Delicious VEG Staples #1: Okonomiyaki

There are so many great reasons to eat more veg, more often. Reducing GHG emissions, improving health, saving money and preventing animal suffering are just some of the reasons for the growing interest in plant-based meals.

It can be a little daunting to get started - particularly if you usually cook with meat. To give you some inspiration, the VEG Action Group will be introducing you to some of our members and their favourite tried and tested plant-based staples. These are the kind of dishes that are completely nourishing but require little thought or effort and are cheap and/or easy to produce. Something to cook when running late home from work, or when you just don’t have the energy to go all out!

To kick start this series, I asked long time VEGer Heather Potter to share with us a little about herself and her staples.

Tell us a little about yourself…

We (my husband Greg and I) have been living near Tylden for over 36 years on a small farm. We have moved through the various stages that one does with a family and are now mostly retired and have a large vegetable garden and a small forest of trees. We toyed with being vegetarians over the years but have been very committed for about 7 1/2 years now and can't see it changing except perhaps to becoming more vegan, perhaps! I love dairy though. Our reasons are for environmental and animal cruelty concerns.  We have been with the MRVEG group almost since the beginning and very much enjoy the contact with like-minded people and the great lunches we have!

What are your favourite ingredients to work with and why?

The food is so tasty and varied that you cannot possibly get bored by eating a vegetarian diet.

I really think that cooking vegetarian meals is easy. There are so many sites on the net that can provide you with recipes for almost any combination of foods that you have in the cupboard or fridge or garden. The food is so tasty and varied that you cannot possibly get bored by eating a vegetarian diet. Even when I am tired or over cooking for some reason, I can cook up a quick stir fry of only a few ingredients. When cooking pulses you do have to be a bit more organised and remember to soak the pulses the night before if you don't want to use canned goods. Or use lentils. Making a quick dhal is so delicious and satisfying to eat. When there are zucchinis in the garden, zucchini spaghetti and a quick tomato sauce with just onions tomatoes and garlic and herbs is great. 

Can you tell us a little about some of your staple dishes?

It is so cheap to make and SO delicious

At the moment a staple for us is Okonomiyaki, a Japanese cabbage pancake. It does have eggs, so not for vegans. It is so cheap to make and SO delicious with the different sauces that we cook it at least once a week. I am still perfecting the cooking of it as I can have it sticking to the pan and also how to best grate/slice the ingredients. A work in progress. Delicious. Cheap. Quick.

Vegetarian-okonomiyaki-7.jpg

I got my original recipe from PBS.org which included meat and bonito (fish) flakes. Obviously I don't use the meat and fish and substitute more veggies. There are lots of recipes online if you look. The trick is making a great sauce!

Is there anything you’d like to cook more of and why?

Not much I would like to cook more of I don't think....just maybe eat a bit less of them!!!! 

Thanks so much for sharing your staples with us Heather! If you, our readers, have a favourite staple you’d like to share, get in contact with Claire at veg@mrsg.org.au.