Tuesday Tips (MOFO #14) – Top Ten Essential Ingredients For Your Cupboard

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My theme for this year’s Vegan MOFO is making ordinary recipes vegan and gluten free. For today’s  Tuesday tips I’m going to give you a list of ingredients that are a must have in your cupboards to convert your recipes!

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Gluten Free Flour

A good gluten free flour blend is a must have. I always have a bag of my favourite Dove’s Farm plain flour in the cupboard for the obvious baking as well as making gravies, thickening sauces and making Vegg omelettes!

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Stock Cubes

I’ve already done a post on stock cubes which you can find here. A good supply of a few different flavours of stock cube is essential for making soups, stews and sauces. Always bear in mind that general stock cubes tend to have gluten in!

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Nutritional Yeast

I sprinkle these little cheesy flakes on anything from pasta to soup and you should too! It’s also useful in making cheese sauces. I use the one with added B12 as it is a vitamin that is more difficult to get on a vegan diet.

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Non-Dairy Margarine

These are available all over the place now and don’t cost more than normal margarines! My favourite one is called Vitalite and is available in most supermarkets. Your favourite spread can be used in any recipe that asks for butter. It also makes gorgeous toast!

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Unsweetened Plant Based Milk

Soya, almond, hazelnut, coconut or rice. The varieties of this are endless now! While normal almond milk tastes absolutely gorgeous in tea and hot chocolate, I recommend and unsweetened milk which can be used in any recipes that ask for milk. My favourites are unsweetened almond milk and Koko coconut milk.

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The Vegg

There are recipes all over the internet using this vegan egg yolk replacer. My favourite way to use it is to make omelettes or just a runny yolk to go over my breakfast. It’s useful to have a tub of this in the fridge to adapt any recipes which use egg yolks. Note though that this is just the yolk and not the white of an egg!

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Gram Flour/Besan

It’s a shame that I only discovered Gram Flour after I’d gone gluten free because it’s a gorgeous nutty alternative to normal flour. This can’t be used in place of plain flour because of the texture and flavour but it can be used to make a nice chickpea omelette!

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Tamari

I don’t know about you but I was devastated to discover that soy sauce contained gluten. Tamari is an excellent substitute though and is needed for stir fries and flavouring other dishes too!

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Worcester Sauce

Gluten free and vegan Worcester sauces can be found in a few places now including ASDA’s free from section! Now you can add it to your cheesy beans on toast just like you used to! I also use this for adding a bit of flavour to soups, sauces and rice.

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Vegan cheese

A must for any cheese based recipe! You can now get a large variety of cheeses including mozzarella substitutes, powdered parmesan, melty cheese and your normal blocks. My favourite is violife which tastes just like the real thing and actually melts!

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If you are going vegan and gluten free then filling your cupboards with the above ingredients will see you on your right way! What’s your must have ingredient?

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Vegan Mofo #15 – A-Z of Gluten Free Veganism (My Journey to Plant Based Milk)

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**Apologies for the late post! I had this blog post typed up and ready to post last night until my internet went!**

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Welcome to day 15 of Vegan MoFo! Today we’re up to M in our alphabet of gluten free veganism and I’m going to talk to you about milk. My journey to plant based milk was a long one but I’m hoping to pass on some advice!

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Milk is one of the hardest things for a transitioning vegetarian to give up. The horror stories of curdled soya milk in coffee and watery rice milk are often enough to stop somebody becoming fully vegan! I first gave up milk because I was lactose intolerant and for a while I tried to live without milk at all. Soya milk tasted funny to me; the sweetened was too sweet and the unsweetened too bitter. The mistake I made was a common one: I expected vegan milk to taste just like my beloved semi skimmed.

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I tried rice milk when I was 18 and for a while it was the only milk I had. It was fine for my stomach and had an inoffensive taste but I couldn’t quite get past the consistency. This type of milk I find very watery and I would only eat it in hot cereals which absorbed it well. I used to have it in hot Weetabix (before I knew I couldn’t tolerate wheat) with piles of sugar on the top. This was fine until I went away on a college trip which involved staying over in a lodging house in the middle of nowhere. I took small cartons of rice milk with me and tried to have it on my Weetabix for my breakfast but there was no way to heat the cereal up. The memory of mushy, cold, watery Weetabix was enough to put me off rice milk for good.  I recently tried vanilla rice milk in a chia pudding as it was on offer in my local supermarket. As the chia seeds absorbed most of the liquid it was quite nice but I probably wouldn’t buy it again. This morning I gave the original rice milk another try in my tea as there was no other milk available. Let’s just say I poured the cup of tea down the drain! I know many vegans swear by it though so it’s definitely worth a try if you’re exploring the options!

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Whole Soya Beans

After a while away from milk I began using soya milk in hot drinks and hot cereals such as porridge. This often masked the taste of the milk and I found I got on quite well with it. I would only use sweetened soya milk though and I needed strong flavours to mask it! Once I’d gotten used to the taste of soya milk I began using the unsweetened variety in the place of dairy milk. I used it on cereals (hot and cold), in drinks and in cooking. Eventually I realised that I had a slight intolerance to soya which meant I had to start again in my search for the perfect plant based milk! If you are not intolerant I’d urge you to give soya a try. It’s widely available now and you can even find it in coffee shops and cafes.

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Almonds

Almond milk is my new favourite. I first heard about this new kind of plant based milk last year when Alpro added it to their range. The first time I tried it though was from a different brand called Provamel. I was very unimpressed and that put me off nut milks in general. Eventually though, I got around to trying the Alpro milk and immediately loved it. The consistency is really creamy and the flavour is slightly sweet. It’s the only plant based milk I’d ever been able to drink on it’s own! I now use almond milk in my cereal, hot drinks, cooking and by itself as a drink. Alpro have since brought out an unsweetened variety which is much better for using in cooking as it can create a creamy sauce without leaving a slightly sweet taste.

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Hazelnuts

Hazelnut milk is another type of plant based milk that I usually have in my kitchen. I discovered this around the same time as the almond milk and again, it’s the Alpro version that I like. This is not really any use as a milk substitute as it has a strong hazelnut flavour and reminds me of hazelnut milkshake. I love it on it’s own or in hot chocolate though.

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Canned coconut milk is a well known ingredient and I use it often in my cooking. Did you know though that you can buy coconut milk in a carton? The brand that makes it in the UK is called Koko and if you read their advertisements they claim that it’s the only plant based milk that tastes like semi skimmed. I don’t know if this is true or not as it’s been so long since I’ve tried dairy milk. It’s definitely a good option though if you want a plant based milk that doesn’t have a strong flavour! I use this in the same way as I use almond milk – in cereal, drinks and cooking.

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The world of plant based milks is much larger than I originally thought! I love my almond, hazelnut and coconut milks now and since I buy them from the UHT section, I can stock up when they’re on offer.

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What is your favourite plant based milk?