Our recent move to Arusha Tanzania has put me in the place of having to regain my kitchen confidence. I have for a long time talked about how important it is to get comfortable and confident in your kitchen. It is essential for being successful sustaining your plant-based diet and lifestyle. I'm having to revisit this process now. It took me several weeks to begin to feel confident again. I thought I would share my experience to help you in your own kitchen confidence/mastery process.
When we arrived I was faced with unknowns much like you may be if you are still new to the plant-based lifestyle. I am using a new kitchen with different appliances. I cook on a propane cooktop. It's taken me several weeks to figure out how to control the temperature. I still haven't been able to master the art of cooking rice on it yet. Kitchen Confidence Tip #1 - Take the time to get to know the appliances and tools in your kitchen and how to use them.
We've been in the process of finding out what's available to us here. There's an abundance of amazing fresh produce here in the open air markets and from venders on the street. I need to do some more walking around just to explore what all there is. I'm discovering new taste delights all the time. Like how fabulous it tastes to add a bit of passion fruit to our morning orange juice or smoothies! I had never had fresh passion fruit before coming to TZ. I don't know if it is available or in season where you are, but if it is, give it a try. I've been putting them in my citrus press for juice or scooping out the flesh and adding it to my smoothies, seeds and all. I tried fresh pigeon peas last night. I still need to find out more about what greens are available. Kitchen Confidence Tip #2 - Explore new produce items to see which ones you like.
Staple items have been more of a challenge. We are going to different stores to see what they have. There's the Indian dry goods shop with all types of spices and lentils and vegetarian/health food packaged goods. There are any number of small and densely stocked supermarkets, each with slightly different options. We are trying different brands to find what we like. I'm learning about and trying new ingredients and figuring out what I can use to substitute for ingredients I used to use in the states. Kitchen Confidence Tip #3 - Explore different stores to find the best sources for the ingredients you need.
Once I got past feeling unsure and worried, I was able to embrace this process as a new adventure. I realized that I have an opportunity to take my kitchen skills up a notch. This changed my perspective and has allowed me to look forward to new possibilities. I started searching online for Tanzanian recipes and got a couple of new cookbooks. Now I'm recharged and excited about what I can learn to make. I've made some flops, but I've also made some new favorites. Now that I'm regaining my kitchen confidence you'll be seeing more recipes from me. Kitchen Confidence Tip #4 - Experiment, experiment and then experiment some more.
Kitchen confidence is an a key ingredient to making a lifetime change to a healthy plant-based diet. Without it many people fail and go back to old unhealthy habits. How's your kitchen confidence level? What's one thing you can start doing right away to help you gain the confidence you need and want? Let me know in the comments below.