Vegan Kitchen Essentials

Vegan Chocolate Mousse - North & South Nomads


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

chocolate caramel slice vegan friendly

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.

For dessert ideas, we’ve made Vegan Chocolate Mousse, Almond Butter Cups, and Vegan Choc-Caramel Slice.

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.

Home Made Pizza With Wraps

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.

Vegan Breakfast Smoothies

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.

Satay Tofu Salad

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+.

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20 thoughts on “Vegan Kitchen Essentials

  1. Do you think a vegan kitchen is cheaper than a meat kitchen? One appeal of veganism (or vegetarianism) for me is that it may be cheaper…however I also figure it might just even out. You’re no longer buying expensive meat, but you now need to compensate with expensive oils and butters and such….What do you think?

    • It completely depends on what you buy!

      You could live on rice, 89c cans of legumes, and frozen veggies, and spend next to nothing on your food.

      Meat replacements, however, are quite expensive. I don’t buy them – I don’t like the real thing after all!

      Things like nuts, butters, cacao powder etc are my indulgences. You don’t need them for a vegan diet, but I love them and it makes everything feel so much tastier for me. I’m not sure if everyone uses them or feels the same way about them as I do. 🙂 The other thing I fork out a bit of money for is vegan ice cream and chocolate. I really wasn’t a fan of “real” ice cream or anything sweet or chocolatey when I wasn’t a vegan, so it’s kinda weird I love it so much now. I guess probably because I love coconut based treats.

    • Hi Leah,

      Thanks for checking out our post! You know, I haven’t actually tried cashew butter! I make my own cashew milk and that’s so delicious, but yet to try out the butter. I think I’m so obsessed with peanut butter that I have trouble going outside my favourite thing. 😉 Do you make your own or buy it from the supermarket?

  2. I really enjoyed this comprehensive post! I’m especially looking forward to the “how do you get your protein” one coming up. I don’t like to talk openly about limiting my consumption of animal products because answering those questions gets tiring! You want to educate people but at the same time just enjoy your plant-based meal in peace 🙂

    • Thanks for reading, Jennifer. Oh boy, does the protein question get exhausting. 😉 I’ve just started responding with saying I eat souls. People tend to leave me alone after that… 😉

  3. Absolutely agree! Great overview of the options available as a vegan – and since I don’t eat eggs or dairy, I use a lot of vegan recipes and substitutes. I’m also looking forward to your protein post since I have trouble getting enough protein without meat.

  4. This is really great! I’ve been doing a lot of quasi-vegan baking since my son is allergic to eggs (though not dairy, so I do throw in milk or butter now and again). I’m intrigued by cacao. I bought some natural unprocessed cocoa powder from Camino the other day….wondering what the difference is between that and cacao powder?

    • Thanks for checking our post out, Sarah. Oh gosh, your poor boy. It can be a bit hard to avoid eggs when you go out to eat, they’re hidden in a lot of things at restaurants and supermarkets.

      The difference (theoretically — I think companies sometimes use whatever name they want, so I always check the ingredients label), is that cacao is raw, and cocao powder goes through a higher heated process, and often has milk and sugar added. One Green Planet has a great article explaining the difference.

  5. This is a great resource! I’ve heard great things about nutritional yeast, but have yet to try it. My sister is vegan and gluten free and I have to admit I struggle with what to make that isn’t straight up veggies 🙂

    • Thanks for the compliment, Anna! Before I was vegan, and before I was vegetarian, I used to look at these sorts of people and think, but it’s just SO HARD, how do they do it? And now I live like this, and it seems so easy to me. Funny how things change. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Vegan Kitchen Essentials - Part 2 | North & South NomadsNorth & South Nomads

  7. What a great post! I’ve been trying to include more vegan meals in my diet over the past couple of years. This is definitely a great resource I’ll be coming back to. Looking forward to the other posts in this series!

    • Thanks so much, Lou! I love your site, you have some really fantastic healthy and tasty recipes. You’re probably going to like the protein one especially! It seems everyone is concerned about where to get their protein and how much they need. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Vegan Kitchen Essentials - Final Part - North & South NomadsNorth & South Nomads

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