Veggies & Meat

Love meat but want some delicious ways to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet? According to registered dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner, LDN, author of The Flexitarian Diet and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, flexitarians - people who eat a diet that includes both vegetarian and meat-based meals - weigh less, live longer, and are in better overall health than their avid carnivoristic peers. Here are some flexitarian recipes to help you enjoy the health benefits of a vegetarian diet without having to completely give up meat.

Arugula Salad

The best of both worlds

If you are among the many who have vowed to follow a vegetarian diet only to eat meat at a special occasion or when the craving was unshakable, and then feel bad about it, The Flexitarian Diet will help alleviate that guilt.

Blatner, who is a member of the Fitness Magazine advisory board and a food and nutrition blogger for USA Today, says, "I've been a vegetarian for over 15 years but ate meat on rare occasions. Every time I ate meat I felt like I was being a bad and lazy vegetarian. So I developed this style of eating for people who know that vegetarianism is one of the healthiest and smartest ways to eat but just don't want to sit at a BBQ in the corner with an empty bun."

To learn more about the benefits - and tips to follow - a flexitarian diet, be sure to read The Flexitarian Diet: Being vegetarian & carnivore.

Flexitarian recipes

The beauty of Blatner's book The Flexitarian Diet is that it appeals to both vegetarian and meat eaters who are interested in following – and enjoying – a healthy diet. It is set up in a Five-by-Five Flex Plan that allows you to customize your meals.

There are no rules or restrictions – Blatner says "flexibility" is the real secret – and you can decide to cook her solely plant-based recipes or add a meat component according to your tastes.

Following are three flexitarian recipes – vegetarian recipes with a "flex swap" option to add meat, if you desire.

Arugula Salad with Fig and Goat Cheese

Serves 1

Flex Swap: Replace beans with 2 ounces of cooked, diced chicken breast.

3 cups arugula
3 dried figs, chopped
1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup canned Great Northern beans, rinsed, drained
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl and enjoy.

Edamame Stir-fry with Brown Rice

Serves 1

Flex Swap: Substitute 3 ounces of (cooked) lean steak strips for the edamame.

1/2-inch chunk peeled fresh gingerroot, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Dash of salt
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3/4 cup shelled frozen edamame (fresh soy beans)
1/4 cup 100 percent pineapple juice
1 cup cooked brown rice, hot

Saute the ginger, garlic, red pepper, salt and bell pepper in oil over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add edamame and pineapple juice and cook for 8 minutes more on high heat. Top brown rice with stir-fry and serve.

Orzo with Cilantro-Lime Pesto

Serves 1

Flex Swap: Instead of black beans, add a 2-ounce piece of cooked salmon, tuna or other fish.

1/4 cup (2 ounces) uncooked whole grain orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed, drained
1/4 cup drained, chopped roasted red peppers (in a jar packed with water)
1/4 cup corn kernels

Cook orzo according to package directions. With the chopper attachment of a hand blender, or in a food processor, puree cilantro, lime juice, oil, pine nuts and garlic to make pesto. Toss cooked orzo with pesto and remaining ingredients and serve.

Related recipes to sink your teeth into

Arugula pesto recipes 
Edamame (fresh soybean) recipes
Orzo and Artichoke Hearts

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Comments on "Vegetarian recipes for the meat eater: Flexitarian recipes"

Pamela August 14, 2013 | 1:13 AM

Some of the least expensive meals can be made with beans, rice, vegetables, eggs and fruits. Meat is the most expensive ingredient (usually) in a recipe. Some of the ingredients listed in these recipes may sound strange or unfamiliar but they are not expensive or exotic. You owe it it yourself and your children to provide them with the most nutritious meals that you can find, try beans (less than $2.00 a package) and rice which make a complete protein and add some veggies and you are set. A family of four can eat a pound package of beans with some added rice and veggies for less than $4.00 per meal. Check out some of the websites that families of 4 have implemented the food stamp budget and see how they healthily fed there children, you may see a whole new way of looking at healthy meal planning. Good Luck

Anonymous August 24, 2011 | 7:00 AM

These are interesting and seemingly delicious recipes--thank you for sharing. To the poster above, I say...huh? Most, if not all, of these items are found in the regular grocery store. Since you are on a fixed income right now, you know that stretching your food dollars is very important. On food stamps you can buy seed packets and start a garden; that would save you A LOT of money. Meat is more expensive to purchase per pound than beans or vegetables. Brown rice can be bought in bulk. Perhaps these menu items sound unfamiliar because you cook the same foods over and over? Change your mindset and try something new.

anonymous April 20, 2011 | 12:52 PM

Fine if you are well-off financially, and live in an area where these ingredients are readily available. Totally unpractical for "normal" people (just plain folks), looking for a SIMPLE, AFFORDABLE alternative for healthy eating. (I'm on food stamps, these 3 recipes--providing I could even find half the exotic/organic ingredients, would quite literally cost me what I normally spend on a week's worth of food, LOL!) I hope to heaven none of you reading this ever become jobless and have to go on absolutely fixed income benefits. In all seriousness, you'd starve before the month was out. My reality: Once that food stamps money is gone, I'm plumb out of luck until the next month, there just plain isn't any more.

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