By Molly Patrick
Apr 13, 2019,
Many years ago, I decided to follow an organic raw vegan diet.
My decision to do this was prompted by the copious amounts of alcohol I was drinking and cigarettes I was smoking. I figured that if I was trashing my body with substances then I may as well go balls-to-the-wall healthy with my food (or what I understood to be healthy at that time).
My organic raw vegan diet lasted all of 9 days.
I struggled all 9 of those days, but the last and final straw was an unfortunate raw Pad Thai recipe that I found online. The strands of zucchini noodles were mushy and wet, the peanut sauce was flat and boring and the veggies were crunchy and cold. I wasn’t feelin’ it.
I wanted a big bowl of warm soup.
I wanted pasta that I could bite into.
I wanted stir-fried veggies.
I wanted baked tofu.
I wanted steamed broccoli.
I wanted a piping hot bowl of oatmeal.
I couldn’t do another day of cold food that fell flat on flavor.
My reasons for testing out a raw diet weren’t coming from a great place. I didn’t want to go raw; I wanted to feel less guilty for trashing my body, and I thought going raw would help achieve that.
What I really needed to do was stop drinking and smoking and fall in love with a plant based diet; hot soups, whole grain pastas, sautéed veggies, cooked grains and all!
Eventually, that’s what I did.
When making the transition to a new, healthier way of eating, the food has to taste good or your new way of eating won’t last. We have to eat several times a day, every day and if you’re dreading every single meal, it zaps the joy right out of eating. And eating should absolutely be enjoyed since we do it so often.
One thing to keep in mind is that taste buds are not stagnant. They have the ability to adapt and change, and the information the taste buds send to the brain also has the ability to adapt and change. This is why it can take a couple of weeks for people to enjoy whole plant foods when coming off from the Standard American Diet (SAD). This is also why super unhealthy foods are no longer enjoyable to most people after they are used to eating a whole food plant based diet.
And this is exactly why it can be tricky when switching to plants. You have to give it a couple weeks before you get an accurate idea of what healthy food really tastes like. If you get our meal plans, lucky you, you found an amazing resource for whole food plant based recipes that are consistently delicious and full of flavor.
If you’re brand new to eating this way and you’re used to eating fast food, meat, dairy and processed food then it might take a couple of weeks to fully enjoy the meal plans, but once your taste buds change, you are going to love the food more than you ever thought possible. I see it happen all the time.
When navigating new tastes, flavors, textures and ingredients, it’s helpful to understand the difference between flavor and taste because it can play a role in how you experience food.
Taste is what we perceive in the mouth through our taste buds.
There are 5 basic tastes:
1. Sweet (beets, cooked onions, corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, fruit, etc..)
2. Salt (sea salt, miso, pickles, seaweed, etc…)
3. Sour (citrus, vinegar, sauerkraut, etc…)
4. Bitter (parsley, arugula, collard greens, celery, cranberries etc…)
5. Umami, sometimes called savory (tomatoes, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, vegetable broth, etc…)
Taste is limited to the mouth, which makes sense because this is where our taste buds are located. We can absolutely experience all of these tastes from whole plant foods, so we don’t miss out on any of these tastes when eating this way.
Flavor is much more complex. Flavor is a multi-dimensional experience made up of taste, smell, emotions, and the physical sensations felt in the mouth, like spice, texture and temperature.
You can think of taste as a violin and flavor as the entire symphony.
Taste is only one component of flavor and when you eat, there’s a whole range of other things going on that help determine how you respond to what you’re eating and whether or not you like your food. This is helpful to know because when switching to a healthy plant based diet, there are other things you experiment with, apart from the food, that will help you enjoy this new way of eating.
We want the entire glorious symphony at work, not just one instrument.
Here are some ideas to help get you started:
// When you plate your meal, make it look nice instead of simply plopping it onto your plate. This will appeal to your visual sense.
// When you’re cooking and eating, blow out any floral scented candles and unplug air fresheners that might interfere with the smell of your yummy homemade food.
// Play around with the texture of your food by having at least two or three different textures. If you’re having pureed soup, add some crunchy sunflower seeds and avocado. If you’re having a salad, add some beans, chopped nuts, and different raw veggies. If you’re having a wrap, add some chopped raw veggies and walnut parm. The more textures, the more interesting your food will be.
// When you’re having a meal that is meant to be hot, make sure you heat it up enough. When the meal is meant to be cold, make sure it is cold enough.
// Try to keep the kitchen and dining room an argument-free zone. If you’re stressed, angry or worked up when cooking and eating, your whole meal will taste off.
// Eat your meals at the table instead of in front of the TV, computer, or phone. Eating meals in front of devices drowns out the flavor of your food because your other senses are stimulated. All of the effort you put into preparing that beautiful plate of food deserves your full attention and appreciation.
// Keep your dining room and eating table clean and clutter-free. If you’re going to take the time to batch cook, give yourself the gift of eating in a clean space. It will help you focus on your food instead of getting distracted and anxious about the clutter.
// If you like spicy, add a shake or two of hot sauce or dried red peppers to add some spice to your meals.
There are lots of ways to enhance the flavor of your food that have nothing to do with the food itself. Looking back, that raw diet I tried out wasn’t underwhelming just because the recipes weren’t great (though, that was definitely a factor). I wasn’t in a good place in my life, and my surroundings and emotions had a big impact on lots of things, including the flavor of my food.
