Sweet and Spicy Tomato and Kidney Bean Salad

One of the best things about not eating meat is that you can make meals without having to actually cook anything. Just cut, combine and stir. Whether you're in a hurry, feeling lazy or just want that fresh crunch, a plant based diet gives you the freedom to cook without literally cooking. 

Especially as the weather gets warmer, it's convenient to just cut and combine. It's also surprisingly tasty to keep those fresh ingredients in their natural state. 

The textures and flavors are vibrant and exciting. 

A little salt, a little acid, some  fat, a spice or two and you're all set with a delicious meal. 

1 can dark red kidney beans
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 long hot pepper, diced
1 serrano, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls olive oil
2 1/2 tsps salt
1 1/2 tsps crushed pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. 

That's it. You're done. Enjoy your not so hard work.

Texturally Delicious

People often overlook the importance of texture in the foods we eat. If you haven't been to culinary school or are not otherwise obsessed with watching the food network, you may not realize just how critical texture is to the quality of a dish.

Crispy lettuce and crunchy onions take a simple bean sandwich into the stratosphere.

Panko breadcrumbs or faux bacon bits bring a soft pasta salad to life in your mouth.

Fresh juicy apples elevate peanut butter to glorious new heights.

Some nicely toasted wheat bread can be the difference between a so so lunch and a great one.

The tart and garlicky snap of some pickles might be just the thing your bean salad's been missing.

The wonderful way roasted potatoes have a crispy skin that melts into a buttery interior. Orgasmic.

The chewy outside on a bagel that leads to the soft and flaky core. Genius.

Flavor is of great importance. Especially when eating vegan or vegetarian. Psychologically, a limited or restricted diet demands you kick it up a notch taste wise. And while taste is of extreme importance, texture is a not so distant second.

What is Italian bread if it isn't chewy. It's just boring old white bread. A flaccid sandwich of beans, meat or other is not something anyone will want to revisit. Fresh and crisp vegetable add the snap your mouth is wanting. Every dish needs texture. Contrasting textures. A little soft, a little chewy and some snap. A focus on flavors is admirable and wise. But we mustn't neglect texture. How it feels to eat it is just as important as how it tastes.