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Ask Dr. Gourmet

How can I make menus for my husband and I as well as our vegetarian daughter?

I just came across your website and am ecstatic, since this is a diet I can work with, without having to make extensive lists about what food has how many calories, and your recipes sound really tasty. Everything is there, from menu to shopping lists and the recipes for all the meals. Thanks!

I have one question though: we are a family of three and both my husband and I want to lose some weight, now that we are in our late forties and have discovered we can't eat what we please anymore.

Our daughter is 16, very slim and a vegetarian. She likes that you have many vegetarian meals, but I wonder how we can best combine everyone's needs without having to cook separate meals. How many calories is a 5' 7" 110 lbs female teenager supposed to have per day, especially considering that she definitely doesn't have to lose weight?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Tofu Tacos; click for recipe

There are a couple of approaches that you can use.

1. Selecting vegetarian recipes (and doubling them, if necessary) that have a lot of leftovers like soups, chili, or pastas would create enough leftovers for your daughter to have for meals when the rest of the family is eating non-vegetarian dishes.

Here is our full list of vegetarian recipes.

2. Many recipes on the Dr. Gourmet site work well using tofu.

For instance, with a recipe like Spiced Chicken with Honey Glaze you can easily substitute extra firm tofu for the chicken (choosing the extra firm tofu is key). Cut the tofu into 2 ounce slices and saute it just as you would the chicken in the recipe. You can make this in two separate pans quite easily.

It's best to use a non-stick pan with a light spray of oil. Heat the pan over medium-high just as you might when searing chicken or fish. Add the slices of tofu and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

For recipes that call for chicken stock you can use vegetable stock (Health Valley makes a good product).

Other recipes that work well using tofu in place of the meat are:


Chicken Piccata
Chicken with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce
Chicken with Tarragon Mustard Cream
Curried Chicken
Ginger Chicken with Edamame
Ginger Chicken with Napa Cabbage
Polynesian Chicken
Roasted Papaya Chicken | Low Sodium Version
Spiced Chicken with Honey Glaze
Tarragon Mushroom Orzo with Chicken
Vineyard Chicken
Yellow Pepper and White Asparagus Soft Tacos


Halibut with Basil Pea Puree
Halibut with Curry Butter and Snap Peas | Low Sodium Version
Halibut with Meyer Lemon and Basil Butter | Coumadin Safe Version
Halibut with Peanut Cilantro Butter
Halibut with Rosemary Maple Glaze | Low Sodium Version
Halibut with Seven Spices
Seared Halibut with Basil Oil


Filet of Grouper with Four Onion Marmalade
Grouper with Caramelized Shallot Horseradish Sauce
Grouper with Horseradish Glaze


Maple Glazed Salmon with Lentils
Orange Dill Salmon
Salmon with Caper Mayonnaise | Coumadin-Safe Version
Salmon with Parmesan Crust
Salmon with Red Thai Curry Sauce
Udon Noodle Salad with Salmon


Seared Tuna with Saki-Wasabi Sauce

Other Fish

Blackened Redfish | Low Sodium Version
Ginger Papaya Whitefish (Pantry Meal)
Grilled Red Snapper with Garlic Tartar Sauce
Lemon Thyme Redfish | Low Sodium Version
Mustard Seared Whitefish
Rockfish with Lemon Caper Butter

3. Keep good quality frozen vegetarian meals on hand for those nights when you can't make it work otherwise.

Depending on how active your daughter is, her baseline calories should be about 1500 - 1800. At present she is a little underweight, but that can be common for active teenagers and they will often require as many as 2000 - 2500 calories per day. Check with her physician about what a good weight is for her considering her growth in the last few years and her activity level.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet