Top 5 vegan cooking tips
Our cover recipe creator, chef Hannah Sunderani, helps you to cook this Veganuary
Are you new to cooking vegan? It’s totally normal to find it intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! These top five vegan cooking tips will help you to feel confident in the kitchen, all the while making wholesome flavourful dishes.
You’ll soon see that there is no compromise on taste when cooking vegan. In fact, my diet is more flavourful and versatile than ever before. Here’s my top tips to help you succeed.
#1: Consider your protein at each meal
‘Where do you get your protein?’ is the most common question I’m asked when I say that I’m vegan. Now the answers seem obvious, but it wasn’t always so clear. Learning which foods are protein-rich will help you sustain a vegan diet. Adding a vegan-friendly protein to your dish not only keeps you fuller for longer, but it feels like less of a deviation from your previous diet.
Vegan proteins include beans, nuts and seeds, tofu, tempeh and edamame. They are easy to add to dishes like bliss bowls, stir-fries and pasta sauces. For example, my lentil Bolognese recipe on my blog is one of my favourite weekday spaghetti recipes because it’s quick, easy and protein-packed.
#2: Don’t rely on steaming your veggies
Let’s be honest; steamed veggies are kind of boring. Vegetables are more enjoyable when roasted in the oven or sautéed in a frying pan, and you’re likely to eat much more of them!
For example, green beans are addictive when sautéed in olive oil with a pinch of salt and chilli flakes. Oven roasted potatoes are a weekly ritual in our home (see my blog for perfectly roasted potatoes recipe). Forgo the steamer and embrace the oven and the frying pan!
#3: Elevate your spice rack
A little spice goes a long way to adding flavour to vegan dishes. In fact, I often receive the feedback on my blog that, ‘You didn’t even miss the meat in this dish!’ — and that’s because of spice, baby!
My go-to spices are cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, dill, bay leaf, fennel seeds and cardamom — I add them to soups, stir-fries, roasted vegetables, curries and stews. The more you cook with spices, the more confident you will get using them.
But don’t be afraid to experiment a bit! For example, I love adding cinnamon to roasted beets, squash and sweet potato. Have fun with your spice rack!
#5: Make your dishes ‘meaty’ and ‘cheezy
There is no doubt that vegan meat and cheese substitutes on the market have improved tenfold. Nowadays, it’s so easy to enjoy vegan burgers and sausages that actually taste like the real deal!
You can even order them at most fast food joints. In addition, there are many cashew-based cheeses popping up at local grocery stores, including hard cheeses, soft cheeses and even melty cheeses for pizza and nachos.
If you want to cook meaty dishes at home, which are perhaps a little more healthful, use ingredients like mushrooms, jackfruit, lentils and tofu. Mushrooms have a meaty texture. Jackfruit creates a texture similar to pulled pork.
Lentils and ground tofu are a great substitute for ground beef. It’s all about adding the right spices to elevate these ingredients into flavourful dishes (see tip two, and check out my blog for specific recipes using these ingredients!)
As for cheesiness? Nutritional yeast is used a lot in vegan cooking to bring a cheesy and umami flavour to dishes. I use it as an ingredient in cashew-based cheeses, as well as cheesy sauces like vegan mac and cheese or vegan alfredo (recipes for these are on my blog).
Or simply sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn or avocado toast. Some refer to nutritional yeast as ‘nature’s cheeto dust’, and I highly agree with this statement!!