Veganuary can be a little difficult if you don't have any meat or dairy alternatives so here are some of my favourite ingredients for vegan meals as well as tools and pre-made vegan food that I've loved over the past month.
NutribulletNow, this isn't necessarily feasible for everyone as the NutriBullet isn't cheap, mine was around £100 but I don't think I could enjoy vegan recipes without it. I use my NutriBullet to make smoothies, soup, sauces and dips. It helps to make any soup, sauce or smoothie as smoothie as it can possibly be which is why I love it! It's perfect for creamy vegan cheese sauce and smooth smoothies; I use it multiple times per week and I can't recommend it enough!
Cashew NutsRelated to the Nutribullet are cashew nuts which may seem like an unusual and uninteresting addition but hear me out - believe it or not, cashew nuts make the most creamy, smooth and perfect alternative to dairy sauces containing cream or cheese! I know it sounds too good to be true but 'cashew cream' as it is sometimes termed, is my biggest revelation when I came across it last year. To make a creamy, smooth cashew cream all you need is cashew nuts soaked overnight in water, unsweetened almond milk or vegetable stock, seasoning/herbs and a NutriBullet or another high powdered blender. Here's my basic and well loved cheesy vegan pasta sauce:
- Cashew nuts (approx. 25g per person)
- Water, vegetable stock, mushroom stock or unsweetened almond milk (approx. one cup)
- Salt, pepper, garlic granules
- Nutritional yeast (two - three tablespoons)
First, soak the cashew nuts in your water or stock and leave for a couple of hours or overnight for the best results. When the cashew nuts are softened, add them along with the water/stock to your blender along with the nutritional yeast - blend until smooth. Then transfer the sauce to a pan and heat gently until it starts to thicken (keep stirring or it will stick or become too thick); it will only take a minute or two. Take off the heat and add in the salt, pepper, garlic or any other seasonings/herbs you want - parsley, basil, smoked paprika work really well and the more the better as the cashew sauce dilutes any flavouring added so taste as you go!
I discovered this brand via a lovely PR who sent me a range of the frozen products to review on my vegetarian food blog and I am now so grateful as it's the best meat alternative I've ever tried - forget Quorn, it's all about Fry's! Since trying the products I was sent, I have bought SO many more products from Fry's. I love the sausages, mince, chicken burgers, mushroom pies and stir-fry strips, all of which are vegan. I buy mine from Ocado, I've tried almost everything from them and I've loved every item apart from the 'prawns'.
Ingredients: Seasonings, Liquid Smoke & Nutritional Yeast
Seasonings and herbs are essential for all delicious meals, it doesn't matter if they are vegan or vegetarian - if there aren't herbs, salt, pepper or spices then it will be very bland. I add far too much salt to my food but I feel like it's needed with vegan meals to enhance the subtle flavours. I love herbs, especially basil, parsley, dill, rosemary and spices such as cinnamon, smoked paprika and chilli flakes. Dill is perfect in vegan soup, rosemary is great for roasted vegetables and parsley or basil or essential pasta partners. Another seasoning that I love is Liquid Smoke which is a vegan BBQ flavouring liquid that is amazing when added to vegan meaty pasta sauce and dips - it makes anything have a BBQ smoked flavour which I adore.
Nutritional yeast was something very new to me when I started exploring vegan food last year but it's now an essential for my vegan meals. First of all, what is it? Nutritional yeast is composed of inactive yeast (usually with some flavourings and additions) which is gluten free, vegan and great for adding a savoury and somewhat cheesy flavour to sauce and dips. I love the Bragg version which is a little pricy and harder to find so you can check out the Engevita nutritional yeast which can be found in Holland and Barrett.
There you have my vegan essentials, I cannot recommend them enough and if you are taking part in veganuary them definitely check them out! I just wanted to mention a few pre-made vegan foods that I love; the Tesco free-from milk chocolate is heavenly and it melts really well so it's perfect for melting over raspberries, Alpro have a couple of vegan ice creams but I love the salted caramel flavour from Almond Dream and lastly, Tesco make a vegan white sauce which I've been using for lasagna.
Have you tried any of these products? Do you have a NutriBullet? Are you taking part in Veganuary?