Vegetarian Cooking – Three Basics

For any of the many reasons people choose to eat
vegetarian food – religion, politics, finances, or health –
one thing in common is that everyone prefers food that
tastes delicious and provides good nutrition. There are
some basic techniques to vegetarian cooking which will
accomplish that.

There is a range of vegetarianism. From the vegan to the
person who eats meat on rare occasions. Some people
consider themselves basically vegetarian if they never eat
red meat, but do eat fish and chicken once in a while.
Other vegetarians eat animal products like eggs and dairy,
but never the animal itself. A vegan is at the far end of
the continuum, rejecting animal products entirely. Vegans
won’t eat mayonnaise because it’s made using eggs, for

Wherever you are on the continuum of vegetarianism, you
want your food to taste good, be satisfying, and provide
good nutrition. Here are some methods for cooking
vegetarian to meet those basic requirements.

To begin, if you are making some dish that is actually a
meat-based recipe, such as chili con carne, stop
substituting textured vegetable protein for the meat and
leaving the rest of the recipe unaltered. The result never
tastes quite right, and you’ve been robbed of the pleasure
of good food: it’s neither meat nor properly vegetarian.
Furthermore, you haven’t gained in terms of health or
economy. Soy is the primary ingredient of textured
vegetable protein, tofu, and tempeh. These are usually
high in fat, high in processing, and fairly high in cost.
Not much better than organically raised meat, if at all.
So if chili con carne is what you want, buy organic meat
and enjoy it! Otherwise, cook a delicious soup using red
beans that doesn’t pretend it’s chili con carne.

The key to good vegetarian soup is to use oil. Even if
you prefer low fat, your body does require fats for healthy
metabolism. And it definitely enhances the quality and
flavor of any vegetarian soup when some of the vegetables
(onions in particular) are saut~ed. Use an oil that’s
liquid at room temperature, such as olive, vegetable, or
grape seed.

The next critical ingredient of vegetarian food that
tastes fabulous is really simple: use sea salt. Although
any kind of salt will enhance the flavor of most foods, sea
salt is best. It naturally contains minerals, while it
doesn’t contain the nasty chemicals of regular processed
table salt. Important to note~ use salt *during* the
cooking instead of waiting until after serving the food.
This makes a difference in the final quality of the dish
because cooking is chemistry. Remember back to your high
school chemistry classes: the order of combining the
elements, and the application of heat to the mixture could
make a tremendous difference to the results of the

The third tip for vegetarian cooking is obvious, yet needs
emphasis. Use lots of vegetables! You can’t over-do
vegetables in your diet – the greater the range and color,
the better. Use leafy veg (lettuce, spinach, and chard),
root veg (yams, carrots, potatoes, turnips), and the stems
and seed carriers of veg (for example celery, eggplant,
peppers, zucchini). Buy organic veg if you can because
they really do taste better, and of course they provide
better nutrition because they are gown in healthy, ‘clean’

Take any vegetable and bean soup recipe, and follow these
three simple principles: saut~ the veg in the right oil,
cook the beans in sea-salted water, use a variety of
organic vegetables, and you’ll have a rich delicious soup.
These simple tips make a big difference. Take my word for
it, or do a little test. Use the same list of ingredients,
but don’t saut~ in oil, add the salt at the table, and use
conventionally grown veg. The result will be inferior –
still nutritious, but bland rather than satisfying, and
that’s a shame because the few simple techniques described
here can make your vegetarian cooking consistently

Rice Cookers – Perfect Rice Every Time

Love fluffy cooked rice but dislike the preparation time and clean up? Then rice cookers maybe just what you need. Today’s rice cooker is a thrifty time saving device for anyone’s kitchen. Also eating rice weekly has many health benefits. With so many rice cookers to choose from how does one decide? Let’s take a look at the many features and sizes of a rice cooker and determine which is right for you and your family.

Size – How much rice will you cook at one time? Also consider how much space you have for storing the unit. Rice cookers very in the amount of uncooked rice they hold, between 5 to 10 cups. If one’s family is large or rice is used when having a dinner party then a higher capacity rice cooker will do a nice job. On the other hand cooking for one or two people makes a smaller model a wise choice.

