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Plant-Based Cooking in the New Year

With a new year comes much consideration by all with regards to purpose, intention, and well-being. Some folks choose to learn a new hobby, be more intentional in their everyday life, to focus on fitness or to tackle health endeavors. Eating healthier always seems to be at the top of everyone’s resolution list!


Plant-Based Cooking in the New Year

I started exploring plant-based cooking several years ago. I’ve never been a huge meat eater due to gut issues which became more of a challenge when my gallbladder was removed many years ago. While I enjoy a good steak it is incredibly hard on my digestive system. As a result, I tend to lean more toward the lean animal proteins such as chicken, pork, and ground turkey. I also eat a lot of fresh veggies, nuts, grains and legumes. If you experience gut issues you know how important eating the right foods are to ensure your gut health stays in check. Eating a plant-based diet rich in high fiber grains and veggies doesn’t have to be boring.



Veggie sautés and stir-fry's are some of my go-to quick meals during the work week. Veggies can be kind of boring, but the trick is to up the flavor profile. Using broths, herbs and liquid aminos I’ve found you can take virtually any veggie and impart a ton of savory taste to it.


Go-to Plant-Based Cooking Ingredients

Here are some of my go-to ingredients for adding a ton of flavor when cooking plant-based meals.

  • Ground herbs are great for imparting flavor into your dishes. For dishes that start off with a sofrito base I find blooming the herbs right before you add any liquid in with your sofrito really brings out the spice flavors. You can also bloom ground herbs in a dry pan which slightly toasts them, or you can bloom them in oil. Spices or herbs bloomed in oil have ten times the flavor than not blooming them. Blooming your spices and herbs is particularly flavorful when making soups.

  • Bone broths and stocks along with veggie-based stocks are great for cooking grains in.

  • Liquid aminos are great for adding umami flavor and are a great alternative to soy sauce. My favorite is coconut liquid aminos by Bragg. It’s also great for sauce making.

  • Nutritional yeast is another common ingredient in plant-based cooking. It adds a nutty, “cheesy” flavor to dishes and can help create a creamier texture in dishes.

  • For fats that are naturally plant-based; extra-virgin olive oil and vegetable oil are great choices. When creating desserts or other savory dishes that call for butter, I substitute unrefined (virgin) or refined coconut oil. Refined coconut oil has very little taste or aroma of coconut, while the unrefined does. Depending on the type of dish you are making will determine which you choose. Coconut oil has the firmness that butter has making it a great replacement option in baking.


Over the next couple of posts, I will dig into my favorite grains, legumes, and vegetables for creating your own plant-based menus. If you’d like to learn how to cook plant-based meals be sure to check out our upcoming Plant-Based Zoom cooking class on Jan 22nd. Visit the class section of the website or the bottom of this post for more details and to register.



In the meantime, I leave you with my delicious recipe for making your own veggie broth base. It’s a concentrated recipe and allows you to keep it in the freezer and just pull out what you need and add it to hot water. It’s great as a base in dishes or you can even use it when making risotto instead of chicken stock.


The salt in this recipe causes the base to freeze but not in a solid state so you can scoop out what you need straight from a freezer container. If you prefer to freeze the base pre-measured using ice cube trays, you can cut back on the amount of salt in this recipe to do so. Simply reduce the salt by half and pour the base into ice cube trays. Once frozen pop them out into a freezer bag and you're ready to go! Do what’s easiest for you. When you are ready to make your broth add one to two tablespoons of the base to one cup of very hot water, and you will be all set!


Tip: If you like bay leaves add one bay leaf to your hot water and let steep prior to adding in your veggie base concentrate. Once steeped remove and heat water back up in microwave for 30 seconds and then add the veggie base concentrate to the hot water.


Veggie Base Broth/Stock Recipe

Veggie Base Broth/Stock Recipe


Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups of leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped and washed thoroughly to remove any sand

  • 2/3 cup of carrots, peeled and rough chopped (I like the organic tri-colored carrots)

  • ¾ cup celery root, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

  • ½ cup parsley leaves and thin stems

  • 2 garlic cloves grated on a micro plain

  • 3 tablespoons dried minced onions

  • 2 tablespoons sea salt

  • 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste

  • 3 tablespoons Bragg liquid aminos

  • 1 bay leaf (see tip)

Directions:

  1. Place all veggies, herbs, and salt (if using ice trays reduce salt by half) into a food processor and blitz until veggies turn into a fine smooth paste.

  2. Add in tomato paste and liquid aminos and blitz until well incorporated.

  3. Place in airtight container and add a layer of plastic wrap down onto the base prior to putting a lid on it if no freezing in ice cube trays. Stores in freezer for up to 6 months.

Looking for other recipes to try this veggie base in? Check out our Mushroom Risotto recipe and simply use this veggie broth in the recipe and swap out the cheese for your favorite plant-based cheese. You can also remove 1/4 cup of the veggie broth and replace it with a 1/4 of a cup of white miso and skip the cheese all together. Enjoy!

 

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