I cook because I like the creative process and I like eating great tasting food! – Tiffany
Our Kitchen Hero this week, Tiffany, has wowed us with her plant-based adaptations of our vegetarian meal plan recipes, and we’re excited to share her cooking story with you today! Veganizing her favorite recipes took a lot of research and learning from mistakes, but Tiffany has now been eating a plant-based diet for more than 7 years. See how she does it with her Hero in the Kitchen story below.
Name: Tiffany L
City, State: Santa Barbara, CA
I cook for: me.
Outside of the kitchen I: work full time in Higher Education, supporting a vice president and international students. I like to walk on the beach, knit, and watch British TV shows and movies (I’m a huge Anglophile).
The 3 pantry items I cannot live without are: olive oil, tahini, and garbanzo beans. Also, while it’s not a “pantry” item, I always have sprouted tofu in the fridge.
I cook because: I like the creative process and I like eating great tasting food! It’s also relaxing.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: Roasted Butternut Squash and Hummus Pizza. I also can say I really liked the Avocado Summer Rolls (I add marinated baked tofu to them) and the Vegetable Pot Pie Soup, and a few more others.
HOW DID YOU LEARN TO COOK?
My mom taught me. She’s a great cook, baker, and cake decorator. She has always loved trying new “gourmet” recipes. I have a picture of me at age 2 cooking bacon while camping (with my mom looking on to make sure I was safe). That image alone just shows my mom’s gentle and encouraging guidance that has given me confidence to try new things.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST COOKING CHALLENGE?
Changing my diet from eating meat, fish, dairy, and eggs to a plant-based diet due to dairy allergies, and attempting to “veganize” favorite dishes and baked items. It was important to me that when changing my diet I learned about getting the right amount of protein and nutrients, so I researched and followed blogs and then jumped in. I’ve been eating a plant-based diet for 7.5 years and I love it.
What made you start a plant-based diet?
I finally came to terms with how my body reacted to dairy. I was lactose-intolerant as a baby and don’t think I ever grew out of it. I loved dairy products (cheese, mainly) and tolerated but didn’t enjoy eggs, meat, or fish so I decided I needed to figure out how and what I would eat if I refrained from those items. I was also looking at my health and how to avoid certain health issues that my family faced.
How has Cook Smarts helped you adopt a vegetarian lifestyle?
Cook Smarts has helped me to expand my cooking skills, expand my palate, and try recipes I would have never attempted. I’ve been challenged (in a good way) to use my 7.5 years of plant-based cooking knowledge to adapt the vegetarian versions of Cook Smarts recipes.
Cook Smarts has helped me to expand my cooking skills, expand my palate, and try recipes I would have never attempted.
How has your cooking routine changed since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
Before starting with Cook Smarts, I had already been meal planning (choosing 2 recipes for main dishes to make on the weekend and eat during the week). With Cook Smarts, I continue that routine only I choose 3 recipes (1 for my lunch at work, and the other 2 for dinners during the week).
What’s changed is that I follow the food prep directions to make the cooking go faster. I feel so organized and accomplished when the prep is completed. I like to shop on Thursday or Friday, prep the meals Saturday morning, and have the rest of the weekend to cook the food and relax.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROUDEST KITCHEN MOMENT.
I have two:
1) I hosted a Cinco de Mayo party when I lived in Aberdeen, Scotland, and where Mexican food items were hard to come by and you had to make due with what you could find. Everyone in attendance was Scottish with the exception of me and another American friend. Everyone loved my enchiladas and we had a great time.
2) Hosting an afternoon tea for a friend and making everything plant-based. I tackled Bakewell Tarts (original recipe by Mary Berry) making them plant-based. They were just beautiful and they tasted great too.
WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR HEALTH AND SUCCESS IN THE KITCHEN?
Probably everyone knows these but my tips are: 1) Always be open to try new recipes and flavors, 2) Clean up as you go, and 3) Don’t get upset about “mistakes” – learn from them and move on (and have a laugh).
Tiffany, we’re always so excited to see your vegan renditions of our vegetarian meal plans, and we’re so happy that you can make it work for you. Thank you for sharing your cooking story and your plant-based cooking experiences with our community! Hopefully we can all try your beautiful Bakewell Tarts someday! 😉