Recipe: The Almost-Vegetarian Yummy Jumble of Nutrients from Random Ingredients in the Pantry

June 26, 2009

I’m guest blogging at Small Steps to Health! Head over to learn more about living healthy Goldilocks-style by eating a balanced amount of nutrients.

Having a balanced diet is really important. That’s why I usually like to eat from all sources of real food, both plant and animal. Recently, however, and quite unintentionally, I have become what I will refer to as an almost-vegetarian. I normally call myself a flexitarian, which is basically the exact same thing as an almost-vegetarian: a person who primarily eats plant-based foods but will occasionally eat some meat. There are some excellent definitions for a flexitarian at Urban Dictionary, my favorite of which is:

A silly word to categorize people whose eating habits don’t already fit into a category but desperately want to belong to a label.
Me? I’m flexitarian. It’s like a vegetarian, but I eat meat too.

Labeling oneself as a flexitarian is, as the above definition points out, a little ridiculous because there are no clear “rules” as to how little meat you have to eat to be considered a “flexitarian”. There’s so much room for interpretation (and anyone who loves rhetoric has got to be amused by that)! My own vague interpretation of a flexitarian is someone who eats meat semi-regularly. And that’s how we arrive at almost-vegetarianism.

I ate a lot of meat while I was in Cambodia- at least once a day. But now that I’m back in Canada, and I have to cook for myself and the meat is expensive, I’ve found myself eating considerably less meat. In fact, I’ve only eaten meat on three occasions in the past four weeks: one bite of a chicken roti, one salmon burger, and one fillet of salmon. Other than that, it’s been plant-based or eggs and dairy. Because quite frankly, I don’t relish the idea of handling raw meat very much, and it’s rather pricey.

The biggest reason for my “almost-vegetarianism” (I’m using this term because the name implies that I’m basically a vegetarian who has slight omnivoric relapses at random) is quite simply because I haven’t been wanting meat. For years I’ve been the carnivore in the family. I was always the one gnawing on a gigantic turkey leg the size of my head at Christmas. But recently, even when I’ve had the option of eating meat (such as the wedding reception I attended a couple weeks ago), I’ve chosen vegetarian instead. For some reason I don’t really care much or miss eating meat regularly or even semi-regularly. Even seafood, which I completely adore, hasn’t been listed very high in my cravings lately.

So what am I eating and craving? Eggs (and cartons of egg whites) and almond butter, as well as cheese and milk, are part of nearly every meal (or snack, rather, seeing as I don’t ever seem to eat “meals”). When it occurred to me, with the aid of my trusty food journal, that I have become an almost-vegetarian, I figured I should probably act to make sure that I’m still getting a good balance of nutrients. And that includes a variety of sources, not only the above mentioned eggs, nut butters, and dairy products. Enter edemame and lentils!

There have been lentils at the back of my pantry for as long as I can remember but I’ve never cooked them because I didn’t really know what I should do with them. The only time I’ve ever eaten edemame has been at sushi restaurants, but I decided it was about time I try my hand at cooking them so I picked up a bag of them from the freezer aisle. Then, inspired by my jumble of a quinoa dish, I got cooking. This is what I’ve come up with:

The Almost-Vegetarian Yummy Jumble of Nutrients from Random Ingredients in the Pantry


– 1/2 cup dried lentils

– 1/2 cup whole grain rice

– 1 cup edemame

– 1/2 cup canned chickpeas

– 1/2 cup canned corn

– 2 cups frozen vegetables (my bag has broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower)

– Small handful of raisins


1. Cook the lentils according to the package: bring them to a bowl and let them bubble away for about an hour. While you’re doing that, cook the whole grain rice in another pot on the stove.

2. The rice should be done twice as fast as the lentils, so empty out the rice into a big container and boil the edemame (about five minutes).

3. De-pod the edemame and add the beans to the rice; then, use the pot to boil the frozen vegetables. When they’re boiled, chop them up into smaller pieces and add them to the rice mixture as well.

