Tips for Vegan Cooking
If you've just started cooking vegan meals, have been doing it for a while or are trying to minimise animal products in your diet then you've most likely looked into plant based recipes, nutritional values etc. Maybe you then reached the same conclusion as I did in the beginning and realised you needed to buy all sorts of ingredients you didn't recognise and invest in some kitchen equipment such as a food processor or blender.
A lot of lists like these exist online about what you should stock your pantry with as a vegan. People around me have pointed out to me that my recipes seem complicated, the ingredients seem hard to get or incomprehensible to them and they're worried they would buy a large container of something they'd use once and never again. The point of this food blog of mine is definitely not to scare people away or discourage them by using complicated ingredients and recipes that take hours to make. It is to show people that plant based food can be delicious and that they won't be missing out on anything. That's why I'm going to write a list below on what I always stock in my kitchen and some recipes and tips. I hope someone will be able to use it.
In the Cupboard
Peanut Butter / Almond Butter
Coconut milk, Tinned
Most dry types of pasta are vegan but the odd type can contain eggs. It's always good to read the back of the package just in case.
Soy Sauce / Tamari
Both Soy and Tamari Sauce are derived from the soy bean. Soy sauce is more likely the better known one but their main difference is that Tamari does not contain gluten and is less salty. Tamari is usually a byproduct of Miso paste.
Arrow root powder
This powder can be used as a thickener for cheeses, sauces etc. It thickens when heat is applied. Substitutes for it are for example corn starch or tapioca starch. I don't have a lot of experience using either of them but have heard the results are just the same.
Cashew nuts are amazing. By soaking them overnight and blending them in a food processor or blender they turn into this creamy delicious cream. You can use it to make cheese sauce, sour cream, cooking cream, cheesecake... I basically recommend always having some around.
Tip: If you forget to soak them overnight or are short on time pour some boiling water over them and they'll be ready in 15 min!
I always have these beans ready in the cupboard. They can be used in salads, curries, falafels, hummus... You can use the brine (aquafaba) to make meringue, mayonnaise and chocolate mousse. Then you can also make chickpea flour (gram flour) out of them. Which is an essential ingredient to make fritters.
Fínely Spelt or Flour
Cane Sugar or regular sugar
Coconut Sugar - Instead of Brown Sugar
Vanilla Powder or Essence
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple sauce + Baking Powder
Apple Cider Vinegar + Baking Soda
Banana + Baking Powder
Flax Seed Meal + Milk + Apple Cider Vinegar
I use apple sauce a lot for baking as a substitute for either eggs or butter. I'm terrible at measuring things while baking (which can be hard when writing down recipe posts!) I usually go by feeling and what the proportions are like in each recipe. As a rule of thumb I use about as much apple sauce as there is liquid in an egg. The same goes for butter. Then I add Baking Powder. You want to use pure apple sauce not the sugary ones found coating meats. It's really easy to make some yourself, just slice some apples and boil them in water for a few minutes and mash them together.
It's vital for those who are on a plant based diet to get Iodine. This trace mineral is predominately found in seafood and sea vegetables such as kelp, nori and dulse. It helps the thyroid function properly, if lacking it can cause fatigue and weight gain. An easy way to add it into your diet is by using iodised salt. Another way is by eating seaweed snacks.
Nutritional yeast can be found in health stores and most major supermarkets. It's a good source of B12, which is important for everyone to get enough of, and gives a nutty cheesy flavour. It can be used in cheese sauces, soups, lasagne, sprinkled over popcorn, sandwiches etc.
The oils I use most are Coconut oil, Avocado oil and Sesame oil. Coconut oil is genius for baking as it holds everything well together as it cools down (in cheesecake for example) and for frying. A flavourless type exists if you don't care for the coconut flavour. Avocado oil is good for frying at high heat as it is tolerant towards that. Sesame oil is good for adding flavour to asian style dishes or stir fry's, also good for dry skin. It keeps for a long time and I always find a use for it. I also have olive oil but rarely use it except for when I make hummus.
Plant based milk
Sauerkraut or Kimchi
Sriracha (chili sauce)
Vegan butter or margarine
Other fresh vegetables and fruit
Tahini is a paste made out of sesame seeds. It's extremely rich of calcium and is a key ingredient in hummus. It can also be used in baking, falafel sauce, in salads or over buddha bowls.
Miso Paste is made from fermented soy beans. I use this a lot as I like the rich taste it provides. It lasts for 3-4 months in the fridge after opening but I recommend buying a small amount first to see if you like it or not. What can be used to substitute miso is tahini mixed with soy or tamari sauce. Or even apple cider vinegar if it's a small amount which needs replacing.
Bread, for toasting
Fruit for smoothies
Healthy cakes í small portions
Vegan ice cream, (Booja Booja and Coconut Bliss are my faves)
I hope someone found this useful. Vegan cooking requires a bit of patience and time but once you start to get the hang of it it can be really fun both cooking and baking plant based food. I never really enjoyed preparing food before I went vegan. I find that you have to be both resourceful and creative which makes it interesting to me, almost like a challenge. All of a sudden traditional cooking becomes simple and almost boring.