Cali'Crusts ​by

​My Flexitarian Life

What is a Flexitarian?

according to http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/flexitarian-diet

How does The Flexitarian Diet work?

DOS & DON'TS

Do: Go plant-heavy.

Becoming a flexitarian is about adding five food groups to your diet – not taking any away. These are: the "new meat" (tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds, and eggs); fruits and veggies; whole grains; dairy; and sugar and spice (everything from dried herbs to salad dressing to agave nectar sweetener). A five-week meal plan provides breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes. You can follow the plan as it's outlined, or swap recipes from different weeks to meet your preferences. It's a three-four-five regimen: Breakfast choices are around 300 calories, lunches 400 and dinners 500. Snacks are about 150 calories each; add two, and your daily total clocks in at 1,500 calories. Depending on your activity level, gender, height and weight, you can tweak the plan to allow for slightly greater or fewer calories.

Flexitarian meals revolve around plant proteins rather than animal proteins. You might have cereal topped with soy milk, nuts and berries for breakfast; black bean soup with a salad and whole-grain roll for lunch, an apple with peanut butter for a snack and a barbecue veggie burger with sweet potato fries for dinner. Jackson Blatner provides tips like a tofu tutorial; a cheat sheet on veggies that taste like meat; strategies to "fend off flatulence;" and preparation tricks for different kinds of beans. Great Northern beans, for example, have a delicate flavor and are tender and moist, so she suggests pureeing them and making dips.

You can follow her regimen at your own pace. Jump in and try most of the recipes, sticking to the meal plan verbatim for five weeks. Or take it slowly, and test one of the recipes every once in a while. The Flexitarian Diet includes what she calls a "Flex Swap" feature: suggestions for recipe alterations and ingredient substitutions, such as adding chicken, turkey, fish or red meat to a vegetarian recipe. Jackson Blatner offers advice for all kinds of followers; if you already eat well most of the time, for example, she'll show you how to add variety. The diet is molded after her philosophy "Eat more plants, and do the best that you can."

The aim: Weight loss and optimal health.

The claim: Flexitarians weigh 15 percent less than their more carnivorous counterparts; have a lower rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancer; and live an average of 3.6 years longer.

The theory: Flexitarian is a marriage of two words: flexible and vegetarian. The term was coined more than a decade ago, and in her 2009 book, "The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life," registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner says you don't have to eliminate meat completely to reap the health benefits associated with vegetarianism – you can be a vegetarian most of the time, but still chow down on a burger or steak when the urge hits.