Before I switched to a plant-based diet, I had never heard of nutritional yeast. Aside from it sounding like something you’d only find in a crunchy health food store, the name gives no indication to what it actually is or what it can be used for. It took some experimenting over the years, but I can now say nutritional yeast – oftentimes affectionately called “nooch” – is a staple in my kitchen.
Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast sold in the form of flakes (that look a lot like fish food) or a yellow powder. It’s vegan and a complete source of protein, which makes it a staple in many vegans’ diets. It contains B-vitamins and is oftentimes fortified with vitamin B12, which is absent from plant foods unless its been added in as a supplement. For more information on nutritional yeast, this post on Fat Free Vegan Kitchen is very helpful. Read more »
A couple of years ago I posted about eight sneaky foods vegetarians should avoid because they contain surprising animal-based ingredients. Since that list was not entirely exhaustive, I’ve come up with a part-two post to help you avoid those foods that may seem vegan or vegetarian, but in fact are not. Most of these foods are found in restaurants, so be sure to ask before ordering so you know what you’re getting.
Vegetable soup – I know what you’re thinking: “How could a vegetable soup have meat in it?!” While there may not be hunks of meat, I’ve come across vegetable soups in restaurants that are in fact made with chicken or beef broth. Unfortunately not all restaurants make this known unless you ask. If you spot a soup on the menu that seems to be entirely vegetable-based, it’s worth a quick question to your server or the chef to be sure. Read more »
Perhaps you’ve seen this quote floating around on Facebook or Pinterest boards: “If you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food.” –Erick McAdams.
I couldn’t agree more. I always say a healthy diet starts in the grocery store, where you get to choose the foods that will feed you and your family. If you don’t have nutritious foods that can be combined to make a well-balanced meal, you may find it easier to order pizza delivery or grab takeout on the way home from work. Having a well-stocked kitchen means you can get creative in the kitchen, even if you haven’t been to the grocery store recently. Here are my kitchen staples to help you get started: Read more »
I’ve waxed poetic before about my love for the slow cooker, a kitchen appliance I always assumed was used by beefy stew lovers or chicken soup eaters and not vegetarians. But in the last few months, I’ve come to learn that the slow cooker has been a lifesaver that helps me throw together vegan and vegetarian meals in a flash. Once I became comfortable with my slow cooker (which took no time at all), I started experimenting with more than just soups and stews. I made baked oatmeal for breakfast, rice and beans for quick lunches, and a plethora of dinners. Here are some set-it-and-forget-it breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas for you to try in your slow cooker.
- This cranberry pumpkin oatmeal cake can be prepped the night before so you wake up to the inviting smell of baked oatmeal for breakfast with pops of flavor from fresh or frozen cranberries.
- Need a change from oatmeal? Try cooking quinoa in the slow cooker with frozen blueberries, honey, milk and a dash of cinnamon so you can enjoy a hot whole-grain breakfast in the morning.
- For something a little more savory, try this slow cooker Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole. I omitted the sausage and added in diced sundried tomatoes. You could also use vegan sausage or soy crumbles to get a meaty texture and flavor.
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Step into my kitchen and you’ll see I’m a sucker for collecting kitchen appliances, tools, gadgets and gizmos to help make cooking easier. Unfortunately, I’m running out of cabinet and counter space for all these appliances! But fortunately for you I’ve been able to sort through them to come up with my favorites for a veg-friendly kitchen.
Vitamix – It may come as no surprise that the Vitamix is top on my list. I know the price is steep, but since the day I bought it over two years ago, I have used my beloved Vitamix every single day, making it well worth every cent. The primary use in my kitchen is for smoothies, but I also use it to make creamy nut butters, buttery-smooth hummus, quick soups, sauces, and even a vegan cashew “cheesecake” that was nearly effortless to make thanks to the high-speed Vitamix. I find other blenders don’t compare (and I’ve used other high-end blenders) when it comes to super-smooth blending and ice crushing in a matter of seconds.
TofuXpress – When I finally learned how to prepare tofu correctly, I realized so much of it had to do with the water content. I find the dryer the tofu, the easier it bakes, grills, holds together, and soaks up sauce and flavor. Before I discovered the TofuXpress, I was pressing moisture out of my tofu with some rigged up balancing act of plates, pots and pans in my kitchen sink. Now, all I have to do is place the block of tofu in my TofuXpress, press it down with the lid, and the TofuXpress slowly presses out excess water into its container, which you drain off before working with the tofu.
