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Theresa

Lifestyle

WFPB Cooking in an Oil-Free Kitchen

We’ve mentioned a few times in previous posts to leave out the oil that many recipes call for. That’s because we follow a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle (WFPB, for short), which means we do not consume any overly processed foods. The food we eat is as close to its natural state as possible.

There are many reasons not to consume oil. If you want to find out more, here are just a few links explaining why we don’t eat oil: one of Michael Greger’s many videos on oils, John McDougall’s articles on extracted oilsone of Engine2’s discussions on oil, and lastly an article from UC Davis Integrative Medicine.

Simmering Tempeh Triangles

Tempeh simmering on the stovetop in a mixture of soy sauce, veggie broth, and sriracha sauce. No oil needed!

When we first decided to switch to a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle, we weren’t quite sure how we were going to cook without oil. We worried about taste, texture, and everything sticking to the pan. After giving it a try, we realized how easy it was and even found that leaving it out actually improved the flavor of our meals! Suddenly sautéd vegetables tasted like vegetables rather than vegetable-flavored oil.

Now that we have been cooking without oil for a while, we have established a few methods that work really well. The next time you find yourself reaching for your bottle of extra virgin olive oil, consider tossing it out and trying one of these tips instead!

Oil-Free Cooking Tips

  • Bake instead of fry: We still love eating things like (plant-based) burgers and fries. Not to mention things like latkes, falafel, and crispy tofu. But we never fry these. Instead we bake them on parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. They are just as flavorful out of the oven as they are fried on the stovetop.
  • Try a dry sauté, water, or veggie broth: If you are cooking veggies on the stovetop, they emit so much water content that some don’t need any added liquid. Onions and mushrooms, for example, release so much water that you can deglaze without adding anything. If you need to, though, water or veggie broth are good to use.
  • There are lots of oil-free recipe resources! Forks Over Knives, The Engine 2 Diet, and T. Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies are just a few of the sites we visit for completely oil-free recipes. The China Study Cookbook and PlantPure Nation Cookbook are only a couple of the many oil-free cookbooks available.
  • You don’t need oil to make healthy, delicious salad dressings. We use things like mustard, tahini, or avocado as the base of our dressings and add vinegar and spices to finish it off. Do a Google search for oil-free dressings and you’ll see that the possibilities are endless!
  • There are always substitutions. This is especially important when it comes to following recipes for baked goods.  The oil is usually added as a binder or to keep the finished product moist. The same effect can be achieved by adding applesauce, ripened bananas, or a flax “egg” to the recipe. Follow this link for a definitive list of oil substitutions.

Until you’ve tasted food without oil, you just don’t know what you’re missing. There is so much flavor under the oil that you can’t appreciate until you leave it out. We tried it once and have been hooked ever since. Save the oil for your car!

Produce Picks, Recipes

I Dream of Zucchini: Recipe Round-up

Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash

Zucchini and yellow summer squash have an almost identical flavor and texture. They’re also in season right now!

Earlier this week, I declared my love for cucumber. Today, it’s time to show some love to an equally worthy veggie: the zucchini! I love how versatile zucchini is. There are so many ways to prepare zucchini that it’s really hard to get tired of eating it. Here are a few of our favorite ways to prepare zucchini:

So Many Ways to Prepare Zucchini!

  • Sauté it! With a little veggie broth, garlic, and spices (we like basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper for a Mediterranean flair)–this is a perfect side dish for almost any meal.
  • Roast it! With some cherry tomatoes and a few whole cloves of garlic, and salt and pepper. Place the roasted veg atop a bed of quinoa and arugula, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar for an easy and delicious salad.
  • Bake it! In some muffins or bread; zucchini makes a sweet treat, too!
  • Spiralize it! Make zucchini noodles or “zoodles” and eat them the same way you would ordinary pasta. How fun is it to say “zoodles”?! (Recipe found on One Green Planet.)
  • Steam it! With an assortment of other veggies, zucchini often makes it way into many of our Buddha Bowls.

But, wait– there’s even more ways to eat zucchini!

Zucchini Recipe Round-up:

(Some of the recipes below call for oil.  Since we eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet, we avoid processed ingredients like oil and always omit it. It’s really easy to leave the oil out and not have any impact on the taste of the final product.)

We eat zucchini year-round, but peak time is right now. Zucchini is in season mid- to late summer and can be picked up at grocery stores and farmers market for a great price. I find that you can also substitute yellow summer squash for zucchini in any recipe that calls for it. When we go to our farmers market, we like to buy from the growers that have the half zucchini/half summer squash trays to get a variety of color onto our plates.

Do you have a surplus of zucchini to go through this summer? What are your favorite plant-based recipes that feature zucchini? Let us know in the comments!

Produce Picks, Recipes

Crazy ‘Bout Cucumbers: Recipe Round-up

 

Kirby cucumbers

Just a handful of our cucumber haul from the farmers market.

Cucumbers are in abundance right now. So much so that many vendors at our local farmers market have been selling them by the bucket!

This is great news for me. Cucumbers have always been my favorite vegetable ever since I was a little kid. I was a picky eater then, and not a huge fan of veggies in general, but I was always in the mood for some sweet, crunchy cucumber. I would often ask for an entire cuke to myself and try to eat it whole like an apple!

I still enjoy just snacking on a plain cucumber. I also add them to almost every salad I make, and it’s my primary vehicle to transport hummus to my mouth. Last night I took some thinly sliced cucumbers, tossed them with some rice vinegar, salt and pepper, for a super easy salad that took literally a minute to make.

