Back when I first started this blog, I mentioned my flexitarian eating habits in a post about cooking your own black beans. As the summer has gone on, I am maintaining my flexitarian ways, but am consuming much less meat. It could be because Jacob was out of town most of the summer and he is the big meat-eater around here, but I am finding my usual poultry meals to be much less appetizing than vegetarian alternatives.
I originally stopped eating red meat for mostly environmental reasons, and soon after I stopped craving it. Perhaps I am just burnt out on chicken and turkey, since they have been my primary source of animal protein for about 6 years now or it could be that I just can’t shake some of the images from books and films like Food Inc. The recent deli-meat recalls are not helping either.
Whatever it is I am leaning more and more towards becoming a vegetarian. Actually, I should rephrase and say pescetarian, I’m not quite ready to give up fish!
When contemplating what to make for dinner lately, I find myself craving whole grains, beans, greek yogurt and lots and lots of vegetables and fruit. Those are some pretty great things to crave, so no complaining here!
All of these healthy cravings, led me to the 101cookbooks blog, which if you have not checked out yet you need to! After looking through the recipe archives I discovered a bean salad that was right up my alley!
The original recipe called for 3 types of beans and garden-fresh green beans, which Heide of 101cookbooks replaced with romaine lettuce. However, I had just picked up some fresh green beans from the Williamsburg Farmers Market (which I will tell you all about this Farm Fresh Friday) I altered her recipe a bit to come up with this:
A Vegetarian Bean Salad
3/4 cup of chickpeas, rinsed
A 15.5 oz can of black beans, rinsed
A 15.5 oz can of pinto beans, rinsed
2 cups fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
1/3 cup chopped (or slivered) toasted almonds
2 tsps extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Juice from one medium sized lemon
Enough sprigs of fresh thyme for about 1 Tbsp
Start by steaming the green beans. You can boil them too, but I prefer to steam, so that I’m not loosing nutrients in the water. Cook until bright green and still a little crunchy. Immediately run under cool water to stop the cooking process.
Combine all the beans in a pretty dish. Set aside.
Whisk together the olive oil, honey, vinegar, and lemon juice. Stir in the thyme. Toss with beans in the pretty dish. Sprinkle almonds on top and serve!
I served this for dinner with a small bowl of rice on the side, and some cherry tomatoes.
I spoke quite a bit about vegetarianism in this post. Being a vegetarian, or flexitarian, or pescetarian are all healthy ways to eat when done right, the same is true of being an omnivore. Whether you choose to eat meat or not, balance is key. About 10-35% of your calories should come from protein. Chicken, beef, pork, turkey and fish are all great protein choices as are soy products, eggs, lentils, nuts, dairy products, beans, seeds and quinoa. If you are consuming a vegetarian diet, it is important to consume a variety of protein sources. Other nutrients vegetarians may need to pay attention to are iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and calcium. For more tips see this My Pyramid handout.
Have you ever thought about being a vegetarian, or eating less meat? Do you already? What are your reasons? Do you have any nutritional concerns about this topic?
The American Dietetic Association says this of vegetarianism:
… appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle…
For more on the ADA’s position see their 2009 position paper.