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This time of year always brings on lots of buzz about healthy resolutions and diet changes. More and more Americans have been making the shift towards a vegetarian or vegan diet, and what better time to start than the beginning of a new year? Perhaps your resolution is to move towards a more plant-based diet, or make the full shift from vegetarian to vegan eating. Or maybe you’re just looking for ways to improve your health by including more fruits and veggies into your diet while cutting back on meat and dairy. Whatever your reason, here are four ideas to help you stick with your 2013 resolution to improve your health with more plant-based eating.
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‘Tis the season for festive holiday drinks like eggnog and hot cocoa. But if you’re avoiding dairy, whether for dietary, ethical, or food allergy reasons, you don’t need to feel left out this holiday season. Each year a new crop of festive holiday “milk” beverages pops up on grocery store shelves with sweet selections like nog, chocolate mint and pumpkin spice. Keep in mind that while festive beverages are delicious, they’re not necessarily nutritious. All three beverages contain added sugar, making them refreshing to sip on for an occasional dessert, or a flavorful ingredient to use in baked goods. I rounded up three different drinks to try this holiday season:
Rice Dream Rice Nog: While typical eggnog has a rich, thick consistency, this Rice Nog was quite thin. Rice milk has the watery consistency of skim milk, so if you’re looking for a creamy nog substitute, this isn’t it. The flavor is sweet and slightly spiced, so I enjoyed it most to sweeten my morning mug of pumpkin spice tea in place of my usual almond milk. Half a cup delivers 80 calories, 1g of fat and 11g of sugar which is a drastic reduction compared to traditional nog’s 180 calories, 9g of fat and 21g of sugar.
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If you have a smartphone, you know there’s an app for almost anything, including great vegan and vegetarian resources. As someone who frequently searches for vegan recipes on my phone while waiting in a long line or stuck in traffic (when I’m the passenger!), I rely on a handful of apps to provide me with recipe and restaurant inspiration. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorite free apps that provide recipes or restaurants in a pinch:
Vegan Yum Yum (free): If you like this amazingly creative vegan blog, you’ll love the Vegan Yum Yum app. Vegan blogger and cookbook author Lolo created the app to make some of her best recipes easily searchable on your phone, which comes in handy as you’re wondering what to cook while wandering through the grocery store aisles. This app has one of the most clean, easy-to-read displays I’ve seen in an app, and even allows you to check off ingredients as you buy them. (This is the perfect time of year to try Vegan Yum Yum’s Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling!)
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For my last post, I wrote a round-up of some of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks. But these days, I’m turning to blogs more than books for recipe inspiration. I love when I Google a recipe and a new-to-me blog pops up with the perfect meal inspiration. This is my favorite way to come across new blogs, and fill up my reader with vegetarian meal inspiration posts. Here are a handful of my current favorite vegan and vegetarian blogs.
Fat Free Vegan Kitchen – Susan Voisin’s blog is filled with creative vegan recipes, without the use of any added fats from oil. FFVK is actually the very first blog I ever subscribed to, about six years ago, and I’ve been a loyal follower ever since. I do use oil in my own cooking, and don’t really hold back on added (healthy) fats, but Susan’s recipes are always creative and flavorful. My favorite of her recipes is the Cumin-Grilled Tofu With Papaya Salsa. And for someone who doesn’t typically love chocolate cake, I was completely smitten by her decadent Chocolate Covered Cherry Pudding Cake.
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While I typically pull most of my recipe inspiration from vegetarian food blogs or websites, sometimes I like to curl up on the couch with a hot mug of tea and thumb through my collection of cookbooks to menu plan for the week ahead. Here are the top three vegetarian cookbooks in my collection:
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
I’ve been a fan of Mark Bittman ever since I read his book, Food Matters, and started following his blog posts on the New York Times Blog. He has a witty, easy-to-like writing style that I knew I’d enjoy in his cookbooks as well. I couldn’t wait to dive into How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food. Bittman’s cookbook speaks to not only vegetarians, but omnivores as well. He states in his introduction that his goal isn’t to convert readers to vegetarianism but to, “Increase the proportion of non-meat items in your diet,” by making vegetarian items more appealing. His recipe I can’t get enough of? The chocolate pudding made with tofu and a kick of spice from chili powder. It’s decadent with a protein boost!
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