Clinical Nutrition found flexitarians live almost
four years longer than non-vegetarians.
Budget-friendly food is important in
these economically challenging times. Meat
and poultry tend to be among the most
expensive items on a grocery bill, so downsiz-ing can save you money: The average price of
an ounce of meat is 25 cents, whereas an
ounce of beans is only 8 cents—less than
one-third the price.
Foolproof flex phases
Some people think that working more
vegetables, grains and fruits into their diet
requires a complete dietary makeover. That’s
not the case. In many recipes, it’s a simple
case of substituting a plant-based protein,
such as beans, for meat. And it can be done in
three easy phases.
Add, don’t subtract. Instead of trying to
completely cut out meat, focus on adding
beans, veggies, fruits and whole grains to current meals and recipes. For example, instead
of turning your favorite lean-beef chili into
100 percent vegetarian chili, start by adding
more chopped vegetables and kidney beans to
the original version.
Do the 50-50 swap. The next step is to
actually decrease the meat in your favorite
meals by half and swap in plant proteins
such as black beans, pinto beans, white
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash of salt
3/4 cup canned
black beans, rinsed
OR 3 ounces cooked,
diced chicken breast
3 cups shredded
1 tomato, chopped
10 whole-grain tortilla
1/4 avocado, chopped
beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans and
lentils. A perfect swap is 1/4 cup beans for
every ounce of meat or poultry. For example, instead of making tacos with 4 ounces
of chicken, make chicken and black bean
tacos with 2 ounces of chicken and 1/2 cup
black beans (use rinsed and drained canned
beans to save time).
Try meat-free meals and recipes. The
final step is to try at least one new completely vegetarian recipe each week to build
up your meatless cooking repertoire. Get
recipes from friends, Web sites, cookbooks
and magazines, or get inspiration by ordering vegetarian options at your favorite restaurants. If you find that you crave meaty
flavor, you can satisfy those savory urges by
This salad is tossed with just enough crushed
chips to offer a nice texture contrast to the
creamy avocado and tender black beans. This
dish is flexitarian because chicken can be substituted for black beans. Whisk together lime
juice, oil, cumin, garlic and salt. Toss all ingredients together. Makes 1 serving. Tip: The
lime, garlic and cumin salad dressing can also
be used to marinate fish before cooking.
Nutritional information: 495 calories, 27 g total fat, 4 g
saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 186 mg sodium, 56 g
carbs, 15 g fiber, 15 g protein.
eating more plant-based foods with umami,
a taste component. Considered the fifth
taste, umami (it means “savory” in Japanese)
is common in meat and fish but can also be
found in a variety of vegetarian-friendly
sources such as mushrooms, Parmesan
cheese, potatoes, tomatoes and walnuts.
Try this approach in your own home. It
doesn’t entail the big steps of becoming a
complete vegetarian, but still offers many of
the health benefits. C
Costco member Dawn Jackson Blatner is a
registered dietitian and national spokesperson
for the American Dietetic Association. Author
of The Flexitarian Diet (McGraw-Hill 2009),
her Web site is
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