Monday, December 21, 2009

Full of Flavor

One of the concerns we hear a lot from people when they ask us about being vegans and the food we eat is that they thing the food is going to be boring, ascetic or bland.

Let me just say, this is SOOOO not the case.

We are major foodies. We love food and ingredients and cooking and baking. Heck, I have at least 10 kinds of salt alone. So, when we switched to eating vegan, you can be sure it was not at the expense of our tastebuds.

One thing that you may not consider when you eat a typical animal product-centric diet is that most of the flavors in foods come from plant-based ingredients. Spices, herbs, vinegars, nuts, oils, marinades, dressings, ketchups, mustards, etc. All plant based.

Think about your favorite meals. Personally, I like a good burger, but what I love is the mix of textures, the ketchup, the onion. Having a veggie burger (or even better one of Laughing Seed's Hempnut Burgers, sigh) with the same burger fixings is perfect. Plus no upset stomach that I always got from ground beef.

For Mexican meals, we make veggie fajitas, tacos or burritos or taco salads with Crumbles and my favorite Moe's Art Vandalay burrito too.

Italian is all about tomato sauces which you can add a Field Roast Italian Sausage to (or use for a sausage-pepper sandwich) or risotto which I just make with veggie broth and EarthBalance.

Our favorite meals are usually Indian - we love the spices, the textures and the balance of the dishes - rice, naan, samosas, etc. Yum!

And then there is Thai. Thai cuisine is considered one of the most complex and layered because almost every dish ties in the five main flavor components: hot, sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. A meal we had recently at a local restaurant showcases this fundamental philosophy in the cooking.

The appetizer we started with was called a Healthy Plate and consisted of a leaf wrap (here it was kale) and then chopped red onions and ginger (hot), toasted coconut (sweet), peanuts (salty), lime (sour) and a tamarind sauce (bitter/sweet). You wrapped all of these in the leaf and popped them in your mouth. Amazing!

When we received our meals you could see the same flavors combined into the more integrated savory dishes. The hubby had a tofu dish but mine was all veggies.

We ended the meal with an amazingly decadent sliver of candied sweet potato topped with a rich and creamy coconut cream sauce that I could not get enough of.

Not one part of the meal had an animal product but yet it was complex, flavorful, delicious and satisfying.

It is easy to look at your favorite meals with a fresh eye. Don't get hung up on worrying that you will be "missing out" just think of it as cooking with a few ingredient substitutions and you will be surprised how easy and tasty cooking without meat, dairy and eggs can be.


Chicken Boys said...

I have nothing against vegans, vegetarians, or any variation there of, but I don't think I could survive very long without a good medium rare New York Strip, or fried chicken, or roasted pork loin. I like my veggies, but I'm a meat and potatoes kinda guy.

Princess Poochie said...

CB - I grew up pretty much meat and potatoes too. Hell, I'd eat steak tartare, filets medium rare to rare and seafood of all kind.

But then I stopped... and I don't miss it at all.