A Former Bean Hater Learns How to Cook Vegan

I’ll be honest- I’ve always hated beans and tofu. I don’t eat a lot of meat (I maybe eat three meals that include meat a week), but I also do not eat typical vegetarian or vegan foods. The Food Forward event sponsored by the Humane Society and Northwestern Dining might have changed that.

Food Forward was an event in Hinman to teach chefs and students about the values of eating vegan and how to cook vegan dishes. There are many reasons to cut meat and other animal products out of our diets. Economically, meat is more expensive than plant based eating. Eating vegan also has a smaller impact on our environment and cutting animal products is important in animal rights considerations.

I arrived at the Food Forward event expecting to take pictures and observe Northwestern chefs cooking, I didn’t know I would be cooking vegan recipes with the chefs, and I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy what we made.

Chef Uwe and I started out our cooking session by making a Tofu Salad. We then moved onto a Black Bean Salad, and then Southwest Wraps. Chef Uwe taught me how to make wraps that stay together, and we experimented with ways to cut the wraps so that they can be served for different purposes. We cut them in diagonals to be served as entrees, and in small rolls to be used as appetizers. He told me he wanted to show the students and the other cooks that there are multiple ways to serve the same thing. I tried everything we made (even the beans!) and thought it was all delicious. I plan on making the Southwest Wraps for my vegan friend next week.

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Delicious Southwest wraps made by the author.

After the lunch session, more chefs arrived to learn how to make vegan breakfast options. Our instructor started by showing us how to make vegan biscuits. She said that they were crazy easy to make, and I didn’t quite believe her until I made it myself. It took me less than five minutes and only three ingredients to make a batch of delicious biscuits. Other chefs made three different kinds of gravy- chocolate, cream, and tomato. I opted for chocolate gravy, it tasted just like chocolate syrup, but it was vegan! Amazing.

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Chef Wanda shows the Northwestern Chefs how to make vegan biscuits.

While I devoured my biscuit, other chefs were still at work. They made a Quinoa Parfait, which was also incredible, pancakes, waffles, and a Tofu Scrambler. I was skeptical when our instructor told us that it would taste just like scrambled eggs and have a similar texture. I wasn’t going to try it, but Chef Juan made me a tasting spoon and insisted, so I did. It tasted pretty similar to eggs. The Humane Society was right.

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Chef Juan shows off his tofu scrambler.

All in all, I learned a lot at the Food Forward event. I tried some new foods I wouldn’t have tried before, and got some new cooking skills from our Northwestern Chefs. All of the recipes highlighted in blue are HERE!

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