Vegan Kitchen Essentials Part 2
If you missed out on our introduction, check it out at Part 1: Vegan Kitchen Essentials. For the final chapter in our series, focusing on how to get your protein and how much protein is enough, see Part 3: Vegan Kitchen Essentials.
Last Wednesday, we introduced you to some basic vegan kitchen essentials to help make your transition a TASTY one.
This week we’re going to have a look at oils, herbs and spices, and some vegan recipes you can use them in. Sometimes you just need a few ideas and go back to basics to remember how to make food taste good.
Herbs and spices are incredibly important in vegan and vegetarian dishes. It’s what transforms a boring, bland vegetable meal into a fantastic taste explosion.
There’s a trend of people complaining that you can’t use dried or prepared goods.
Most of what I use is fresh and straight from the markets in Chinatown in Canada or Australia. Bear in mind though, I work from home and just have me and North Nomad to look after. It’s easy for me to prepare meals from scratch.
But a lot of the stay at home parents, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and accountants I know do not have the luxury of chopping ginger and garlic for every meal like I do! If you’re time poor, ignore the naysayers and use the dried herbs or fridge tubes of minced ginger, garlic etc.
Here’s a list of what I use, and some examples of common vegan and vegetarian friendly meals they are used in:
Ginger: Stir-fries, Indian cuisine, cups of tea (I love making ginger and lemon tea for before bed that is just slices of fresh ginger and a wedge of lemon), and home-made vegetable stock.
Garlic: Roasted in pies, minced in curries, chopped and fried for tofu toppings, added to veggie burgers and pastas.
Cumin: Simmer black beans in cumin, add to your curries, great in pies and stews.
Cilantro/Coriander: Fresh coriander makes or breaks a good salsa. I stick fresh cilantro/coriander on EVERYTHING: stews, soups, curries, salads, grilled veggies, beans, nachos.
Mustard Seeds: You can gently toast these in a pan and use them as a nutty, crunchy garnish in salads or rice dishes. Or if you have a good mortar and pestle you can crush them to make your own mustard.
Basil: Like cilantro/coriander in salsa, basil makes or breaks a good pasta sauce.
Thyme: Fantastic with olive oil and rock salt scattered over veggies while you roast them. It goes nicely with pumpkin, beetroot, and potato.
Paprika: I frequently use paprika and cayenne together in stews and curries. It’s also an essential addition to satay sauce.
Cayenne Pepper: Stews, curries, and a tiny shake in satay and soy based sauces.
Oils & Vinegars: Olive oil, flax seed oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar. Coconut oil is also FANTASTIC for vegan desserts. Mix together cacao powder and coconut oil with a sweetener and BAM you have delicious dark chocolate.
The oils are great for making your own salad dressings, and for frying in. There are debates to how healthy (or not) it is to fry or bake with certain oils. It’s a complicated area, and I would recommend reading more from nutrition experts in this area – not just for vegans, but anyone who pan fries, stir fries, or deep fries food.
But if you want an example of how I use oils, I use coconut oil to fry, and olive oil or flax seed for salad dressings. I never use vegetable oil as it seems to be universally agreed that hydrogenated oils aren’t healthy (check your peanut butters in this regard, lots contain hydrogenated vegetable oil).
You can make a really easy vinaigrette for your salads with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, and mustard. I don’t use measurements when I make my own, I just add more or less of ingredients to taste. But to give you a basic ratio for dressings, the classic formula is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil.
Next week we answer the “But Where Do You Get Your Protein” question that either strikes fear in the heart of vegans — or makes them roll their eyes so vigorously that they’re in danger of them rolling out of their head.
I’ll let you muse on which one I am, til I fill you in next week. 😉