Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Favorite Books: Vegetarian Meals for People on the Go

For those that want to learn more about incorporating vegetables & whole grains into your diet,  I have a wonderful book that serves as an excellent introduction to vegetarianism. I highly recommend this book, not just for those who are vegetarians, but for people who want to learn how to cook new dishes & become inspired to create their own new recipes. Vegetarian Meals for People-on-the-Go, 101 Quick & Easy Recipes by Vimala Rodgers is probably one of my most reached for cookbooks. In fact I use this book as a reference as well. Not only does Ms. Rodgers give step by step instructions, tips, & nutritional information, but she demonstrates how to change up the recipes according to your own tastes. Most of the book serves like guidelines, allowing the reader to interchange ingredients & really teaching the tools to personalize the recipes as well as learning how to create your own. 

I stumbled across this book accidentally when I was shopping for groceries at Sprouts a few years ago.
Casually glancing through the bookshelf, I came across this book & was pleasantly surprised to see a cookbook so unique & well written that I had trouble putting it down so that I could check out. Usually, I find most cookbooks dull or repetitive, but Ms. Rodgers not only gives delicious recipes, but health information, shortcuts, tips like what seasonings are her family's favorites or which brands to avoid because of chemicals, etc. 

More importantly, Ms. Rodgers' book provides an introduction to food energetics, as well as Ayurvedic medicine; many recipes have notes explaining how the energetic properties of the dish help to strengthen & balance certain organ systems in Chinese & Ayurvedic medicine. I have yet to try a recipe from this cookbook that I've  disliked. In fact, I think the true test is when I made full vegetarian meals for friends who later were in disbelief to hear no dish contained meat. Astounded, they continue to comment on how delicious everything tasted- all thanks to Vimala Rodgers' excellent recipes.

This book should be a staple in your kitchen. If you want to learn how to eat more healthily while making sure everything still tastes superb, this is the cookbook you want. Even if you are not a vegetarian, these recipes will help teach you how to cook & incorporate more vegetables & whole grains into your diet, something which I think most people sorely need.  

Here are some excerpts from Vegetarian Meals for People-on-the-Go, 101 Quick & Easy Recipes by Vimala Rodgers.

* "Buy sesame, whole-wheat pasta, or artichoke pasta whenever possible. The flavor is richly different from the common enriched-wheat pasta. The colors liven up the appearance of the meal, & the nutritional value is far superior."

* "Once tofu is frozen, the texture changes dramatically. It becomes porous & resembles a soft honey comb; thawed, it becomes marvelously chewy, which often comforts meat-eaters because of its textural similarity to ground meat. It's especially great in tomato-based dishes...Because it's extremely absorbent, it soaks up marinades beautifully."

* "Basic stock: Make it a habit to save the parts of raw vegetables that are usually discarded: carrot ends; celery root ends; & the outer leaves of lettuce, kale, cabbage, etc. Wash them well & keep them in a container in the freezer. They're a gold mine of valuable minerals & flavors. When you're ready to make your broth, take the vegetable parts from the freezer & place them in a 6- to 8-quart pot, covering them with four times as much water as there are scraps. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 40 minutes until the broth is a rich golden color. Strain & save broth. Discard vegetables."

[I usually keep my homemade broth in the fridge & store leftovers in the freezer. I like to put the broth in small containers so that I can easily use a small amount without having to defrost a large quantity. This broth is great to substitute for water when making rice, quinoa, or bulgar wheat! I love to use it in soups, gravies, stews, or sauces!]

* "Pots & Pans: No Aluminum Ever! I find that good old-fashioned cast iron is the best kind of skillet & soup kettle to use, & most enamelware or stainless steel makes for the most efficient pots & pans....Those made of stainless steel may cost a little more, but they're not harmful to your health & last forever."

* "Cooking in the kitchen is an opportunity for the food preparer to share more than just a sumptuous casserole, salad, or dessert. The quality of energy the cook puts into the food is as vital as the clean hands & quality of ingredients. You might look at it as nutrition on a higher level. The attitude of the cook automatically spills into the preparation of the meal. Cooking is an opportunity to bless those whom you love- not only with the food you prepare, but also with the heartfelt energy you put into it. Every chop, dice, stir, or mix creates a subtle ingredient."