Louisville dietitian Michelle Eckhart offers tips on how to adopt a healthy vegetarian diet.
As someone who has followed a primarily vegetarian diet for the past seven years, I’ve learned my way around the cafes and restaurants of Las Cruces, a place where vegetarian options can be scarce.
While I have recently transitioned into pescatarian territory, eating fish on occasion, options for people with unique diets in Las Cruces can make eating out tricky. When I was strictly vegetarian, I would often have people ask me how I get my protein or ask: “So what do you eat?”
Believe it or not, there’s a lot vegetarians/pescatarians can eat and plenty of ways for them to get protein. For those who may be new to a vegetarian diet or who are simply looking to eat less meat, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite cafes and restaurants in the area that offer vegetarian options.
- International Delights, 1245 El Paseo Road: There are so many vegetarian options here. My favorite is the hummus sandwich (hummus, made with chickpeas, is packed with protein). Other vegetarian options include the Falafel Plate, the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich and the Mezza Plate (hummus, tobouli babaghanouj and dolma served with pita bread). They also have a great selection of desserts, including cheesecake, pastries and macaroons (not particularly healthy, but thought I should mention it.)
- Spirit Winds Coffee Bar, 2260 S. Locust St.: I think nearly everyone in Las Cruces has discovered their delicious Zesty Black Bean Burger. It’s one of the best veggie burgers in Las Cruces. The burger patty is served on a Kaiser roll with spicy Caribbean spread and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and carrots. It also comes with a choice of pasta salad, salad or corn chips and salsa. A couple other vegetarian options offered here include the Veggie Panini and the Hummus Roll Up.
- Café A Go Go, 1120 Commerce Drive: Here, they have more options for vegetarians than most places in Las Cruces. Some of my favorites are the Veggie Tofu Wrap, with fried tofu, onions and bell peppers in a spicy house sauce; the Grilled Artichoke; the Vegetable Spring Rolls and Black Garlic Herb Truffle Fries. Café A Go Go also recently introduced a breakfast menu, which features a Tofu Veggie Skillet and other vegetarian options.
- Indulgence Bakery and Café, 2265 S. Main St.: This is one of my favorite new hot spots in town. They too have a Black Bean Burger, made with a homemade patty and topped with lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, avocado and green chile. It’s served with french fries, soup or a salad. Another worthy mention is the Mushroom Swiss Crepes listed on the breakfast menu, but served throughout the day. I don’t think I need to tell you that they also have an amazing selection of deserts.
- Boba Café and Cabaret, 1900 S. Espina Street: Boba Café has several strictly vegetarian options, such as Quesadillas, the Veggie Wrap, the Vegetarian sandwich and a salad choices. Boba staff is also open to substituting tofu in place of meat for many of their dishes. One of my favorite menu items is the Honey Mustard Chicken Roll-up, with tofu in place of the chicken. I also like the Egg Salad sandwich. But it’s the large-portioned sweet potato fries that keep me coming back.
- Honorable mentions with vegetarian options: Thai Delight, High Desert Brewing Co., The Game Sports Bar and Grill, La Nueva Casita Café, The Shed, Chala’s Woodfire Grill, Si Señor Restaurant, Mountain View Market Co-Op.
Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, adding more veggies to your diet can be a healthy choice. According to choosemyplate.gov, “people who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases.”
According to Harvard Health Publications, the different types of vegetarians are:
- Vegans (total vegetarians): Do not eat meat, poultry, fish, or any products derived from animals, including eggs, dairy products and gelatin.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Do not eat meat, poultry, or fish, but do eat eggs and dairy products.
- Lacto vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, but do consume dairy products.
- Ovo vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products, but do eat eggs.
- Partial vegetarians: Avoid meat but may eat fish (pesco-vegetarian, pescatarian) or poultry (pollo-vegetarian).
Alexia Severson may be reached at 575-541-5462, email@example.com or @AlexiaMSeverson on Twitter.
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