I never really thought of myself as an innovator in the kitchen. I grew up on cookbooks filled with photos, like the kind found at the checkout counter by the big brand names. I’d flip through them for hours, looking at all the pretty pictures of food. The internet is full of delicious looking plant-based recipes, a search on the web or on Pinterest can keep you busy for hours!
When searching through the internet for good plant-based recipes, the overwhelming use of oil – most often without any real need to the success of the recipe -becomes tedious and therein breeds innovation. Though I have several favorite go-to bloggers and cookbooks for oil free plant-based recipes in a pinch, I have found absolute joy in the role of recipe scientist.
Deconstructing recipes or setting out on an exploratory experiment with a bunch of ingredients in untested territory has proven not only therapeutic but also educational. Learning about how ingredients are assembled, commingled and cohabit together within a recipe gives you a greater understanding of how rich and sweet our lives had become before starting a plant-based lifestyle. When removing excess sugar and fat from your recipes and still finding natural ways to bring out the true flavor of a food with its own inherent sweetness or richness without added fat, it really becomes clear. Overindulgence is a drug. We have become so accustomed to the super inflated fat/sugar/salt profiles of processed foods that we truly have no concept of the depth of the problem until we take it all away and start anew with naked taste buds waiting to learn the truth.
A great example would be salad dressings. I never really gave it much thought before starting The Engine 2 Diet. Salad dressings that I had known and loved over the years were at their essence fat and sugar delivery methods. Training your taste buds to enjoy salad that is not drowning in ranch or blue cheese can take some time, but can be done. Sometimes a simple squeeze of lemon and a smashed avocado does the trick or a sweet balsamic vinegar.
Another issue of mine is recipes for cold salads that call for oil. I’ve never made a quinoa salad that contains oil. It is not necessary to keep it from sticking together in clumps. All oil does is add calories. The use of a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, even orange to the recipe helps spread the flavors of the ingredients over the palate. The pungent oregano or herb that you are using will come through just fine without the much touted olive oil. It’s just not necessary. So the next time you see a recipe that calls for oil, replace it with veggie broth, lime juice or water, apple sauce or a mashed banana, depending on the type of recipe/flavor/purpose of the oil.
I haven’t had a single recipe flop yet because I left out the oil. Be a recipe scientist. Deconstruct your old favorite recipes and rebuild them the whole foods plant-based way so you can enjoy them once again! Be vigilant in applying label reading rules to every single thing that you purchase. Oil is tucked into so many items, some you would never think to look! Read EVERY label, apply the rules for calories from fat, sodium and ingredients list. Need help figuring out a product? Ask us!
Check out the Pinterest page from the Engine 2 Diet – the most requested deconstructed and rebuilt recipes plant-based with no added fats style! (Though some still need the modification of removing the oil) Note: A lot of these recipes though plant-based are very rich and should only be consumed on occasion if you are trying to lose weight.
Ami’s Pineapple Cilantro Quinoa Salad
Just a bowl of cooked quinoa with fresh pineapple, a squeeze of a lime and a handful of chopped cilantro.
Sprinkle with as much or as little cayenne pepper as you like.
Toss and cool in the fridge.