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Vegetarian Cooking Tips

Read these 31 Vegetarian Cooking Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Vegetarian tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Cooking Green Vegetables

If you prefer to cook your vegetables you should know how to test them to be sure they are neither undercooked or overcooked.

Steam or boil until your greens are tender but still a little crispy. After about 4 minutes of cooking test them by piercing a small piece with the tip of a sharp knife, or take a bite and if it resists slightly then they are ready. To stop cooking as well as maintain their color, rinse with cold water immediately after draining.

   
Can I use paper in the microwave?

Paper in the Microwave

Use paper products in your microwave only if you are cooking for less than 10 minutes, otherwise it could ignite and catch on fire. Do not use recycled paper products as they can contain metal bits; or dyed paper products, as the dye could leach into your food.

   
What is an alternative to rice?

Rice Alternatives

Try quinoa or whole wheat couscous instead of rice for a change of pace. They cook faster than rice and will provide nice variety to your diet.

   
How do I prepare herbs for cooking?

Cleaning Fresh Herbs

Whenever cooking with fresh herbs, be sure to wash herbs well. Dirt and soil will hide in crevices and leaf centers. Even a few granules of dirt can spoil a delicate dish. For large bunches of herbs, bathe the leaves in a bowl of cool water, then dry them well
on paper towels before using.

   
How can I improve the taste of canned tomatoes?

Freshen Up Tomatoes

If you want to use fresh tomatoes, but all you can find are tasteless, out-of-season ones, you can freshen canned tomatoes and liven up their taste in order to make them into a viable substitute. Simply drain a can of plum tomatoes and cut each one into 2 or 3 slices. Place them in a shallow glass dish and pour orange juice on top. Refrigerate overnight, then drain, chop and use for your favorite recipe. Great on pizza.

   
How can I make cooking meals easier?

Leftover Rice

When you make a pot of rice, make more than you need at one meal. The leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Rice can be reheated and served with steamed vegetables, bean burritos, tacos, vegetarian chili, used to fill cabbage rolls, make fried rice or rice pudding.

   
How do I cook beans?

How to Cook Beans

For each 1/2 cup soaked beans, do the following:
1) Put the beans in a large pot and add 4 cups water.
2) Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that forms on the surface.
3) Turn down the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until you can pierce the beans with a knife. This will take anywhere from an hour (kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas) to an hour and 40 minutes (black beans, white beans).
Note: To cook lentils, refer to specific recipes.

   
How do I julienne food?

Julienne

To julienne food, cut it into thin matchsticks about 2 inches long. First cut food into slices about 2 inches long and 1/8 inch thick. Stack slices; cut lengthwise into 1/8 inch wide sticks.

   
How can I cook low fat meals?

Low-Fat Cooking

When you use less fat in cooking than is called for in a recipe, spend more time stirring and check the food more often. Foods lower in fat tend to burn more easily.

   
How can I keep from getting in a rut with my cooking?

Avoid Getting in a Rut

To keep yourself from getting into a diet rut, choose a different cookbook each month to plan your meals around. There is a real abundance of vegetarian cookbooks out there, and you will find recipes you never would have otherwise thought of. Plan your meals ahead of time, and make sure you have the necessary ingredients on hand.

   
How can I make cooking meals easier?

Prep Work

When cooking a meal, always do all of the prep work - chopping, peeling, grating, etc. first. You'll be able to complete your meal quickly, and you won't be stuck dicing carrots while the rest of your stir-fry burns.

   
How do I cook with fresh herbs?

Using Fresh Herbs

When cooking with fresh herbs, add them near the end of cooking time. Unlike dried herbs, which are best added to cooked dishes early on, the flavors of fresh
herbs stand out best when just picked and barely cooked.

   
How do I cook beans and corn?

No Tough Beans or Corn

To avoid toughening beans and corn when they are cooking, only add salt to the pot when cooking is half finished.

   
How do I bake soft bread?

Baking Bread

When bread is baking, a small dish of water in the oven will help to keep the crust from getting too hard or brown.

   
How do I plan vegetarian meals?

Planning, Cooking, Preparing

More than likely you'll be pleasantly surprised to find the planning, cooking and preparing of vegetarian foods to be fun, simple, convenient, and less costly than you are used to. It just takes a shift in thinking and a few variations. And, just like meal planning in general, it can be as simple or elaborate as you make it.

