Before I decided to go vegan, I wondered what the heck vegetarians ate. And what about diabetics… how do they live without sugar?
Just the other day I had someone ask me what vegans eat. I told her no meat, poultry, fish, or dairy. In addition, I have given up grains and sugar for health reasons. She was shocked and mumbled that left only fruits and vegetables!
I had to laugh because basically she’s right – only she forgot about legumes and nuts and all the wonderful substitutes that can be used for just about everything we used to eat and crave. The difference now is that the food I eat keeps me healthy, full, and tastes so much better. Cleaning my body from the inside out has actually improved my taste.
Adding Flavor to Food
I love to cook and bake, but I don’t do that much of it anymore because I live alone. It was more fun when I had a crowd to cook for. Now I only follow a recipe when I want to try something new.
But what about the things I eat daily; don’t I get tired of them?
Nope! That’s because I find ways to make the same old things interesting and new. Since my taste is so improved, I’m having a great time experimenting with food and flavors.
I got the idea a few years ago when I discovered The Flavor Bible. I was playing with quick breads and wondered how people came up with new ideas. A quick search on Amazon is all it took to find this treasure.
I’ve been cooking for decades with herbs and spices, but I didn’t know anything about selecting the right one for a recipe. In fact, I had no idea there were “rules” about that, but there are and they are found in the cooking industry. I guess it’s one of the first things cooks learn in culinary school.
How I Use This Book
Knowing what is in season before you go shopping helps so that you can decide what produce you want to purchase. Then you want to know what flavor ingredients you can use to boost the flavor.
I’m in Northern California so I can use this chart to see when produce is available in my area. You can do the same where you live. Just do a search on seasonal produce with your location to review what sites can provide this information.
Once I have an idea of what I want to purchase, I just look it up in The Flavor Bible. Let’s see how this works.
Flavor Selection Process
I love beets because I get a 2 for 1 deal. I get the beautiful red color in my smoothies and I can add the lovely greens that are still attached to the beet. What could be more perfect for a green smoothie?
I look up “beets” in The Flavor Bible, which lists food in alphabetical order. Keep in mind what type of recipe you want to make with beets. I could make a mash, a smoothie, a vegetable dish, or add it to other foods. I’m making a smoothie and want to know what flavors enhance beets.
First the book tells me information about the food, the season, taste (beets are sweet), function (what it’s used for), weight (light, medium, or heavy food), volume (mellow, loud, etc.), and techniques (bake, boil, etc.). Most of these are too technical for me, except to know if it’s going to overpower my other ingredients or enhance them.
What I really want to know are the other ingredients that go well with beets.
This lists for beets starts off with:
and ends with:
This gives me a quick scan of other items I might already have that can be paired with the beets.
The next category of information is vital because it provides me with examples of how to pair other food with beets; they refer to these as “flavor affinities.” Here’s a few listed that I could use in my smoothie:
- beets + endive + orange + walnuts
- beets + honey + tarragon
- beets + mint + yogurt
I don’t eat yogurt, but I always have mint on hand, so I return to the list of food and discover I can add carrots. I make a quick check on carrots and see that mint goes well with them, also. I want a sweet smoothie, so I can sweeten it with dates or honey since I don’t use sugar. All you have to do is be aware of balancing the food flavors – subtle is better when getting started.
After the food pairings, The Flavor Bible presents commentaries from top food chefs on how they like to use beets. This is very enlightening, especially since it’s in a summary form to provide me with even more ideas.
I get a lot of food ideas from vegan recipes on social media sites, but when I am looking for something specific, The Flavor Bible is my go-to resource.
Where do you get your inspiration in the kitchen? Do you use recipes exclusively or do you use them for inspiration?
P.S. The Flavor Bible and my Vitamix are the two things I can’t live without in the kitchen! I find using recipes exclusively for cooking can be way too expensive due to the number of ingredients that are required. I can use them for inspiration and then make something similar after a quick scan of affinity food pairings.
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