Feeling Sluggish? Boost Your Nutrition

How I eat has a big effect on how I feel



Looking for ways to improve your diet? I have a few nutritional powerhouses to help get the job done. As a child I became a vegetarian (yea weird kid I know) and had no problem eating well and staying healthy, but when I became pregnant, and even more so when I started nursing, I struggled to get enough of the nutrients I needed each day. Eating became a chore, because of the large quantities of the same meat-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and peanut-free food I had to consume each day. That started to change after incorporating more nutritionally rich items into my diet, including nutritional yeast and seitan.

Nutritional yeast is a food additive that comes in the form of yellow flakes. It is grown on cane and beet molasses, purely for its nutritional value and has long been popular among vegans. What makes nutritional yeast so great is that it’s rich in protein (8 grams per serving), B vitamins (well over 100% of your daily value of B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12), and folic acid (60% of your daily value), with only 60 calories per serving. B vitamins help convert the food you eat into energy and are only found in animal products in nature, so most people who don’t eat meat are deficient in B vitamins without taking supplements. Nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor and can be added to just about anything from popcorn to soup to protein shakes. My favorite use of nutritional yeast is vegan macaroni and cheese.

Seitan, also known as wheat meat, is a lesser known meat substitute made from wheat gluten. For only 90 calories and 1 gram of fat per serving, it provides a whopping 18 grams of protein and six percent of your daily value of iron. It has a chewy meat-like texture that even non-vegetarians approve of and takes on the flavor of just about anything you cook it with. I use it as a healthy replacement for sausage and to make vegan Philly cheese steaks. The only caution I would give with seitan is that the packaged versions are loaded with sodium, so I recommend making it at home, which is super simple using this recipe here.

Whether you are vegan or a meat eater trying to upgrade your meal, adding these ingredients into your cooking repertoire will help ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. 

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