Cooking plant-based meals is not as difficult as you may think. For newbies, however, it can be pretty intimidating at first. No eggs, no milk, no cheese or meat—what else is there to cook?! The answer: an unlimited amount of food! Teaching someone to cook can seem like a difficult task, but with the right tools it can be extremely worthwhile for everyone. Whether you know someone transitioning into a more plant-based diet or you’re simply enlightening your best friend on some super-hip cooking tricks, teaching how to cook plant-based is a piece of cake. Going way beyond just eating vegetables, plant-based ingredients have skyrocketed. With simplicity, balance, thoughtfulness and fun, anyone can cook up hearty dishes.
Here are four tips on teaching someone you know how to prepare impressive and fulfilling plant-based dishes:
Keep it Simple
The number one tip to let the plant-based ingredients shine. While vegan cooking can get adventurous and ultra-creative, for the newbie it’s important to start off keeping meals simple. Skip the complex recipes and teach how to properly prepare basic, real foods. Begin with vegetables. There are so many different, yet simple, ways to prepare vegetables. Roasting vegetables is a great start since preparation for roasted veggies is simple and the results are warm and comforting with satiating flavors. Use this Ultimate Guide to Roasting Vegetables as a toolbox for teaching and these 10 Quick, Healthy (and Creative!) Meal Ideas for incorporating them. Other great ways to use vegetables are to steam or boil them. These two ways are two of the best for preserving the nutrients in vegetables. Start with hearty options such as: broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, kale, or onions.
Keeping it simple also means teaching about basic spices. Many more complex plant-based recipes require a huge list of spices. Save these for later and begin with simple, minimal spices that can enhance the flavor of vegetables, grains, and proteins. Learn how to properly stock a vegan spice cabinet with sea salt and black pepper being the only two pantry staples required. Cinnamon is another pantry staple to keep on hand; teach someone you know how to make these Baked Cinnamon-Spiced Sweet Potato Fries for an easy beginner recipe. To flavor plant-based proteins, check out these 5 Herbs and Spices that Can Perk Up Tofu.
Balance is Key
Obviously plant-based eaters don’t just eat vegetables. A balanced plate of food is key for learning how to prepare nutritious plant-based meals to satisfy the body’s needs for protein, complex carbohydrates full of fiber, and healthy fats. One example of this is based on macrobiotic principles, which stems from the belief that a balanced meal means a balanced body. Typically a macrobiotic meal would include 50 percent vegetables, 25 percent protein and 25 percent whole grains (or root vegetables like sweet potatoes), with these ratios changing depending on personal dietary needs. For a grain source, protein-packed grains such as farro, brown rice, or quinoa make great options. For root vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets are good ideas.
Try teaching how to make this Farro Black Bean Mexican Bowl or this Healthy Quinoa Salad. Legumes and beans are great to use for the beginner cook as a protein and complex carbohydrate source if you tolerate them. You can also try using whole grain tortillas, vegetable proteins like tempeh, and fresh herbs and spices. Try these Epic Vegetable Tacos as a great place to start to teaching someone how to incorporate balance into fulfilling meals.
Value the Protein
One of the most common concerns people have about veganism is how to get enough protein. It’s not nearly as difficult as people think. If you’re teaching someone how to cook without animal proteins, it’s crucial to allow them to explore different options. Some dark greens like kale and spinach contain fiber and protein, however, ingredients such as seeds, beans, soy-based tofu or tempeh, and nuts are even more loaded with these energizing nutrients. Beans are the easiest to teach how to use, as they can be thrown into nearly any recipe—even dessert! Not a bean fan? Tofu and tempeh are amazing protein options. Try teaching how to make this simple, Sweet and Spicy Tofu. For those avoiding soy, check out these 5 Soy-Free Vegan Foods That Have More Protein Than Beef. It’s necessary to teach of the importance of protein in a plant-based diet, but just remember that this muscle-feeding nutrient is found in more foods than you may know. For more vegan protein foods, check out these 25 Delicious Vegan Sources of Protein.
Make it Fun!
Remember that teaching someone how to cook plant-based does not need to be boring or tiresome. Different cooking techniques can help make the process much more satisfying and enjoyable. It also makes vegan meals more delicious and will never leave you feeling stuck. I’ve recently taken up spriralizing my vegetables and have taught this method to many non-vegan cooks; spiralizing is a blast to teach, cook, and eat! Switch up your pasta game and try these veggies noodles. You can also try grilling vegetables for a whole new different flavor and as a fun method to teach in the warmer months. Opt for ingredients such as: Portobello mushrooms, onions, and zucchini to grill, then try to expand your horizons and go for more unusual ingredients like romaine. Try this Grilled Avocado, artichokes, grilled peaches, or these Cajun Burgers. Baking, sautéing, roasting, and even blending vegetables are other teaching methods that can provide varied tastes and textures to create fun, plant-based meals.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and teach all your friends and family how to cook! With simplicity, balance, proper nutrients, and some lightheartedness, plant-based cooking can be fun for everyone. For more tips check out these 5 Simple and Delicious Plant-Based Meal Ideas, and these 10 Awesome Hacks For Vegan Cooking.
We would love to hear your voice, do you have a favorite recipe to teach? What cooking methods do you swear by?
Lead Image Source: Flickr