Tofu is an amazing little staple in a vegan diet. There are so many kinds of tofu available at most stores-soft, firm, extra firm, baked, marinated-you name it! Silken tofu is one of the many variations of tofu that can be found. Silken tofu is shelf stable, meaning that no refrigeration is needed and is typically packaged in aseptic packaging. In my local stores, it’s in the ethnic food aisle with the other Asian food items. Also, it is not packaged with as much water as cold tofu. The package usually has very little water and you can cut the box open and slide the block of tofu out. It’s much less messy than those “easy open” cold tofu packages.
While refrigerated tofu is mainly used for tofu scrambles and pan frying, silken tofu is used for baking, sauces and creams. I made my first vegan chocolate cream pie with silken tofu. It was amazing! A quick google search will yield many recipes for the many ways to use it.
Next time you’re in the mood for a creamy delicious pie, try using a silken tofu based pie. You can even top it with coconut whipped cream. You won’t even miss the dairy!
I discovered this little ingredient thanks to this wonderful recipe (which is amazing!). Kala Namak is really the star ingredient because of it’s ability to bring out a true egg flavor in any dish.
Kala Namak, otherwise known as black salt, is not black at all. It’s actually a pinkish color. And unlike salt, it has a powdered consistency rather than a true grain like salt texture. And, it smells just like the yolk of a hard boiled egg (side note: I don’t suggest taking a bit whiff of the salt in the bag. I did it so you don’t have to).
I found black salt at my local Indian grocer. It paid $2.85 for a bag that I will probably have to pass on to my future relatives because there is no way I’ll ever use it all. It’s one of those ingredients where a little goes a long way. Black salt can also be found on Amazon or other online shopping sites, if you don’t have an Indian grocer in your area.
There are many uses for black salt. Add it to tofu scrambles, create an egg-less “egg” salad, sprinkled on veggies or in Indian dishes. But definitely give the Egg VcMuffin recipe above a shot. It’s so delicious! I add Vegenaise (try adding Frank’s Red Hot to your Veganaise) and my hubby likes his served with strawberry preserves. You really can’t go wrong!
I’m a dessert person above all else. One of my favorite desserty things is whipped cream. I’m talking fresh whipped cream; none of that tub stuff. I love whipped cream on ALL the things-strawberries, bananas, pineapple, pie, waffles. I can’t think of one thing that doesn’t taste even better when doused in whipped cream.
When we first gave up dairy, I thought I would never get to enjoy one of the sweetest little treats that I loved (when you are new to veganism, you always think this!). Enter my friend, coconut cream.
Coconut cream is NOT the same thing as coconut milk. Some people make that mistake and wind up very sad. Coconut cream is much more dense than coconut milk. It is actually the byproduct of coconut milk making. It’s the thicker, almost paste like “cream” that is left after coconut milk is made. It has a mild flavor to it and isn’t very sweet which makes it perfect for smoothies (even those adult kind!), fudge (oh yeah!) and of course, whipped cream. It sold in cans and generally can be found in Asian/International aisle of your local grocer.
The next time you’re looking for a luscious dessert, check out this recipe or this one (note: this recipe says coconut milk but use coconut cream instead since it’s becoming easier to find. And keep a can in the fridge at all times!)
I keep a well stocked cabinet with several bottles of this on hand at any given moment. I think this is one of the most used items in my kitchen. But what is it!?
Tamari is very similar to soy sauce. It is made from fermented soy beans, just like regular soy sauce, but it contains very little to no wheat. This produces a darker, slightly thicker sauce. I find the flavor to be much less salty that regular soy sauce. And, because of this, it is very versatile in cooking-I even have a challah bread recipe that calls for tamari!
Gluten Free Tamari is readily available and is a great soy sauce substitute for people that must avoid gluten. My favorite brand of tamari is San-J which I buy at my local Sprouts Farmers Market.
So, swap out regular soy sauce for tamari sauce in your next recipe! It might just be your new favorite find!
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of the products that I always have on hand. It can be used in so many ways! I always use Bragg’s Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with The Mother. The Mother is where all of the beneficial enzymes are.
