Your first way is to visit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (www.pcrm.org ). They offer tons of free, well-written, legitimate nutrition information, updates on research into chronic diseases, and an abundance of superb recipes. For those of us working in healthcare, there are also free continuing ed credits. It’s an awesome site to refer both laypeople and the as-yet uneducated medical professionals in your life to for more information on how and why to shift to a plant-based diet.
They sponsored the International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine (ICNM) held in Washington, DC last July, which was a serious good time! The 2-day program was packed with speakers whose educational pedigrees were longer than a month of Sundays. I’m pretty positive that if I had asked, not one of the presenters would have been able to tell me what a Kardashian is. That, my friends, is impressive.
The clinical nutrition information was exceptionally intriguing to a geek like me, but in this post, I’m going to focus on one speaker, in particular, Chef Chad Sarno. He was able to turn all of the good advice the speakers gave into practical “here’s how you do it” information.
Chef Sarno is one of the creative minds behind your second way, the plant-focused Rouxbe Online Cooking School (ROCS), which you can find at www.culinary-Rx.com. My initial thought on hearing about an online cooking school was “Is that even a thing?” Having been blessed enough to have taken cooking classes at exceptional schools both here and abroad, I was skeptical. Now, friends, I am willingly drinking the (vegan naturally-sweetened, sustainably-sourced) kool-ade.
I’ll never do justice to the site by trying to explain it; I strongly suggest that if you are at all interested in improving your kitchen skills, your health or the health of the planet, you take a looksee for yourself. I will point out that I am mesmerized with the instructional clips. The videography is beautifully done, meticulous, well-lit, and close enough for ample detail but not so on top of the action that you feel like an ant at an IMAX movie.
Impressively, at the demo I attended at the ICNM, Chef Sarno was able to prepare a dozen different dishes in about 45 minutes, and explained how the average person could do the same thing at home, as well. His devilishly simple secret is mise-en-place. Literally, it means “put in place” in French, but translated, it refers to being in the moment, really thinking about what you’re doing and the ingredients you’re working with. The end results are home-cooked meals prepared with a minimum of fuss and drama, which cost only a fraction of what you’d pay if you were to eat out. As a bonus, by doing your own shopping, you control the ingredients, making it less likely that you’ll end up eating salty, plasticized, extruded food-like substances instead of food.
In practice, mise-en-place translates to having ingredients peeled, cut, measured, and ready before you start cooking, as well as having utensils clean and handy, the oven pre-heated, and so forth. No running to the neighbor’s house to borrow a cup of tofu in the middle of trying to get dinner in the oven before the in-laws show up—how vulgar!
So once you’ve got the mise-en-place down pat, what do you do with all that fabulous organizational skill and those empty countertops yearning to be filled? There are a zillion awesome vegan cookbooks out there, but one of my favorites is, yes, your third way to up your street cred, Chef Sarno’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Powered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution that he co-wrote with cookbook author Kris Carr. Crazy Sexy Kitchen is available from Amazon and pretty much everywhere else online and in brick-and-mortar stores that carry anything besides 101 More Ways to Microwave Leftover Oysters. It’s full of gorgeous photography, menu ideas for a number of occasions, kitchen hacks, and, of course, gluten-free, soy-free, kid-friendly, etc, etc, etc , recipes. The first thing you should do is memorize that enchanting Lemon Tahini Sauce recipe which is a breeze to make and goes with everything. I keep a batch in my fridge at all times now.
It would be great to fortify our skills in the kitchen, don’t you think? That way, instead of falsely representing to the world that vegetarians live on salad and energy bars, we could illustrate, and be examples of, how delicious, easy, and nourishing veganism is for both body and mind.
Disclaimer for Doubters
And before you even ask, no, I did not get the cookbook free, I paid for it. And no, I am not getting anything free in return for talking about Rouxbe. I simply feel that it’s an awesome tool for people who don’t have the means to travel to the Culinary Institute of America, sell their possessions to afford the tuition, and put their lives on hold for several years while they may learn how to make hummus but also 101 ways to fry a pork chop. And yes, I paid my own way to the conference, registration and hotel included. So there!