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Improving your cooking skills

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One thing you’ll experience after adopting a healthier plant-based diet is that you’ll be doing a lot more cooking. This may or may not be a plus depending on your comfort level in the kitchen. If, like me, you find your skills a little lacking, don’t worry. There are lots of great resources to turn you into a talented home chef.

For cooking fundamentals that all chefs learn in culinary school, try the video lessons from Rouxbe Cooking School. For vegetarians, they offer good videos on sautéing, steaming, knife skills, making stock, soups, and more. You can sign up for a free lesson on their home page.

YouTube is another excellent resource. Look for channels by vegetarian chefs and cooking schools. You can learn so much by watching a skilled chef prep a dish. Two of my favorite channels are Deryn Macey’s Running on Real Food and the Culinary Institute of America, which has some very good vegetarian recipe videos like this one for Pinto Bean and Quinoa Burgers:

To better understand how ingredients work together, read The Science of Cooking by Peter Barham. You’ll learn the chemistry and physics of cooking to give you a good base knowledge from which you can formulate your own recipes.

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman is another wonderful resource. It’s packed with over 2,000 recipes and includes cooking techniques and lots of helpful information.

If you prefer face-to-face instruction, look in your local community for cooking workshops and demonstrations. Cooking schools will often offer an evening demo, and many kitchen stores have workshops and events on the weekends.

Once you have the basics under your belt, it’s all about practice and taste. It won’t be long before you have a repertoire of favorite recipes and techniques, and don’t forget to enjoy your time in the kitchen. For me, it’s a time to turn off all thoughts of work and responsibilities, listen to some nice music and enjoy the textures and aromas. It’s good for the soul!

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