Important Things to Know About These Recipes
The first thing to know is that these recipes are not for beginning cooks. While most recipes are fairly simple and easy to make, I don’t include detailed instructions for things that most cooks should already know. For example, I assume that you know the difference between chopped and minced, that you know that you need to remove the seeds from bell peppers before slicing, and that you have mastered other common cooking techniques. If you are new to cooking, find a great beginner or all-purpose cookbook for reference before tackling these recipes.
This is also not a manual for going vegan. This blog and cookbook are simply collections of my favorite recipes, and I happen to be vegan. I’ve been vegetarian / vegan for more than 20 years, so the vegan thing is just something that I am, but not something I spend a lot of time thinking about anymore. If you want to become vegan, there are plenty of books with detailed guidance about ingredients and vegan cooking techniques, but this isn’t one of them.
In most of my recipes, I go really light on the oil, which is just a personal preference on my part. I also tend to use non-stick pans that require very little oil when cooking. If you are using regular cookware or prefer to use a little more oil, you can safely double or triple the amount of oil in most of these recipes. Use your best judgment and increase the oil if you prefer a little more.
While I make extensive use of tofu and tempeh, you won’t find many faux meat recipes here. I’m really not a fan of the fake chicken nuggets, lunchmeat slices, not dogs or similar products. Most of them are a bit too processed and just not particularly appealing to me for some reason. I will occasionally try them when I see a new brand in the store, but they never make their way into regular rotation as a favorite. They fall into the category of “weird” food that I avoid most of the time.
Almost every recipe has a list of variations following the instructions, and I encourage you to read the variations before you start cooking. I like to use the ingredients that I have lying around the kitchen, and I look at it as a great challenge to make something a little random out of ingredients that I have on hand. Some of my favorite recipes have come out of a need to use some group of ingredients before they went bad. Many of the variations are a result of substituting one ingredient for something I already had in the pantry rather than making a special trip to the store to buy something that I can do without. I also like to make things a little different every time to avoid getting in a boring food rut, so it’s nice to be able to riff off of a single recipe to end up with several different variations on a theme. As a result, I tend to be a very flexible cook, and I wanted to encourage others to adapt the recipes for a little more variety.
Gluten-Free and Low-Sodium
For any recipe that can be easily adapted to be gluten-free or low-sodium, I’ve included details in the variation section.
I have a few friends who can’t eat any gluten, so I always try to bring gluten-free meals to parties. The first time I decided to make something specifically gluten-free, it seemed like it would be really difficult until I realized that much of what I make is already gluten-free. If you avoid processed food with a million ingredients and cook with fresh vegetables, whole non-gluten grains and spices, the gluten-free part is fairly simple.
I’ve also included many recipes that can be easily made with little to no salt for my mom. When she realized that she couldn’t have much salt if she wanted to keep her blood pressure in check, cooking for mom became a culinary challenge for me. Like with gluten-free cooking, if you cook with real food and avoid processed ingredients, you can reduce the salt in many recipes to almost nothing. I’m a huge fan of tamari and soy sauces, so reducing the sodium was a little more challenging. In many cases, I rely on balsamic vinegar to replace the flavor from tamari or use flavorful ingredients, like coconut milk, in Asian cooking.