We all know that a plant-based diet is healthy, delicious, and great for the planet. But if you're worried that cutting out animal products might leave you craving the juicy burgers and yummy sashimi of your past, don't! Luckily, the world of plant-based recipes and products is exploding, and with a few simple tweaks and tricks, you'll be satisfying all your cravings and feel amazing, too.
While many plant-based products out there replace everything from yogurt to sour cream, you can also get creative in the kitchen. Use cold coconut cream (skim it from the top of a full-fat can of coconut milk if you can't find it in the grocery store) to make whipped cream or add body to sauces and soups. Swap out mayo for avocado on your sandwich or in salad dressings. Craving tuna or egg salad? Mash up chickpeas, avocado, and chopped onion. And if you don't know about banana ice cream yet (just whipped frozen bananas) you should make it ASAP.
Cheese plays a hugely important role in comfort food cravings. Nondairy cheeses used to be bland, flavorless, and weirdly textured, but thankfully that's not the case anymore. Daiya's plant-based cheeze shreds and cheeze slices taste just like your favorite flavors—cheddar, smoked Gouda, provolone, and more—and melt just like cow cheese if you're going for that stretchy grilled-cheese pull. Our suggestions: Make a grilled cheese with roasted peppers, pesto, and Daiya's dairy-free Mozzarella Style Slices, whip up a mac 'n cheese with the brand's dairy-free Cutting Board Cheddar Style Shreds, or make veggie tacos topped with their dairy-free Pepperjack Style Shreds.
Going plant-based doesn't mean you have to give up the flavors of barbecue or even bacon if that's your jam. Smoked paprika, smoked salt, and liquid smoke can all add a smoky punch to tofu, beans, or vegetables. You can even fake bacon bits that taste exactly like the real thing by baking unsweetened coconut flakes coated in a mixture of tamari and maple syrup (don't forget to add a bit of liquid smoke!). Try it with mushrooms for a "meatier" version of plant-based bacon.
Speaking of meatier textures, for that umami flavor, the mushroom is king. Portobellos are popular replacements for veggie burgers, but if you branch out and look for new and interesting varieties, you can really get creative. King oyster mushrooms are great breaded and baked or fried. Porcinis can be cubed and roasted like portobellos to use in curries or enchiladas. And if you can, try to get your hands on some hen of the woods mushrooms—they're super delicious and actually taste like chicken.
Another great way to get the flavor of meat is to use traditional spices in your dishes. Add rosemary, garlic, lemon, and paprika to veggie broth to make flavorful chicken-like soups. Missing carne asada? Make tacos with black beans flavored with paprika, chili powder, and a splash of orange juice.
Bonus: Sushi and pizza!
They aren't flavors or textures, but when we poll our plant-based friends, these two menu items come up as the most missed. Fortunately, you can make great sushi without the fish—all you need is nori and your choice of delicious fillings!
Try cauliflower rice or black rice (or skip the rice all together), then add avocados, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, eggplant, shredded carrots, or whatever veg you have in your fridge. Whip up a quick spicy sauce (we love plant-based mayo and a hot sauce like sriracha), and don't forget the ginger and wasabi.
The pizza issue is solved with Daiya's Meatless Meat Lovers Pizza. Dairy-, soy- and gluten-free, they're super yummy and easy to keep around in the freezer for those days when you just need something comforting and fast.
Whether you're going plant-based for your health, your love of animals, or the planet, you don't have to miss out on all the foods you crave. Enjoy!