Our featured influencer this month is Bri Beaudoin, a food fanatic whose debut cookbook promises to dish out meatless dinner ideas in spades. —Noa Nichol
Hi Bri! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
I’m a recipe developer, food stylist and certified holistic nutritionist based in Vancouver. I started a food blog, Evergreen Kitchen, in 2015; at that time my partner and I were trying to eat vegetarian so, at the beginning, it was a way to document and share what we were cooking! I’ve been blogging ever since—and now it’s grown into an active vegetarian food blog with a great community of readers. I also work as a freelance food stylist and recipe; I consider myself lucky to be able to play with food all day!
Where does your interest in food/cooking stem from?
I’ve been passionate about cooking for as long as I can remember. I think the first thing I ever “cooked” myself was a brownie in an Easy Bake Oven—I got it for Christmas when I was 4 or 5 and thought it was the coolest thing ever! As soon as I could go to the library, I started taking out all kinds of cookbooks and food magazines. They were what I fell asleep to, reading at night. During summers, I was more excited to take a baking course than go to camp. My mom and my grandmas are all talented cooks—so I picked it up from them and kind of ran with it.
Congrats on the upcoming launch of your first cookbook, Evergreen Kitchen!
Thank you so much! Evergreen Kitchen: Weeknight Vegetarian Dinners for Everyone will be published on October 18. It’s packed with over 110 delicious and craveable dinner recipes. My goal is to provide weeknight dinner inspiration—whether you want to eat a vegetarian meal one night a week, or every night of the week.
To what do you attribute the rise of vegetarian curiosity?
That’s a great question! I think there’s more vegetarian and plant-based/vegan curiosity for a few reasons. There’s more awareness and concern about the environment—and a willingness to make some daily choices that reduce one’s footprint. There’s more discussion and education about the benefits of centering the plate around vegetables, whole-grains and other plant-based ingredients. It’s becoming easier to find convenient meatless grocery store substitutes, and more restaurants are offering vegetarian/vegan options on their menus. I really like how you say vegetarian “curiosity” because that aligns so well with what I’m seeing these days. For example, most of my blog readers don’t consider themselves “vegetarians”; they’re just people who love to eat and are excited about cooking vegetarian once in a while. I wrote this cookbook with everyone in mind. I want people to be excited about eating vegetarian food, but it doesn’t have to be an everyday thing—unless you want it to be!
How do you recommend testing the meatless waters?
Start with a dish that you’re truly excited to eat. If you’re craving a cosy, comforting meal tonight, then maybe save the salad for another day. When I’m cooking for vegetarian skeptics, I usually opt for a satisfying and savory dish. Recipes like Mushroom Stroganoff, Meatless Meatballs with Garlic Bread or Veggie Skillet Pot Pie are crowd-pleasers! This cookbook was written with newbies and veg-curious folks in mind. In fact, almost all our recipe testers aren’t vegetarian—because it was important to me that these were recipes that everyone could love.
For seasoned vegetarians, top tips to keep meals interesting?
Keep experimenting! There are so many simple cooking tips that can really elevate your home cooking so it feels like a restaurant-quality dish. Adding a splash of acid—vinegar, lemon juice or quick pickled veggies—can help brighten flavours. Make sure you’re seasoning (salting) food throughout the cooking process—rather than just at the end—so that it has time to penetrate all your ingredients. Think about ways to add more umami to you dish through ingredients like tomato paste, miso, soy sauce, mushrooms. Or take a minute when you’re done cooking to sprinkle some pretty and tasty garnishes on top. Cooking and eating should be fun—so enjoy the process!
Inflation is impacting many of us; how can cooking at home and with less meat help?
When you cook at home, you can often stretch a meal across multiple days either by making a double batch or incorporating components from last night’s dinner into creative dishes the next day. I like to stock up on my favourite pantry ingredients when they go on sale—things like pasta sauces, canned beans and tomatoes, grains, pasta—because I know I’ll use them. Cooking with less meat can also help with budget. Plant-based proteins, like lentils, beans and tofu, are usually less expensive than animal proteins. You can batch-prep them for the week, which I’d recommend if you’re cooking them from scratch—but also don’t feel bad about cracking open a can! Canned beans and lentils are a convenient way to add protein and fibre to your diet—especially during busy weekdays. I rely on them often.
Your fave recipe from the book, for fall and winter?
The Spicy Miso Ramen is a great cosy weeknight meal; a super-flavourful soup that comes together quickly, it’s one of my favourites. Around the holidays, I often get asked about meatless dishes that are good for entertaining. For that I’d recommend the Shepherd’s Pie or Veggie Skillet Pot Pie.