3. Add the cooked lentils (you’ll know they’re cooked when they’re tender) to the rice. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and corn and toss them in, along with the raisins.

…and it’s just that easy! I didn’t realize we had quinoa in the pantry or I would have used that instead of the rice, so it would be a nice (and extra healthy) substitute. The combination of flavors and textures in this dish makes it delicious; it’s really tasty without any spices but I’m sure that if you wanted to experiment with different spices it would work really well with them, too. You could also steam rather than boil, which I would have done except my steamer has sadly gone missing.


This batch lasts me for three meals, although it could easily last you four or five depending on how much you eat. It’s also rather colorful and pretty to look at. This is brimming with a variety of nutrients, and it’s all real, all-natural food. Check the ingredients lists on the frozen bags and the cans to ensure that there isn’t any salt, sugar, or other additives; if you can’t find cans of just plain chickpeas or corn, then be sure to rinse them off really well.

What are your favourite ingredients for ensuring that your eating is balanced?

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for Zhena’s Gypsy Tea!


  1. Would you believe I’ve never had lentils?? Dumb question…but where would they put them in a grocery store? I need to make a trip to Trader Joe’s – it’s so much easier to find things in there than my massive grocery store. πŸ™‚

    That sounds super tasty! I always try to include veggies and/or fruit and dinner. Usually at lunch, too. It fills me up and I just love them.

  2. It’s funny how some people become vegetarian. I have a friend who was raised in the Amazon jungle as her mother was a botanist and always in the bush. She told me she grew up never eating meat because it was too difficult to keep in their jungle camps. She did have a huge parrot as a pet however πŸ™‚

    PS, I’m like you Sagan, mostly vegan πŸ™‚

  3. That definition of flexitarian makes me laugh! I’m not crazy about labels because I find that my diet tends to evolve over time. There are definitely times in my life when flexitarian would be an apt descriptor of me, but especially since I got married, meat has been a necessary way to keep the family peace.

  4. Thanks again for guest posting Sagan.

    As my mom gets older, I notice that she is becoming almost vegetarian as well. I have no idea whether it is because of the Buddhist religion or that the kids are not home anymore. Or maybe it is the recession. But what I do know is that she needs to spend her time to watch her food combination to make sure she is getting the right nutrient, like you.

  5. I love lentils! And I’m pretty much a “flexitarian” now. I like it because it basically gives me carte blanche to eat or not eat something depending entirely on my whims;)

  6. You know, I’ve also found myself an accidental member of the flexitarian movement. I never consciously stopped eating meat on a regular basis, it just sort of happened on its own as I began experimenting with adding alternative protein sources, such as tofu and beans, into my diet.

  7. I find myself eating more and more vegetarian too. I generally eat vegetarian during the day but more often than not have some meat with dinner – though we go totally meatless at least a couple of days a week. A few years ago the concept would have been foreign to me. I like meat. But, as I’ve made the switch away from meat, it’s become more natural. My only problem is that I’m not a bean fan. I think that alone would keep me from being a full-time vegetarian!

  8. Hi there! I love this post, because just yesterday my husband and I were discussing what we were in terms of eating. We eat chicken occasionally, and that’s it for meat. I said we couldn’t call ourselves mostly vegetarian, because that would be like saying you are only a little bit pregnant! You either are or you aren’t!

    So, flexitarian it is. That’s what I’ll tell people who ask me how I maintain my weight loss (150 lbs) and stay healthy. The recipe looks very yummy and I’m going to try it this week! Thanks for the comment too on my blog!

  9. Holly- I hadn’t ever cooked lentils until these past couple weeks, either! You should be able to find them with the rice, split peas etc.

    Dr. J- that’s awesome! I love hearing about the stories behind why people eat or do not eat various food.

    Hil- so very true that our diets evolve. No doubt tomorrow I’ll wake up with massive cravings for sausages and bacon and spareribs…. haha.

