Families are becoming more and more health conscious. For some people that means adapting a vegan diet. To learn more about how how to incorporate eating vegan into the home, we chatted with Heather Goldberg and Jenny Engel, Co-Owners of Spork Foods and GO Veggie! Chef Ambassadors.
Momtrends: How can families incorporate vegan cooking into their homes?
Heather Goldberg and Jenny Engel: The easiest, and most effective way to get more vegan cooking in any home kitchen is to have your family cook together. If kids are involved in the cooking process, they are more willing to give different fruits and veggies a shot, and it takes the scariness out of eating new foods. If you have a very non-adventurous group, you can incorporate some easy swaps to get your family started, that they will never know are vegan. For example, GO Veggie! makes a parmesan cheese that is all dairy-free and vegan, but no one can ever tell the difference and it has no cholesterol, so it's a healthy and easy swap.
Momtrends: What are some great vegan kid recipes?
Heather Goldberg and Jenny Engel: We know a lot of kids enjoy simple, comforting recipes, and we love making traditionally comforting foods, with a healthy, vegan twist. For an easy meal, you can try making organic brown rice pasta with marinara, and putting in some white beans to add a little protein. If your kids are picky eaters, you can easily blend any pasta sauce with veggies, and they won't know their eating a healthy, vegan meal. One of our other favorite recipes for the little ones is roasting broccoli florets with a little sea salt and pepper, and a dash of high-heat oil in the oven at 400* F, for about 18-20 minutes. But during the last 2 minutes of roasting, we toss some vegan cheese on the top of the broccoli and let it melt. This dish makes a anyone into a huge fan of broccoli because roasting brings out the broccoli's natural sugars and makes it really crunchy!
Momtrends: What are the benefits for families to eat vegan?
Heather Goldberg and Jenny Engel: The benefits of families eating vegan are countless! The fact that a vegan diet means that you are not consuming animal products like eggs and butter, or meat, mean that you are eating a diet without cholesterol, and that is a great benefit to anyone's heart and general health, old or young. Veganism goes beyond your diet too. It's also a compassionate lifestyle that doesn't believe in harming other living beings. Parents are always teaching their kids about ethics, and compassion, so eating a vegan diet is one powerful manifestation of these lessons. There are always concerns about getting adequate nutrition, protein vitamins in peoples' diets when going vegan, but if you are eating a wide variety of natural foods, you can definitely lead a very happy, healthy vegan life. There are so many products out on the market shelves which make this transition easier, and we're so lucky to have delicious, vegan alternatives that allow you to enjoy every meal, without sacrificing taste and flavor.
Momtrends: What are some of your favorite vegan staples in your kitchen?
Heather Goldberg and Jenny Engel: The best way to make a wide variety of recipes, and not get stuck in a rut is by stocking your pantry with all sorts of spices, vinegars, oils, and other condiments that will make your food taste delicious. Of course we always recommend keeping any refrigerator full of fresh greens, and other veggies too. If you are intimidated by using new vegetables, we say when in doubt - roast! This cooking technique makes everything from kale, to broccoli crunchy, like we said above. We also keep some great dairy alternatives like almond milk, non-dairy butter, vegan cream cheese and vegan cheese in our refrigerator. When we're on the go and want a quick snack, our favorite go-to is vegan cream cheese with a little avocado and tomato on bread, sprinkled with a little sea salt and pepper. Quick dishes like this can keep your family happy and give them a ton of energy to get through a long day at school or work.
Momtrends: What are some cooking techniques that you use to cook vegan?
Heather Goldberg and Jenny Engel: As cooking instructors, we work with people of all different cooking levels. If you are used to cooking, then transitioning to vegan cooking will be easy! You can apply many of the same techniques that you do with non-vegan recipes, like sautéing or roasting or even braising - but keep in mind - many vegetables and vegan proteins cook in a much shorter amount of time. When marinating vegan proteins like tofu, or tempeh for example, they only need half an hour to marinate, as opposed to meat, which can take days. That definitely saves time in the kitchen.
It is important to re-train your mind to think of you meals differently when vegan. Your plate doesn't need to have a protein here, and a vegetable and a grain there. In a vegan diet, many dishes have protein and carbs all combined into one dish, like a vegan chili. Knowing that it's okay to think this way can be freeing and allow you to experiment and have fun in the kitchen. Eating and cooking should be enjoyable, and if you learn some essential skills and cooking techniques, you will feel more confident in the kitchen and you can whip up healthy, vegan meals in no time.
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