By: Simona Lourekas
There are many reasons to consider occasionally swapping out meat for a plant-based alternative. In 2009 registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner coined the term“flexitarian” in the book, “The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life”. A flexitarian is someone who eats a primarily vegetarian plant-based diet and occasionally eats meat or fish. Well known food author Michael Pollan follows a flexitarian lifestyle, this diet follows his own mantra, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”. Eating less meat provides many health benefits, those who eat less meat weigh less and have decreased incidence of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes, and live longer. Swapping out meat is also great for the environment, producing animals such as beef and pork uses more water, land, and energy than plants. Food grown for eating a vegan diet, containing no animal products, requires 300 gallons of water per day whereas a meat-eating diet requires 4,000 gallons of water per day. Some of the water needed for a meat-eating diet comes from the 16 pounds of grain that are required to produce 1 pound of meat, grain that could be eaten by humans! Whether you are attempting to eat one meatless meal a day, or just try something new, here are two vegetarian recipes to give a try:
Vegetarian Chili Recipe: (4 servings)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vegetable oil
- ½ cup chopped onions
- ¼ cup chopped carrots
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
- ¼ cup chopped celery
- ¾ cups chopped fresh mushrooms
- ½ (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, chopped
- ½ (19 ounce) can of kidney beans with liquid
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoons dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoons dried basil
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions, carrots and garlic until tender.
- Stir in green pepper, red pepper, celery and chili powder, cook until tender.
- Stir in mushrooms and cook for approximately 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, kidney beans, and corn (And any other vegetables you would like). Season with cumin, oregano, and basil. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Enjoy!
Sesame Tofu and Rice: (4 servings)
- 14 oz. extra-firm tofu, drained
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 ½ tablespoons soy-sauce (preferably low-sodium)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch (can use flour as replacement)
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 6 heads sautéed baby bok choy
- Cut the tofu into 12, ¾ inch thick slabs, then blot with a paper towel. Spread the sesame seeds out on a plate, and press the tofu onto them.
- In a large pan sauté the tofu in the canola oil until sesame seeds are golden brown, approximately 3 minutes per side.
- In a small bowl whisk together garlic, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, corn starch and ½ cup of water. Add to the pan and let simmer until thickened, approximately 2 minutes. Pour sauce over the tofu; serve with the brown rice and bok choy. Enjoy!
Both recipes call for 4 servings, if you’re cooking for one make sure to freeze any leftovers. They can be reheated for a quick dinner another night!
Here is a recipe for Homemade Black Bean Burgers: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/our-homemade-quick-black-bean-burger