Master the Art of Plant-Based Cooking With the Five Elements of Flavor, According to a Chef – Organic Authority

There’s a common misconception in the western world that plant-based food is flavorless, but nothing could be further from the truth when you know what you’re doing. Learn to play with the five pillars of flavor as well as other components of good cooking and you’ll enjoy everything you eat. For me, it’s fresh local strawberries right out of the basket, or the flavor bomb of the watermelon poke bowl out of my cookbook, or the rich, creamy joy of an Alfredo sauce.

Flavor and Your Health and Tied Together

As a professional French-trained chef, I learned long before I was plant-based that flavor comes from various sources, but most people lean into only three – fat, salt and sweet (which is also the base of French cooking). The most addictive and unhealthy foods also fall into this category since they are the pillars of meat-based diets and processed foods. Don’t get me wrong – those three flavors are essential to creating a delicious, balanced meal, but don’t stop there! When we bring in other flavor components like sour and umami, as well as consider things like seasonality, a whole new world opens up, blending good flavor with health.

Plants Are Important in Any Diet

Plants are already an important part of any diet, even those including meat. When you think about the base of a favorite marinade, or salad dressing, or breakfast dish, more than likely that dish includes plants. You would never put a piece of chicken in boiling water and serve it up just like that – you would flavor it with herbs, spices, lemon. Maybe you’d cook it on a cast iron for a little extra something special.

And if you take out the meat, the same concepts work. Tofu by itself is not a flavor explosion, but with the right marinade, cooked on a cast-iron, it’s delicious! With its ability to absorb flavor, tofu is one of my favorite clean protein sources.

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From the Organic Authority Files

Chef Bai's spicy maple slow cooker chili with balanced flavors.
Wood teaspoon full of flakey sea salt to add flavor to any dish.
A jar of honey to add a touch of sweetness to a dish to balance flavors
Add another element of flavor sour from citrus or vinegar.
Different spices in teaspoons are used to balance out flavors of any dish
A flatlay of mushrooms. Mushrooms provide umami flavor to dishes
Chef Bai's Watermelon Poke Bowl
Beautiful farmers market stand. Fresh produce will build flavor for your meals.

Playing with flavor building and other elements of good cooking when working with plant-based foods will not only bring you more pleasure, but also more health. Get started today!

Looking for more? Follow Chef Bai over on Instagram and Tiktok (@chef_bai) to get cooking tips, free recipes and more!

COOK. HEAL. GO VEGAN! A Delicious Guide to Plant-Based Cooking for Better Health and a Better World  by Bailey Ruskus – Chef Bai. With the guidance of professional plant-based chef Bailey Ruskus, adopting a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle is full of fun and flavor. Learn to make easy, nutrient-dense dishes you’ll want again and again, while inviting purpose and intention into every meal. Bailey lives in San Diego, CA. 

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