Aside from making homemade pasta with my Mother, I didn’t really learn to cook until I started dating my husband. It was Matt who gave me some confidence in the kitchen. We love cooking together and trying new recipes. Yet, I spent most of those years throwing up my hands at a recipe if I was missing any 1 ingredient. I NEVER deviated from the recipe… Never.
Cooking plant-based meals has cured my fears. I no longer worry about having the right spices. I no longer stress about which beans we have. I no longer care if I use the vegetables in the recipe or whatever happens to be in my refrigerator.
I have always been nervous about meats. Is it cooked to the proper temperature? Did I clean the counter enough after I was done prepping? Are my seasonings OK? Flavorful, but not a salt overload? Add in a milk allergy (our oldest son) and my fears doubled. Did I wash my hands after I touched cheese? Can I make this without milk?
For me, this was the most exciting part about cooking plant-based. I honestly felt… FREE!
It is incredible how easy it is to mix & match when you are prepping a plant-based meal. Soup? Toss in whatever you have! Tacos and wraps? Load them up with cooked or raw items! Need a little something extra to fill up your crew? Toss what you made over some delicious brown rice, or create a Hugh Jass Salad as a side dish. Problem solved!
I know I am making this sound ridiculously easy, but honestly… IT CAN BE! I have substituted both kidney beans and lentils for black beans. I have used frozen carrots because I was short on potatoes. I have thrown bok choy, celery greens & beet greens in my smoothies because I ran out of my beloved spinach!
How about these quick swaps?
Soy milk, almond milk AND cashew milk can all be substituted for each other and even for regular milk in most recipes. If you see the words “nut butter”, you have the freedom to use peanut, almond OR cashew butter! What about agave nectar? This is mainly used as a sweetener. Unless you are a strict vegan, you can use honey, pure maple syrup or even molasses!
Plant-based cooking is highly interchangeable.
Plant-based cooking has opened up a whole new world for me. Instead of using turmeric twice a year for my delicious hot sauce, I am tossing it in tea, soup and chia puddings. Instead of buying countless items that I will only use for one recipe, I am learning that there are ingredients I already own that I can swap in!
Best of all, that liquid smoke I bought (yes, I once attempted to make jerky) that has been all but forgotten in our cabinet… is AMAZING in soups and tofu marinades!
Don’t fear the unknown friends. Mix & Match. You might be pleasantly surprised!