More desirable features – Rice cookers with a glass lid is a “must have” to watch the cooking process. It is also a great idea if the lid has vent holes for steam to escape. This feature makes cleaning up the cooker less messy. Look for a rice cooker with a removable cord as this makes storage easier. Non-stick pans are a must and many models now come with a water measuring line inside the pan wall.

The top rice cookers today are what is called “fuzzy logic cookers”. They are programmed to read the different kinds of rice and adjust the settings according. This would be ideal for folks who love to eat many varieties of rice. This cooker is on the high side of the price scale though.

The internet is a great place to find the perfect rice cooker for you. Browsing through online stores is an easy way to compare different models. Most manufacturers also have great detailed pictures to help one decide. Rice cookers can have many features so be sure to check them all out.

Eat your Veggies! Simple Cooking Methods

Vegetables add colour, taste, texture and bulk to our daily diet. There are dozens of different vegetables that can be prepared in literally hundreds of ways. So what’s best?

There is no best. The thing to do is to eat your vegetables, lots of them, everyday in a wide variety of ways and stop worrying about the preparation methods. Variety is the key…


Many vegetables taste fabulous just the way they are straight out of the garden. Lettuce, tomato, celery, cabbage, onion, radish, carrot are obvious choices here. But they are just as likely to find themselves next to chopped up broccoli, cauliflower, peas, beans and zucchini on a starter platter with dips. Wash ’em, chop ’em and eat ’em. Oh, yeah, you could also make a salad!


Steaming heats the vegetable and softens it’s texture. It’s gentler than boiling and allows the vegetable to maintain it’s colour if not overdone. Use a stainless steel steamer that will fit into most good size sauce pans. Make sure you use a pan with a tight fitting lid. There should be enough water to just touch the bottom of the steamer. Water should be simmering the whole time the vegetables are being cooked.


Boiling vegetables is really going out of fashion, but it’s a legitimate preparation method! The big concern is loss of nutrients. All cooking methods result in the loss of some goodness from the vegetables. If boiling, try to find a way to use the water the vegetables have been boiled in (i.e. to make a gravy or sauce) to bring those nutrients back to the table. Vegetables should be barely covered with water. Bring the water to a boil (covered) then slow to a simmer until vegetables are tender.


Very popular for vegetables as it retains colour, flavour and nutrients. Trial and error will be your guide with microwaving as there are plenty of variables involved. However, a few guidelines will help…The more food you put into the oven, the longer it will take to cook. Underestimate your cooking time rather than overestimate. Undercooked food can be cooked some more. Over-cooked food is ruined. Food straight from the fridge will take longer to cook than that at room temperature. All food continues to cook after it has been removed from the microwave oven. It is part of the cooking process and should be taken into account to prevent over-cooking.

Stir Fry

Very rapid method of quick frying vegetables, meat (optional) and sauces in one pan to make a meal. Primarily associated with Asian cooking. The key to doing this well is preparation. All items to be cooked should be chopped to a size that will allow them to cook quickly in the wok. It is also important that the wok is heated to a high, consistent temperature throughout. Vegetables maintain their colour and crispness with this sort of cooking (if not overdone).


Brilliant! Especially for those ‘root’ vegetables like potatoes, turnip, carrot and beetroot. Chop into similar size pieces, brush lightly with olive oil and put in a hot oven to roast. Size of the pieces will determine the cooking time but expect at least 40 minutes. Outside is chewy, inside is moist and fluffy. Dress with sour cream and chives. Yum!


Does anything scream summer like the word barbeque? Love a barbeque. This is primarily open flame cooking, so could apply to a campfire as well. Cooking outside just changes everything about food. You’ll need foil, fire and fresh veggies. Grease your foil, chop your veggies and put the closed packages on the grill. Be adventurous, it’s really hard to mess this up!

Cooking Filet Mignon

Filet mignon is French, of course, with filet meaning “thick slice” and mignon meaning “dainty.” Filet mignon comes from the small end of the tenderloin (called the short loin) which is found on the back rib cage of the animal. This area of the animal is not weight-bearing, thus the connective tissue is not toughened by exercise resulting in extremely tender meat. This also means that the meat lacks some of the flavor held by meat that has the bone attached. In order keep the flavor, you must cook filet mignon quickly. This can be done a variety of ways, including broiling and grilling.
It should never be cooked beyond medium rare, because the more done it is, the less tender and more dry it becomes and the more flavor it will lose. You should always use a dry method of cooking, even when it will be a quick method. Methods of cooking that are dry are such types as roasting, pan frying, grilling, broiling, etc. Since this cut of meat is more dry than others, you will not want to cut the meat to check to see if it is done. Instead, you should touch it. The touch-method of checking is not as hard as it may sound:

1. If the meat feels hard or firm, it is too done.

2. When the filet mignon is soft when you touch it and your finger leaves an imprint, it is rare.

3. If it is still soft, but leaves no imprint, and is slightly resilient, then it is medium rare (best for this particular type of meat).

The reason filet mignon is often wrapped in bacon (this wrapping is called barding) is because this particular cut of meat has no layer of fat around it. The bacon not only adds extra flavor to the filet mignon, it also gives it the fat necessary to keep the meat from drying out. This is a concern since the strips are so small in filet mignon and they have less fat than most cuts of beef.

What to serve with Filet Mignon

Since the flavor of filet mignon tends to be quite mild, many people prefer to serve it with sauces, either smothering the beef or as a dip. There are many different choices for the best sauce for filet mignon and most depend solely on the person’s particular flavor preference. Some consumers prefer to have a certain type of steak sauce for dipping and some may prefer a marinade to add flavor during cooking. Either of these can turn out well.

Wines & Filet Mignon

There are many different types of wines that are good to serve with filet mignon, and determining which one will go best with it depends largely on the flavor of the sauce. This is especially true if the sauce is rather strong, or has a flavor that is stronger than the filet mignon itself. The best wines to match with filet mignon are dry, red wines such as Merlot. If your preference is a sweet wine, you may want to consider trying a White Zinfandel (if this is your choice, though, you will not want to use very much pepper on the filet mignon). If you are a white wine drinker, the best match for filet mignon will be a rich Chardonnay.

Tips for cooking Filet Mignon

-When selecting tenderloin or slices, choose the lighter color over dark red. This indicates more marbling which makes it more tender. This cut is so tender that it should never be cooked beyond a medium-rare stage. The longer you cook it, the less tender and more dry it becomes.

-Use a dry, high heat method such as broiling, roasting, pan-frying or grilling for this tender cut.

-Whole tenderloin is wonderful to stuff or bake en croute (in savory pastry).

-Cutting into the meat to check doneness lets precious juice escape. Use the touch method. Press the meat. If it feels soft and mushy and leaves an imprint, it is rare. -If it is soft, but slightly resilient, it is medium-rare. The minute it begins to feel firm, it is overdone.

-Since the tenderloin has no surrounding fat tissue, it is often wrapped in a layer of fat (called barding) such as suet or bacon to keep it from drying out. Likewise with filet slices. The barding also adds flavor.

-Cubed tenderloin is a popular choice for fondue hot-pots and shish-kebabs.

-To ensure even cooking when roasting the whole tenderloin, the small end should be tucked up and tied or trimmed for other use.

Fruit Cake

Are you the fruit cake in your family? Before you raise your eyebrow, I would suggest you read on to know what I mean.

The fruit cake has tantalized the world for centuries. When you take a lip smacking bite, you will experience the taste of culture and valued traditions. The fruit cake which I would love to offer you will be an ideal one, with a high content of fruits and nuts in proportion to the batter. You will taste the rich content of French cherries, almonds, California nuts, pineapple, orange peel and lemon. To make it more mouthwatering how about a dash of brand and liquor added to it…hmmm, expensive and irresistible, isn’t it?

If you want to go for a stronger aroma and sharper flavor, then relish the darker version of the fruit cake. The dark fruit cake contains prunes, dates, cherries, walnuts, brown sugar and molasses.

If you love the subtle taste, then you can go for the light fruit cake. The delicate taste is attributed to the presence of granulated sugar, golden raisins, pineapple, apricots and light corn syrup.

When you go for your treks and campaigns, tuck in a pack of fruit cakes. Your friends will love you for this. The best thing about the fruit cake is that it has a tendency to last for months and still retain its intrinsic flavor. You will be pleased to know that the fruit cake has a tendency to freeze very well. However it is ideal to have a time gap of a month before freezing.

Enough of preaching about it. Now let me treat you with a fruit cake.

Whoever said ‘take your own sweet time’ must have said it with reference to the fruit cake. First I will prepare the nuts and fruits. Then I will pour the liquor to be used over them. Let me keep the mixture well covered for two or three days. Sorry to keep you waiting, but then if you want it sweet and nice; you will have to kill time. Okay then, I will prepare the batter and bake your cake. I need to remember that the fruit cake should be baked at a low temperature. I will coat the pan with waxed paper so that the sides of the cake do not get burned. You see the fruit cake involves long baking time. When I am done, you can take the cake tester and insert it in the center of the cake. If you see that it is moist and not doughy, then you are ready to pop a piece into your mouth.

You may think of the fruit cake as a typical Christmas dish. But as I told you before, the fruit cake has a centuries old tradition behind it. Did you know that during the 13th century, dried fruit began to arrive to England from Portugal and the east Mediterranean? During the later half of 1700s, England distributed fruit cake slices to women who sang Christmas carols. The fruit cakes were frequently used in celebrations from the turn of the 18th century. It remains a custom in England for unmarried wedding guests to put a slice of dark fruitcake under their pillow at night so they could dream of the person they will marry.

If you want to know the oldest fruit cake company in the United States, then I would suggest you visit the Collin Street Bakery, Corsicana, Texas. It was set up in the year 1896. So much has been the impact of the fruit cake through out the years, that the oldest family in the household is called the fruit cake.

Cut The Take Out

A long hard day at work. You get home and need dinner. Nothing in the fridge, nothing in the cupboard. Take-out again. The wallet just won’t comply much longer.


A long hard day at work (sorry can’t help with that one). You get home and mmmm, what is that aroma? Dinner! Smells delicious, your mouth is watering.

And no you didn’t go to the wrong home and no you are not dreaming. You arranged all this, in a few minutes this morning.

What I won the lotto and hired a personal chef?

Well no, not exactly – you got a Crock Pot. A Crock Pot? Yep, it’s a cooker that cooks your food over a slow heat. Put it on in the morning and dinner is ready at night.

Don’t think you’ve got time in the morning. Well you will be pleasantly surprised how quick it can be. Chuck in some veggies (frozen or pre-cut if really short on time), throw some meat on top, pour in a sauce, put on the lid and turn it on low. That’s it.

It truly is that easy. And the aroma of dinner when you walk in the door at night, it is sensational – better than any take out.

Home Cooked Fast Food

Many years ago a nifty little device came out called the Crock Pot. You could cut up a bunch of veggies, meat, and spices, dump them in the pot, and it did all the hard work. You came home at the end of the day and Presto you had a nice hearty meal. Add a salad and some bread/rolls and you were set.

As I visit numerous on line boards and web groups/forums I see more and more people mentioning how they made their meal in the crock pot. I am happy to see it is making a comeback. With all the press which the obesity crisis and how bad we all eat is getting, it gives me hope for many Americans. Now we just have to worry about how to get the rest of them to eat healthier.

I am so tired of hearing from people they don’t have the time for home cooked meals. I work, I have the kids, yada, yada, yada. Everyone has some kind of excuse. However, if you ask these same people if they saw Survivor, Amazing Race or any number of other reality shows, they can recite the show from beginning to end. Well, how about using your hands for something other than stuffing your face while you are watching television. Cut up some meat and vegetables. If you really don’t have the time it will take to cook up the meat (anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes depending on the meat and how you like it) then buy pre-cooked meat.

If you take time each night you can cut up enough veggies and meat for meals all week. For lunch make it the night before. Buy yogurt on sale and take it to work. Or do what I did for years, I made my sandwich the night before. One slice of bread with chicken, turkey, tuna, egg salad with a piece of fruit. Not only will you eat better but you will save money too!

