You Just Started the Flexitarian Diet—Here Are the Recipes to Make First
The flexitarian diet was just ranked #3 for Best Diets overall and #4 for Weight Loss by U.S News & World Report's panel of health experts. Plus, going flexitarian has shown to significantly reduce your risk for chronic diseases compared to meat-eaters.
We've compiled some of our favorite hearty, meatless mains to help you ease into this new lifestyle, while still enjoying the flavors and comfort foods you love.
Slow-Cooker Mediterranean Stew
This Mediterranean stew is a healthy dinner chock-full of vegetables and hearty chickpeas. A drizzle of olive oil to finish carries the flavors of this easy vegan crock-pot stew. Swap out the chickpeas for white beans for a different twist, or try collards or spinach in place of the kale. Any way you vary it, this stew is sure to go into heavy rotation when you are looking for healthy crock-pot recipes.
Beefless Vegan Tacos
Take taco night in a new direction with these healthy vegan tacos. We've swapped crumbled tofu for the ground beef, without sacrificing any of the savory seasonings you expect in a taco. You can also use the filling in burritos, bowls, taco salads and to top nachos.
Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili
Make a double batch of this quick vegetarian chili, full of black beans and sweet potatoes, and eat it for lunch the next day or freeze the extras for another night. We love the smoky heat from the ground chipotle, but omit it if you prefer a mild chili. Serve with tortilla chips or cornbread and coleslaw.
Crispy Gnocchi Pasta with Tomatoes & Leeks
These gnocchi are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside because you sauté them in hot oil. Plus, they leave a little fond (crispy brown bits) in the pan that adds toasty flavor to the tomato and leek sauce, which is cooked in the same pan. Since this easy gnocchi recipe calls for store-bought shelf-stable gnocchi, it's quick to prepare--just 20 minutes, start to finish. Opt for whole-wheat gnocchi to get 2 extra grams of fiber per serving compared to white. This easy and healthy dinner is easy to customize too: see Tips for variations with shrimp, pesto instead of butter, and pork chops instead of gnocchi.
Vegan Shepherd's Pie
Lentils take the place of ground meat and vegan butter adds creaminess to the mashed potatoes in this easy vegan shepherd's pie recipe. If you want to cut down on the cooking time, use precooked lentils and omit most of the vegetable broth, adding some in only if the mixture seems dry.
Jackfruit Barbacoa Burrito Bowls
Jackfruit, a tropical fruit with a dense, chewy texture, is a blank canvas that takes on flavors well. In these vegan burrito bowls, the jackfruit is simmered in a warm and spicy chile sauce that's so good you'll never know you're eating a plant-based protein instead of pork or beef.
Creamy Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms
Sliced Brussels sprouts and mushrooms cook quickly and cling to the pasta in our fall version of pasta primavera. Look for presliced mushrooms to cut prep time. Serve with a tossed salad.
Falafel Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Deep-fried falafel can be a total grease bomb. But these pan-seared falafel still get crispy in just a few tablespoons of oil with equally satisfying results. Be sure to use dried, instead of canned, chickpeas in this healthy recipe--canned chickpeas add too much moisture.
Thai Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce
This gluten-free, vegan version of peanut noodles has a high protein content thanks to edamame and peanut butter. Spaghetti squash turns delicately sweet when roasted, which pairs wonderfully with the Thai-inspired peanut sauce.
Tempeh "Chicken" Salad
Eating probiotics--live bacteria in raw fermented food, such as tempeh and miso--can rev up the good bacteria in your body, which may help you with weight loss. Look for tempeh near the tofu in the produce section. Try vegan mayo for a completely plant-based lunch.
Shakshuka, or eggs poached in an aromatic tomato sauce, is a fast, one-pan breakfast staple in Northern Africa and Israel. This healthy recipe features spinach, herbs and tomatillos. Garnish with a touch of harissa--a fiery chile paste--and dip some toasted whole-grain country bread into the jammy yolks.
Vegan BLATs (BLTs with Avocado)
Roasted shiitake mushrooms doused in soy sauce with a dash of smoked paprika become a natural, vegan alternative to bacon. Try them in this vegan version of a classic BLT with creamy avocado and eggless mayonnaise or on top of a salad as a substitute for bacon bits.
This fast vegan version of poke (the traditional Hawaiian salad of diced raw fish tossed in a soy-sesame sauce) swaps in extra-firm tofu for fish while loading your bowl with vegetables and crunchy toppers like pea shoots and peanuts. Serve over brown rice instead of the zucchini noodles to add a hearty boost of fiber.
Silken tofu seasoned with cheesy-tasting nutritional yeast makes a flavorful vegan substitute for ricotta and Parmesan. Whole-wheat noodles and lots of veggies make this version healthier than a typical lasagna.
Easy Cauliflower Fried Rice
This vegetarian faux fried rice uses riced cauliflower in place of white or brown rice to pack in extra veggies and cut down on carbs. Chile-garlic sauce pumps up the heat, and fresh ginger adds a bright, warm bite. If you don't like the heat of the chile-garlic sauce, leave it out and add a bit more tamari or soy sauce for a rich, fermented tang.