   
How do I cool food quickly?

Quickly Cooling Food

To cool food quickly and evenly, spread it out and make more surface area by transferring it to a shallower pan or dividing it among several small shallow containers. You could also try placing the hot pan in the sink on a cooling rack with cool water running underneath it. You can help hot liquids like soups and sauces cool by stirring them constantly.

   
What can I use as a baking soda substitute?

Baking Powder Substitute

For each 1 teaspoon of baking powder called for in a recipe, you can make a substitute by using 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar.

   
How do I soak beans?

How To Soak Beans

Soaking beans serves two functions. It cuts the cooking time by up to half and it makes the beans easier to digest. When you throw out the soaking liquid, you are getting rid of much of the indigestible sugars that cause gas. Also, the beans retain their nutrients.

1) Rinse the beans in a sieve and pick through them, throwing out any pebbles or discolored beans you may find. 2) Put them in a large pot and add enough water to cover them by at least an inch. 3) Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain any remaining water, and add fresh water for cooking.

For a quicker version:

1) Rinse beans, put them in a large pot, and add water to cover them by an inch. 2) Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, lower, the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. 3) Turn off the heat and let the beans sit, covered, for 1 hour. Drain the soaking water, and add fresh water for cooking.

   
What can I use to replace a strainer?

Homemade Strainer

If you find yourself without a strainer or colander, you can make your own by poking holes in an aluminum pie plate with a knife. This should work great for straining vegetables or pasta.

   
How do I substitute eggs in a recipe to make it vegan?

Homemade Egg Substitutes

In many recipes, you can create your own egg substitute by any of the following methods: use one ounce of mashed tofu; use 1/2 mashed banana in sweet recipes; mix one tablespoon of flax meal with two tablespoons water; or use one tablespoon of cornstarch or arrowroot mixed with two tablespoons of water. These techniques will help the recipe to "bind" when eggs are included for that purpose.

   
What can I use as a replacement for a rolling pin?

Rolling Pin Substitute

If a rolling pin isn't handy, try using a chilled, unopened bottle of wine with straight sides as a replacement. The weight and temperature of the bottle let you roll out your dough with very little effort.

   
How can I make cooking meals easier?

Recipe Modifications

When you modify a recipe, use a pencil to make notes on the original recipe of what substitutions you made and how much of each ingredient you used. After tasting the dish, write down suggestions for improvements or any minor adjustments you'd like to make next time. Whenever you make an adjustment, erase and update your notes on the recipe.

   
What does dice mean in a recipe?

Dice

Diced foods are small, uniform cubes of about 1/4 inch in size. To dice, first cut the food into matchsticks or shreds. Bundle pieces together; slice cross-wise into uniform cubes.

   
Are pressure cookers a good cooking tool?

Pressure Cookers

Modern pressure cookers are a great tool and can make cooking vegetarian meals very convenient. They seal in nutrients, reduce cooking time, and cut down on the number of pots needed. They are definitely a worthy investment if you would like to make meal preparation faster and easier.

   
What does mince mean in a recipe?

Mince

In recipes requiring minced ingredients, cut the food into tiny irregular pieces, less than 1/8 inch in size.

   
What do I need in myt kitchen?

Be Prepared to Prepare

The key to preparing great meals, however, isn't just having the food, it's being prepared. There are some things that a good kitchen just shouldn't be without and the following list is composed of these things:


  • 8" or 10" Chef Knife: A good chef's knife makes chopping all of those vegetables a cinch.

  • Cutting Boards: Aside from providing a place to cut up all those veggies for those vegetarian dishes, a good chopping board can also help to keep your knives sharp.

  • Dental Floss: It may sound silly but dental floss is a useful tool to have in the kitchen. You can use floss to cut things that are gooey or that stick to your knives.

  • Potato Ricer: This handy tool can help you make perfect mashed potatoes and can help to prepare almost any root vegetable.

  • Zip Lock Bags: These can be used to store leftovers or to make a pastry bag in a pinch.

  • Scissors: Great for snipping fresh herbs and spices for that special sauce or to open tricky packages.

   

Top 5 Celebrity Vegetarian Chefs

More and more folks nowadays are choosing to go vegetarian and for many different reasons. Some choose this diet for political reasons, others for reasons of ethics, and still others simply because of the health benefits. Let's look at the celebrity chefs that identify with this diet!

