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My Review of "The Vegetarian Flavor Bible"

My Review of "The Vegetarian Flavor Bible"
Our next #30in30 #nutritionmonth blog post is from Adam Hudson, MSc, RD, Community Dietitian, Port Hope Community Health Centre. Thank you for submitting!

As trusted food experts, dietitians, like myself, are asked daily about what foods people should be eating. This advice will vary for each individual, however, when a client centred plan is developed, it is likely that certain foods may be of greater emphasis in that care plan. Creating strategies on how to include these suggestions can be challenging on a number of levels. Clients may not be familiar with these foods, know how to prepare them, or are just plain bored with the same old flavours. I’m here to share some information about a new book titled ‘The Vegetarian Flavor Bible’ , which I think can help dietitians break down some of these barriers for clients.

Taking a similar approach from her first book, ‘The Flavor Bible’, a staple for any chef or culinary enthusiast in my opinion, author Karen Page has created an extensive follow up focusing on vegetarian cuisine. The all-inclusive list of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, herbs, legumes, nuts, seeds and even wild edibles gives readers a plethora of information to work with in the kitchen. All foods are listed with accompanying flavour pairings, with some in bold that suggest “go-to” combinations, along with flavour profiles and descriptors, cooking techniques and tips for enhancing flavour or texture. Think of it as a vegetarian food encyclopaedia!

At first glance, this book might seem overwhelming as there are no recipes to follow. However, the convenient lists of flavour affinities for each food provide plenty of ingredient combinations to help guide dietitians. For example, over forty flavour affinities are listed for carrots, along with inspiring menu examples found across some of North America's best restaurants. There are also handy tips scattered throughout the book, such as how to cook legumes, vegan egg substitutes, and a fantastic guide for creating a variety of salad dressings.

Whether you see clients in a hospital, in the community, for individual counselling or even working with the media, this book will provide you with creative solutions to help transform your food advice into appealing and applicable culinary knowledge for your clients.

Here are some suggestions on how this book has helped increase my culinary skills and knowledge, and how I use this book in my day-to-day practice.
  • Increase your cooking skills and knowledge: To use this book as an effective tool, spend some time exploring the vast list of flavour pairings and suggested cooking techniques.  The more you experiment with flavours and unfamiliar ingredients, the more confidence you will gain in the kitchen and that knowledge will translate to your clients.
  • Increase fruit and vegetable consumption: Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is always a challenge for clients. The extensive list of foods in this book can help RDs to be creative when making suggestions for clients.  I recommend using the variety of flavour pairings and cooking tips to show your clients that Brussel sprouts can be prepared in many ways other than being boiled until off-green! Shred, pan-fry or roast them for something different!
  • Cater to clients from different ethnic backgrounds: Understanding traditional foods for clients of different ethnicities will allow you to make appropriate suggestions for their diet. Can the cooking methods be altered to be healthier? What spices can be used to season instead of salt? What vegetables can be added to traditional dishes? You can become more familiar with the various cultural food lists included to see what foods make up Korean, Japanese, Indian, Jamaican and Middle Eastern cuisines.
  • Food security: Having extensive lists of ingredients that are food bank staples will allow for some creativity and brainstorming if clients “just don’t know what to with some foods.” Staples such as beans, lentils, beets, ginger, canned tomatoes, onions can all be promoted if flavour pairings or cooking methods are highlighted and explained to clients. Lately, red cabbage has been a staple in our food cupboard at the CHC, so having ideas of flavour pairings to pass to clients has been extremely helpful.
  • Inspire clients to get back into the kitchen: Seniors will be the first to tell you that they are sick of cooking and “are tired of the same old thing.” You can use this book to come up with new and innovative meal ideas to help clients enjoy familiar foods but in a fresh and exciting way. If you run cooking classes, for example, you can select different flavour combinations for common foods to help ease your clients into the new tastes.
  • Cater to special diets: Many health conditions come with restricted diets. Renal diets limit many fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Celiac diets need to be creative to ensure client meet daily recommended intakes. Hypertensive diets require flavouring food with limited salt. Whatever the restriction may be, focus on the acceptable foods and spices to generate client centred meal ideas that will be both appetizing and nutritionally adequate. I find providing recipes or brainstorming with clients is the best way to encourage clients to incorporating these foods. 


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