A year and a half ago I was looking to reinvent my diet and fitness regime because I realized that I was starting to plateau, and that I wasn’t getting the same results from the routine I had by then mastered after doing it for 10 years straight. So I shared my concerns with one of the trainers at my gym, who suggested I do more interval training and ab work. He also advised that I kickstart a carb fluctuating diet (alternating days when I’d consume more or less carbs) with whole grains, vegetables and no red meat, focusing on fish and occasionally grilled chicken.

*pause* NO RED MEAT?!! As someone who grew up eating lamb chops and sky-high piles of pork bacon, I knew this part of my health rebirth was going to be a major challenge. But, after lots of trial and error searching for the tastiest, most healthful substitutes, I’ve really gotten into the groove of my new eating habits. In fact, I have several go-to dishes that I love to cook up.

What I’ve most learned–and what I emphasize to others who are looking to change the way they eat–is that diet does not have to mean deprivation. If you look at it that way, you’re less likely to try it. Think of it as a new way of approaching some of your favorite foods. It’s a modified so that both your body and taste buds thank you.

For those of you who, like myself, love the savory taste of steak fajitas, check out the recipe for what I like to call my Saturday night fun time dish: Vegetarian steak fajitas.


  • 1 package of Vegan Black Pepper Steaks by Vegetarian Plus
  • a pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
  • a few slices of chopped red and green peppers
  • a pinch of crushed onions or a few slices of onions cut up small
  • 1 whole wheat wrap (I like the Aladdin Baker’s brand, but feel free to try another brand if you’d prefer)
  • steak or Worcestershire sauce (optional)


  • Spray the bottom of a flat pan with Pam Olive Oil Pan Coating (or drizzle the base of the pan with a teaspoon of olive oil)
  • Warm pan on medium heat
  • Unwrap the pepper steaks, dump them in the pan and cover it
  • After a few minutes, when the tips start to thaw apart, add the garlic, red and green peppers and onions. Cover for a few minutes until the tips further thaw.
  • Remove the cover off the pan and quickly stir the contents of the pan until the onions and peppers have browned and the pepper steaks are fully cooked with the sauce melted and spread throughout the pan. You have the choice to add extra steak/Worcestershire sauce for more taste (For the most part, I find the sauce that comes with the pepper steaks is good enough and makes them that much more tasty. But sometimes I had a little steak/Worcestershire sauce for extra tenderizing)
  • Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Place the wrap in your broiler (or warm it in a microwave for 30 seconds)
  • Place the warmed wrap on a plate and add the contents of the pan in it (depending on your portion size–and which wrap you use–you may need two wraps, which means you’ll need to divide the contents of the pan into two warmed wraps).
  • Make sure the pan’s contents are placed in the center of the wrap so that you have space to roll the wrap around the food (I slightly fold the bottom of the wrap so that the food won’t spill out of the bottom before rolling it over as many times as needed until the food is secured).

Then you’re ready to eat! This simple, delicious and cost-effective dish only takes about 20 minutes to make and is good for you. The vegan black pepper steaks (only $5.99 at my grocery store) have only 170 calories, 10 grams of carbs, zero trans fat and a healthful 13 grams of protein. With their yummy natural ingredients that include soybean fiber, wheat, paprika, soy sauce and black pepper, you’ll forget that they’re not actually meat! They have an Asian-styled taste that bursts with flavors, further enhanced by your added seasonings.

Bon apetit!

Candice Frederick is a former editor for Essence Magazine and a NABJ Award recipient. She writes the film blog Reel Talk and serves as co-host of “Cinema in Noir”. Follow her on Twitter @ReelTalker