PODCAST: Season 2 EP #1 Chef Nina’s Tips On How To Master Cooking Vegan

Title: Cooking Vegan In The Kitchen Made Easy

Description: Feeling overwhelmed about cooking Vegan?  This episode is for you. Executive Chef, Nina Curtis gives useful tips for cooking plant based meals. From food prep to cooking with herbs & spices to must have kitchen tools… Chef Nina will alleviate any anxiety you are feeling and get you on the road to being a successful plant based home chef. 

Can’t Miss Moments:

  • How to tackle cooking a whole vegan meal without being overwhelmed

[5:52 – 6:47] Once you see what’s really important to you, then I’m going to say tell me what foods you like, what are the top foods that you could eat every day? Now, I’m leaning into you and I am compassionate about, so now I want to know what makes you beam when you think about a dish. It doesn’t need you have it every day, but you could if you were willing to do what it took to prepare it. Because it could be elaborate or it could be very comforting food, so once we start there, I can start narrowing down when I’ve worked with people…they’re like, ‘Oh I can wrap my head around this’… I think it’s a lot easier if you wrap your head around it with some familiarity. 

  • Food Prepping

[15:45 – 16:32] I used to food prep for people, so I would have everything organized when they open their refrigerator, I may even have a menu on their refrigerator…so I open it up, and you know just where to go, and if you take that mindset…no matter what food you’re eating just get some of your basics down, when you come from the grocery store, clean your vegetables…have everything easy to grab, because I find when people transition into plant-based or vegan, the labeling is what can kill them before they can even get off the running board.

  • Vegan chefs cooking vegetables

[18:34 – 19:14] Everybody thinks they can cook vegetables. Everybody says ‘Oh yes, culinary school. We learned to cook vegan…and to some degree that’s true, but there is not the emphasis on the technique that are particular to cooking vegetables so that they stand against a meat dish. In culinary school, they’re cooked as a side dish…a huge difference.

  • Understanding spices/herbs and what they can do

[37:46 – 39:00] I go what are the cuisines you like? Like say Mexican. We’re going to use more of your chipotle, your cayenne…your Mexican oregano and not your regular oregano, so to get your head wrapped around it, what do you eat? And then we know at holiday time, what makes that turkey and that dressing taste so good? What are those herbs in that? Thyme and sage…you know those herbs and then you go over to say Indian. You go to India and then there’s all those curries…38:57 So I try to make it more palatable and to get your head wrapped around. Focus on the foods you like. 

  • Making cooking convenient 

[28:27 – 29:24] When you put it into perspective and you’re talking about someone who’s not going to school to be a professional, that’s where I start saying wait a minute, you don’t have to think you have to do all of this. 20 plus years ago there was half available what there is today and good available. There were some things available, but who wanted to eat them? Like spam coming out of a can. So I’m really mindful…intentional. Like what do you at home, busy life, kids, family. What do you really need to worry about trying to make from scratch? I work in a scratch kitchen, so we do a lot from scratch, but that’s a part of what we do. At home, if I grab something like boxed mac and cheese, I’m going to come home and doctor it up.

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