Now, this time between seasons is when garden plots everywhere are brimming over with bounty — and choices. Use this golden moment to experiment with all that growing greenery. Don’t relegate vegetables to side dishes, let ’em be the stars of dinner.
There’s plenty of inspiration out there that you can reap for your own dietary advantage, however you define it. Cooks, chefs and cookbook authors are expanding the boundaries of what it means to enjoy a vegetable-centric diet. At one end, it might be all about going vegan — no animal products at all, including honey or dairy. At the other, it might be cooking just one dinner a week where meat or fish or poultry isn’t the star protein.
This reality is noted in a new cookbook, “The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods” (Ten Speed, $25).
“I eat a vegetarian diet with a few sustainable seafood options on occasion — my husband eats everything and I plan to let my kids make their own decision,” writes the author, Sara Forte. “I don’t draw a hard line and suggest that the choices I make are right ones for everyone, but I do believe that you are responsible for making wise choices in the proteins you choose to eat.”
Lisa Ekus, who represents many food writers and authors at her eponymous agency in Hatfield, Mass., is seeing more “vegetable-driven” cookbooks, with emphasis on the veggies even if some of the recipes contain meat as well.
People are willing to try new ingredients, she says, and meat or fish doesn’t have to be the protein on the plate. A number of those who do cook and eat meat have a family member who is vegetarian, she adds. Unwilling or unable to cook two meals at a time, these cooks are “eating less meat and looking to do more than a simple nod to vegetarians,” she says.
That range of choices is highlighted on the cover of the new cookbook “Grain Mains: 101 Surprising and Satisfying Whole Grain Recipes for Every Meal of the Day” (Rodale, $24.95), from Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. There, above the title, are the words: “Meat friendly. Vegan. Vegetarian.”
“Some people are so excited to see the vegan recipes in there,” says Weinstein, “while all of my meat-loving friends and family are saying, ‘Thank God, you didn’t do a vegan book.’ … We wanted to make sure we have offerings for everybody.”
The pair, Weinstein says, wanted to “highlight the deliciousness” of whole grains in a variety of dishes. The book focuses on adding “real” foods like whole grains to one’s diet rather than cutting foods out.
“I hope we’re evolving out of that Puritan mind set of don’t eat this and don’t eat that,” he says. “We should eat everything, we are designed to eat everything.”