Yield: 6 patties | Prep: 30 minutes | Ready In: 1 hour
Although the name is new, the idea is not. The term "flexitarian," or semi-vegetarian, has been coined to describe people who reduce some of their meat consumption and fill the gap by eating mostly plant-based food groups — yet remaining flexible.
A few generations ago, meat was most often eaten in side-dish portions, while other food groups took center stage. That kind of healthy eating is central to the Mediterranean diet, which limits red meat and emphasizes fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and healthy fats — and has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Why not work on your flexibility and start reaping some healthy benefits by following these tips?
» Redesign your plate. Fill at least half of your plate with vegetables and fruits. Fill one-fourth of your plate with whole grains and the other fourth with meat or protein-rich beans or legumes.
» Try meatless meals once or twice a week. There are many great recipes online. Beans and legumes are great in casseroles and salads. Vegetarian refried beans make a good substitute for meat in burritos and tacos. Tofu is a perfect addition to stir-fry dishes.
» Develop a mindset that eating no meat for a meal or for one day is not about subtracting from your diet, but about adding to it by eating more whole grains, beans and vegetables at your meatless meal or on your meatless day.
» Slowly reduce meat servings to 3 ounces (85 grams protein), about the size of a deck of cards. The daily protein need for moderately active females is 46 grams per day and for males is 56 grams per day, so smaller portions of meat are OK. Just remember the more active you are, the more protein you may need.
Here's a simple meatless recipe to try.
What you need:
» Canola oil cooking spray
» 2 bunches finely chopped green onions, both white and green parts
» 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
» 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
» 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
» 1 cup cooked brown rice
» Dash hot pepper sauce, to taste
» 1 teaspoon ground cumin
» Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
» 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
» cup whole-grain breadcrumbs
What you do:
1. Heavily coat medium skillet with cooking spray. Heat pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until vegetables are very soft, about 5 minutes. Do not let vegetables brown.
2. Remove vegetables from heat and mix in beans and rice. Transfer to a food processor or blender and process until mixture is coarsely chopped. Be careful to not over-process.
3. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Season to taste with hot pepper sauce, cumin, salt and pepper.
4. Add egg white and mix in lightly with fork until just blended. Mix in breadcrumbs with fork until lightly blended.
5. Form mixture into 6 patties. (Patties will hold their shape better if refrigerated, covered, for at least 30 minutes.)
6. To cook patties, lightly coat skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add patties and sauté on both sides until nicely browned, about 4 minutes per side.
Original recipe from the American Institute for Cancer Research.