Apple cider vinegar is a sweeter, fruity vinegar. It is used in a lot of recipes from dressings to marinades. It isn’t as harsh as white vinegar and helps create a lighter, tender texture which makes it great for baking. Once added to batter, it has no vinegar-y taste. I use apple cider vinegar to curdle almond milk that I use in place of buttermilk in my recipes. Simply add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of your non-dairy milk (I use almond milk). Allow the mixture to sit for at least 5 minutes. You may see some curdling or separation on the surface but don’t panic if you don’t. It doesn’t look like curdled dairy milk that you are used to. Add the curdled milk your mixture and proceed with your recipe.
Apple cider vinegar also makes an amazing facial toner! I use it everyday in my skin care regimen. To make your facial toner, mix water and ACV in a resealable jar. I store mine in a glass mason jar. I use a ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part ACV but use whatever feels comfortable for you. When I started using this toner, I used 4 parts water and 1 part ACV and slowly decreased the amount of water. You can also use witch hazel in place of water or add your favorite oil When you’re ready to use your toner, dip a cotton ball in your jar and then gently swipe over your face. Allow to dry and then follow with your moisturizer, etc. I have noticed that my complexion is more evenly balanced, my skin is more hydrated and my skin is brighter. *A quick note about using this for the first time: keep it away from your eyes or any open scratches, pimples or sores. It will burn!
There are so many other uses for apple cider vinegar around the house, too! Use it to sanitize your bathroom, clean fruits and veggies, sanitize your countertops and cutting boards and as a deodorizer. Really, the list goes on and on. And it’s completely cruelty free and so inexpensive!
What’s your favorite way to use ACV? I’d love to hear it!
Everyone has heard of chia pets. Those plants that grow in funny shapes and are usually found in the “As Seen On TV” sections of stores.
But here’s something you didn’t know: those seeds that grow those silly little plants are healthy and nutritional! The seeds, from the Salvia Hispanica plant, are completely edible and good for you! Chia seeds are high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which help reduce inflammation in your body, support proper brain function and may even help lower cholesterol. Chia seeds are also a great source of fiber. Fiber not only keeps you regular, it is also thought to help reduce your risk of colon cancer since it keeps things moving along. And, it’s loaded with essential minerals and antioxidants.
Chia seeds are small, dark seeds (much like seeds on a strawberry) but they form a small gel bubble around them when they are added to liquids. The “gel” that forms is said to help keep you full longer and may be beneficial to weight loss. You can incorporate chia seeds into your diet in a number of ways. My favorite way to use chia seeds is in overnight oats. You can also add chia seeds into your morning juices or smoothies. Try sprinkling some on your salads for an extra crunch.
Chia can also be used in recipes as an egg replacer. Simply grind up a tablespoon of chia seeds (or use chia powder, if you have it) and combine with three tablespoons of water. Stir and allow mixture to sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. If using chia as an egg replacer, try to use white chia seeds instead of black. There is no taste to the seeds but if you use black ones in baking, such as Sunday morning breakfast, it will look like you have pepper in your pancakes.
Have fun with them and figure out your favorite way to enjoy them!
Let’s talk about tahini! You will find tahini to be a common item in vegan recipes, especially in recipes based in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Tahini is essentially a paste made by grinding up sesame seeds that have been roasted, athough you can also find raw tahini. It can have a bit of bitter taste if eaten on it’s own so it’s usually combined with garlic, lemon and salt. It can be used in a multitude of ways from sandwiches to soups. Tahini is a bit of secret powerhouse packed with all kinds of essential vitamins.
Tahini can be found in grocery stores in the condiment or peanut butter aisle. It is packed in tin cans or glass jars. The consistency is much like a natural peanut butter where the oil and butter tend to separate. Be sure to mix it well before each use. Tahini is best kept in tightly sealed in the refrigerator.
Use one of these great ideas to incorporate tahini into your next dish!
So, you’ve done your homework and you’re ready to start cooking vegan style! You read through your new dandy recipes and you start seeing ingredients you’ve NEVER heard of before. Nutritional Yeast. Tamari. Black Salt. Tempeh. What is this stuff!? Well, that’s what WTFriday’s are for. Check back here every Friday for a quick tutorial on some of the common ingredients you’ve never heard of. I’ll highlight what they are all about, where to find them and what to do with them to help you create your delicious dishes!