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Ask Dr. Gourmet

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

We are a family of three and both my husband and I want to eat healthier and lose some weight, now that we are in our late forties and have discovered we can't eat what we please anymore. We've enjoyed the recipes we've tried on your website.

Our daughter is 16, very slim, and a vegetarian, but my husband and I are not. How many calories should she have every day? How we can best combine everyone's needs without having to cook separate meals?

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. (I realize that this comes close to making two different dishes.)

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, or just cook the tofu before cooking the animal protein (to avoid cross-contamination).

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 otherwise vegetarian recipes that call for chicken stock you can use vegetable stock.

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

Chicken

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

Halibut with Basil Pea Puree
Halibut with Curry Butter and Snap Peas
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

Grouper

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

Salmon

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

Tuna

Seared Tuna with Saki-Wasabi Sauce

Other Fish

Blackened Redfish
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. Here are our reviews of vegetarian frozen meals.

Depending on how active your daughter is, her baseline calories should be about 1500 - 1800 calories per day. Active teenagers may 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, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet