I’m very excited to celebrate the first anniversary of the Thrive Kitchen at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco tonight! In this monthly cooking series, we teach plant-strong cooking to inspire people to cook and eat more vegetables, the foundation of the healthiest diets.
It’s also #Veganuary, when many people take on the challenge of going vegan as a fresh start for the year. But it can be a mistake to head into this blindly, without a plan to make a suddenly vegetable-centric diet delicious. It’s unreasonable to think that meat-lovers would suddenly crave tofu and lentils in the same way they enjoyed their burgers– unless they know how to cook them.
So here are some tips for making a plant-strong diet delicious. Think flavor first. Eating plantbased does not limit you to salads alone. In fact, the wide variety of fruits and vegetables lend themselves to getting creative in the kitchen.
Here are some of the chef-approved cooking tips we teach in the Thrive Kitchen:
1. Get creative with spices—the same pot of beans or lentils can become Indian or Mexican depending on the spices you add. Spices have medicinal properties, for example anti-inflammatory turmeric.
2. Use a variety of cooking techniques– roast vegetables for sweetness. Massage kale for a more delicate salad. Stir fry for crunch. Make a smooth puree. Char vegetables on the grill for the smokiness you might normally get from meat.
3. Think texture– layer your plate with crunchy, crispy, smooth and chewy textures. The sensory experience of different textures will enhance your taste experience.
4. Make art on your plate—a beautifully arranged plate also enhances your dining experience. Fruits and vegetables come with the advantage of being colorful. Eat the rainbow!
5. Get saucy– learn to make a classic vinaigrette, then adapt to your tastes. Learn to make pesto, and get creative with different herbs and nuts. These sauces can be used to dress green salads, grain bowls, pasta and more.
6. Have a bowl– with this template, you can make an endless variation on the grain bowl: cooked grain + roasted vegetable + leafy green +seed/nut + protein (beans or tofu) + sauce or dressing + something pickled
Enjoy your foray into the delightful, delicious and varied world of vegetables!
If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, why not take a class in the Thrive Kitchen? We offer a different menu each month. We’re currently registering for the 2/21 class, Healthy African Heritage cooking. For details, see the 2018 schedule, call 415-833-3450, email SFHealthEd@kp.org or join my healthy eating community on Facebook, www.Facebook.com/TheDoctorsSpicebox. To your health!