Diet fads come and go. Back in the days, old-school diet plans like Weight Watchers and South Beach ruled the culinary choices of folks across the country. Now Instagram feeds are filled with buzz words like “paleo”, “keto”, and “raw-food.” But what about those of us who just want to eat good food? What if I told you that it was possible to eat in a way that was environmentally sustainable, good for you, and delicious?
A plant-based diet avoids meat, dairy, and eggs in favor of plant-based protein. Think veggie burgers, tofu, legumes, nut butters. Plant-based does not mean that your diet consists only of vegetables and fruit. Vegan options have grown exponentially in the past few years, meaning they are probably vegan dupes for your favorite meat or dairy-based dishes. Here are a few simple ways to dip your toe into plant-based eating.
There’s nothing like sinking your teeth into a juicy, hearty burger. Now with amazing vegan alternatives like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger, you don’t have to give that up. Top these with non-dairy cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sautéed onions and a dash of Chef Nigel’s Mango Habanero sauce for a quick and delicious dinner.
Ditch the starch
For a sneaky way to add more vegetables into your diet, switch out starchy foods like rice and pasta for veggie dupes! Zoodles are a pasta alternative made from zucchini. If you feel like taking on a fun challenge, zoodles can be made using a julienne cutter, mandoline, or spiralizer. However, you can also find them in the freezer section of your grocery store.
The average American diet is heavy in meat and cheese, but many international cuisines already incorporate meatless and plant-based eating. For example, Channa Masala is a Northern Indian chickpea dish that is both delicious and vegan (just replace the Ghee with a plant-based oil.) Falafel is another yummy vegan dish coming out of the Middle East, made with chickpeas or fava beans. On a warm pita with tabbouleh and a vegan tahini sauce, or on top of basmati rice, this flavorful dish is one of my personal favorites.
Have fun with failure
Transitioning to a plant-based diet can be a really fun way to get active in the kitchen, if you aren’t already. Trying different recipes, testing out ingredient substitutes, and exploring new culinary skills are all a part of building a new lifestyle. Not every recipe will be a success and some “dupes” will leave much to be desired. But, that’s the fun part. What I love about cooking is the creative freedom of turning simple ingredients into something extraordinary. Just like a work of art, not every meal is going to be a Michaelangelo, but the effort and creativity will develop your skills for your next culinary project.
For more food inspo, cooking tips, and the latest Chef Nigel news, check out some of my other Gourmet Blog here!