From flax seeds to coconut oil, these ingredients will make your cooking easy and delicious
It’s a common belief that being vegan is both tricky and dull. The truth is that there are simple food switches we can make to eat fewer animal products, and with the likes of Ben & Jerry’s introducing non-dairy versions of some of its most common flavours, being vegan is now easier than ever.
Here are 05 simple daily store cupboard updates that will help you be a little more vegan
The sheer number of things you can use flax seeds for is, quite frankly, mind-boggling.
First off, flax eggs. One tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with 2-3 tablespoons of warm water becomes a mixture that has the same texture and volume as egg white. You can use these flax eggs in place of chicken’s eggs when binding bakes or adding body to things such as pancakes.
Ground flax seeds are also a powerful thickening agent for everything from porridge oats to pasta sauces. Adding a subtle nutty taste and a slightly crunchy texture, they work best with deep flavours such as curries.
What makes flax seeds even more essential for vegans is that they contain omega-3, the same kind of good fats you get from oily fish. These oils are essential for optimal brain function, blood flow and can even help reduce the risk of heart disease, so if you’re not getting enough flax seeds in your diet, now’s a great time to start.
Keep them whole, boil them with some water and you can even make your own glue or hair gel with them – check out the videos online if you don’t believe us
A word of warning: once ground, flax seeds start to lose their beneficial properties over time, so if you buy them whole, grind them up in a smoothie maker and store them in the fridge. That way, you’ll get the most from these mighty, mini seeds.
When we say chickpeas, you probably think hummus, and rightly so. Hummus has become a firm favorite in the UK over the past decade, enhancing mealtimes as a condiment and serving up a time-saving savory snack when combined with veggies or pitta bread.
If you have a blender and have never made hummus, you’re missing a trick. It’s a whizz – just blitz a can of chickpeas with a tablespoon or two of tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and salt, then add a teaspoon of water at a time until it all turns into that wonderfully familiar, rich, pale, textured glop.
Chickpeas aren’t just tasty, though – they’re an excellent source of complex carbs and fibre.
And whatever you do with your can of chickpeas, don’t throw away the water. Known as aquafaba, this juice is rich in starch and is a great egg replacement for making meringues or macarons.
We’re all busy people, and having a staple, cost-effective “meal in minutes” recipe can be the difference between success and failure when embarking on a new diet. What’s handy is that vegan quick fixes can be pretty like non-vegan ones, with a piping hot, saucy bowl of pasta being up there with the best of them.
Other than puttanesca, which contains anchovies, most jars of tomato-based pasta sauces are free of animal product.
The name might make you think of baking and bread, but unlike traditional yeast, nutritional yeast is deactivated, so it doesn’t rise when warmed and wet. It has a distinctly nutty, cheesy taste and looks a lot like fish food flakes.
An insider vegan secret for a long time, these tart, deep and earthy-tasting flakes can be sprinkled over pasta as a parmesan replacement, combined with probiotics, ground cashews and agar-agar – a vegan gelatine substitute – to make vegan cheese. They’re also excellent in a crumb coating when whizzed up with some flax seeds.
In a world with no dairy, coconut oil reigns supreme as the most indulgent alternative around. Combined with almond butter and some agave, it’s a sweet, satisfying snack. Melted and ready to get sizzly, it’s the base flavour for the richest stir-fries and curries. And if you’re using cold-pressed coconut oil in baking, it adds a creamy, subtly tropical aroma and taste to everything from brownies to cookies.
Melting at around 24C (76F), it tends to stay solid at room temperature in most climates, and in a similar way to cocoa butter, becomes liquid when melted in our hands or mouth.
In addition, cold-pressed oil – the pricier variety – can raise levels of good cholesterol. Meanwhile, the cheaper, standard coconut oil carries no coconut flavor, so is an excellent, versatile fat for cooking coconut flavor-free dishes.