Vegan Kitchen Essentials
Part 1: Products to make your life tastier
Changing your diet can be difficult if you don’t have the right knowledge and tools at your hands.
When I was a vegetarian, cooking vegan food seemed so foreign and difficult to me. And I had no idea how to replace the things I thought I’d miss.
I really wish I’d had a vegan friend a decade or so ago who could have taught me how easy it is to cook vegan food, and how tasty it is. I never liked meat or dairy, so this knowledge would have been wonderful for me.
I wanted to share some of our vegan kitchen essentials with our readers – so those who are thinking about changing diets but aren’t sure where to start can get some ideas, and for those who are interested in how we over on the dark side eat. 😉
(And as always – no, North Nomad has not had a change of heart. He is still a firm Canadian style eater who loves his ribs and poutine.
And I wouldn’t have him any other way. I believe everyone should make their own choices in life, and we can’t expect everyone to live the same way we do. And I apply this philosophy as strongly to religion and relationships as I do to food!)
I’m going to do three posts over the next few weeks:
Part 1) Products to make your life tastier (the yummy replacements that mean you don’t miss things like chocolate and cheese);
Part 2) I’ll go through cupboard essentials like oils and vinegars, and herbs and spices, and which vegan dishes work with which of these; and
Part 3), I’ll tackle the “But Where Do You Get Your Protein From?” question — and explain exactly where you get your protein from!
Products to Make Your Life TASTIER
Cacao Powder – raw cacao powder is perfect for smoothies, milkshakes, hot chocolates, and desserts. If you’re a frequenter of Noah’s Natural Foods in Toronto, they stock Navitas Naturals, which I adore, otherwise you can get it online in Canada from Truly Organic.
For hot chocolate, add a couple of tablespoons (don’t be stingy, you only live once!) to almond milk with agave, heat it up and you’ve got a delicious hot chocolate.
I make smoothies with cacao powder and almond milk, or cacao powder, almond milk and bananas.
Nutritional Yeast – this is an inactive yeast packed with B vitamins. You can even get it fortified with B12, which is fantastic for vegans.
It gives a savoury, cheesy flavour to your dishes, and it’s great in bakes and sauces, like the Quinoa Broccoli Bake we make.
Daiya Cheese – I’m not usually one for meat or dairy replacements and substitutes unless they are natural (eg almond milk in place of cow milk), but Daiya cheese really looks and acts like cheese, so it’s fantastic for Mexican or Italian inspired dishes where cheese is often an integral component. We have an entire post devoted to Daiya recipes!
Almond Milk, Rice Milk, Soy Milk – Choose your non dairy milk, there are so many. These are great replacements in smoothies and desserts and any meals, really.
My personal favourite is unsweetened vanilla almond milk, great for smoothies, milk shakes, porridges and any cooking where milk is called for.
I’ve also made my own nut milk with cashews, water, cinnamon, and agave syrup, which is just amazing heated up. A nut milk bag is handy when you DIY it, to keep the chunky parts out.
Maple Syrup, Agave Syrup, and Stevia – this may be a shock, but many refined sugars are not vegan-friendly! A lot are processed with bone char.
Redpath in Toronto, Canada, is an exception to this with its vegan-friendly sugars. Agave syrup and maple syrup are my favourites, but there are several headaches around the whole high fructose issue that I don’t feel nearly well qualified to delve into. Stevia, I personally hate the after taste of, but many people like it.
Nut Butters – this may be another shock, but did you know some peanut butters contain fish oil? Yeah, neither did I before I became vegan and started checking the labels on jars.
A lot of peanut butters also contain hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is a world of nastiness. Do your body a favour and spend the extra $$$ on nut butters that are just the nuts and maybe some salt if you feel like being naughty.
And aside from peanut butter, I’ve learnt that almond butter and sunflower seed butter and absolutely delicious, particularly when making deserts.
Tahini – a not too distant cousin of nut butters, tahini is fantastic for salads and wraps. It’s made out of ground, hulled sesame seeds.
Mixed with a little water, lemon juice, garlic, and paprika, it becomes a magic dressing or sauce.
It’s also a component in hummus, baba ganoush, and halva.
There’s the beginnings of some tasty ingredients to help you on your way to a vegan kitchen. Next week, we’ll look and oils, vinegars, herbs, and spices. And the week after we’ll answer the ever present “Where do you get your protein?” question.
You can connect with South Nomad, Jessica, over at Google+.