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Gettin' Freaky!

Posted Jun 18 2009 12:06am

Calling all vegan freakers! I have a cooking bit with Bob and Jenna of Vegan Freaks on podcast #66: The Vegan Health Show. (*Note: Vegan Freak podcasts contain adult language... not for lil' vegan ears.)

Vesanto Melina is also interviewed, and Bob tells his remarkable personal health story. I covered a lot of info on the show. There were also some points I wanted to mention but forgot (I talked long enough as it was)! So, I've included these points in this post, as well as a summary of the info from the podcast. (This is a loooong post)!

Go listen to the podcast, then come back and print off the tips if you like. I'll be back in a couple of days with NEWS!! :)

Healthier Cooking and Baking Tips from the Vegan Freak Podcast

Lower-Fat Cooking Tips:

* Use veggie broth in part or whole to replace oil for sauteing veggies, tofu, etc. Using a non-stick skillet also helps so you can move the food around without the need of oil.

* Certain cooking methods enhance flavors by concentrating the natural sugars in vegetables. Roasting and grilling are two such methods, as is broiling. Use parchment paper t keep foods from sticking (and for ez cleaning).

* Use seasoned salt blend grinders to instantly perk up flavors for steamed/broiled veggies, for salads, stews, pastas, sandwiches etc. Many varieties and brands are available such as Cape Herb and Spice Company.

* Include aromatics such as onions, garlic, shallots, ginger, and herbs and spices for cooking. Add dried herbs early in cooking (ex: making a soup) and fresh herbs at very end or to finish/garnish (ex: cilantro added to black bean soup at serving). Fresh herbs add lots of flavor. Think of pesto. All that basil, lots of flavor in parsley, cilantro, thyme, dill, etc.

* Use high quality oils and vinegars, and look for flavored varieties. Adding a small drizzle of oil/vinegar to a finished dish will elevate flavors. Be sure vinegars don't contain sulfites.

* Use fresh lemon/lime juice and zest to perk up finished dishes such as stir-fries, burritos, stews, rice and bean dishes.

* Instead of regular pasta – and instead of w/w pasta, try quinoa, brown rice, kamut, spelt pastas. And, did you think couscous is whole-grain? People think it’s healthy, but regular white couscous is simply semolina flour = white pasta. It’s NOT a whole-grain. Use whole-wheat couscous, or quinoa, or brown rice, etc.

Lower-Fat/Lower-Sugar Baking Tips:

* For muffins, quick breads, and some cakes, you can use pureed fruits to help replace some of the oil. For example, try mashed overripe bananas, bottled applesauce (unsweetened), canned pumpkin pie mix, canned crushed pineapple.If you are doubling batches, use a food processor to puree your bananas instantly. Usually can replace usually about ½ -3/4 amount of oil in recipe with pureed fruit. Can replace all, but using a touch of oil improves flavor and texture.

* Use parchment paper in pans, square and loaf pans, and muffin liners so they don’t stick.

*Use flavorings and sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom) to enhance flavors, and small amounts of toasted nuts (ex: pecans, almonds, walnuts). Extracts like vanilla and almond.

* Soy milk often gives better texture to most baked goods than rice milk – but can still use. Soy yogurt gives a tenderness and helps bind.

*Use good quality ingredients: PURE vanilla, pure maple syrup, freshly grated nutmeg, fresh flours.

* Avoid white flour when possible. Opt for spelt, barley, oat, kamut, and whole-wheat pastry flours.

* Also eliminate white sugar. Robs our bodies of nutrients. Nasty stuff! Choose unrefined granulated sugars, and more liquid natural sweeteners such as agave, brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup.

*Use flavorings and seasonings (as mentioned, vanilla), and also cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom, allspice, ground cloves, etc – add sweetness and flavor without any sugar or calories.

*Use pureed/dried fruits in baked goods.

* Use stevia to sweeten tea (or coffee). It's a natural sweetener, from a herb, does not have any calories or affect blood sugar. DON'T consume aspartame or splenda or other artificial sweeteners in soft drinks, gum, or anywhere else. Stevia in baking can be tricky, but a small amount can help to replace a small amount of sugar.

Few points I forgot to mention about cooking/baking on the podcast so I will add them here:

* Use an abundance of textures and ingredients to add dimension to meals. For example, combining chickpeas and quinoa in a dish, with different chopped veggies, and sprinkling finished dish with fresh chives or other herbs and maybe toasted nuts. Toasting nuts increases their flavor (though raw nuts may be more healthful).

* Use pungent, strong elements and condiments to boost flavors in dishes, such as reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes (or use bottled in oil, and rinse off oil and pat dry), capers, olives, roasted red peppers, miso, vegetarian worcestershire sauce, mustards, hot sauces, vegan bbq sauces.

* Use wine in pasta sauces to enhance flavor of sauce without adding more oil. Add the wine and let sauce simmer, the alcohol will burn off through the cooking process.

* Buy whole-grain breads. We all hear this but look at the label. If it says “enriched wheat flour” that means white flour. No good. Look for sprouted grain breads (ex: Silver Hills - check out the tag on their site "the whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead!!) OR breads that have flours like whole wheat or kamut, etc.

* For baking, note that cocoa Powder has NO fat. And higher cocoa content dark chocolate (70% and greater) have more intense flavor and less fat.

* Obviously, avoid trans-fats (hydrogenated oils). Also use more pure oils instead of shortenings and margarines when possible.

* Lots of whole foods (vegetables, grains, beans, nuts/seeds, tofu, tempeh) will add a great deal of nutrients, protein, complex carbs, fibre to your diet. Will fill you up, satisfy and nourish you. Many of my recipes in TEV and Vive are chocked with legumes and whole grains and vegetables, and are low-fat/low-sugar. Check out my soups and stews in both books, hummus recipes, casseroles like Chickpea Ratatouille, Sunflower-Lentil Pie, Molasses Baked Beans and other dishes like Black Bean Millet Patties, Lentil Miso Patties, Brown Rice Pizza, Tomato-Lentil Pasta Sauce, and Greek Basmati Rice. For baked goods, try out Maple Banana Loaf, Apple Swirl Loaf, As-You-Like Muffins, and Apple Cherry Crisp... to name a few! Sure, there are recipes that are 'more indulgent' in my books as well (savory and sweet). But if you need low-fat recipes, and meals with whole grains and beans, you'll find 'em.

Please have a listen to Bob and Jenna's podcast. Bob reversed his diabetes in ONE month with an improved vegan diet. He says in the show that eating vegan literally saved his life. Powerful stuff.

Stay tuned. Stay vegan! (and come back for NEWS soon!!)
- oh, and do that other thing, you know, click!
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