Breakfast, get up 15-30 minutes early and take the time for a glass of juice with a multi-vitamin and a bowl of cereal, oatmeal, eggs, etc. Be calorie conscious with the cereal, stay away from those high in sugar and calories. However, remember eating a good breakfast is of utmost importance. Research has shown that this is the most important meal of the day. It is the meal that is going to give you the energy to get through the day!

Easy Cooking Ideas

Cooking could be a tiring task for all whether it is working parents, singles or housewives. Preparing lunch boxes for your kids or making lunch and dinner seems like such daunting tasks especially if it is too hot or too cold out there. But why should we worry when we can cook quite easily and conveniently? Feeling confused that how can cooking be easy? Read on to learn how you can switch to easy cooking solutions.

Instead of over burdening yourself, simply adopt easy cooking ideas. No need to go through the tiresome task of baking muffins and breads for breakfast, try smoothies and delectable fruit cereals. To do this, buy a juicer and blender to share your workload and help you create a wonderful breakfast for your loved ones. Juicing is an extremely healthy option for people of all ages and this is why we stress upon using your juicer quite often. Make use of the freshest fruits of the season or try nutritious veggies, all can be done easily if you buy blender that is of top quality.

Research reveals that what you eat has its impact on your brain. So use nuts and seeds to boost the brainpower of your child. Just use a blender to shake nuts and seeds with milk or any other beverage. Make your child have this healthy drink. It improves brain performance so that you and your family gets wholesome nourishment and you better life styles.

Easy cooking not only helps you in kitchen but it also reduces the required cooking time. In such busy routines that we are so accustomed to, we can’t afford to spare 3-4 hours to make curries and casseroles. Buy juicer and food processors to help you make complex recipes without much ado. The time saved will help you spend more quality time with your family. Don’t forget to wear good quality oven gloves when you set out to make a delicious casserole or baked goodies.

Whole grain cereals, berries juices, peanut butter and your favorite veggies all these can be so beneficial to make cooking easy. Buy a blender and make juice, shakes and smoothies along with soups and even porridges.

Buy juicers to make fresh juice of berries, as berries are full of powerful antioxidants which promote strong cognitive function and protect you from negative health issues. How can we forget an avocado here which contributes to healthy blood flow, leading to impressive growth of body and brain. The fruit is also famous for lowering the blood pressure too.

Whether you are into juicing or not, it is a fact that having fresh fruit juice at any time of the day is far more satiating than processed foods and unhealthy items. Make your families habitual of eating vegetables as they are main source of vitamins and full of fuel for healthy brain function.

Do not over-cook them; just stir fry them to save nutritious value that is so important for us. Use green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, cucumber, collard green and cabbage etc., these are powerhouses of minerals and vitamins and these can be cooked in merely minutes.

So do not become sick or afraid of cooking, instead go for easy cooking ideas and choose the most effective ways to nourish your family.

Instead of over burdening yourself, simply adopt easy cooking ideas. No need to go through the tiresome task of baking muffins and breads for breakfast, when you can come up with a wonderful breakfast for your loved ones with your juicers and blenders. All can be done easily if you buy a top quality blender.

7 Perks That Silicone Bakeware Will Bring To Your Kitchen

A silicone mat for cooking offers many benefits. Here are the 7 most significant advantages you will enjoy when you have this type of bakeware in your kitchen.

1. Light-weight.
Silicone is a lightweight product. Non-stick silicone sheet liners can be rolled up for simple storage, a definite benefit over other types of bakeware. The weight is a fraction of the weight of a cookie sheet or other cooking pan, also when you consider it to aluminum or other lightweight products.

2. Resilient.
Even though it is lightweight, silicone is considerably heavy duty. You can presume a Simplicity baking mat, one of the much better brands, to last for years … for countless uses at regular oven temperatures. The material is stain-resistant too. If you’re like most people, you usually want to replace items when they become discolored, even though they are still functional. A Silicone baking mat might discolor somewhat over the years but evident stains are unusual. This is mainly because nothing at all sticks to it, the next significant advantage.

