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May 31, 2011

Flexing Your Food Options: Tips for Making a Flexitarian Diet Work for You

Try these simple steps for adding flex appeal to your meals

Guide to Meat-Free Meals

Reducing your consumption of animal products doesn’t require a drastic diet overhaul. With a few simple steps, you can become a full-fledged flexitarian—a part-time vegetarian.

Reinvent the Familiar

Swap the chicken in your burritos for black beans or grilled vegetables. Instead of sour cream, spoon on some guacamole or salsa. Replace the meat sauce on your pasta with spicy marinara, and try vegetarian burgers and dogs. Substitute applesauce, mashed bananas, or Ener-G egg replacer for eggs when preparing baked goods—you’ll get all the taste without the cholesterol.

Explore the Unknown

Visit your community health food store or your local grocery store’s natural foods aisle to check out some of the fantastic vegetarian items on the market. Give ethnic recipes a try: Many of the world’s cuisines have classic vegetarian dishes that will introduce your taste buds to a world of new flavors and textures.

Satisfy Your Cravings

Redirect your appetite for meaty flavors to foods like walnuts, soy sauce, mushrooms, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes. And try the many faux-meat products on the market, from vegetarian steak strips to deli slices to barbeque “ribs”—you may like them even better than the meat versions.

Dive into Nondairy

If you have a driving desire for dairy, check out the delicious substitutes available at most grocery stores, including dairy-free cheese (available in blocks, slices, and shreds), milk, sour cream, cream cheese, and ice cream.

Keep It Healthy

Don’t load up on processed foods, sweets, or dairy products. Fresh fruits and vegetables with whole grains and plant-based proteins like  beans, lentils, peas, and nuts should be your mainstays.

Kudos to You! Pat yourself on the back as you transition to a healthier way of eating, and remember that you’re helping to make the world a better place,  simply by enjoying vegetarian fare.

Read more from the Guide to Meat-Free Meals »

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