Trying New Foods
“Think about the process of going from eating Italian cuisine your whole life to learning how to prepare Indian cuisine. You’re intuitively aware that you need to learn some new techniques.and explore some new ingredients, but you don’t judge Indian cuisine as being inferior to Italian cuisine. You just recognise that it’s different and unfamiliar to you.
When you become vegan – when you stop long enough to recognise your ingrained habits – you become aware of the fact that you have more food choices than ever before. It’s not that those choices weren’t available to you when you were eating meat, dairy and eggs; it’s just that you weren’t looking outside your comfort zone.”
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge
Colleen has a great process for getting started. Start with what is familiar.
1. Start by identifying the foods you currently eat that are vegan. For me this would have included things like pasta with basil, chilli and garlic, spaghetti marinara, hummus, guacamole, stir fried vegetables, salads, fresh fruit, fruit salads, grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted vegetables, pumpkin and roast vege soup, leek and potato soup, roasted beetroots, roasted tomatoes, sweet corn, steamed beans, fresh blanched asparagus, potato hash or fresh salsa with red onion, to name a few.
2. Then, identify, three of your favourite dishes (not on the first list) and veganise them.
- Pesto – leave out the parmesan cheese. The other day a friend gave me a huge bunch of basil from her garden. I made pesto without the cheese. It was great, just added a touch more salt. I also didn’t have any pine nuts, so used walnuts instead. Gave it a more ‘earthy’ flavour. I am still working my way through the large container in my fridge. I might have some tonight on a bagel with tomato and avocado.
- New potatoes boiled and tossed with fresh herbs – leave out the butter and toss with olive oil and a touch of salt instead; even more delicious.
Pancakes – leave out the milk and eggs. Milk can be replaced with almond milk, or even orange juice. Thicker wholemeal pancakes work great with ground flaxseed (1 tablespoon mixed with 3 tablespoons of water per egg being replaced). For the lighter style ones use baking soda and/or baking powder. Serve with maple syrup (the real Canadian one) and fresh fruit; or lemon and sugar.
- Pizza – leave off the cheese. Make a good, thin crust base. Spread on a rich tomato sauce. Load up with left-over herb roasted vegetables, blanched asparagus, olives, fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil. No one could have been more shocked than me to find out that pizza doesn’t need cheese. I did buy some expensive vegan mozerella, but it wasn’t up to much. The pizza without it was way better.
3. Third, learn three new recipes. I have learned a heck of a lot more than three, but here are three of the earliest new recipes I tried and like.
- Choc-chip cookies – my first foray into vegan baking. This recipe was fine the first time. I adjusted the cooking time for my oven and made the dough wetter for the second and they were fantastic. I even took them to work, where they were very enthusiastically received. This is when I realised that the practical logistics of going vegan were not going to be difficult at all.
- Vegan mac and cheese – from several recipes. I was never much of a fan of regular mac and cheese, but I love this. The flavour of nutritional yeast was a little odd to start with, but now I love it. I like it best with roasted yellow kumara and soaked cashew nuts. There are several versions knocking around the Internet. Just play with it until you get something that works for you.
Cashew cream – cashew nuts soaked overnight and blended with lime, fresh cherries and maple syrup, or tahini, garlic and lemon juice, or harissa, or even lime juice, fresh red chilli and Thai basil. Basically the water absorbed soft cashews when blended can replace thick cream or sour cream. Adjust liquids and other ingredients to get the consistency you want. I am also thinking about soaking the nuts in something other than water to see what happens to the flavour, but have yet to try it.
As part of my 30 Day Vegan Challenge Project, I plan to try every recipe in the book at least once.