Life Extension Magazine®

Plate of vegetable-fried farro from Mostly Plants cookbook

Mostly Plants: 101 Delicious Flexitarian Recipes from the Pollan Family

Mostly Plants promotes the flexitarian lifestyle—eating mostly plant-based foods with animal products in moderation. We provide four recipes from this book.

Scientifically reviewed by Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N, in August 2021. Written by: Tracy, Dana Lori, and Corky Pollan.

Michael Pollan is a New York Times best-selling author of books such as The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and Cooked.

Now, Pollan’s mother and sisters are building on his famous words, “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much,” with a cookbook that puts this food philosophy into practice.

Their cookbook, called Mostly Plants, focuses on a flexitarian diet, which can be defined as eating mostly plant-based foods, with meat and other animal products eaten in moderation. For those individuals who don’t want to go completely vegetarian or vegan, the authors encourage simply changing the ratio on their plate and using meat as an accent rather than the centerpiece.

In addition to providing recipes that are both satisfying and delicious, the authors highlight the health benefits of following a flexitarian lifestyle.

“Plants are Mother Nature’s prescription for improved health,” they write. “They are chock-full of protective vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, many of which cannot be found in animal protein. The great news is, you don’t have to give up meat completely to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet. In fact, there is compelling evidence that just cutting back on meat reduces the risk of many chronic diseases and can help you live longer.”

Mostly Plants includes simple, plant-centric recipes that can often be prepared in 35 minutes or less. The 101 recipes presented in the book include a mix of recipes for vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free dishes, as well as seafood, poultry, and meat.

On the following pages, Life Extension® features four of these delicious, nutritious recipes, specifically designed to help you achieve a healthier lifestyle.

—Laurie Mathena

Cauliflower, Spinach, and Chickpea Patties

Chicken Cacciatore  

These chickpea patties are packed with the added goodness of cauliflower, spinach, red pepper, and scallions, giving them a wonderful light flavor and texture. Then we add tasty Mediterranean herbs and spices, such as cumin, turmeric, and parsley. The end result? A great-tasting dish, chock-full of legume protein and nutritious vegetables.

  • 6 servings
  • Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 3 cups 2-inch cauliflower florets
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
  • ¾ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 4 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs, plus more as needed
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Sauce of your choice: such as tahini, salsa, spiced yogurt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and line another baking sheet with waxed paper.

2. In a stockpot fitted with a steamer basket, bring 2 inches of water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Place the cauliflower florets in the steamer, cover, and cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, place the chickpeas into a large bowl and use a potato masher or fork to crush them. Add the cauliflower and mash until the ingredients are well smashed but not smooth. Add the spinach, bell pepper, scallions, garlic, and parsley and mix well. Stir in the cumin, turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add the eggs and ½ cup of the bread crumbs and stir to combine.

4. Place the remaining ½ cup bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Shape about 1/3 cup of the chickpea mixture into a patty ½ inch thick. Coat the patty lightly with bread crumbs. Place on the waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture (to make 12 to 14 patties).

5. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Place one-third to one-half of the patties in the pan and cook undisturbed until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Flip the patties and cook until golden, about 4 minutes more. Transfer the patties to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Wipe the skillet clean with paper towel. Repeat to cook the remaining patties, wiping the skillet clean and adding 2 tablespoons of oil before each batch. Transfer the patties to the baking sheet as they are done. When all the patties have been cooked, place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

6. Transfer the patties to a serving platter, season with additional salt and pepper, and serve hot, with the sauce passed separately.

White Bean and Kale Quesadillas with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Chicken Cacciatore  

This combination hits all the right marks: creamy white beans, gooey cheese, and earthy kale, finished with a fabulously flavorful salsa verde. Serve with a salad, soup, or sliced avocado for a simple, savory, and healthy meal.

  • 4 servings
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Two 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, or 3 cups cooked cannellini beans
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups roughly chopped lacinato (dinosaur or Tuscan) kale, stems removed
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Ten 8- to 10-inch multigrain or whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 2½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • ¾ cup salsa

1. Preheat the oven to 250ºF.

2. In a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the shallots and cook until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the beans, parsley, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and mix well. Cook until the beans are hot, about 3 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl and mash the beans with a fork, leaving a few chunks for texture.

