Guest Post – London McGuire, “Going Meatless”

Hey everyone again!

I’ve been travelling for the last month, and have had an absolutely amazing time! I’ll do a whole separate post about it with pictures and everything, but for now, here’s a guest post that a talented blogger sent me, hope you enjoy :)

By London McGuire.

Going Meatless Is Easy with Stress-free Cooking Tips

If you are new to a vegan or vegetarian diet, going meatless may be a daunting task.

Former meat eaters are more likely to be comfortable trying new vegan or vegetarian foods that taste like their old favorites. Unfortunately, inexperienced chefs may find it difficult to get those meat-like flavors and textures into plant-based dishes.  But don’t give up yet! There are plenty of easy cooking tips that can turn traditionally meat-filled dishes into meatless masterpieces.

It’s all about the three main steps: substitution, adaptation and preparation.

1. What main ingredient will you substitute to replace meat?

2. How will you adapt the recipe to make up for a lack of meat flavor?

3. What is the best way to prepare this food to make meatless = deliciousness?

 

1. Substitution

Since you’re more likely to enjoy the dishes you already know and love, it’s likely you’ll be substituting veggie ingredients in a meat-filled recipe. This is such an easy change to make, because there are tons of vegan-friendly proteins to choose from! Try substituting with chewy foods like seared tofu, nuts, and mushrooms. These ingredients are more filling, satisfying and hearty because they take more time to chew, mimicking the way you chew meat. Giant Portobello mushrooms can make a perfect burger substitute.

Another great substitution is quinoa. While not chewy, quinoa is still very filling and has great health benefits – high protein value and lots of essential amino acids that are important for human growth. Plus, quinoa is packed with vitamins B, C and E. In fact, The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared 2013 the International year of quinoa! For double the protein, combine black beans and quinoa in a delicious salad.

One last tip: a super easy way to remove meat from a recipe is by substituting the broth. In many soup or casserole recipes you may already love, it’s likely that the only meat-related ingredient is chicken or beef broth. This can easily be substituted for vegetable or mushroom broth – either buy it premade or make your own.

2. Adaptation

When you substitute the meat in a dish with a vegan or vegetarian friendly alternative, you have to remember to make certain adaptations to your recipe. Taking out the meat takes out more than just the main ingredient – it takes out certain flavors that are important to the dish. Thankfully, there are plenty of meat-free ways to pack awesome tastes into your vegan meals! Adapt for flavor loss by adding additional spices, herbs, finishing oils and aromatics. Cooking Channel star Mario Battali includes herbs like basil, parsley and thyme in his recipe for meatless meatballs in order to adapt his traditional dish for vegetarians.

You may not have realized, but herbs and spices actually add minerals, vitamins and antioxidants to your dishes in addition to flavor! Clearly, they’re always a good idea to include. Try unusual and pungent seasonings like cardamom, cloves or paprika to bring in major flavors with just a small sprinkle. Incorporate your spices into a puree with beans to couple them with protein, or infuse them into water while you cook grains (like quinoa) to infuse the flavors.

 

3. Preparation

Preparation can be even more important than your ingredients when it comes to ensuring tastiness in your meat-turned-meatless dishes. There are certain food prep techniques that bring out the maximum flavor and succulence in vegetables. Preparing your veggies these ways will make them so delicious you won’t even care that your meal doesn’t include meat.

One preparation technique is to roast your vegetables in the oven. Roasting foods removes the amount of water they contain, which leads to intensified flavors and chewier textures – essentials for a successful meat-free dish. Pre-roast your tomatoes for marinara sauce to make the sauce’s flavor deeper and more savory. Or roast any vegetable you choose for a great side dish.

Another method is grilling. Don’t make the mistake of thinking barbecues are only for burgers and hot dogs! Both gas and charcoal grills bring out individual flavors that enhance veggies natural essence. Vegetables with low water content, like corn on the cob, zucchini and artichokes, do very well on the grill. An additional bonus is that grilling vegetables is healthier than frying or pan-searing them, because there’s no need to use any kind of oil. Just place vegetables directly on the grill. You can also use aluminum foil to make a grilling pouch – this technique can be used to cook veggies over a campfire for a very exciting meal!

Good Luck!

Try any of the easy tips mentioned above while being sure to follow the three main steps: substitution, adaptation and preparation. These guidelines will create meatless dishes sure to delight you and your dinner guests. You’ll find that cooking with veggies will be just as easy – and tasty – as cooking with meat in no time.

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