People chose to live a vegetarian lifestyle for a variety of reasons. There are strict religious, financial, health and cruelty to animal issues that motivate us to move to a vegetarian diet. Vegetarian cooking is less difficult and complicated than cooking the Standard Western diet, full of fats, sugars and processed foods.
There are some basic techniques to cooking a vegetarian meal. First you have to determine which vegetarian lifestyle you’ll be following. Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarians don’t eat red meat, fowl, or fish but do eat dairy products and eggs; Lacto-Vegetarians eat dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream; and Vegan vegetarians are the strictest and eat only fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Wherever on the continuum you fall, you want your food to be nutritious and delicious. If you are preparing a meal that originally required meat you should NOT substitute textured protein vegetables for the meat. You’ll ruin the taste of the dish and it never tastes quite right. The textured vegetables are expensive and not much better than organic meat. So you can either eat organic meat or make something else.
One key to good vegetarian cooking is a good flavorful oil. Your brain requires fat for metabolism. But, not fat that is high in animal oils but plant based oils that will feed your brain so you aren’t foggy. Fats also enhance the quality and flavor of foods. Only use oils that are liquid at room temperature like olive oil, grape seed and sesame oils.
Olive oils are the most healthy and contain fats that help to level your cholesterol levels. Olive oils come in a variety of flavors from very strong to mild. The best oil is extra virgin cold pressed oil. You can use the olive oil in any dish that you would normally have used butter, lard or vegetable oils. Vegetable oils, no mater what the advertising says, are manufactured using processes that leave them not much better than eating straight chemicals.
Another critical ingredient to vegetarian cooking is sea salt. Sea salt doesn’t have the chemicals of regular processed table salt and contains minerals that will enhance the flavors of the food. Sea salt is formed from the natural evaporation of sea water and has 98 percent sodium chloride compared to the 99.9 percent purity of regular table salt. Salt manufacturers make extra money reselling the mineral by-products during the processing of salt.
Using high quality ingredients makes a difference in the final quality of the food. Cooking is basic chemistry and the outcome is only as good as the quality of the ingredients you use. You won’t be making a silk purse from a sows ear.
Another tip for vegetarians is to use lots of vegetables! A variety of color will give you a full range of Vitamins and minerals. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce; root vegetables like yams, carrots and potatoes; and stems and seed carriers like celery, peppers and eggplant should all be included in your diet.
Test these principles by making a vegetable or bean soup. Sautee the vegetables in good oil, use sea salt to taste and use plenty of vegetables. Vegetarian cooking is only limited by your imagination. By incorporating lots of legumes, vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts will give you great variety in flavor and nutrition.
Vegetarian cooking is simple, nutritious, and makes a positive impact in your health and wellness. Your diet is only limited by your imagination. Test your imagination and increase your energy levels for a whole new you!
AllRecipes: Vegetarian Recipes
VegKitchen: Vegan Chocolate Brownie Cake
Cooking Light: 25 Best Vegetarian Recipes
RealSimple: 41 Easy Vegetarian Recipes
Eating Well: Secrets for Cooking Vegetarian Food
Vegetarian Resource Group: Teen FAQs
Powells Books: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian