When Eileen contacted us about writing some guest posts for you, I was blown away by the topics she suggested. We’ll have two more topics from Eileen in the coming weeks, this first one explores Flexitarianism, something that most of us know very little about. Enjoy!
During the past decade, I have made several attempts to become a vegetarian. I researched, planned meals, and would do great…for about a week. After that, old habits, both at home and when shopping, would kick in. My creativity and energy for the change would diminish, I would feel defeated, and then return to the same old unhealthy diet.
I recently found just what I needed to get me “back on track” when I ran across an article titled, “Flexitarians can have their meat and not eat it, too” on the USA Today website. The article described the book titled, The Flexitarian Diet written by registered dietician, Dawn Jackson Blatner. The dietary plan described in the book shows ways to reduce meat consumption while incorporating more plant-based foods over time. In the book, Blatner describes three levels of Flexitarianism based on the number of nights per week that a person or family eats meat. The book also contains around 100 healthy recipes, along with menu suggestions, and nutrition information.
While I plan neither to buy the book, nor to follow the specific diet plan, the article helped me realize that I can make the change to eating more vegetables, whole grains, and less meat over time and in stages. Once an obstacle, I would like to develop the ability to concoct something much healthier than, say, chicken enchiladas for dinner when pressed for time. This is not an “all or nothing” proposition, and with three choosy children, the more realistic approach to this diet overhaul is to begin with small steps.
My 15 year-old daughter has been trying to move us toward vegetarianism for two years now, but, as I described above, it never quite happened. She is all for the changes, but my sons, ages 14 and 11, needed to understand the reasons for these dietary changes. As we all know, growing boys can consume insane quantities of food with no adverse affects. However, if their taste buds and bodies are not trained to enjoy good food choices, then they could be set up for obesity and other health issues later in life. I feel that I owe it to all my children to teach them good eating habits now, so they know how to eat a healthy variety of foods.
In order to accomplish this goal, I called a family meeting three weeks ago to discuss the changes that would happen with our diet. The first item on the agenda was the “junk food” around the house. We voted for what we did not want to live without, and each of us picked one junk item to keep. We plan to rotate those at a rate of one per week. Now, instead of fat and sugar laden snacks, our refrigerator boasts apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh salad greens and spinach, bagels and low-fat cream cheese, whole wheat pitas, and hummus.
There was some grumbling at first because the prep of some of these snacks was harder and more time-consuming than just popping some pizza rolls in the microwave. After the second week of grocery shopping turned up no pizza rolls or pocket sandwiches, though, acceptance of the changes seemed to settle in, and I even detected some enjoyment!
Banana Bread – whole grain style
- 1 c Bob’s Red Mill Triticale flour (or whole wheat)
- 1 c Bob’s Red Mill unbleached white flour
- 1/4 c Bob’s Red Mill flax seed meal
- 1/2 tsp Bob’s Red Mill sea salt
- 1/2 tsp Bob’s Red Mill baking soda
- 3 tsp Bob’s Red Mill baking powder
- 3 large or 4 medium very ripe bananas (about 1 1/2c) – mashed (a little extra will only add moisture)
- 2 eggs or egg substitute (per Bob’s Red Mill directions below)
- 3/4 c Bob’s Red Mill evaporated cane juice or brown sugar
- 1/2 c milk or milk substitute
- 2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x2 1/2 inch or 3 mini loaf pans, and set aside. In a large bowl, combine dry (first 6) ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine last five ingredients. Mix the wet and dry until just incorporated, then stir in optional add-in if desired. Fill loaf pans, then bake large loaf for 50 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Bake mini loaf pans for 35 – 40 minutes. Let loaf or loaves rest for 10 minutes after baking, then remove to wire rack to cool.
Optional: Before baking add in:
- 1/2 c chopped walnuts or pecans (the pecans are my favorite)
- 1/2 c grated dark chocolate
For egg substitute: For each egg in recipe combine 1 Tb Flax seed meal with 2 Tb water. Let sit for one to two minutes, and then add to recipe.