Call it “Rustic”

Menu:

“Call it rustic” features a casual cooking style with many fresh, colorful and balanced plant-based meals. GSU’s embraces improvisation and simplicity, so make it you own! Substitute, eliminate and/or add ingredients to any recipe by using your own style, taste and creativity!

Toothpick CheckIn this section of Green Cuisine you will find a variety of easy and healthy vegan recipes. Vegetable-based and bean-based products substitute common meat products, oils are used instead of butter, and products made out of almond, cashew, soy or rice milk replace dairy. You will also find a lot of grains and legumes, which will be your main sources of fiber and protein.

If you start switching to a balanced and varied plant-based diet little by little, you may naturally end up reducing or completely eliminating most animal products from your meals. You will also boost your immune system and feel healthier and more energetic!

All these meal ideas are very flexible and bruschetta ingredientspractical, and make cooking a creative and fun experience. You can always find a special dish to prepare by using the ingredients that you and your family like and what you already have at home.

GSU recommends you to always keep your kitchen, fridge and cooking area clean and organized, and provide yourself with a variety of ingredients to work with. Also, do not be afraid to cook larger amounts in order to have left overs for the next day!

Have fun mixing colors, textures and flavors! Cooking can be fun and very rewarding. It is also a learning experience, try to enjoy it and trust more in yourself. If it sounds good to you, give it a try!

 GSU’s recommended ‘must have’

Good spices and fresh herbs can be your best friends when improvising meals or substituting ingredients. Besides salt and pepper,  chili flakes, paprika, oregano, bay leaves and other spices you may love, and fresh herbs, such us cilantro, parsley, basil, and rosemary can enhance any dish by adding flavors, bright colors, and a fresh touch. Fresh garlic and different types of onions are also great for pretty much any recipe.

Color is a very important factor in a healthy and balanced diet. Combining colors in your meals also means that you are combining nutrients. For example, bell peppers come in four different colors and each has its own unique nutritional values, they are delicious cooked or raw and they add a fresh flavorful touch to any meal. Finally, incorporating other foods into your diet by trying something new once in a while will expand your culinary horizons and make your meals more interesting.

roasted bell pepper hummus with veggies

The freshness factor is also important.The farmers market offers all kinds of seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh and local, and is an excellent place to enjoy some outdoor family time while buying high quality foods. Avoid buying more than what you can eat, letting food go to waste is not a good habit (even if we can compost it).To find the farmers market nearest you and start eating more sustainable food visit EatWellGuide.org.

Variety is also important. There is ample evidence that most of the food eaten by hunter-gatherers came from wild plants. In most cultures, the diet was quite diverse and nutritionally balanced (Christensen, Norman. The Environment and You. Pearson Education, 2013. Print). Today, we do not have access to many of the plants that were available in the wild ten thousand years ago, but we can make the most of what is still available.

Besides combining different nutrients from different food items, variety helps keeping your menu interesting and fun. Going to the International Market, or the Asian or Latin stores, is also a good way to discover and try new things. Imported products are not the greenest choice but sometimes you can find popular foreign products, fruits and vegetables that are now manufactured or grown in the US. For example, Ajinomoto vegetable dumplings made in Portland, or Sriracha hot chili sauce made in Rosemead, bok choy, tortillas, etc.

Besides spice, color, freshness, and Quinoa & Beet Rootvariety, balance is another main factor in a healthy diet. Grains are high in fiber and carbohydrates, legumes are high in protein and iron. Fruits, vegetables and nuts are high in vitamins, calcium, oils and minerals; and seeds, such as flax, hemp, poppy, sesame and chia, are a great source of omega-3. Learning a little bit about the properties of the food we eat help us to make better color, texture and flavor combinations and to prepare more balanced and nutritious meals.

Get adventurous and start having fun at the store and in the kitchen. You will love your meals and you will also feel great!