I Know What You Are Thinking...
The idea of going plant based seems very intimidating. I also know that years ago, when I was first introduced to the lifestyle, I thought it would be impossible for me to do. It's the most common misconception.
But, having gone through that journey and fully transitioned, I can tell you that there are easy to implement steps and helpful tips to begin plant based eating. And I promise it isn't as painful as you might think.
Little Known Fact: Eating Plant Based IS Pleasurable!
Don't believe me because maybe you've tried it and that wasn't your experience? Well, I can assure you, that means you were doing it wrong.
At first, my big hang up was not feeling comfortable with my own skills in the kitchen. It seemed like an enormous hurdle to overcome, but as I got advice, and took baby steps, I got there. And to my surprise it was much easier than I thought and delicious, too.
Here Is The Game Changer!
The best short cut I found to make meals super fast and easy, especially in the very beginning of your plant based journey, is soup making! For me, learning how to make a healthy, delicious and SATISFYING soup was the easy step I needed to feel like I could make the change to plant based eating. When I am asked for new recipes, I always start with soup. You see, I think it is one of the best “transition” foods to this lifestyle. Not to mention, soups help by saving time and money.
1st Quick Tip: get yourself a huge soup pot asap. Making larger quantities is amazingly helpful because then you are able to freeze and have delicious soup on hand for weeks. Then, when lunch or dinner rolls around, cook up some potatoes, rice or a salad, defrost a container, and there is quick and easy plant based meal that is tasty and filling.
Time saved and satisfaction had!
2nd Quick Tip: I never, ever, EVER buy soup stocks. I never understood why it is even suggested. I can tell you that in the 30 years that I've been cooking I bought soup stock maybe twice and you know what? It has never made a difference. If you are cooking with vegetables, they will make their own stock. Period.
Here's How To Start!
I start most of my soups with the basic French recipe, which is onions, carrots and celery. This mixture is so popular and has withstood the test of time because it creates a savory stock with a hint of sweetness. This combo gives a soup depth and a layering of flavors.
I sautee this recipe with water. Meaning, I add just enough water to barely cover them, and heat this up. Stir frequently! Usually this is done with oil, but I am not suggesting you use that. I try to cook as lowfat as possible for heart health and blood sugar balancing. Adding oil, and then heating that oil up, only impedes that.
3rd Quick Tip: Any time I cook or steam vegetables I save the liquid. That is pure gold! I usually store the leftover liquid in a mason jar and keep it in the fridge. I always add this to my soups. So, sometimes I will have the benefit of one or two jars to add to the soup.
4th Quick Tip: Not all salts are created equal. I am quite careful to use natural salts. Any salts that are commercially made are not only devoid of nutrients that can be had, they are also not as flavorful. White salts have a strong metallic flavor.
I prefer natural salts like Celtic grey salt, black or pink himalayan salt. Those are not only more flavorful but also do zero damage to the body. In fact, they contain iodine and other nutrients your body actually needs.
Regular salts that you buy in the market are refined in that they go through chemical processes. This makes them easier to use. For example, it makes them more pourable and “cleaner looking”.
So, instead of the pouring refined salt, I use a pinch bowl full of natural salts, which also means you don't use as much. More money saved, better for you, and doubly delicious.
Size Matters: The Bigger The Better!
When I cook, I cook for at least two meals when I can. I am all about freezing and leftovers. I need to make the most of my time as I'm sure you do, too. So, when I make soups, I make a large quantity. We are talking, large, large.
I will wait until the soup cools, and pour it into freezable containers, each container having enough to feed my family for a meal. Doing this creates many different soups that I can have ready to heat up whenever I need and provides a constant variety. Why this is so important is that I need to spend less time in the kitchen.
5th Quick Tip: In the morning, I will take out a container of frozen soup. I leave it on the counter top so it defrosts. When it becomes lunch time I just need to reheat. And, so that I feel full, I add some rice or potatoes to complete the meal.
What About Summer?
That's right! I even do this in the warmer months. Consider having soups year-round. I do! And it works so well. I just make them a bit lighter.
In the summer, I switch up the vegetables and the temperature. I am rarely in the mood for heavier chilis and things like that.
For example, I will have a light tomato based vegetable soup that’s just a little warm or gazpacho. Having this with a steamed potato salad or rice salad makes it a bit of a heavier meal.
Light vegetable soups with string beans and onions and zucchini are colorful and have a ton of flavor. The light vegetables are also aromatic and kind of nice to do because they are fresher in the summer.
Gazpacho is such an easy soup to make that it makes me embarrassed. I will pass this out when I have company and folks love it so much. I can't reiterate enough how simple it is to whip up! It's also a meal you can make ahead of time. It will last a few days in the refrigerator. I always believe that it is best at least one day old as the flavors marinate.
6th Quick Tip: I make gazpacho in the blender. I usually serve this soup in clear glass mugs that I have. I will finely chop cucumbers, tomatoes and maybe avocado and scoop the mixture into each mug and then ladle the soup over it.
There are a million different gazpacho recipes, and it is something to really have fun with. I always go with what I find in the market and build the soup around that. In other words, if the beefsteak tomatoes look amazing, I will make it with those, but if the cherry or plum ones look fresher, I will use those.
I usually use the tomatoes as a base, and then add some spring onions and cucumber and blend, Sea salt, basil and tons of garlic are a must. Then, just play! Do the zuchinis look good or bell peppers? Celery is a great add on too! Tweak it and make it your own.
It's Really THAT Simple!
Now you know how soup is a plant based diet's best friend! I hope the steps and quick tips above have put your mind at ease and have inspired you to eat more vegetables!
If you want a little more info on soup making click here.
I can't wait to hear how your soup making goes and have so much fun!
Ana and Chelsea!