If someone had told me years ago that I would have a new appreciation for food if I became a vegan, I’m not sure I would have believed them. Like many people, I just never realized how many doors you open when you lead a vegan lifestyle. One of those doors has food behind it–a delicious array of glorious, mostly nutritious morsels. I listed just five things here that I think I had closed my mind to at one time; but no more! I have three of them in my fridge right now…
Avocados. I grew up in New Jersey—we don’t exactly grow avocados on trees like they do in CA or in North Carolina. I can find them in the food store (at least the Hass variety), but paying $1.50 for one is cost prohibitive. Still, I never realized how nicely they fit into a salad or taco. I never ate much guacamole when I was younger, but it’s one of my favorite snacks now. Avocados are rich in vitamins B, K, and E, and have a high fiber content. Although they are quite fatty, much of the fat is the monosaturated type which is thought to lower cholesterol.
Ethnic food. Okay, so I’m cheating a little with this one–but hear me out. Until I became a vegetarian, I had tasted a small number of ethnic foods—Chinese, Japanese, and Indian. I believe changing my food consumption has opened me up to trying a variety of different kinds of food now. I’ve eaten Ethiopian, Creole, Greek, Middle Eastern, soul food, and Thai—and I would eat them all again (as long as they are vegan, of course). These ethnic foods offer diverse flavor profiles, aromas, and textures. There are so many foods to try and it’s so much fun sampling them all.
Quinoa. Although widely considered a grain, quinoa is a chenopod—an herbaceous plant producing dried fruit seeds. Nutritionally, it’s like a cereal—it contains lysine, calcium, iron, and phosphorous. Quinoa is super-easy to prepare, and unlike rice, isn’t starchy—so you don’t have to watch the pot constantly while it cooks. I throw it into salads and stir-fries—and you can even bake with it. It’s got this rich, nutty flavor–and I eat it quite often.
Kale. Most people who have studied a little about nutrition know that kale is a superfood. It’s high in calcium, vitamins C and K, beta carotene, and lutein. It takes just a little time to cut it up and throw it in a steamer and goes with pretty much any meal. It’s also inexpensive; I bought a bunch the other day for about $2.00 (and that was the organic variety).
Sprouted bread. I never gave much thought to the kind of bread I ate. I was never a fan of white bread (unless my grandma made it), so I usually bought some kind of whole wheat or multigrain bread. When I tried sprouted bread, I realized I was just more satisfied with one piece of it than I was with several pieces of whole wheat. Sprouted bread isn’t milled, so you’re eating the bran and germ of the grain. Additionally, the kind I like has seeds—so I’m getting some important nutrients right on my bread without any thought.
Contrary to so many of the stereotypes about veganism, it’s not a “restrictive diet.” It’s a conscious way of eating and living. It’s opened me up to such a wide variety of tastes–and I’m proud to call myself a “foodie” because of it.