By Hugh Finlay
Below are some simple tips for navigating your way through a vegan kitchen:
Veg and Fruit. Yes, we know you have heard it before, but you can hardly go wrong when eating more of these. You can eat fruit with absolutely no preparation, and it provides clean, instant energy and great nutrition. The same with veggies, also they add texture, flavor, and variety to various prepared dishes. This makes vegan dining nutritious and delicious.
Whole grains, pasta and potatoes are favorites with us, as well as sweet potatoes and squash. They are filling and give a great base for anything you wish to serve with them. Millet, brown rice, and quinoa are our favorites, and we like organic pasta made from Tinkyada brown rice for a good gluten-free meal.
Plant Protein. There is lots of protein available from the plant kingdom, but some foods do stand out as special in this department. Whole grains are high in protein, but they also mix well with legumes and beans. For a quick, easily made dinner or lunch, try brown rice with brown lentils, especially French green beans, or try quinoa with red lentils. Also, tempeh and tofu can be wonderful allies of yours, if you let them have a place in the kitchen.
Dark green veg should be a part of everyone’s diet. They can be used in both salads and smoothies, as well as sautéed or steamed. In the produce section of the store you will find mixed salad greens that include kale, spinach, totsoi and bok choy, and the common, but not nutritious, lettuce. Add grated carrots and beets to fill it out.
Recipe: Angel’s Magical Dressing. If you wish to increase your intake of salad, it is good to use a variety of dressings, to keep things tasty and interesting. I like to experiment with different ingredients in a similar theme in a blender, with water, blend “something creamy” – tahini, oil, avocado, tofu, steamed squash/carrots/; “something tangy” – lemon, vinegar, mustard; “something tasty” – fresh herbs, miso, mustard, nutritional yeast. You can make many combinations to keep your salad-eating lively.
Seasoning Combinations. A few ingredients will go a long way to adding flavor to your food. With me, there is a magical combination I know will work to add a tasty flavor to many dishes, from veggies to salads to pasta and potatoes. Tamari, olive oil, and nutritional yeast. As I like to say, it is the Holy Trinity of vegan cooking. Try dropping it on bread, instead of using butter.
Veganize Baked Goods. Vegan baking has changed a lot since brownies and muffins that used to fall unto the counter like bricks. There are many vegan recipe blogs with tricks and tips to help you navigate your way around the many of vegan techniques developed over the years.
Reading ingredients. People think vegans are weird because of this, but who would not wish to know what is going into food items they are using? It may seem difficult at the start, but it does not take long for you to learn what it is you have to look for.
Check Drinks. Many people are amazed to find that some alcoholic drinks are not vegan. There are many that are, but there is no reason why you should have to become tee-total because you happen to be a vegan.
The Alternatives. If you are not ready to give up some animal-based foods, look around the health food store to see if there is a vegan substitute. There are a number of makes of vegan meat analogs, cheeses, non-dairy milks, and yogurts, mayo, margarine, chocolate, ice cream, and more desserts than you can ever try in a single lifetime. Unless, you want to make that your life’s mission. Not such a bad idea.
Keep in mind that vegan living goes far beyond just the kitchen. As you progress along the vegan path, look into your belongings to see if there are items still tying you to the non-vegan past: purses, wool, shoes, belts, silk, and furniture, can be replaced with non-animal alternatives. It feels great to get these things out of the house, once and for all.