Cooking Vegetarian Food

The worldwide growth in chronic lifestyle diseases (CLDs) and the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions generated by livestock farming are creating more vegetarian converts. The surge in research and interest in vegetarianism has led to new vegetarian recipes and even new schools of vegetarian cuisine that are sure to freshen up your vegetarian cookbook.

As its popularity at the center of many healthy heart programs grows, the Mediterranean diet is experiencing a resurgence based on new health findings. This  vegetable, fruit, nut and grain-laden diet continues to lower the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease through a focus on cholesterol-lowering healthy fats such as the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil and the omega-3 fatty acids in seafood. Separate studies have recently shown it may also stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, improve brain function and reduce brain damage.

Not to be outdone by warmer climates, the Nordic diet contains many of the same ingredients as the Mediterranean diet but with a Nordic flare and Northern European vegetarian ingredients.  Given the newness of the Nordic Cuisine Movement, its vegetarian recipes are still a work-in-progress.  Less commonly used grains such as spelt and barley provide a nice complement to seasonal root vegetables and highly nutritious dark green vegetables, such as kale and Brussels sprouts.

Israeli cuisine is also capitalizing on the popularity of Mediterranean health. Influenced by Kosher laws and lots of fresh vegetables, this cuisine is an easy place to find good vegetarian eats. Described in the New York Times as a “fusion of 60 cultures,” Israeli cuisine starts the day with a vegetable salad and high-protein accompaniments like yogurt, eggs or cheese. Many vegetarians already incorporate Israeli staples like veggie couscous, falafel and hummus into their diet.  Other signature dishes include nutritious and high energy foods such as beans and potatoes.

Ethiopian cooking is growing in popularity and sparking interest in other African cuisines.  One of the most valuable aspects of Ethiopian cuisine is the central role of the high protein lentil bean. The investment in Ethiopian recipes is well worth it for the widest variety of lentil recipes among international cuisines. Its prized sauce, Berbere, is hard to obtain locally in the West so a good Ethiopian cookbook or cooking class will be required.  In addition, the staple grain of Ethiopia, Teff, is a high-protein, high-iron alternative to wheat that happens also to contain all nine essential amino acids, making it a rare, complete vegetarian source of protein.

With new research on the health benefits of the spice of life, curry, you may want to sign up for an Indian cooking class. Few Westerners have really mastered Indian cuisine and most simplify it to a yellow curry sauce. The wide variety of Indian curries are meant to complement one another in taste, nutrients and even medicinal value, as well as provide a delectable way of adding variety to vegetarian dishes. Making the perfect Indian curry is not as easy as you may think. No exact measurements exist in many Indian kitchens. To master the right pinch of this and that, it is best experienced through a cooking class.

There may be more Indian restaurants than pubs in England today, but we still have much too learn about vegetarian cuisine in other parts of the world. With the fusion of Asian and Western business, Asian cuisine, from Thailand to China, may be experiencing the most fusion. With more culinary cross-pollination and cultivation of vegetarian recipes, a natural fusion continues to take place, making vegetarian cuisine the healthiest and tastiest place to be on earth.

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