Saturday, March 7, 2009

Let Me See You Flex

If you’re not doing it to save the cows, you can do it to save your heart.

In recent years, a new form of vegetarian has emerged: those who eat meat. Since eating a fruit and vegetable rich diet is one of the best ways to get all of the nutrients you need for a healthy lifestyle, many have adopted the idea of going almost vegetarian, but keeping a few of their favorite foods with meat in their diet. They’re called “flexitarians” and adopting their diet strategy is one of the best steps you can take towards improving your health. This is a big shift from the traditional American diet, which often features a large piece of meat as the main entrée with vegetables being a very silent side note. However, it is an important change, and one that can help you combat everything from obesity to cancer.

Some ideas for starting to eat like a flexitarian include adding two or three vegetarian meals to your weekly dinner menu, or devising dishes that make vegetables the primary focus, but still contain some meat such as pork, poultry, or fish. Another option is to take your favorite meat dish and turn it vegetarian, like this recipe for Portobello Philly CheeseSteaks listed below. So this Monday, perhaps try to participate in Meatless Monday, an effort to reduce heart disease, stroke, and cancer 15% by the year 2010. Below is a recipe to get you started:

Portobello Philly CheeseSteak Sandwich:

Makes 4 sandwiches

ACTIVE TIME: 25 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 25 minutes


2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, sliced

4 large portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed, sliced

1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 cup vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

3 ounces thinly sliced reduced-fat provolone cheese

4 whole-wheat buns, split and toasted

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, oregano and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are wilted and soft, about 7 minutes. 
2. Reduce heat to low; sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir to coat. Stir in broth and soy sauce; bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, lay cheese slices on top of the vegetables, cover and let stand until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. 
3. Divide the mixture into 4 portions with a spatula, leaving the melted cheese layer on top. Scoop a portion onto each toasted bun and serve immediately.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 268 calories; 10 g fat (4 g sat, 4 g mono); 15 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrate; 13 g protein; 7 g fiber; 561 mg sodium; 707 mg potassium.

Nutrition bonus (all those veggies!): Vitamin C (140% daily value), Selenium (49% dv), Vitamin A (30% dv), Calcium (25% dv), Potassium (20% dv), Magnesium (16% dv).

Recipe from

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