Flex Cooking: Flexitarian Cookbooks

A new batch of cookbooks flex their chops to help you think more creatively about meal planning and learn how to use less meat to save money — and improve your health to boot.

| February/March 2011

whole grains

“The New Whole Grains Cookbook: Terrific Recipes Using Farro, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Barley, and Many Other Delicious and Nutritious Grains” by Robin Asbell is one of the great new “flexitarian” cookbooks we’ve given our stamp of approval.


The undisputed best way to save money and enjoy a healthier diet is to cook your own food. Beyond that, learning to plan meals strategically and use less expensive but still healthful ingredients will help you save the most money while bolstering your diet.

“Flexitarian” is a new term that refers to people who enjoy a predominantly vegetarian diet, eating much less meat than typical omnivores do. When they do eat meat, they usually opt for healthy, humanely raised selections, and may make exceptions for special occasions or when dining as someone’s guest. Flexitarians are creative in finding ways to use less meat in normally meat-centric dishes.

We applaud all kinds of “flexible” eaters who are conscious about food issues and are making wise choices for themselves and the environment as they find new ways to define complete, healthy meals.

Reducing the amount of meat you eat, opting for smaller amounts of more responsibly produced meat, and eliminating meat entirely are all great ways to start saving and make room for the addition of more whole grains, beans and veggies. If cooking with this kind of flexibility doesn’t come easily, it can help to bring in reinforcements. Consider arming yourself with some of these top-notch resources, all of which are available through MOTHER EARTH NEWS Shopping.

The Flexitarian Table by Peter Berley

Having cooked for New York City’s vegans at the popular restaurant Angelica Kitchen, as well as for his family of vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, Berley knows flexibility. His inspired recipes and if-not-this-then-that ideas will help you find ways to use less meat or more veggies at the right time to put together practical, tasty meals. The book is organized according to the seasons, which is the first step toward flexibility in the kitchen — eat what you can find. And each chapter features a fun hybrid recipe, such as Crispy Pressed Chicken/Tofu With Garlic and Mint; Smoked Salmon/Sun-Dried Tomato Croque Monsieur; Portobello Mushrooms/Steak With Bread Crumb Salsa and Salad Niçoise With Many Possibilities. But don’t worry, there’s no shortage of straight-up vegetarian recipes to make your mouth water, too. How does Creamy Root Vegetable Soup With Honey-Crisped Walnuts sound?

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