Since it’s prime time for cucumbers, we decided to pick up 10 lbs. of them at the farmers market last Saturday. What are you going to do with 10 lbs. of cucumbers?! I’ve got plenty of ideas, but I wanted to try something new. Here’s a list of some great plant-based recipes I found featuring cucumbers as the star ingredient.

Cucumber Recipe Round-up:

Cucumbers are at their peak flavor right now. You’ll also find them cheaper in the summer than any other time of year, especially if you pick them up at your farmers market.  Last year, Josh and I joked that we ate our body weight in cucumbers over the summer.

What are your favorite ways to prepare cucumber? Let us know in the comments!

Dining Out, Lifestyle

Finding Plant-Based Street Food in Summer

We spent the afternoon looking for plant-based street food at Open Streets Minneapolis Lake Street.

Looking east on Lake Street during Open Streets Minneapolis festival.

People often think you can’t find plant-based street food options at summer festivals.

Just last year I mentioned to a coworker that I was going to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. She asked why I’d even bother, since I wouldn’t eat anything there anyway. It got me thinking: Too often people just assume that events like these aren’t going to be fun for you if you’re not eating the food. For us that simply isn’t the case. We are there to enjoy the experience, surroundings, and people, not the food. To paraphrase Joel Fuhrman (who himself is paraphrasing multiple historic figures) we would rather eat to live than live to eat.

Thankfully, we are finding that over time there are more and more food options available for plant-based eaters at local and regional festivals. Although the selection can be limited, it’s heartening to see the improvements.

Take for example Minneapolis Open Streets on Lake Street this past Sunday. We went up and down the entire length of the festival at least twice and managed to find multiple vendors offering foods friendly to plant-based eaters. While it may not seem like much, it’s a big improvement over previous years.

Minneapolis Hydration Station

The City of Minneapolis sets up portable drinking fountains with bottle-filling attachments to keep thirsty revelers hydrated.

Plant-Based Street Food Highlights from Sunday

  • Free organic sweet corn courtesy of the Midtown Farmers Market.
  • Free fruit-infused water courtesy of the Minneapolis Health Department.
  • Multiple vendors selling fresh fruits, including mangoes, pineapple and watermelon.
  • Plain grilled corn with nothing added.
  • Fruit-based ice lollies from Frio Frio that are plant-based friendly.
Grabbing a quick mango is a great plant-based street food option in summer.

In Minnesota it’s not real street food until you put it on a stick!

Besides the plant-based food, there was live music, dancing, free bike tune-ups, art and artists working in real time, and just the excitement of being able to use a normally busy thoroughfare as a pedestrian zone. This is the only time I would ever consider riding my bike down Lake Street.

In addition to scoping out food at the festival, we also packed a snack just in case we weren’t able to find anything. Generally speaking this is a really good idea, because you just never know what to expect. We’re looking forward to the next Open Streets event to see what other plant-based offerings we might find.

What do you do to get through summer festival season and maintain your plant-based diet? Let us know in the comments!

Books, Budget-friendly, Lifestyle, Shopping

Plant-Based Meal Plans Save You Time and Money

Plant-Based Meal Plan

This is one of our first meal plans after transitioning to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.

Plant-based meal plans are an effective way to control your schedule and food budget.  Never a big planner myself, I have learned to embrace this practice more recently.  Planning your meals in advance can help give structure to your week and ensure that you go through all of your produce before it goes to waste. When you plan ahead, it’s easy to make meals that might otherwise have seemed too time consuming or complicated.

Our Best Plant-Based Meal Plan Tips

  • Be flexible.  Once you make a menu, you don’t need to rigidly adhere to it every night of the week.  Stuff happens; you just need to have a general idea of what you’ll be making.
  • Start small.  Just plan a few days ahead.  The most I ever plan for in advance is one week.
  • Inventory your fridge and pantry as you write your list.  Use what you have so you don’t need to make any special shopping trips.  Keep in mind what you need to go through before it goes bad.
  • Plan for a leftover night. Or two!  It’s like giving yourself a night off from the kitchen!
  • Make it fun!  Josh and I like to write our meal plans on Sunday nights before we start a new week.  Believe it or not, it is actually a really nice way to wind down at the end of the day and bond.  Since cooking is one of our favorite things to do together, we keep our menus interesting with some old standards and a few new ones to try for the first time.
  • Always shop with a list.  Without one, it’s really east to end up with too much — or too little — of what you need.

Our Plant-Based Meal Plan From This Week

DayMealFoods to go through
SundayRoot Vegetable Buddha Bowlbeets, sweet potatoes, sugar snap peas, carrots
MondaySwiss Chard Pastaswiss chard, lemons
TuesdayCaribbean Quinoa Bowlkale, mango, avocado
WednesdayJosh's Five Minute Saladavocado, tomatoes, green onions, mixed greens
ThursdayCollard-ritoscollard greens, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro
FridayCold Soba Noodle Saladcucumber, red bell pepper, mango, avocado
SaturdayBuddha Bowlzucchini (yellow and green), green onions, carrots, left-over rice
Plant-based meal plans make everyday life so much easier!

This was Sunday’s dinner, a root vegetable Buddha Bowl with sugar snap peas, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers and corn, topped with fresh basil and balsamic vinegar.

If you’re in need of meal-planning ideas, a great resource is The China Study Quick & Easy Cookbook by Del Sroufe.  A plant-based cookbook with several sample meal plans and shopping lists, it also gives you instructions on making a week’s worth of food at once to enjoy throughout the week!