How I Stay Vegan #1 1/2

To further elaborate on How I Stay Vegan #1, let's talk about vegan cookbooks and recipes.  They're a source of inspiration for meal time.  Many of them are geared toward the beginning vegan and have very valuable resources in the first chapters about cooking basics, what to stock your pantry with, and how to read labels, and general help on staying vegan.  As a new vegan some of the recipes can seem a little daunting at first, with ingredients that you may have never heard of before, but with practice and patience it'll become second nature.  Let's take a look at a few of these ingredients so you can go into the kitchen with confidence.

  • Tofu - Tofu comes from coagulating soymilk and squishing the mix into blocks.  Tofu comes in different densities, usually soft/silken, medium, firm and extra firm.  Each firmness has it's own uses and advantages.  For example, soft/silken tofu is great for making puddings and extra firm is great for slicing and frying in stir-fry.  Be sure to drain the water off of the block before using (unless the recipe says not to), and the more water you can squish out of an extra-firm block the better it will fry.  Tofu can be found at most grocery stores and is a staple in vegan food.
  • Tempeh - Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and has a much more dense texture than tofu.  Tempeh is sometimes used as a vegan meat replacement because of it's meaty texture.  Usually tempeh is soaked in water/brine or marinated before frying since it will take on much of the marinade's flavor.  Tempeh can be found in health food stores and Asian supermarkets.
  • Seitan - Seitan is made from wheat gluten.  Gluten in bread is what makes the dough stretchy and the finished product chewy.  It's made by washing bread dough until the starch dissolves and the gluten is left behind.  Seitan is a great alternative to tempeh for vegans with soy allergies.  Seitan is usually used, like tempeh, as a vegan meat replacement.  It has a stringier texture that resembles pulled pork or shredded chicken.  Seitan can be found in health food stores and Asian supermarkets.
  • Nutritional Yeast - Nooch (as it's referred to in the PPK) is usually used in place of cheese in vegan recipes.  It's also often fortified with vitamin B12, a vitamin crucial to good health and primarily found in meat.  Nooch can be used as a base for gravy, mock cheese, or sprinkled on top of pasta instead of parmesan cheese.  Look for it in the bulk section of your health food store.
  • Textured Vegetable Protein - TVP is another vegan meat replacer that is high in protein and fiber and works great in the place of ground beef.  It usually comes in flakes and will need to be rehydrated before use, but read your recipe first.  Look for it in the bulk section of your health food store.
These are just a few of the more common ingredients you may come across.  None of them are expensive or difficult to use.  Give them a try and tell us how it goes!  

Stay Vegan!

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