We have definitely all seen pans that are supposed to be non-stick but when the cookies are done, they do not glide right off of the pan. Some sticking is virtually inevitable. This is not the scenario with a silicone baking mat. The product is truly non-stick. Non-stick silicone sheet liners for sizable cooking pans were generally created actually for professional chefs to use because they allowed them to cook batch after batch without spending time on clean-up.

4. Microwave oven Safe.
Few materials are oven and microwave safe. Silicone is one of minority. If you only used your Simplicity Baking mat in the microwave, it would quite likely last a life time. Microwave oven rays have absolutely no effect on the material.

5. Dishwashing machine Secure.
We all would prefer cookware that is dishwasher safe. The Simplicity baking mat can be positioned in the dishwasher on the top rack. Obviously, the mats are so simple to wash you might actually not feel the need to place them in the dishwasher whatsoever. Washing with comfortable soapy water then rinsing is all you absolutely need to do.

6. Economical.
If you cook a great deal, you most likely spend a great deal of money on throw away parchment paper, bakery release paper and waxed paper. And then you spend more money on grease, shortening, oil, flour and oil cooking sprayers and other non-stick sprays. You don’t need to buy any of those elements ever again. Once you possess a great silicone mat in your kitchen, you can easily bake without having buying any of the disposable papers and that renders it an environmentally friendly choice too. You won’t have to purchase grease or oil to prevent sticking and that makes things better for your health.

An additional health advantage is that silicone is actually non-toxic. The exact same can not be said for non-stick coatings like Teflon. Ultimately those coatings will wear off and the toxins get inside your foods. Heating Teflon discharges harmful fumes that could make you sick. The makers certainly never told us those things. It took years for health and wellness groups to obtain the word out and many people are still uninformed.

Hardly ever do you discover a product with many advantages. These 7 are sufficient to convince most folks, but as you use your silicone mat, you will most likely find more advantages, especially if you choose Simplicity Baking Mat.

Healthy Baking The Gluten Free Way

In the past if you needed to bake a gluten free recipe you had to make your own baking mix. This took a lot of trial and error and often resulted in disaster. Now you can purchase gluten free baking mixes like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Biscuit & Baking Mix, Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix, Bisquick Gluten Free Pancake and Baking Mix, King Arthur baking mix, Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix and HEB Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix.

The baking mixes are convenient and easy to use and the results are usually tasty. However, the downside to some of these baking mixes is that they are not as nutritious as they could be. They may not include enriched products like normal baking mixes and flours. They may also be lacking in fiber and have too much fat. I’m going to help you create healthier baked goods with the following tips.

1. Reduce the amount of baking mix in the recipe and add a whole grain flours like Amaranth, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Millet, Oat, Quinoa, Roasted Soy, Sorghum, Sweet Brown Rice or Teff.

2. The recommended daily fiber intake for women is 25 grams and 30 grams for men. Many people don’t meet this requirement on a daily basis. One way of including more fiber in your diet is by adding fiber to your baking mixes. Add ground flaxseed, Chia seeds, nuts or sunflower seeds.

3. Many baking recipes, both gluten free or regular, ask you to include too much butter or oil which increases the fat in your diet. You can safely decrease the butter or oil used by half but you may have to experiment to get the taste and texture of your baked goods just right for you. You can also replace butter or oil with fat free plain yogurt, unsweetened apple sauce, pumpkin puree, prune puree, pureed canned pears or mashed bananas.

4. Reduce the amount of sugar by up to half. For example if a cup of sugar is called for use only a half cup. If you want to use a sugar substitute follow the directions that are on the packaging. You can also reduce the amount of other sugary ingredients like chocolate chips and you can make smaller portion sizes.

5. If your recipe calls for eggs you can either use an egg substitute to reduce cholesterol or use less yolks and more whites. Whip egg whites and fold into the rest of the batter to get lighter baked goods. You can also use the recipe below to substitute for one egg. Double for two eggs, triple for three eggs, etc.

Flax Egg

1 Tbsp Flaxseed Meal

3 Tbsp Water


Combine flaxseed meal and water and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Add this ingredient to your recipe as you would the eggs.

Baking gluten free can easy, nutritious and delicious with just a few adjustments. Try one or more of the tips above in your gluten free recipes to create baked goods that you and your family will love!