If you’re new to this way of eating, be patient with yourself and know that it’s a process to be enjoyed. You will find your footing. This is a lifestyle upgrade, not a flash in the pan, fad diet. If you’re not enjoying the flavor of your food yet, you will soon and we’re here to help you every step of the way.
Now! Talk to me in the comments below and tell me if you’ve experienced the flavor of your plant based food getting better and better the more you eat this way.
- 1 cup raw almonds 150g
- 1 cup canned red kidney beans rinsed and drained (170g)
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder double it if you like spicy
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Place the almonds into your food processor and pulse for about 20-30 seconds, until the almonds are well chopped. There shouldn’t be any huge pieces of almonds, but it shouldn’t be totally fine like flour either.
- Add the kidney beans, red chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, garlic powder, cayenne powder, salt and balsamic vinegar and pulse for about 20-30 seconds, until the mixture is mixed up. The consistency should be a bit chunky, not smooth like paste. Add salt if needed.
- Place in a container and store in the fridge just like that. Use this mixture for tacos, burritos or salads. You can heat it up in a skillet or have it cold.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with flavor.
Fall in love with plant based cooking
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Thanks! I’m going to use sunflower and pumpkin seeds for nutness tacos! Yurm!!!
Ooh! Great idea, Merrymepenelope! 🙂
Loved this weeks message – as well as the great recipe! I love cooking and great food and your message rang close to my heart. Very well said, Molly. Keep up the great work; you & your team are such an inspiration! ?
Six years ago I wouldn’t have believed that I would be vegan…and that I’d love it! I use to say things like, “I don’t eat vegetables” and “I don’t want to give up hamburgers.” How naive I was. My food is more varied now than it ever was when I was an omnivore. Plants are so versatile and flavorful (as demonstrated by the meal plans). But it did take some time to adjust to new ingredients and flavors. I was pissed when nutritional yeast flavorings were referred to as “cheesy,” but now I get it. I was a cheese addict, and now I don’t miss it at all. Seriously.
I eat out once a week with friends for Chinese and because of this way of eating it is no longer about the food ( bland when vegan modified ) on their menu but the people I’m eating out with.
I came back to veganism 1/2/19. Yes, I’m enjoying the food more & more although I haven’t completely given up oil yet. (I accidentally left it out of something because it isn’t my default anymore!) Your recipes inspire me to be more creative myself and make sure I’m getting more variety in my diet. I love the meal plans, but only pick one or two things each week because I don’t eat that much and I also cook for my omni mother. I’m going to work on transitioning her into your muffins instead of the store bought full-of-crap muffins she loves. Who knows? I might get her to change to WFPB at 97 if I serve it to her all the time.
Thank you all look much for your words of encouragement and for the wonderful recipes that allow me to make delicious, nutritious, beautiful food. I am blessed to have found CFDG. It is a perfect fit and very much appreciated.
First of all, thank you for all that you do, but mostly for being you, just a normal person, who likes good healthy food.
I remember beginning this journey and way of eating the summer of 2018. I started out eating just the basics: one meal was only cooked veggies and an additional protein of legumes, and one meal was a huge salad, again with a component of legumes. Breakfast was usually oats and dairy-free milk. I also had a piece of fruit with each meal. Then I discovered that the way I was eating had a name: whole-foods plant based. For about 3 months I ate this way, very simply and not knowing it had a name, nor did I know there were tens of thousands of people out there eating like I did!
One day about 3 months into my new way of eating, I searched online for a steel cut oats recipe and discovered your blog. I read more about this WOE and eventually watched the ‘required’ documentaries and learned even more. I began to experiment with my food, using WFPBNO recipes, and remember my first ever cashew cheese sauce for some WFPBNO baked enchiladas. Talk about an explosion of flavor in my mouth. Up until that point I had only sprinkled nooch on my salads. I never knew it was so multi-purposeful!
This is my memory of the first time my food had intense flavor. I don’t regret starting off slowly with simple and nutritious foods, but now I really enjoy and appreciate the meal plans! It’s also comforting to know that I’m not alone on this path I have chosen for my journey to good health and happiness.
Thank you so much for this post. I truly needed it at this time. So much going on in my world that the timing was perfect!
One of the things that I really relate to is about presentation, and its effects on our willingness to eat something. I am a speech therapist, and I work in a skilled nursing facility. Swallowing and mastication are a big part of my job. One of my biggest hurdles with so many people who are refusing to eat is ALL about presentation and taste. So many are on an altered diet (pureed food, thickened liquids, etc.). It is not appealing to get 3 colored lumps of “baby food” on a plate for most of them. Even though the food is all cooked together, and the food is altered afterwards the biggest complaint is the food has no taste or flavor. I agree! I am constantly bringing spices in to help them enjoy what they have while we work towards getting their diet upgraded. Presentation is EVERYTHING! If you cannot stand how it looks, it doesn’t matter if the taste is good, or satisfying. Sorry for running on. It is something I feel very passionate about.
While we are not 100% WFPB yet, it is a process we are working towards. I do get the meal plans and they are great to have on hand to help get us there! I am going to try this using dry-roasted walnuts that I roast myself.
Thank you again for this post. It will be something I will keep referring back to regularly as a gentle reminder.
Could I use walnuts?
Hi Jennifer, Yep, walnuts should be fine here! ~Karen
About how many tacos does this recipe make?
Hi Lauryn – if you add 3-4 tbsp per taco, between 8-10 tacos. ~Karen
I feel like I would want to add tomato paste. Has anyone done that?