Top Cooking Hacks To Spice Up Your Vegan Diet

vegan milk, fruit and vegetables, vegan cheese, vegan cookbook

In recent years, the vegan diet has been on the rise as more and more people are choosing to cut out animal products from their diets. But despite its growing popularity, many people still don’t know how to cook vegan dishes without sacrificing flavor or convenience. And even those who do often find themselves stuck in a rut of eating the same few things over and over again.

Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables and fruits are, of course, the stars of vegan cooking. Make your veggies and fruits taste delicious by using balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper! As noted by the people behind All About Greens, You don’t need to know all by heart because veggies and fruits are all delicious when prepared the right way. If you’re not sure what to do with a fruit or vegetable, try googling “how to prepare [insert fruit/vegetable here]” and see what comes up. You can add your own personal touch by using spices other people haven’t thought of, and you happen to like them a lot.

For example, you can use additional herbs, as they make vegan food pop. Everyone around the world has their own type of basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano – the list goes on! Once you know which herbs go with which vegetables and fruits, it’ll be easy for you to create new recipes with ease. There’s nothing like adding sage into potatoes or rosemary into the rice.

Vegan Meats

The other star of vegan cooking, aside from fresh produce, is seitan/tempeh/textured vegetable protein. These vegan meats can be transformed into chicken nuggets or chicken fingers with a bit of creativity. Use chickpea flour as the coating for these nuggets because it holds up well in frying.

Cooking vegan meats and fresh vegetables requires a medium to cook them on whenever possible. Avoid oil wherever you can because vegan meats don’t absorb much fat compared to animal meats. Instead of cooking vegan meats in oil, add a small amount (or large) of vegetables and then cook them all together on low heat for an extended period. You can also use parchment paper or tin foil to cook plant-based meals without using oil at all!

To season vegan meats, use spices like turmeric, chili powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon (yes!), oregano, paprika, garlic powder/granules/salt/pepper mixtures. It’s best to experiment with different combinations on your own since everyone has their own preference!

Quality Substitutes

Flax eggs are a common substitution in vegan cooking because they act as a binding agent, much as regular eggs do. All you need to do is mix 1 tbsp. of ground flax seeds with 3 tbsp. of water, and let it sit for 10 minutes before using it in the recipe. This will allow the mixture to thicken up and have a similar consistency to regular eggs.

You can also find vegan cheese substitutes at your local grocery store, and many restaurants and other food-serving establishments now offer vegan options. Check out your local eateries and find a few dishes you like to make at home.

Substituting plant-based milk for cow’s milk is another simple substitution that can be made easily in most recipes, as both tend to work as a replacement for each other.

General Preparation

You can’t expect to go into the kitchen and whip up a delicious vegan meal without putting some effort into your prep work. Plan and try not to give yourself too much leeway in terms of cooking time, since you’re likely going to be starting from scratch with most recipes. If you have food prepped a few hours ahead of time, you’ll be able to focus on the cooking and won’t have to worry about your dish coming out under or overcooked.

There are a few vegan items that you should always have on hand, even if you don’t think you’ll need them for a specific recipe. Keep nutritional yeast, chickpea flour, and flax meal around, so you can whip up a quick “omelet” or flax eggs in a pinch. You never know when inspiration will strike!

Some recipes might also call for special equipment that only a non-vegan would normally use, such as meat grinders and egg slicers. But who says they can’t be “veganized”? If you’re feeling adventurous, try using alternatives like potato mashers in place of meat grinders and maybe even some kitchen shears instead of an egg slicer. You never know, it might just work!

Dining Out

If you want to go out for dinner but don’t know where or are having trouble finding something on the menu that sounds appealing, consider looking online before you go. There are many vegan apps devoted to helping people find vegan food near them, as well as making it easier to search by cuisine type and dish name.

Another way to save time when searching for a place to eat is by checking out vegan-friendly restaurant manuals first. Lots of restaurants offer them online, and many even have them available in print at their establishment. Restaurant guides make the job of finding veg options much easier because you can order from the entire menu, not just the limited few dishes that happen to be vegetarian or vegan.

Know Your Staples

If you live near an Asian market or have access to an Asian store online, it’s easy to find just about any ingredient used in vegan cooking at a much lower cost than other grocery stores charge. Just be sure that the ingredients are 100% vegan before buying anything just because it’s cheaper. You can also find tofu, seitan, tempeh, and other common vegan ingredients at your local supermarket.

It’s also important to know how to properly store your new vegan groceries, so they last as long as possible. It’s best to keep items like fresh produce in the fridge, whole grains, nuts/seeds, beans/legumes that can stay in a cool dark place or cupboard. Some vegans have even found success storing their pantry goods in paper bags instead of plastic!

There is no shame in asking questions, those on being a vegan or cooking in general. Most people don’t have a lot of veg experience, so reaching out to others for help is always an option!

It’s not always easy being a vegan. The stereotypical vegan diet often gets a bad reputation, and it can be difficult to find restaurants or grocery stores that offer the best options for vegans. But you don’t have to break your budget to eat well as a vegan! With the right hacks and tips, you can make vegan food that’s delicious while still keeping your wallet intact.

