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Flavor Gets a New Bible – and it’s Vegetarian.

April 6 2015 Meatless Monday 

Flavor Gets a New Bible – and it’s Vegetarian. Two-time James Beard Award-winning author Karen Page released, The Flavor Bible in 2008. It made countless lists of top cookbooks of that year, and Forbes actually named it one of the worlds ten best cookbooks of the past century. The Flavor Bible revolutionized how so many of us, from home cooks to professional chefs, approach cooking. Instead of just giving recipes to follow, the book taught us all about the dynamics of flavor and showed how to pair ingredients to bring out the most flavor. Her follow up, with tasty photographs by her husband, former chef Andrew Dornenburg, is called The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, and it continues the revolution. In her very personable style, Ms. Page describes how she experimented with vegetarianism in May 2012 but kept quiet about it. Having grown up in the heart of the Midwest where meat was part of most every meal, she wondered whether or not she could stick with a meatless diet for even for a week or two. After poring over books and websites about food and nutrition she was also confused by all the conflicting advice. Page writes, I was not surprised to discover that in a 2012 poll, over half of Americans polled said they found it easier to do their taxes than to figure out what to eat to keep themselves healthy. When she finally came out as a vegetarian she recalls being constantly asked the question all vegetarians & vegans hear day in and day out. But how do you get your protein? She addresses that and much more in the book which is grounded by what she calls her three primary questions: what to eat (and in what quantities), how to make it healthful, and how to make it so delicious that its meatlessness is completely beside the point. She and her husband decided that since there were so many foods on the list of what not to buy they should create a list of, the healthiest ingredients that would provide us with the biggest nutritional bang for the calorie – super foods that we could easily enjoy at home: Black Beans. Blueberries. Broccoli. Kale. Lemons. Quinoa. Spinach. Then I started researching compatible flavors and flavor affinities for each, for ease in creating dishes. Then dish ideas themselves were added... Her approach to creating the book mirrors her flavor-based approach to cooking - its creative, intuitive, and very well researched. Now thanks to the Vegetarian Flavor Bible we can benefit from all her research and just enjoy the creative part. The heart of the book is an A -Z guide of ingredients (Acai to Zucchini blossoms) and the spices, herbs, and other seasonings that best enhance their flavors. She describes flavors in depth, including how loud an ingredient is, whats healthful about it, the amount of protein, calories, and other nutritional elements, techniques of cooking it, suggestions for using and/­­or serving it, and possible substitutes. The starting point for your creativity in the kitchen can be any number of things, from whats in season to the desire to cook in a particular way such as grilling in the summer. You can also make your starting point the ingredients you have on hand, a surefire way to make sure no food goes to waste. Using the book to look up what flavors work best together, you can turn random ingredients into a delicious meal.  Another starting point can be a craving for the flavors of a particular country. My own strategy, she writes, is to eat in a different country most days of the week, which presents me with a broad range of vegetables over the course of a week or two. For example: Chinese: bokchoy, broccoli, eggplant, long beans, mushrooms, snow peas Greek: chickpeas, eggplant, gigante beans, romaine lettuce, spinach Indian: cauliflower, chickpeas, eggplant, jackfruit, lentils, spinach... Italian: arugula, broccoli rabe, tomatoes, white beans, zucchini Thai: bamboo shoots, bell peppers eggpllant, green beans, onions Mexican: avocados, beans, chayote, chiles, corn, tomatillos, tomatoes.   There are also tips for making vegetarian versions of standard dishes and advice from leading chefs on how they work with certain ingredients and combine them into signature dishes. For some historical tidbits check out her chapter Vegetarianism Through the Ages. Did you know – Socrates, in The Republic, questioned the excessive amount of land needed to raise cattle – and thought the ideal city would be vegetarian? Meatless Monday also appears on her historical timeline, initially in 1917 when it was launched by Herbert Hoover so Americans could send more exports to our starving allies in Europe; then in 2003 when it was re-launched to help people decrease meat and saturated fats in their diet. In a recent interview Ms Page reiterated her support of the movement. The average American eats more than 200 pounds of meat every year — a level that is far above other countries, and one that is not sustainable.  The world needs to reduce its consumption of meat for the health of the planet, not to mention of the individuals that inhabit it. Meatless Monday is a simple yet powerful way to get omnivores to think about skipping meat just one day a week...its full impact is likely even greater as participants continue to reduce their meat consumption on other days of the week. The Vegetarian Flavor Bible can not only make it easier to pursue Meatless Monday but can make it a experience full of rich, delicious flavors.           The post Flavor Gets a New Bible – and it’s Vegetarian. appeared first on Meatless Monday.


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