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It seems as though every year brings another diet for us to try. Paleo, Atkins, keto, South Beach, and raw food have all waxed and waned over the years, but many have a common problem: they're restrictive and complex. One of the easiest and simplest approaches to eating has no points to count or strict rules to hit. It's more a way of life. Welcome to the easy-going world of flexitarian eating.
What is a flexitarian? The key is in the name, which combines 'flexible' and 'vegetarian'. It's a form of semi-vegetarianism in which people cut down on rich, heavy meats to focus more on plant-based meals. A flexitarian diet plan isn't rigid, and practitioners can still eat meat to satisfy those occasional cravings. The key is not to eat too much of it, and to focus on lean, non-processed products when you do.
Those guidelines make for a simple flexitarian meal plan that is easy for busy families to create and follow. It's a healthy way to eat but also brings other benefits. A flexitarian diet won't break your budget with complex, hard-to-find ingredients. It also lets you eat out without worrying too much because there will generally be something appropriate on the menu. And when you're done, you'll feel full thanks to readily-available plant-based proteins and fibers.
Flexitarian recipes can make up for any deficiency in iron or protein from a reduced meat intake with a high concentration of vegetables, especially the dark green, leafy kind, along with legumes and whole grains. Because this isn't a vegan regime, flexitarians can also eat their fair share of eggs and dairy, meaning that cheese is on the menu (yay!).
So, what's for breakfast on a flexitarian diet? Green smoothies like this Matcha Coconut Kale Smoothie Recipe are great for flexitarian eaters, while a Tropical Acai Bowl will get you started with something more substantial.
Flexitarian dining lends itself to most kinds of meals, including stews. You can have this Bean and Pepper Moroccan Stew Recipe ready in 45 minutes. Its cinnamon, ginger, and red pepper proves that meat-free meals don't have to be bland.
If you find yourself missing meat, then consider foods that are rich in other nutrients but which remind you of your favorite meat dish. Tofu is a great component in flexitarian recipes, and this Tofu Noodle Bowl with Vegetarian XO Sauce will keep you full till your next meal. Alternatively, Try some Instant Pot® Vegetarian Chili.
Some days, the craving for meat might just be too great. That's just fine - it's what the 'flexi' in flexitarian is for. Go ahead and have some, but do your body a favor by concentrating on lean meat such as chicken or turkey and giving the bacon and Andouille sausage a miss.
Lean meat still gives you plenty of easy-to-make options, such as this heartwarming Turkey and Vegetable Noodle Soup Recipe. Another option is this Southwest Chicken and Black Bean Salad, which uses lean boiled chicken and a lime-based vinaigrette for a light, delicious lunch. Alternatively, a Burrito Rice Bowl Recipe will delight seafood lovers with its tasty combination of shrimp, avocado, and mango.
For something more substantial at dinner, consider a trip to Italy with this Tuscan Chicken & Vegetable flexitarian dish. With its spinach, beans and tomatoes, the Tuscan dish is a one-skillet wonder, but if you want some extra veggies to balance this or another lean meat-based dish, consider sides like these Supreme Green Beans or Roasted Harvest Vegetables.
Flexitarianism can help you stay lean and healthy without sacrificing meat entirely. With a little planning and imagination, you can have it all.
Following a Flexitarian diet may be easier than you think. Save your favorite light and vegetarian foods, dessert, drink recipes and organize your ingredients with McCormick Meal Planner. Make meal prep simple by creating a Flavor Profile, so you can store your favorite recipes and create grocery lists for easy shopping.