A Modern Way to Eat: Vegetable-Forward Cooking

The Clever Cookstr is joined by Anna Jones, a cook, writer, and food stylist who worked for chefs including Yotam Ottolenghi and Jamie Oliver. Now she’s authored her own first cookbook, A Modern Way to Eat, of over 200 vegetarian recipes. She shares her philosophy and approach to food, and tells us how and why she believes the way we eat is changing. 

Kara Rota
2-minute read
Episode #57

Anna Jones believes that the way we eat is changing. As we move away from eating high-sugar, high-salt processed food, we crave a wide variety of flavors, colors, and textures that celebrate the joyful experience of eating. Anna's approach to vegetarian eating is approachable, forgiving, and feasible to fit into a wide range of lifestyles. Here are some of her insights:

1) Draw from the world around us to eat seasonally. Paying attention to nature and the change of the seasons allows us to eat consciously.

2) It's easy to get bogged down with trending diets and new superfoods. Focusing on seasonal and local vegetables, legumes, and grains is a simple way to structure a daily diet.

3) There's more to food than flavor. Technique, presentation, and the environment we create when we sit around the table are important. Taking the time to make a beautiful plate can make each meal more satisfying. Vegetables have a natural range of color and vibrancy that helps make beautiful meals easy!

4) When feeding a crowd that includes vegetarians, non-vegetarians, and people with a wide range of dietary restrictions or preferences, supply heartiness by using grains, legumes, and dense vegetables. You want a satisfying meal, not just a selection of vegetable side dishes.

5) Always keep citrus on hand—lemon juice and zest can add depth to many different dishes.

6) Canned beans, canned tomatoes, and other non-glamorous pantry staples can be the foundation of many last-minute weeknight dinners. Black beans simmered with cinnamon and chipotle become easy black bean tacos.

7) Miso paste and tahini add umami and creaminess to dishes and dressings without meat or dairy.

8) Eating healthier doesn't need to be an immediate, radical lifestyle change. Be gentle in how you introduce healthier eating to yourself and others. This can lead to lasting, sustainable change rather than a crash diet.

9) Frameworks can be just as helpful as recipes! Learn the fundamentals of how to make things like soups, pestos, and salads so that you can experiment with seasonal ingredients.

10) Focus on the joy of food as a sensory experience. Growing and cooking food is miraculous and should be fun!

Remember to check out past Clever Cookstr episodes. For more great recipes, you can also follow Cookstr on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest

Check out this week's three bonus recipes: Tahini Crunch Greens, Speedy Sweet Potato Quesadillas, and Mint Stracciatella Frozen Yogurt.

Reprinted with permission from A Modern Way to Eat: 200+ Satisfying Vegetarian Recipes by Anna Jones, copyright © 2015 Brian Ferry. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC. Photography credit: Aya Brackett © 2014.


About the Author

Kara Rota

Kara Rota headed children’s programming at Chicago’s Green City Market and studied food politics at Sarah Lawrence College. Kara has been a featured speaker at numerous venues including Food Book Fair, the Roger Smith Food Conference, and the Brooklyn Food Conference. She has written about food for Irish America Magazine, West Side Rag, Recipe Relay, and Food + Tech Connect, and is the former Director of Editorial & Partnerships at Cookstr.com.