3. Wipe out the skillet, return it to medium heat, and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the kale and sauté until wilted, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

4. In a grill pan or a separate large skillet over medium heat, melt a small pat of the butter. Place a tortilla in the pan and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the cheese over the entire tortilla. Cook until the cheese has melted, then distribute about 2 tablespoons of the white bean mixture and some of the kale over just half the tortilla. With a spatula, fold the tortilla in half to sandwich the filling. Sprinkle the folded tortilla with a pinch of salt. Cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 1 minute, then flip, sprinkle with an additional pinch of salt, and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, cheese, filling, and kale.

5. Remove the quesadillas from the oven, cut each in half, and serve with the salsa.

Amped-Up Vegetable Nachos

Chicken Cacciatore  

This dish comes out of the oven sizzling and bubbling and is devoured as soon as it hits the table. Everybody loves nachos, but it’s not typically a dish that offers much in the way of nutrition. We’ve taken these up a notch by loading them with kale, corn, beans, and avocado. And yes, cheese, too. The end result is addictive.

  • 4 to 6 servings
  • Time: 35 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups roughly chopped stemmed lacinato (dinosaur or Tuscan) kale leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
  • One 15-ounce can refried beans
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons pico de gallo or salsa, plus more for serving
  • 40 tortilla chips
  • 2 cups freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 10 pickled jalapeno slices
  • 1 cup diced ripe avocado

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add the kale, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, for 1½ minutes. Add the corn and cook for an additional 1½ minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

3. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels and return it to medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the refried beans and stir. Pour in the broth and mix until incorporated. Add the pico de gallo and stir to combine. Set aside.

4. Divide the tortilla chips between two 9 by 13-inch baking dishes. Spoon the beans over the chips in each baking dish. Top each with half the vegetables and sprinkle the cheese evenly over each. Scatter the jalapeño slices on top. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 7 minutes. Switch the oven to broil and broil until the cheese is golden and bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes.

5. Serve with additional pico de gallo and the avocado.

Healthy Vegetable-Fried Farro

This dish is our take on fried rice, but here we’ve substituted farro—one of our favorite grains—for white rice. The chewy texture and nutty taste of the farro add complexity to this familiar dish. We’ve included traditional fried rice veggies like broccoli, carrots, and peas, but any assortment of vegetables you have on hand—like bell peppers, cauliflower, or spinach—will work. If you cook your farro the day before, this is a super-fast dish to get on the table.

  • 4 servings
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • 2 cups farro
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1¼ teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons plus ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • 1 cup sliced carrots, ¼-inch-thick rounds
  • 2½ cups 1-inch broccoli florets
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts separated
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon rice vinegar
  • Sriracha or chili garlic sauce (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan, cook the farro according to the directions on the package. Drain well and let cool. (The farro can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.)

2. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with ¼ teaspoon of the soy sauce and ¼ teaspoon of the sesame oil.

3. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 teaspoon of the peanut oil until shimmering. Add the egg mixture and scramble until it sets, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the egg to a plate, cut into bite-size pieces, and set aside.

4. Wipe the skillet clean, add the remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon peanut oil, and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the carrots and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook until the vegetables are fork-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, scallion whites, and peas and cook for 2 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt.

5. Using a wooden spoon, push the vegetables to the sides of the skillet, making a well in the center. Add the cooked farro to the well and gradually mix the vegetables into it.

6. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce, the remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and the vinegar. Stir in the scrambled eggs and mix well.

7. Serve hot, garnished with the scallion greens. Pass the Sriracha or chili garlic sauce separately, if desired.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

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From the book Mostly Plants by Tracy, Dana, Lori and Corky Pollan. Copyright ©2019 by Old Harvest Way, LLC. Published on April 16, 2019 by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.

To order a copy of Mostly Plants, call 1-800-544-4440.