Savory, smoky, crispy Mushroom and Eggplant Bacon from my plant-based kitchen.
My experience eating meat-free for three years now, has been without an ounce of deprivation, regret or skimping on delicious flavor.
Initially, as a plant-based eater, I looked to some of the most common meat substitutes like soy that tastes like chicken and veggie-burgers that share hamburger's sensibility to get me through the night. But these days, it's more about a secret ingredient introduced it seems, by my exposure to vegan activism and culture. I'm not vegan at this time. I say 'at this time' because as a coach I take the position that our eating and lifestyle is ever evolving - day to-day and year-to-year. Obviously my eating choices have changed over the past several years and six months ago I ate slightly differently than I do today. I listen to my body more than ever and this hugely influences how I process nutrition information from the outside.
And while not a vegan, I lean most days into the vegan eating style. My plant-powered life is fueled creating simple, flavor-packed dishes with limited ingredients. I have a deep respect for the compassionate eating compass of a growing global vegan community as I discover what works for my body.
But back to the secret ingredient! As I have became more experimental in the kitchen eating a diet of mostly plants, my search for and adaptation of palette provoking nutrient dense recipes has become almost sport for me. With recipe bloggers exploding all over the internet and social media, it's not difficult to build an arsenal of plant-powered favorites and eat like a king all week long. And along the way I learn new things.
A Japanese term which has consumed me as of late is UMAMI - or savory taste - the sort omnivores experience all the time. This is the taste that alongside salty, sweet, sour and bitter is considered the fifth taste. Umami represents a meaty layer of flavor. Meats have umami in spades. Vegans often find this richly satisfying flavor in plant foods including: mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, seaweed, fermented foods (sauerkraut) and tamari, avocado, cheezy nutritional yeast, Japanese miso paste, sweet potato, toasted cumin & sesame seeds and olives. Umami is released as well, in the cooking process, specifically in rendering, grilling and roasting.
Vegan talk show host Ellen DeGeneres recently had Drew Barrymore and her Hollywood Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder on the show preparing some of Drew's favorite healthy plant-based recipes. Kimberly demonstrated her Wild West Eggplant Bacon. I decided to tackle that dish bursting with umami. It didn't disappoint. I have some left which I'm tempted to add to a Mexican rice bowl with guacamole for lunch!
Excited to discover the secret weapon for adding a powerhouse of flavor to meat-free dishes I dashed back to my Nourishing Breakfasts board on Pinterest to dig out a drool-worthy Mushroom Bacon recipe recently stashed away. Check it out here: Ronna Corlin on Pinterest .
While initially I couldn't fathom removing meat from my plate for an extended period of time, umami has made me forget what I'm not missing. And I'm convinced that since my plant-based adventures as a non-cook have gotten me into the kitchen more, my fridge and pantry filled with umami-enhancing foods have helped in obliterating cravings while taking my energy and health north as I age.
Time to pick a balsamic vinegars from my cupboard. Should it be fig, pear, golden, cherry, orange, apple or vanilla today? I'll toss it over dark leafies in a colorful salad as big as my head. Topped with a deliciously prepared savory nut-based dressing I can bank on flying through this afternoon without turbulence. No cravings or 3PM slump - way to start the work week.
Gotta love a secret weapon.
Peace and plants,