    Asithi- thank YOU for having me! It’s really good if we’re aware of the potential drawbacks to our diets, I think.

    Charlotte- exactly. And I bet you’re having all kinds of odd whims and cravings these days with that bump of yours!

    Rickirae- it’s funny how that works. But it’s nice to experiment with new ingredients.

    Cathy- I gotta be honest: NOT a huge bean fan, AT ALL. I like my legumes. And soy beans. But black beans and kidney beans and all that? Ehhhhh no thanks. I’d make for a bad “real” vegetarian πŸ˜‰

    Diane- hehe you’re right. We’re so quick to want to label ourselves! But that’s okay. It encourages creativity in coming up with new and more ridiculous labels to define exactly who/what we are πŸ™‚

  10. That sounds like a delicious dish and I adore lentils, they’re probably my favorite legume. I always make sure I’m getting a good amount of greens in my diet, they’re so darn jam-packed with nutrients that I know they’ll be able to fill in any spots I’ve missed. Happy almost completely veg eating πŸ˜‰

  11. You know, I don’t say I’m a vegetarian, because that implies a lot and it’s a big commitment. i enjoy meat, I enjoy chicken… but my favourite thing to eat is veg and fish. Hands down!
    I used to eat lots of meat and chicken before, but when I went to university and started being poor I, like you, realized that meat was a tad too expensive for my taste, so I started switching to tofu, legumes, beans, eggs and other ways to get my protein. Now I hardly miss the meat and I never crave it.
    This is a great recipe! I love the witty title!

  12. The same kind of thing happened to me with meat – I used to eat a lot of beef and lamb growing up and then all of a sudden, I just stopped liking it! But I do still love seafood and poultry, although I’m no longer a fan of ground anything – turkey, chicken, whatever.

    P.S. – I LOVE lentils. I have a great recipe for soup – let me know if you want it. πŸ™‚

  13. Oh I love that term! It’s so awesome to be able to label yourself isn’t it?! That’s how I eat mostly in summer, but I’m loving the winter roasts and casseroles at the moment. Cooking helps warm the house up too!

  14. Too funny about the “flexitarian” definition. I totally agree!

    So I love that in your cooking instructions, you add helpful time saving and logistical stuff, like which pan to use and what to do while something is cooking! So many recipes assume that pots and bowls wash themselves and have you running around making all kinds of things simultaneously. Like the coordinated approach much better!

  15. Danielle- I do adore my greens. Salads galore!

    Marta- I think that’s what I like about these wishy washy “flexitarian” and “almost-vegetarian” labels… no real commitments necessary πŸ˜‰

    FatFighterTV- ooh I would LOVE a soup recipe! Do share!

    Spring Girl- I never make casserole because it always appears to be such a daunting task… although I hear that in reality it’s quite easy to make. I should really get around to trying one of those sometime.

    Crabby- I’m all about saving time and dishwashing πŸ™‚

  16. I am not a vegetarian..but eat very little meat. Like that name flexitarian. I am with spring girl I eat more meat in the winter. makes me feel warm and cozy in the winter to have a shepherd’s pie.

  17. Flexitarianism is definitely becoming a more attractive option to decrease meat consumption and more specifically, thanks to advocates like Paul McCartney, so is committing to eating no meat one day of the week. Meatless Monday, the non-profit that I intern for, uses this idea of going meatless at least one day of the week for improved health and reduced environmental impact. The website is designed to provide the tools to make this commitment delicious and fun, with recipes like this Red Lentil Bean Chili rich in flavour and protein: http://www.meatlessmonday.com/red-lentil-bean-chili/. For more recipes, as well as health articles, nutrition facts, and cooking tips, check out the website http://www.meatlessmonday.com.

  18. […] at Dr. Mommy Health Tips! Check it out to learn more about almost-vegetarianism (as opposed to flexitarianism). Speaking of guest posts, I’ll be going away next weekend to Ontario and later on in the […]

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