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Terri's Vegan Low Carb Diet

Menus, Menu Analysis, and Recipes

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Updated April 11, 2014

Terri's Tofu Scramble

Terri's Tofu Scramble

Photo © Laura Dolson

Terri tells us about a typical day's eating

"Here's a typical weekday's menu during the winter; the fruits and vegetables change with the season. Sunday breakfast is different, too, as it's usually tofu scramble and cooked steel-cut oats. The entrées obviously vary a lot; in the winter we usually have a soup one night, a baked tofu dish one night, while in summer we'll usually have a pasta dish instead of soup, and we have more cold dishes."

[Note from Laura: Because I was planning to analyze Terri's menu, I changed one of the fruits to a summer fruit. Since most summer fruits have less carbohydrate than most winter fruits, I thought this would show more of a balance. In the summer, Terri would be eating three summer fruits per day.]

Terri's Menu

Breakfast:
  • 1 cup plain organic enriched soy milk
  • ½ cup uncooked organic rolled oats, added to the soy milk & allowed to soak
  • 4 walnut halves (about 2 Tbs), chopped up and added to the cereal
  • 1-2 Tbs dehydrated raspberries, added to the cereal
  • 1 orange
Lunch:
  • 6 cups (approx.) salad, including lettuce, red cabbage, carrot shavings, tomato, celery, cucumber, red or yellow bell pepper, snow or snap peas (when available for a reasonable price)
  • 3 ¼ - 3 ½ ounces marinated baked tofu
  • 2 Tbs low-carb oil and vinegar dressing
  • 0.6-0.7 oz dark chocolate (70-88% cocoa)
Snack:
  • 2/3 cup plain unsweetened soy yogurt
  • 1 peach, cut up and mixed with the yogurt
Dinner:
  • ½ cup cooked organic short-grain brown rice
  • 2-3 cups of the entrée, depending on what's in it, but all vegetables, including a leafy green (kale, collards, bok choy, chard, beet greens, etc.), and a brassica (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc) [some foods, such as kale, are in both categories] and almost always carrots [entree usually includes about 1.5 teaspoons of olive oil]
Dessert:
  • 1 apple
  • 0.6-0.7 oz dark chocolate (70-88% cocoa)

More about Terri's Diet and How She Adjusts For Family Eating

"If I have tofu in the dinner entrée, I don't have tofu for lunch. If I have tempeh in the dinner entrée, I will have tofu for lunch, as I put less tempeh in an entrée than I do tofu. I can't really explain this; it just seems to me that three servings of soy are enough, and that four is overdoing it, especially as far as calories are concerned. I feel much less full if I have tofu at lunch than I do if I have it at dinner, so I try to limit tofu to one or two dinners a week, at most.

If the entrée includes potatoes, I pick most of mine out (all of them, if there is rice on the side, as well, like for Indian food). If the entrée has sweet potatoes or legumes, I try to minimize the amount in my serving and maximize the other vegetables.

I also drink 6 pints of water spaced out over the day, and 1-2 cups of herbal tea, usually in the evening. I never drink juice, or anything caffeinated.

I also do ½ hour of cardio and ½ hour of strength training five days a week. I'm sure that has something to do with the weight loss!"

Laura's Analysis and Commentary

I analyzed Terri's sample menu. It has about 130 grams of effective carbohydrate, plus 46 grams of fiber(!), 63 grams of protein, and 1500 calories. Almost half of her daily calories come from fat, about a third of it saturated. A little over a third of her calories are from carbohydrate, and 17 percent from protein. It meets or exceeds (usually far exceeds) essentially all the minimum daily requirements of vitamins and minerals, except for vitamin B12, niacin, and selenium. Interestingly to me, it contains almost 1200 mg of calcium.

[Update: Terri tells me she doubts she only eats only 1500 calories per day. She might grab some nuts here and there, for example.] Terri's diet has about the amount of protein usually recommended by nutritionists, (though less than most low-carb diet writers). It has much less carbohydrate, and much more fat than traditional nutritionists would recommend, but is consistent with most reduced-carb plans. Research shows that substituting healthy sources of fat for carbohydrate is a healthy way to eat.

Although many would find this diet restrictive, note that Terri has found a way to work in her beloved chocolate twice a day. She is clearly sensitive to wheat (but has tested negative for both wheat allergies and celiac disease), and has changed her diet to accommodate that also. Obviously, this diet works for Terri and to me says loudly that even on a restricted diet, it's possible to eat well while eating low-carb, and that all of us should watch our bodies for signs of their changing needs.

Three of Terri's Favorite Recipes

  • Terri's Tofu Scramble - a common Sunday breakfast in Terri's family (it's really good!)
  • Baked Tofu with Three Marinades/Sauces - Terri uses baked tofu (which has a more "solid" texture than raw) as the basis for many recipes, including Peanut, spicy Szechuan, and Lemon Sesame, which she has kindly shared with us.
  • Baked Tempeh - This is less time-consuming than baked tofu, and can be used with all the same marinades/sauces.

Terri's Tips

  • Make a huge salad on the weekend, and use it during the week
  • Buy really firm tofu (she uses "extra firm, protein rich")
  • Plan menus one week at a time
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