If you would like to become a vegetarian or vegan but you can’t fathom the thought of giving up meat and animal products all together, the flexitarian diet is for you. According to US News and World Report the top-rated diets for Best Overall Diet and best Healthy Diet are The Mediterranean Diet, The DASH diet and the Flexitarian Diet.
What is the Flexitarian Diet?
The Flexitarian Diet is one that emphasizes mostly plant-based foods while allowing meat and other animal products in moderation. It is more flexible than vegetarian or vegan. The name of this diet is a combination of the words flexible and vegetarian and was developed by a registered Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner. The flexitarian diet has no clear-cut rules, it is more of a lifestyle than a diet. It is based on the following principles:
Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes, peanuts, tree nuts and whole grains
Focus on protein from plants instead of animals such as tofu, tempeh, peanuts, legumes, tree nuts and seeds.
Be flexible and incorporate meat, fish and animal products from time to time.
Eat the least processed, most natural form of foods.
Limit added sugar and sweets.
The Flexitarian focuses on what to include rather than what to avoid and the overall goal is to eat a more nutritious plant-based diet and less meat.
Benefits of the Flexitarian Diet
Research shows that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains may reduce the risk of heart disease, Type II diabetes and Cancer. It is rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium and low in processed foods which help reduce blood pressure. Moreover, a more plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables may promote weight loss. In addition to the health benefits, reducing meat consumption can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce land and water use.
Recipes from the Peanut Institute
Recipes from www.Peanut-institute.com
Rise and shine Peanut butter and banana smoothie
1 frozen banana
1/4c skim milk
½ cup Fat free plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp Creamy Natural peanut butter
1/4tsp vanilla extract
3 ice cubes
Method: Combine all ingredients in blender on high until smooth.
Mediterranean Grain medley with Peanuts
3 Tbsp peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp hot pepper flakes
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 cup snap peas
2 cups Beluga lentils, pre-cooked
1 cup Farro, cooked
2 tsp grated ginger
1 cup roasted peanuts
1 bunch green onions, chopped
½ cup cilantro, chopped
Salt, pepper and lime juice to taste
- Heat peanut oil and saute garlic and pepper flakes 30 seconds
- Add bell pepper and squash, saute 3-4 minutes. Then snap peas and cook 1 min.
- Add lentils, farro, ginger, lime, salt and pepper mix well and heat for 1-2 minutes
- Remove from heat, toss in peanuts, green onions and cilantro.
- Serve warm.
Squash Peanut coconut curry
1 cup light coconut milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp peanut oil, divided
1 ½ lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 1/2 “ cubes
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 tsp red curry paste
1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cups baby spinach
½ cup unsalted peanuts
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp fish sauce
- Combine coconut milk and lime juice in a bowl
- Heat 1 Tbsp peanut oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash until lightly browned, transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Heat remaining 2 tsp oil, add onion and ginger, stirring occasionally until golden.
- Add curry paste and stir 30 seconds. Add coconut milk, squash, chickpeas and 1/4c water; reduce to medium-low, cover and simmer 15 minutes.
- Stir in spinach until just wilted, remove from heat and add peanuts, cilantro, lime juice and fish sauce. Serve over rice.
- An article by Diana Steele, Nutritionist.