I’m beyond excited to be hosting The Vegetarian Flavor Bible blog tour today! Author Karen Page is here with a guest post and a chance for you to win a copy of the book.
The Vegetarian Flavor Bible is a gigantic tomb devoted to the flavor profiles of hundreds of foods, along with their peak seasons, botanical relatives, possible substitutes, nutritional profiles, serving suggestions, and other cooking tips. The heart of the book is a an A to Z listing of ingredients and the herbs, spices, and seasonings that will enhance their flavor. The book also contains sidebars with tips and techniques, a color coded nutrient density system, and a historical time line of the history of vegetarianism, from antiquity to the present. Anyone who likes to cook should have this book in his/her library!
Without further ado, here’s Karen…
Connecting the Dots
by Karen Page
(includes material adapted from The Vegetarian Flavor Bible)
“Over half of Americans [52 percent] believe it is easier to figure out their income taxes than to figure out what they should and shouldn’t eat to be healthier.”
—The 2012 Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes Toward Food Safety, Nutrition & Health, Commissioned By The International Food Information Council Foundation
“In all my interviews with nutrition experts, the benefits of a plant-based diet provided the only point of universal consensus.”
—Michael Pollan, In Defense Of Food (2008)
It happened again.
The other day, I was being interviewed on a radio show by an omnivorous professional chef with decades of experience in the kitchen, and he asked me, “So if you’re eating vegetarian now, how do you get your protein?” (I’m actually eating vegan this month in celebration of “Veganuary,” but based on his question I thought that concept might be beyond him.)
And earlier this month of a new restaurant opening, I read in a major New York newspaper, “The chef…has a menu that highlights vegetables as much as proteins.” (As if vegetables do not contain protein!)
The lack of nutritional education among food professionals appears rampant – which I know, because for nearly two decades I myself was a prime example.
My desire to make certain that the meatless diet my husband Andrew Dornenburg and I started to embrace in May 2012 was indeed healthful — and to have well-informed, intelligent answers to such questions — led me to earn a certificate in plant-based nutrition from Cornell in conjunction with the T. Colin Campbell Foundation. The certificate program was created by the author of The China Study, the most groundbreaking, far-reaching nutritional study ever published.
This is the education that helped inform my subsequent research for The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, which addresses three primary questions: what to eat (and in what quantities), how to make it healthful, and how to make it so delicious that its meatlessness is completely beside the point. The last question resulted in this mammoth 576-page, A-to-Z guide to hundreds of ingredients and the herbs, spices, other seasonings, techniques, and dishes that can best enhance their flavor.
In terms of what to eat, what I learned was that there is no problem getting sufficient protein from a plant-based diet, and that virtually all vegetables, legumes, and whole grains contain protein! This was so eye-opening to me to learn that I decided to include Nutritional Profiles of ingredients listed in The Vegetarian Flavor Bible so that everyone else – from restaurant chefs to food writers – can see the light, too:
Black beans: 74% carbs / 23% protein / 2% fats
Broccoli: 73% carbs / 17% protein / 10% fats
Brussels sprouts: 71% carbs / 17% protein / 12% fats
Cauliflower: 64% carbs / 20% protein / 16% fats
Mushrooms (e.g., button): 50% carbs / 37% protein / 13% fats
Oatmeal: 70% carbs / 15% protein / 15% fats
Strawberries: 85% carbs / 8% fats / 7% protein
Walnuts: 83% fats / 9% carbs / 8% protein
Wheat berries: 83% carbs / 14% protein / 3% fats
So clearly it’s easy to get sufficient protein from a whole-foods, plant-based diet.
Then, to guide readers to the most nutrient-dense ingredients, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible uses a color-coded system of dots, from dark green and green (indicating the most nutrient-dense ingredients) to red (the least nutrient-dense ingredients). As a rule of thumb:
• Dark Green – Most green vegetables (and many herbs and spices)
Examples: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale
• Green – Most nongreen vegetables, fresh fruits, and legumes
Examples: chickpeas, eggplant, strawberries
• Yellow – Most dried or sweeter fruits, grains, nuts, and seeds
Examples: almonds, chia seeds, mangoes, quinoa, walnuts
• Orange – Most dairy products
Examples: cheese, full-fat milk, yogurt
• Red – Most oils and sweeteners
Examples: brown sugar, olive oil, sesame oil, palm sugar
That way, when you’re skimming ingredients in the book’s pages and trying to choose between alternatives to add to a dish, there’s a subtle reminder to choose the most nutrient-dense option as well as the most delicious one.
I would love to see nutrition become a prerequisite for all food professionals — professional chefs and food journalists alike. But in the meantime, I hope some of them will take the time to read this blog post and The Vegetarian Flavor Bible to get a mini-course in the basics – so they can learn how to “connect the dots”!
Karen Page is the two-time James Beard Award-winning author of a number of bestselling books including The Flavor Bible, What To Drink With What You Eat, Culinary Artistry, and Becoming a Chef. Her latest book The Vegetarian Flavor Bible has been cited among the best cookbooks of 2014 by Bloomberg, the Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Food & Wine, Houston Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, and The Washington Post, which characterized it as “strongly recommended.” Her website is KarenAndAndrew.com, and Twitter address is @KarenAndAndrew.
I have a copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible for one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. U.S. residents only, please. Contest ends a midnight EST on February 8, 2015. Good Luck!