People who mostly eat animal-based meals will not probably have an easy time cooking plant-based foods. The cooking techniques, together with the required ingredients and the ideal cooking temperatures are not the same for plant-based and animal-based foods. If you are planning to switch to a plant-based diet and have no experience in cooking many plant foods, we would recommend you to get some guidance from people who have been following plant-based diets for some time now.
Guide To Shopping For Plant Meal Ingredients
When you switch to a plant-based diet, you are going to use many ingredients in your food that you weren’t quite familiar with earlier. Hence, getting to know their features, together with their nutrient profile is important. Start by stopping in a farmer’s market and asking the growers or vendors about the vegetables and fruits you are seeing for the first time.
After you are done shopping for fruits and vegetables, the next thing you have to do is head off to a local health food store and buy whole grains, spices, nuts, and seeds. To make creative recipes, be ready to experiment with some new ingredients from international cuisines.
Always have the staples in stock. The staples vary according to the meals one eats. So the next time you want to make a quick meal, you do not have to run to the grocery store. The items kept in stock would be enough for a simple meal. Also, have some fresh fruits and vegetables that you like in stock. Buy seasonal and inexpensive fruits kept on sale and store them in the freezer. They will serve as excellent bases for smoothies and sorbets. If you have a busy schedule ahead of you, you could buy some canned beans, frozen fruits, pre-chopped veggies, canned tomatoes (crushed), bagged salad greens, curry pastes, and more.
Guide To Cooking Plant-Based Meals
Do not start cooking in a hurry, especially if you do not have much experience in cooking that meal. Visualize the process in your mind and then break it down into steps. Follow each step systematically by allowing enough time for its completion.
Find new recipes but also try simple dishes that do not require you to measure out each ingredient. It is true that developing the required skill takes time. Start by making what you normally make but this time by using plant-based alternatives. For instance, substitute chicken broth with vegetable broth; instead of animal milk try almond milk or soy milk, and so on.
Roasting is an excellent technique to infuse flavors into your recipes. Cauliflower, potatoes, bell peppers, carrots, beans, and sweet potatoes are some veggies that taste good when roasted.
Techniques To Cook Plant-Based Meals
Here are some basic techniques used for cooking plant-based meals.
Of all the known cooking methods, it is through steaming that a majority of the nutrients can be retained. In this technique, food is placed in a steamer basket with some seasonings if needed and placed over a pot of boiling water. The pot is then covered and the veggies are cooked until they turn tender. Because it is a quick process, the nutrients in the food do not get leached out much.
The technique is usually used to cook harder vegetables like potatoes and foods like noodles and pasta. When following this particular cooking technique, you have to drop the food into previously salted boiling water and wait until the food becomes tender. The method isn’t usually used in vegan cooking but is still effective to make certain vegetables tender without taking much time.
The technique is perfect for pot meals and infusing your favorite flavors into your meal. You start by sautéing the veggies and then add spices and seasonings after which a liquid is added to the foods. The foods simmer in that liquid throughout the remaining cooking time. In the first stage, foods will turn golden and then tenderize in the next stage. Just submerge your foods halfway in the flavorful liquid you have chosen. However, the top half of the food will still be a little crispy.
Grilling is not reserved for animal foods alone. There are many plant foods that taste better when grilled. For this technique, you could either use a charcoal grill or go for the usual gas grill. You may also use an indoor cast iron grill pan.
The technique resembles sautéing but it is performed at a very low heat to prevent the loss of flavor from the food. Finely diced onions, garlic, and tomatoes taste good when cooked using this technique.
In this technique, vegetables are cooked in the oven at a temperature between 400 and 425. In this method, the sugars in the food are caramelized and the flavors become very evident.
When you learn all the cooking tips and tricks, following a plant-based diet will become easier and enjoyable.