1. Jason Wrobel - Mr. Wrobel is a raw food chef who happens to be vegetarian. He attained his fame for his dishes based off of plants and will soon be taking over a show on the Cooking Channel. As far as being a Chef goes, making it to network television is one of the peaks of the career!

2. Tai Ronnen - One of the most renowned celebrity vegetarian Chefs around. He has done most of his work out of L.A. and the Madeleine Bistro. He has cooked for everyone in Hollywood, including Oprah.

3. Laura Theodore - Also known as the "Jazzy Vegetarian", Laura has gained her fame through her singing abilities, hosting talents, and her cooking. She has a cook book in stores and a radio show to broadcast her thoughts.

4. Isa Moskowitz - Isa stood at the forefront of vegetarian cooking when her decision to ditch meat and animal products in the '80s brought her to critical acclaim. She has a huge personality and her work as an activist, which led her to her TV Show, Post Punk Kitchen, makes her a great ambassador for green food.

5. Alice Waters - Is the owner of the Chez Panisse. She is a famous chef, writer, and owner. She started vegetarian education with her school "The Edible School Yard"

   

Which celebs are Vegetarians and Why?

Many celebrities are vegetarian or vegan. Vegetarians do not eat meat, vegans take that lifestyle a step further and refuse to consume any products that come from animals, including butter, cream, milk. In the strictest form of the lifestyle, vegans won't wear leather/silk/wool or fur. For some it's a passing phase, for others its a permanent lifestyle change, here are a few celebs that made the commitment:.


  • Andre 3000 Benjamin of Outkast - Even though many of his hip-hop and rap contemporaries disagree with his choice, Andre has been a proud vegan since 1996.

  • Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi - the super popular couple decided to commit to a vegan lifestyle together, no doubt having a spouse's support helped tremendously in what is a massive lifestyle change

  • Russell Brand - The British comedian says that he became a vegetarian at age fourteen. He maintains that even when he was addicted to heroin, he still wouldn't eat meat. Brand was crowned Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity in 2011

  • President Bill Clinton - After leaving the White House, prompted by two heart procedures and advice from a trusted doctor, Clinton gave up his meat and fat filled diet to begin a vegetarian lifestyle, during the transformation, he dropped over twenty pounds

  • Al Gore - Former Vice President took awhile to convert, but eventually he followed his running mate's lead and switched to a vegan diet in late 2013.

  • Carrie Underwood - Carrie swore off meat at the age,of thirteen. Being raised on a farm, Underwood just couldn't imagine eating one of her own animals

  • Woody Harrelson - Harrelson has been an advocate of veganism for years. His latest venture is co-owning the very first organic vegan beer garden

These are just a few of the celebrities who are vegan. Whether they want to get healthy or advocate for animals, being a vegetarian is all over Hollywood and won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

   
Is gluten bad for people?

Gluten Can Be Your Friend

Because of the tiny minority of people with celiac disease (currently estimated at 1 out of 133 people in the U.S.), and another five to ten percent who have some form of gluten intolerance, gluten has been receiving very bad press. Many people whose bodies have no trouble at all with gluten may still assume that it presents a health hazard.

This is simply untrue. For most vegetarians, the gluten in good bread provides a wholesome form of protein. One ounce of vital wheat gluten provides 21 grams of protein and eight percent of the average daily iron requirement. In addition, of the 104 calories in this ounce of gluten, only four of those calories are from fat. And gluten is an excellent source of selenium, which is helpful in protecting the body's cardiovascular system.

Buying gluten flour and adding a few tablespoonfuls it to whole-grain bread recipes will produce loaves of superior texture and far greater nutritive value.

   
What does chop mean in a recipe?

Chopping

If a recipe asks you to chop the ingredients, this means to cut the food into small, irregular pieces about the size of peas.

   

Preparing Vegetarian Dishes

It's true that you could never get through every great vegetarian food recipe out there but that doesn't mean that preparing one will take you hours on end. Choosing to prepare a fabulous vegetarian dish doesn't have to entail slaving away in the kitchen. In fact, many veggie recipes can be pulled off in less than thirty minutes.

By taking a short trip to you local library, browsing the Internet, or picking up a simple cookbook at the bookstore, you can easily put together a collection of quick and delicious meatless meals to keep in your kitchen. If you really don't have the time to cook at all, there are countless preprepared packaged vegetarian dishes available as well.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Joe Wallace