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3 Ways to Make Your Plant Based Meals Taste Better

In a country still dominated by the “standard American diet,” it can be so difficult to navigate the Plant-Based food world.  No matter if you are a life-long plant-based eater or if you’re just starting your journey, everyone comes up against two big problems when following this lifestyle. 

  1. BOREDOM
  2. Still Hungry

At Knifehand, we want you to have the energy and fuel to get back out there, to push through that workout, and actually enjoy it! So I’m pulling out some of my chef hacks to share with you today on how to make your meals taste better. 

This way you can:

  1. Look forward to the flavors of your next meal.
  2. Savor the taste of the one right in front of you.
  3. Improve your mood between meals – helping to bump your energy for your day!

 

The first hack is the strangest word – I promise it gets easier after this. 

Hack Number One:  Add Umami to your meals.

Umami is defined as “a category of taste in food (besides sweet, sour, salt, and bitter), corresponding to the flavor of glutamates, especially monosodium glutamate (msg)

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Hold up – I know what you’re thinking…

MSG?!? 

I know it’s 2020, but if you haven’t learned about what MSG actually is (a tasty protein molecule) and still have the flawed 1970’s hype embedded in your brain, I encourage you to check out this article.

 

Or better yet, hear it from the authority on food science himself, Harold McGee in this two-minute video.

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In the chef world, we call Umami the “fifth taste” and we add it to boost flavor whenever we can, because we know things will taste better and also be more satisfying by doing so. 

So how can you add umami to your plant-based meals? 

Tomatoes.

Mushrooms.

Add them in whenever you can and discover more depth of flavor in your dishes!  Also, caramelizing or browning these vegetables increases that depth.  Sautéed shrooms are now your best friend!  

In a pinch, I love adding dried mushroom powder, like the one from Trader Joe’s!

 

Hack Number Two: Add complexity to your meals.

Adding complexity is actually very simple.

……..yeah, I know.  But seriously, reach for things that have already been made complex and are readily available to you.  Products like mole sauces, curry pastes, spice blends, even vegetable and bean medleys will automatically add variety into your meals. 

Variety = Complexity

I love matching curry styles with my mood or even the weather.  On especially hot days I prefer green curry, while in the winter I like the red ones. 

Keep your taste buds guessing and you’ll notice your meals will become easier to savor and enjoy! 

 

Hack Number Three:  Add fat to your meals.

Speaking of debunked nutrition myths, fat does not actually make you fat.  There is a simple equation we learn in culinary school for fat though:

FAT = FLAVOR

Seriously, it is why butter is such a big deal.  And olive oil.  But in the plant-based world, my favorite fat sources are coconut and nut-based. 

Adding pureed cashews (cashew cream) or coconut milk to a curry tastes something sharp and spicy and makes it next level with a creamy sweetness. 

After a workout, a spoonful of peanut butter with a few bites of dark chocolate in between is heavenly.  Pure serotonin to the brain to follow up the dopamine hit from the workout! 

 

Recipe:  Summer Squash Soup

This recipe combines all three hacks (especially if you use mushroom stock!) into one simple soup that also helps your neighbors shed their zucchini and yellow squash supplies from the garden! 

 

Summer Squash Soup

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Yields 2 Quarts

 

4 large summer squash (yellow or green), chopped

2 onion, chopped

1 T olive oil

2 t curry powder

2 t Kosher salt

1 t freshly ground black pepper

45 oz vegetable or mushroom stock

20 oz coconut milk

 

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot. 

Saute the squash and onions together for 3-5 minutes.  Sprinkle on salt, pepper, and curry and saute another 3 minutes. 

Add liquids and bring to boil.  Reduce to simmer for 20 minutes. Blend in blender, return to heat for serving temperature. 

Serve!

 

Sarah Hassler

I am the COO and resident chef consultant of Knifehand Nutrition. Trained in the classical method at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Sarah has spent years developing methods to promote plant-based cuisine in the mainstream world. Sarah brings her passion for inclusivity and thoughtful food to Knifehand, with a focus on fueling athletes and improving their performance through better nutrition.

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