Tons of Assist: Indiana Nash – Pandemic gave me an opportunity at more healthy consuming habits

Everything in life was turned upside down in the past year. So I wondered why I shouldn’t change almost everything about my diet.

Last spring I began to look more closely at my health. After watching too many documentaries and reading too many nutrition books and articles, I settled on a whole plant-based diet.

These words have been used in some fairly successful marketing campaigns over the past few years, but their definition has grown cloudy. I prefer to keep it simple and stick to the definition given by Dr. Long time nutrition advocate T. Colin Campbell said, “Consume a variety of whole plant-based foods [and] Avoid consuming animal-based foods. “

I am hardly the first person to attempt such a change during the pandemic. A recent study by the IFIC Foundation (International Information Council) found that interest in plant-based protein consumption has increased over the past year.

But even before the pandemic, consumers were more interested in diet / . A 2019 study by Ipsos Retail Performance found that the number of Americans turning to a plant-based diet has reached 9.7 million since 2004, up from around 290,000 in 15 years.

There are many reasons for moving. People are more concerned about their health and finances. There are also more products that are purportedly healthier, plant-based alternatives.

I chose this diet for a variety of reasons, maybe mainly because I just feel better eating this way. However, it took me a while to adjust. Avoiding animal products meant reevaluating everything about the way I cook and bake, from the recipes to the techniques.

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It was a little overwhelming at first, and there were many moments while shopping in the grocery store that I reached for a previous staple like cheese or chicken noodle soup and said, “Wait, I don’t need this anymore. “When ordering takeout, I paid more attention to the ingredients used, although there are plenty of great options in the capital area when it comes to plant-based meals.

In the kitchen, I’ve discovered so many recipes that taste better than the ones I made before, recipes that made my husband eat mostly plant-based too. That says something when you consider that he joked for years about opening a store called “Meat and Bread” where he would just – you guessed it – sell meat and bread.

The easiest (and most rewarding) recipe is cauliflower tacos. There are tons of versions of this recipe, but I just took a head of cauliflower, chopped it into florets, and seasoned it with chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and some salt. Then I bake the whole thing for about 30-35 minutes. I usually fill it up with pickled red onions, salsa, cilantro, and the occasional hummus.

Another staple food is roasting with tofu. We’ve done stir-fry chicken and had some pretty inconsistent results. The chicken would end up a little overcooked or not flavorful enough.

That has never happened to this version of tofu. I had always stayed away from tofu in the past mainly because I had no idea how to cook with it. For this recipe alone, I’m glad I learned it. After squeezing it for about 30 minutes, I cut it into cubes, glaze it, and then bake it for 30 minutes. Then I add it to a large pan that’s filled with peppers, onions, broccoli, and green beans. I serve it with brown rice and the whole thing fills up without being heavy or too rich.

Many of the dishes my husband and I prefer include a combination of peppers, onions, black beans, and rice. They’re delicious – and pretty easy to make – but we wanted to expand on them a bit. At the beginning of this year, we set ourselves the goal of learning a new dish at least a few times a month. We also subscribe to Misfits Market, a service that works with farms to sell products that are not accepted by retailers and could otherwise be wasted. We try to focus our recipes on the products delivered, be it a butternut squash or a head of cauliflower.

The only thing I haven’t reconfigured is my baking technique. I baked cookies, brownies, and cakes several times a month just because I liked it.

But baking without animal products was more difficult than I expected. During the vacation, I tried a sugar cookie recipe that was a flop, and I haven’t found success with any of the other recipes either. It could be that I’ve gotten a little lazy since figuring out how easy it is to make “nice cream” or non-dairy ice cream. There are several different ways to prepare it, but my favorite is mixing a frozen banana, cinnamon, a spoonful of peanut butter, and a dash of oat milk. The texture is similar to that of soft serve and almost as sweet.

Learning how to cook differently was a wonderful distraction in a year when nothing and everything happened at the same time. With most of the plans with friends either canceled or postponed online, we had more time to experiment in the kitchen. These new recipes became something we could share with our family about via video chat and virtual dinners.

While there are many things in daily life that I hope will return to pre-pandemic times, my previous diet is not one of them.

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For more information, see our dedicated Heaping Helpings section:

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