If you want clean eating and a plant-based diet, you’ve gotta learn how to cook.
Oh, I wish I’d told myself that all those years ago when I first started following the “good food” trail.
Because, like every modern woman everywhere, I was a busy person. When my dad died at 54, I was working full-time, getting my master’s degree at night, and enjoying newly married life.
When he died, my world shifted. I started asking different questions. I made other choices.
Then my daughter was born. As she grew, she brought different questions to the table. She declared herself vegetarian at the age of three. She meant it, even though it took me a while to believe it.
That’s when the learning curve really ramped up. I started out like most people do, looking to fill the meat void with something vegetarian. Luckily, veggie meat products were booming, and I simply resorted to cooking the way I always had – chicken, rice dish, vegetable – and substituted fake meat for her.
I kept reading. And it wasn’t long before I could no longer ignore the benefits of whole-food eating. I knew I had to dive in myself. And that’s when my world really changed.
You get that if you’re plant-based (vegetarian, vegan, or whatever term you use.) It’s tough even in today’s world. Most restaurants cater to meat-based meals. The more exclusive the restaurant, the more meat-based it becomes.
Side story: We were in Vegas a few years back. My husband hit it BIG (big by our standards), and we wanted a nice restaurant. We were willing to pay a lot of money – he’d won it! It was late, so we started looking at what was around us. After several big-name restaurants and NO FOOD, I was cranky. We settled on a little Asian bistro in the back … and I had the most expensive bok choy of my life. I thought it was an entree – it was just a plate of bok choy. A very expensive plate of bok choy.
Plant-based eaters love GOOD FOOD. We just don’t want the meat.
And so, I started on my journey to cook good food myself.
I found a cookbook. Started experimenting with foods I’d never used before. And discovered magic!
Plant-based cookbooks truly opened up my world.
Just this week, I’ve opened several cookbooks on my shelf. I’ve made pumpkin chili, delicata squash tacos, eggplant ragu, and lentil soup. Desserts – yep, I make them occasionally too. One of my favorite cookbook authors has a cookie recipe I adore – Jumbo Grain-Free Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies. They’re seriously good. (And dare I say, not that bad for you.)
Here’s the thing: you don’t have to be a good cook to become a good cook. When I first started on this journey, I was a chicken-boxed rice-vegetable kind of cook. We went out more than we stayed in. Dare I say Hamburger Helper was in my rotation (I used turkey burger, thinking it was healthier.)
That first cookbook changed my world. It had several recipes I still use today.
It also taught me a new skill.
One I thoroughly enjoy today. Because I know what it does for me, my family, and anyone who enters through my front door.
Another side story: We recently went to a concert, and decided to go to a restaurant recently written up in the news as a treat. It’s an icon in the community, having been open for several decades. It was near the theater – why not? The food was so rich and cheesy – not what I expected from the description – but I ate it. And very quickly, I knew eating it wasn’t the right choice. I scrambled out of the performance just in time. I never returned; we had to go home for the night. I was sick for hours thanks to anything-but-natural food. Vegetarian, yes. Good for you, no. Definitely not.
It sealed my mindset once again around plant-powered, whole-food eating.
Clean eating helps you stay healthy. Get rid of the chemicals, the less-than-stellar ingredients.
Eat good food.
And make it yourself.
I highly recommend these cookbooks for your shelves.
Have any more you think I should try?
See you next year!