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Folkestone Featured in Simply Vegan Magazine

Vegan Folkestone in Simply Vegan Magazine

When I first came to Folkestone in 2011 to study Creative & Professional Writing at Canterbury Christ Church University, it wasn’t exactly heaving with restaurants – vegan, vegetarian or otherwise. Thankfully, Beano’s vegetarian cafe was practically next door to my university and I often went there to eat (you can read my review from 2014 here). Now Folkestone has four dedicated vegan and vegetarian cafes/restaurants with a soon-to-come dairy-free ice cream place called The Cone Zone, which is the best name ever for an ice cream place. In keeping with the ever-increasing popularity of plant-based eating and veganism, virtually all of the other restaurants and cafes that have appeared in the last few years offer not only a wide range of vegan options but many also having a separate vegan menu.

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My Ideal Dining Experience

My ideal dining experience

I eat out a lot and, although the food, service and everything else might be great, there’s usually something that could have made the experience more enjoyable. Here’s a list in no particular order of importance of what would make for me the ideal dining experience. If you want to find your ideal dining experience, click here.

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6 Alternatives to Cow’s Milk and How to Use Them

cashew milk

I can’t remember when or why I stopped drinking cow’s milk at home. It was definitely before I stopped drinking tea because I can remember using soya milk in tea and, although it was *okay*, the tea wasn’t quite the same, so it was probably around then I stopped drinking tea as well as moo juice. I remember *why* I stopped drinking it though and that’s because I decided drinking a cow’s bodily fluid was ick and so the only time I buy milk now is when I’m having work done to the house and need to make the workmen tea and coffee (except for the plumber who keeps things simple and has black coffee with no sugar). Despite my aversion to cow’s milk because of its ickness and my house being a dairy-cheese-free zone, hypocrisy kicks in when I’m out of the house and I want a hot chocolate or a pizza and no vegan options are immediately available. Luckily, dairy alternatives are becoming more and more available with vegan milk and cheese being offered in more and more places.

If you’ve been to the supermarket lately, you’ve probably seen all the different types of milks available in the fridge and on the shelf. Here’s a run down of some milk alternatives and what you can do with them.

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Quick and Easy Vegan Winter Foods

collage of easy vegan winter food

I love the summer. I love the sun and the heat and it motivates me to drink more smoothies and juice and eat more salad. I moved to the seaside in July and although I thought it must be illegal for it to be anything but the summer at the seaside, it’s not, and winter arrived along with the cold and the rain and the wind and the sleet and the snow just like everywhere else.

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Infographic: What a Vegetarian World Would Look Like

Vegetarianism and veganism is unarguably on the upturn. I mean, even McDonald’s is offering a vegan burger now, and the-McDonald’s-of-the-pizza-world-i.e.-nothing-like-pizza-really Pizza Hut is offering vegan cheese on their pizzas (although the far superior Zizzi and Pizza Express got there first), so things are definitely on the up. Who knows, maybe one day there’ll be more choice on all restaurant menus than just a flipping veggie lasagne or – sigh – a veggie risotto.

But vegetarianism and veganism is about more than just food (apparently) and so here’s an infographic outlining some of what a vegetarian world would look like.

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A Few Of My Kitchen Disasters

honeycomb boiling overWe all know about safety in the kitchen – don’t cook with saucepan handles sticking out where they can be easily knocked over, don’t leave hot oil unattended, don’t leave tea towels near the hob where they can catch fire, don’t have plug sockets near the sink, don’t stab someone for interfering while you’re cooking, etc. but what about other less life-threatening kitchen disasters that can occur? Here are a few of mine:

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4 Tips For a Juice Cleanse and the New Self-Cleaning JUlaVIE

juice cleanse

Spring is a popular time of year for people to go on a juice diet (or cleanse/fast/detox/whatever you want to call it) to lose a bit of weight in time for the summer or because they’ve been eating unhealthily for a while and fancy a juice diet in a bid to mainline some fruit and veg into their bloodstream quickly. Whatever the reason, and for however long you’re going to be juicing for, here are some tips to keep you on track and stop you from putting down your juice and picking up the pizza menu instead. I’ll also tell you about a new juicer that’s going to be on the market soon – the JUlaVIE (formerly known as the Juisir), which doesn’t require any cleaning. Yes, I said it doesn’t require any cleaning. Okay, you can skip straight to that bit if you want, I won’t be (too) offended.

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3 Vegan Natural Sweeteners to Put on Your Breakfast Cereal, Porridge or Smoothies

 

Strawberries and sugar
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As a child, my breakfast cereal would be piled high with not just spoonfuls of sugar but fistfuls of the white stuff, not to mention the three teaspoons of sugar I added to my copious cups of tea each day. Then, on top of that were the sweets I bought each week at the local shop with my pocket money. All that sugar probably accounts for why my teeth wouldn’t look out of place on someone you’d see on The Jeremy Kyle Show.

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