Sunday, November 05, 2006

Vegetarian Cooking

It used to be very difficult to be a vegetarian but it's a lot easier now. There are plenty of choices in restaurants and vegetarian cooking at home is made easier by supermarkets being more vegetarian friendly. There is a wide range of ingredients from around the world. You can also choose from non-meat ready meals.
People have different reasons for not eating meat and fish. Some choose on ethical grounds and others do it for health reasons. Some people react badly to eating meat, and simply don't like the taste. Everyone would benefit from eating less red meat and more fruit and vegetables. Vegetarian cooking doesn't have to be boring, a little imagination and fresh produce will go a long way. In addition to fruit and vegetables, there are grains, pulses, pasta, herbs and nuts.
You must be careful that you get a balanced diet, with all the vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy body. Vegetarian cooking does entail less fat intake and this can also involves the choice of dairy products. Semi skimmed milk and low fat yogurts and cheeses are another healthy option. Vegetarian cooking can be further enhanced with the unsaturated cooking oils such as olive, peanut, corn and sunflower.
Most people stick to a few favorite vegetables, but it's worthwhile trying some less commonly used ones to add variety to your vegetable cooking. Spinach is good for its iron content and can be cooked or added raw to salads. There are different sorts of peppers, which can spice up a meal. The red, orange and yellow varieties are sweeter than the more bitter green. If you like the taste of onion, you'll probably like the mild onion like flavor of leeks. Parsnips are a versatile root vegetable and are particularly tasty when roasted in the oven. Fennel has an aniseed taste and goes well with celeriac in vegetable casseroles. Don't forget the garlic, because that's good for the heart and asparagus is a treat especially cooked in a nice sauce.
Pulses and lentils are simple sources of valuable protein but soak them overnight before cooking, with the exception of black-eyed peas. Beans need to be boiled on a high heat for ten minutes to remove any toxins. Experiment with chickpeas, haricot beans, kidney beans and split peas. There are also green, brown and red lentils, which are often used in vegetarian cooking.
With the addition of spices and herbs, non-meat dishes can be every bit as tasty. Plant some herbs in the garden if you have one. Make sure your food cupboard has s supply of the basics, most often required in vegetarian cooking recipes and you'll never want to go back to stodgy meat!