Clever Cooks, Thrifty Asian

Going vegetarian without going hungry

According to Sandra Reynolds, ‘[t]he easiest way to reduce your food bill is to have two meat-free meals a week. You will save a minimum of $30 or even more, every week, by doing so’ (via The $120 Food Challenge).

My main beef with vegetarian, however, is that it doesn’t make me full. So how do I make a vegetarian meal more satisfactory?

1) Add flavour

Ever wondered why Indian food was so filling? Here’s some food for thought from American dietician Stephanie Brookshier:

Capsaicin is the spicy part of the pepper that may make your mouth feel aflame. It…has been shown to slightly increase metabolism, and act as an appetite suppressant. According to a 1999 study in the “British Journal of Nutrition,” people who included red peppers with their appetizer before lunch ate less during the meal and in their afternoon snacks…Part of capsaicin’s ability to decrease food intake may be from its sensory effect. A 2005 study in the “International Journal of Obesity” showed that while both capsaicin pills and dietary consumption increased fullness and reduced fat intake, there was a greater calorie reduction in the people who orally consumed the spice in a glass of tomato juice with meals. Participants who took the capsaicin pill with a glass of tomato juice decreased their calorie intake by 10 percent, and those who consumed capsaicin-spiked tomato juice decreased their calorie intake by 16 percent…While spicy food may not be a miracle weight loss cure, adding a little spice may improve the flavor and cause you to eat less during your meal. Try adding hot sauce to your soup, or add some peppers to your breakfast omelet and see if you feel fuller throughout the day. (via

2) Add protein 

According to University of South Australia’s Dr Tom Wycherley, ‘a high protein diet had an impact on satiety, which is the feeling of fullness’ (via UniSA News).

Protein is found in eggs, pulses, nuts and dairy, as well as meat and seafood, so it makes sense to substitute said meat and seafood with these more wallet-friendly options. Pulses are the best value by far, but versatile ingredients such as eggs, nuts and dairy also have a place in the mustbethrifty kitchen.

  • Eggs are not just a breakfast food. In Western cuisine, they’re used in salads, tarts, and frittatas. In Asian cuisine, they’re poached in noodle soups, added to casseroles, rice paper rolls, or fried rice, or they can be served sunny-side up with broken rice.
  • Pulses can be added to soups, salads, and casseroles. Whilst dried pulses are cheaper than canned, keep a couple of cans handy for a quick meal. 
  • Nuts make great snacks but they also add crunch and creaminess to a savoury meal. Next time you make a curry or a salad, try sprinkling a spoonful of toasted almond slivers or pine nuts on top.
  • Dairy products are a rich source of animal protein, which is why a small amount of yoghurt, cream, cheese, or milk goes a long way in a vegetarian meal. Stir cream into soups and pasta sauces. Make white sauce with flour, butter, and milk and spoon it over steamed veggies. Add cheese to pasta, salads or toasties. Serve yoghurt with your next Mexican or Indian meal.

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