21-Day Vegan Kickstart

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Forums: September 2012 Kickstart Forum: Flavor, and lots of it
Created on: 08/30/12 12:46 PM Views: 1354 Replies: 7
Flavor, and lots of it
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 12:46 PM

I don't miss meat, can deal with my cheese cravings, and really love this way of eating. However, I need FAST, SIMPLE recipes with FLAVOR! I mean really simple. I am not well-versed in the kitchen anyway, and prepping food from scratch takes a lot of time. I know there must be low-fat sauces and herb combinations that could add the missing zing to dishes based on whole grains and beans. But where do I find them?

RE: Flavor, and lots of it
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 1:42 PM

A sauce w/zing.. try SALSA. You can get all types, regular, chunky, corn .. mild, medium & hot.. Just read the ingredients some have extra sugar or HFCS.

The fastest and easiet meal is leftovers. Find a day a week you can cook and make something that you can eat a few days..

Soups- just beans, vegs and either tomato based or veg broth. Throw it all together and boil - easy. You could even use frozen veggies; although i don't think they taste as good.

Pasta & veggies.. whole wheat pasta & whatever veggies you like... add a flavored vinegar for flavor. I like chickpeas or lima beans in pasta salad.

If you have one part of your meal made ahead.. like a salad or homemade patties then adding a tossed salad is quick and easy.

Jeff Novick has a videos called fast food 1 and 2. Check them out at your local library or amazon.

RE: Flavor, and lots of it
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 2:59 PM

I have been making lentil vegetable soup from scratch once a week. I start with a big container of vegetable broth and whatever veggies I have go in the pot. (The more the better. ) I add lentils and quinoa too. It lasts a few days which I don't mind because I don't have to cook lunches for a couple of days. Also, I don't mind eating the same thing more than once. My son likes things spicy so we keep a bottle of Sriracha sauce nearby. Very Happy A can of Rotel tomatoes always helps to spice up a can of beans to serve over brown rice, wheat pasta, cous cous, etc.

RE: Flavor, and lots of it
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 4:01 PM

cumin, garlic, onion, basil, thyme, oregano (the latter three are the base for most "Italian blends"), and a good chili powder (look for no-sodium varieties so you can control the salt level yourself without changing the spice level). With those on your shelves you've got the makings for just about anything - pasta, rice, quinoa, etc. You can get minced garlic for your own convenience if you like (saves on the prep work). It's even possible to buy frozen pre-diced onions so you can just grab a handful to toss into a dish without the dicing and crying.

Beans, tomato, Italian herbs over pasta
Beans, tomato, cumin, chili over rice
Quinoa, cumin, assorted sauted greens

Basically, let your nose tell you whether it's a flavor you want to add. We get chipotle powder and ancho chili powder separately instead of a bottled blend so we can adjust the heat, smokiness, etc independently. But then we've done that forever, not just since veg*n.

Hubby keeps half a dozen different bottles of hot sauce on hand depending on what we're eating - a chili verde sauce, a habanero wasabi, a couple chipotle/habanero types with different heat levels, etc. We get them from a local saucier who makes them himself with organic, local ingredients. He and hubby are on a first-name basis Laughing

The key is to get to know the flavor profiles that you like - what is 'too hot'? do you like cilantro? what about garlic? do you prefer depth of flavor or straight heat? etc. I know that I prefer the milder end of things - nothing too hot/spicy but herby (fresh basil for example) is fine. Cumin is one of those spices I never thought I liked but it's really one of our go-to spices these days - it works with curries, with tex-mex, even stir fry.

--Deb R

RE: Flavor, and lots of it
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 4:21 PM

also, don't forget the acids - lemon juice, lime juice, assorted vinegars, tomato - they can really add zip to a recipe without adding fat. It's all about balancing the rich, earthy (grains and such) with the bright acidity and then highlighting with spices. Think about your favorite meals and what it is that makes them a favorite then aim for those notes - do you go for tex-mex spicy, wasabi spicy, curry spicy, a more herb-ish basil/garlic type spice? What acids are in that fav recipe - citrus, tomato, vinegar? Is there crunch, creamy, chewy, texture?

--Deb R

RE: Flavor, and lots of it
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 9:58 PM

Try roasting some of your fresh veggies. They will taste sweet and have so much flavor. Using a dash of lemon juice on cooked kale or swiss chard will take that bitter taste out. Just try experimenting with the different spices and you will find your go-to spaces. Very Happy

RE: Flavor, and lots of it
Posted Friday, August 31, 2012 at 9:20 AM

THANK you all for the great suggestions...can't wait to start trying them out!

RE: Flavor, and lots of it
Posted Friday, August 31, 2012 at 10:02 AM

marcia wrote:

Just try experimenting with the different spices and you will find your go-to spaces. Very Happy

I asked hubby last night "what advice would you have for someone new to vegan cooking who needs easy meals with lots of flavor?" (he's the household chef and has taken to vegan style cooking with gusto - most folks who have dined with us don't even realize meat/dairy is missing most of the time). His reply was to get to know your spices - what they smell like, taste like, how strong they are, how they work together (or not) and most important, which ones you really LIKE. If you know that, you can improvise and substitute and invent off some really basic ideas.

In typing this, I realized that the other key thing is to get to know how to cook the various grains and proteins (quinoa, brown rice, barley, lentils, beans, etc) - if you can cook a grain/protein, throw in some cooked or raw veggies, and add some spices and savory liquids (like veg stock or tomato sauce), you've got a meal in minutes. What he basically does is start the grain cooking, then does the dicing and slicing of the veggies (broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, whatever), then gets the veggies cooking in the savory liquid. By the time the grain is cooked, the veggies are ready and in they go. A quick stir and it's a meal on the table in 30 minutes (give or take). Obviously, some take longer than others and soups are best if they slowly simmer for a while (can be done in a slow cooker all day even!) but the basic concept is good. That's one thing I like about the Veganomicon cookbook - even though the recipes tend to be on the higher fat side, the concept of one of the chapters because it's "mix'n'match" - recipes for grains, for beans/lentils, and for veggies that are like Garanimals - they mix'n'match with each other in just about any combination, just grab one from each category and you're set.

Oh, yeah, browsing recipes everywhere - the meal plan recipes and the recipes in the Resources links, as well as just browsing the web for vegan recipes - will start giving you ideas about what things pair well with other things. We'll often see a recipe and say "this looks interesting - don't like x but we can sub y for that without a problem..."

Being able to recognize what things can be interchangeable and what things aren't is important too - spinach and kale can be swapped in most cases (for example) but spinach and lettuce not so much (generally). That helps when the kale prices go up and the spinach is on special one week (or vice versa). That way we can base our meal plans off of whatever is seasonal, local where possible, and inexpensive. For instance, we just are at the end of really cheap bell pepper prices, so we were using them in a lot of things and we'll probably take advantage of the last cheap prices to slice and freeze a bunch - pull out a package and toss it into whatever (note: bell peppers freeze well for cooking applications like chili or stir fry but don't thaw well for raw applications, unless you remove the skins first)


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