I’m sure when you are walking down the aisle in your local supermarket, you have noticed the growing number of products listed as ‘plant-based’, ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ and are intrigued by the health benefits they may offer. Perhaps you are already following a plant-based diet and would like to know more about your favourite foods? Whatever the case may be, when it comes to the world of plant-based foods, there is always something new to learn.
What exactly are plant-based foods? They are foods that are derived from plants including fruits, vegetables, roots, herbs, nuts, whole grains, stems, seeds, and natural oils. Although, some plant-based foods can be vegan and vegetarian, a big misconception is that a plant-based diet is a vegan or vegetarian diet, when this is not necessarily the case.
Cooking with plant-based ingredients can be described as ‘working on a blank canvas’. Plant-based often means that the ingredients are unprocessed and raw, but this is not an automatic given. Plant-based foods are typically replacing refined carbohydrates, usually white, with wholegrain and doesn’t tend to include refined sugar. This food can offer more flavoursome dishes and considering all the excellent plant-based varieties, there will be no shortage of inspiration for creating recipes.
Here is a run-through of everything you should know about plant-based foods…
Fruit and vegetables
We’ve all heard about the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day that is necessary if you want to maintain good health and wellbeing. They are versatile to cook with, you can keep raw, boil, steam sauté or bake. The endless options mean that you can find a distinct way of cooking that works for you. Because of this, you can really get creative with the recipes, being as expressive and inventive as you want.
Plant-based diets can provide so many great quality sources of protein such as beans, quinoa, almonds/almond butter, buck wheat, soybeans, lentils and so on. Your body needs protein to make enzymes and hormones, and it is an essential for repairing damaged cells and building your bones, muscles and blood. The body needs a large amount to utilise it; approximately 0.75g for each kilogram you weigh. Often, when people think of protein sources, the first things that comes to mind are meat, fish and poultry. You don’t have to entirely give up meat or dairy products, but give lentils, grains and pulses a try for your daily dose!
Plant-based desserts can be just as delicious without sacrificing the health benefits. You can create both traditional and contemporary pastries and desserts using dairy-free ingredients, while utilising the natural sweetness and fruit or vegetables.
Grains, nuts, pulses and seeds
Eating more grains, nuts, pulses and seeds are a key part of a plant-based diet. Foods like these provide the essential macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Protein and Fats) to your diet and are essential to plant-based and vegetarian diets. There is a huge range of tasty recipes you can create using grains, nuts, pulses and seeds.
The UK’s first ever plant-based programme will be launched in 2020!
In response to the popularity of plant-based foods, the UK’s first ever Diploma in Plant-Based Culinary Arts will be launching in January 2020 by Le Cordon Bleu London. The programme, which can be studied in 3 months will also have a second intake in June 2020.
Le Cordon Bleu’s Cuisine Chef, Colin Westal explains just exactly why a course like this is necessary:
“Our Plant Based Course will cover Cuisine and Pastry elements. Our Chefs will pass on knowledge and techniques to allow the students to understand and cook seasonal ingredients not only from the UK but Europe and around the world. Throughout the 3 month course the students will build up a portfolio of knowledge ranging from roots, bulbs, stems, shoots and leaves in both Cuisine and Pastry. This will enable the students to understand the difference in structure and uses from the whole plant.”
The programme will celebrate only plant-derived foods and their range of varieties through a catalogue of creative and brand-new recipes. The course will also teach the classical culinary techniques for preparing and cooking using plant-based ingredients.
If you would like to learn how to cook plant-based foods and would like to know more about this programme, please visit the website at www.cordonbleu.edu where you can also find out more about Le Cordon Bleu’s other programmes and courses!