A quick note for vegetarians and vegans regarding the first assignment (Bento101)
I've seen some discussion in the comments and elsewhere about whether the bento-friendly foods form posted with the first lesson can be used by vegans or vegetarians. I'm not a vegetarian myself, but I eat like one about 70% of the time, and I certainly think that the form is usable for listing up foods that don't contain the obvious proteins like meat, eggs and seafood.
For lacto- or lacto-ovo vegetarians it's pretty straightforward. You'd put things like cheese and other dairy products in the Protein column (and eggs too of course). Vegetable based protein sources that are eaten by both vegans and vegetarians are a little bit more tricky. Many such foods are a combination of protein and carbohydrate, so I'd write them into the form spanning both Protein and Carb columns. Here are some vegetable based protein foods:
- Soy beans are a lot richer in protein than other beans, so I'd put soy beans and soybean products such as tofu in the Protein column. Tempeh and natto are made from soy beans.
- The same goes for vegetable protein products that are sold as meat substitutes, such as Quorn, TVP, and so on. Wheat gluten based protein products like seitan and fu would also go in the protein column.
- Nutritional yeast or 'nooch' (see the Fat Free Vegan blog for a great description) is also a good source of protein, although I think it's used in small amounts to add a cheesy flavor. (If anyone can chime in on nutritional yeast use, please do - I've never used it myself.)
- Nuts (e.g. almond, cashew, peanut) and seeds (e.g. sesame seeds) and their ground up or 'butter' forms (tahini is ground up sesame, and there's always peanut butter) are made up of protein, fat and fiber basically. I'd count them as proteins, keeping in mind that they are high in fat and should be eaten in moderation if you're watching your weight.
- Most other beans are a combination of proteins and carbs (and are often eaten in conjunction with carbs) so I'd put them as foods spanning the Protein and Carb columns.
- With grains it's a bit trickier. Quinoa (which is actually a seed) for instance is fairly rich in protein (about 14% in volume), but it's also a carb, so I'd make it a protein and carb column-spanning food. Most other grains like rice, oats, wheat, barley, and products made from their flours are in the carb category, even if they do have some protein content.
If you're not sure about other beans or grains, look them up on nutrition breakdown charts. Do remember though that the main objective of listing your favorite foods is to just have an idea of what you think would be good to pack for lunch. Don't get too hung up on the nutritional classifications, just aim for a good balance.
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