4 Easy Tips to Help You Switch to a Plant-Based Diet!

Making the switch to a plant-based diet can be intimidating. But, there’s good news! There’s no plant-based (vegetarian, vegan, etc.) police force!! You can go as fast or as slow as you would like. Today I’m sharing some ways in which you can start making the switch if you need some guidance.

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A Quick Foray into Vegan Baking

Long-time readers of the blog will remember that every now and then I get on a “plant-based kick.” As I continue to read more and more about the health, ecological, and economical benefits of removing animal-based products from one’s diet, I keep getting the urge to do so. But one of the things that would be quite difficult for me to give up would be baking and making desserts. So, I am “testing the waters” so to speak.

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Kitchen Questions: How Do Vegetarians Get Their Protein? And Other Common Questions

If you’re one of those people that is skeptical of a vegetarian diet, then let me alleviate some of these concerns for you. I’m also going to talk about some of the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Some people are hesitant to switch to a meat-free diet and lifestyle simply because it is the “fear of the unknown.” That’s what this blog post is for. It’s an attempt to answer some questions and make people feel better about the possibility going meat-free or reducing the amount of meat in their diets.

Long-time readers of my blog may be wondering why I am posting something like this. Are you a vegetarian? I am not. However, I’m slowly making the switch to a more plant-based diet and working on cutting out certain meats and other animal products. For example, I have not consumed cow’s milk directly from the jug in years. Instead, I use almond or soy milk. In baking, that’s a different story — at least for now. The reason why I compiled this information is to have a resource for those who are curious about making the switch to a more “flexitarian” diet or a plant-based one.

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Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 4

  • Name of Recipe: Zucchini Bread
  • Cookbook: Come and Get It
  • TV Episode: N/A
  • Rating: 5.0 out of 5

Every year my family plants a garden in the spring and in the late summer and into the early fall we reap the harvest. Tomatoes of various sizes, eggplants, peppers, zucchini, string beans, cucumbers, the list could go on. While many of our plants are very prolific (this year, especially, the cherry tomatoes), our zucchini plants this year did not do as well as usual. While we still were able to eat some home-grown summer squash, the numbers were far fewer than in years past.

One day, our fridge was overloaded with some large zucchinis, so I figured it’d be a good idea to whip up some zucchini bread. You know, kind of like April 2020 when everyone had those bananas that were beginning to turn brown and the whole world started baking banana bread.

I was a little hesitant to try Ree’s zucchini recipe. After all, I love the one that we use in our family from my grandmother. So, PW had big shoes to fill! And guess what? It did!

This recipe came together quickly and the bread baked beautifully. I also like that it makes two loaves. It was smart on Ree’s part. The first loaf didn’t last very long so it was good that we had a second one to eat through. The bread was super moist and flavorful — the addition of cinnamon really makes the flavors pop.

This is definitely a recipe I will be making again!

I have some progress pics below…

Kitchen Updates

My family has decided to take a little trip out of town. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join them, due to work commitments. But, while I won’t be able to get away, I will be able to cook a lot while I’m home by myself.

Now that I’ll be responsible for my own meals over the next seven days or so, I am going to use my day off today to figure out what types of meals I wish to make. Of course, I will need to include some baking in there, too! In fact, I have been recipe testing a chocolate chip cookie recipe and I’m getting closer to the finished product! Hopefully by the end of the month if will be up on the blog.

I recently purchased some lighting instruments for my food photography. After I made the cookie recipe last night, I decided to play around with some things. This was one of the shots my friend and I took.
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Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 2

For my second Pioneer Woman recipe, I decided to make one of my favorite dishes: Beef Stroganoff.

  • Name of Recipe: Beef Stroganoff
  • Cookbook: Dinnertime
  • TV Episode: Kitchen Confessional: Dinner Through the Decades (Season 10, Episode 4)
  • Rating: 1.75 out of 5

As someone who did not grow up eating a lot of red meat, beef stroganoff was not something I can really remember having as a child or even a teenager. I fell in love with beef stroganoff a number of years ago when my best friend made it for dinner for us. He claims that the recipe is from his grandmother, but he leaves out certain ingredients such as mushrooms since he doesn’t like them. Needless to say, this has been the version I’ve been making for a few years.

Until I stumbled upon Ree’s recipe. Featured in her cookbook, Dinnertime! this recipe looks amazing and it is super simple.

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The Easiest (and Tastiest!) Sausage and Peppers

Summer is officially here! If you’re anything like me, then you are probably excited to do all those things that we couldn’t do last year. And you’re probably looking for a quick and easy dinner than can be thrown together in no time at all.

If so, then I have the perfect dish for you: Sausage and Peppers!

This recipe is great because it’s a one pan meal and it can be thrown together ahead of time, kept in the fridge until needed, and clean up is a breeze! Plus, it can easily be adapted to your own tastes and the ingredients you already have on hand. I used chicken sausage that comes pre-cooked, so you’re basically just reheating it. It’s a bit of a time saver and usually these types of sausages have more flavor combinations that regular sausage.

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Barefoot Contessa Recipe 44: Roasted Parsnips & Carrots

This recipe can be found in Back to Basics, page 179.

I was tasked with making the vegetable dish for Easter Sunday dinner. Naturally, I turned to Ina. I wanted something easy and that could be cooked on the grill. The oven was over-taken by the ham.

By needing the grill, I was left with finding recipes for roasted vegetables. Thanks to a cast iron pan we have, I was able to roast the vegetables in a similar manner as if I had been using the oven.

So, I settled on carrots and parsnips, these were a big hit with the family when I braised them a few weeks ago.

Since I cooked them on the grill and in cast iron, the vegetables cooked much quicker than they would have in the oven. To be honest, they were a little OVERDONE, but they still tasted fine.

Barefoot Contessa Recipe 43 Easy Tzatziki with Feta

This recipe can be found in Foolproof, page 76.

This recipe can be found online here.

With Easter being this past Sunday, I decided to seize the opportunity to make some Barefoot Contessa recipes. The fact that it was a holiday also meant I had a useful excuse to make an Appetizer recipe, which is one of the areas of the recipes that had been lacking. Due the pandemic, there have been less parties, so the need for apps was almost non-existent. But now there was an excuse and I found the perfect, easy recipe to make for the first appetizer that would go over well with my family.

Easy Tzatziki with Feta.

This is one of two recipes that Ina has for tzatziki. However, the other one is in Parties and is very similar to the one I made. Except, it basically has you make your own Greek yogurt. Even though these are similar recipes, I am keeping them separate since the preparation method is different between the two. There are also some ingredient differences.

Easy Tzatziki is well named since it took less than 10 minutes to throw together. It also doesn’t use many dishes which makes clean up a breeze. Another benefit to this recipe is the fact that, for the most part, you can “eyeball” the ingredient amounts. Ina does give exact amounts for almost all the ingredients, but since this is a dip, it kind of lends itself to eyeball measuring. This can be handy if you’re short on time or don’t feel like washing measuring spoons.

Though I did not serve my tzatziki with Feta cheese, the Greek foods pairs wonderfully together. This can also work well with fresh or toasted pita (which is what I used), pretzels, or just plain veggies. The dip also keeps well for a few days which makes it easy to handle leftovers.

Overall, I’d say that for my first appetizer it was a hit! Though, some people felt that the dip had “something missing” that we couldn’t really put our finger on. I figured it was because I used regular white vinegar over white wine vinegar. But the world may never know!

Barefoot Contessa Recipe 42: Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts

This recipe can be found in How Easy is That?, page 195.

Even though Salmon with Melting Tomatoes had a built-in side dish, I still needed one more thing to truly round out the meal. Enter: Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts.

I still had some pine nuts from when I made gremolata a few weeks back. At least that’s where I think I used the pine nuts originally. I can’t really remember. So many recipes. But I wanted to use them up since I didn’t really know how long they would “keep.” I was storing them in the fridge since they are nuts, after all. And since nuts have oil, they can spoil! (Thanks Rachael Ray)

Luckily this recipe used them all up. Sadly, I will have to buy them again at some point and fork over almost $10 for like 5 ounces of nuts. But that’s a story for another time.

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