Swedish herbal cooking expert shares tips for the holidays and beyond

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Eating plant-based is not the same as being vegan, according to Therese Elgquist, food blogger, recipe creator and culinary expert who is a prominent voice for the herbal movement in Sweden, her home country. .

In Elgquist’s opinion, being vegan involves following a strict lifestyle; whereas plant-based simply means incorporating plants into your diet, which she started adopting when she was in high school. Elgquist said she went from not eating vegetables when she was younger to waking up one day and just wanting to “have all the vegetables in the world.”

As she began to cook more with vegetables and create plant-based dishes, she discovered that there were so many texture and flavor combinations to explore. But she never considered herself a vegan, which she says has become a certain etiquette defined by rules. Someone who wants to eat a more plant-based diet, on the other hand, can eat green one day and consume meat or other animal products the next.

“I decided early on not to call my food vegan but plant-based,” Elgquist says. “People think a lot about vegans and vegan foods. If these are people who are not vegans, they would never choose a vegan burger in a restaurant, or they would never cook vegan recipes, but plant-based is a whole different thing.

Elgquist also believes that cooking a plant-based meal is different from cooking a vegan meal. When you aim to make something plant-based rather than vegan, vegetables and other produce take center stage rather than becoming an afterthought.

“I don’t like serving food where I just remove the meat and put in a substitute,” Elgquist says. “I want to create foods that are good, tasty and beautiful in their own way…. If people started doing more of this I think [they] would find the vegetables even more delicious.

What does plant-based cooking look like for the holiday season? Elgquist has some recommendations on how to introduce vegetable-centric dishes to the family table.

As seen in his new cookbook “Plant Based Cooking for Absolute Beginners”, his culinary philosophy aims to encourage people to prepare simple but hearty and nourishing dishes that not only look beautiful but also delicious. This means that instead of telling them exactly what ingredients are needed, Elgquist prefers to let others know what types of textures and flavors they need. This way, even if they don’t have a particular ingredient on hand, they can still create a delicious meal with what they have.

“It’s supposed to be a Bible for people who want to cook,” she says. If you know the principles of what makes a dish work, then creating a plant-based meal is easy and delicious, according to Elgquist. Something bitter like kale should be combined with sweet, umami, and savory ingredients, for example.

For the holidays, she recommends keeping it simple as the focus should be on time spent with loved ones. Seasonal vegetables, fresh salads such as pecan kale, pomegranate seeds and orange dressing, spreads and dips can provide a nice contrast and balance to the generally heavy foods eaten during this season. . And you can celebrate the holiday flavors by incorporating them into your plant-based cooking with things like orange or mustard dressings or whole oven-roasted stuffed pumpkin.

Elgquist also has tips for people who want to start cooking and eating more plant-based foods after the holidays. The key is to take small steps and focus on learning recipes that you can easily combine with your existing diet rather than trying to master complicated dishes or dramatically change your lifestyle from day one.

You can start by making a few different dressings, move on to hummus and spreads, and then to veggie patties. As you progress, you’ll eventually build up a repertoire of recipes that you can both enjoy and perform well.

Besides offering tips and recipes through her cookbook and blog, Elgquist has other ways to open up people to plant-based eating and help them make it part of their life. life. She currently creates recipes, writes food and travel stories and takes photos for several companies, and is working with a food technology startup to eventually launch a plant-based recipes app that will be available worldwide. She also launched a plant-based food guide for Sweden last year and has produced a series of cooking shows on Swedish TV.

“I just want to be there whenever people want green, plant-based foods when and for what they want,” Elgquist said.

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