Phill and I were raised in a big Italian family and we were meat and dairy eaters our whole lives. I’ve always loved to cook, and I started every meal with some form of meat, garlic, Romano cheese and olive oil. I even had a food blog for a few years, where I posted all of our meat and dairy-laden, beloved family recipes.
When I first decided to stop eating meat 8 years ago, I didn’t know anything about a plant-based diet. I watched the documentary, Forks Over Knives, and that was it for me. Meat was off my plate. I remember eating lots of dry cereal that first week, and I knew that if I wanted to eat, I should probably learn how to cook this way. I decided to take a plant-based cooking class, and found Rouxbe Online Culinary School and enrolled. It was a 3-month course and it was amazing!
I learned so many things—how to dry sauté with no oil, how to roast potatoes and vegetables on parchment paper to get them crispy, how to steam veggies to keep them perfectly crisp-cooked, and knife skills like slicing, dicing, mincing, and chopping. I was introduced to miso, tamari, liquid aminos, hemp seeds, coconut aminos and nutritional yeast. I tried kale and collard greens. I started eating quinoa, not because it was good for me, but because I began to love the taste of it.
I started cooking with things like tofu, tempeh, coconut milk, sun-dried tomatoes, dried beans, brown rice noodles, and arrowroot powder. I learned how important different components to a meal are—sauces, salad dressings, nut cheese and spreads, and I made them with creamy cashews, almonds, hemp seeds, tofu, lemons, garlic, herbs and spices.
Rouxbe taught me how to make Cashew Sour Cream, Cashew Béchamel, Date Paste, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Cashew Cream Cheese, Dijon Vinaigrette, Marinara, Smoky BBQ Sauce, Cashew Parmesan, Thai Peanut Sauce, Romesco Sauce, Tofu Ricotta and Roasted Garlic & Onion Buttah.
Many of our recipes are inspired by the components that I learned how to make in this awesome cooking school. But, the best thing that I learned was that this lifestyle was not only doable, but delicious!
I was thrilled.
Then, I searched for and found vegan food blogs and plant-based websites, and, using my new skills, I started cooking! Yes, I had lots of flops along the way (still do), but I found some superstar sites that didn’t let me down. Many of the components to our meals are inspired by staple recipes I made over and over from these awesome sites. They taught me how to make Cashew Mozzarella using tapioca flour, Almond Ricotta using slivered almonds, crispy baked tofu by crumbing it up, seitan roasts, Soy Curl tacos, brownies, curries, nice cream, and more.
Kudos to my vegan and plant-based mentors and websites!
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Dr. Jami Dulaney, Forks Over Knives, Oh She Glows, CarrotsandFlowers, Brand New Vegan, Ordinary Vegan, Kris Carr, Dreena Burton, Vegan Richa, Clean Food Dirty Girl, Engine 2, Minimalist Baker, Julie’s Kitchenette (our recipe developer), and Monkey & Me.
I’m so grateful to all of you. You’ve helped make this lifestyle fun and tasty!
Lots of love and gratitude,