitamins and minerals including iron and B12 from the egg.