Header Ads Widget

Unveiling Health Secrets: A Comprehensive Guide to the Vegan Lifestyle

Guide to the Vegan Lifestyle

A Comprehensive Guide to the Vegan Lifestyle - The people in our modern society are concerned with multiple issues. Health and the environment are two very big ones that are at the forefront. People want to eat well and lessen their environmental impact. Threats of global warming and obesity run are two of the biggest concerns.

Some people decide they want to tackle both at the same time. Making the choice to become a vegan is a decision that is made just as much for health reasons as well as environmental and ethical ones.

A Vegan diet is simply food that is prepared within the vegan specifications so that it supports that lifestyle.

What Does it Mean to be Vegan?

Vegan is a subset of vegetarianism. There are several different types. Some vegetarians still drink milk and/or eat eggs. Not vegans. They are the strictest form and don’t make allowance for ANY animal products in their diet.

It is by far the most challenging form because people take a lot of things for granted. Eggs and milk, for example, are common baking ingredients. So, substitutions need to be made if a vegan is going to be able to eat baked goods. 

What Makes Food Vegan or Not?

In order for food to be strictly vegan, it needs to adhere to certain criteria. It is important to note that there are a lot of hidden ingredients in foods. It is especially important to watch out for these if you are going to strive for a vegan diet:
  • Vegans don’t eat animal products or byproducts of animal products.
  • They also don’t consume things like milk and eggs.
  • True vegans also don’t eat fish.
  • Don’t forget that bees are an animal so vegans also can’t eat honey, royal jelly, and bee pollen supplements.
  • There are also plenty of hidden ingredients to look out for that tend to make their way into food including gelatin, lard, and whey.

If you are a new vegan, making all of these changes may seem overwhelming. But, after you’ve been eating and cooking the vegan way you’ll be an old pro.

There’s no doubt that a vegetarian diet, particularly a vegan one, can be great for your health.  However, with the popularity of health food stores due to the fact that many are looking to improve their health, it’s easier than ever to enjoy a satisfying vegan diet. This article will teach you how to do that.

Typical Ingredients In Vegan Cooking

As you know, vegan cooking is cooking that is done without meat, fish, eggs, or byproducts of any of these things. In order to support a vegan lifestyle, extra care needs to be taken to make sure that none of these ingredients make it into the food. 

We take certain things for granted, such as using eggs while baking. Well, eggs are not allowed during a vegan diet. And even though the vegan lifestyle is increasing in popularity, packaged vegan food are often hard to come by. To solve this problem, many vegans opt to do their own cooking. 

This chapter will focus on several different kinds of ingredients. First, we’ll learn how to replace milk and eggs with things that are vegan friendly. We’ll also cover information on other ingredients that are used as well as animal byproducts to watch out for.

Replacing Eggs In Recipes

As much as we’d like to avoid using eggs in our vegan recipes, it can be a challenge. In fact, this is one of the most difficult ingredients to replace. However, there are many options to choose from that will get the job done.

What Do Eggs Do In The Recipe?

In certain recipes, eggs are almost essential. They bind ingredients together. They can be used to make baked goods rise and they also help make them light and fluffy. Another thing eggs do is to help the product form some structure and also provide extra moisture. 

They are especially useful while baking but are essential to certain savory dishes as well. Here is a list of some of the best egg replacement options out there. You can replace the eggs in any recipe using these options:

1) Use Pureed Bananas

Pureed bananas are another effective egg substitute. Just place a ripped banana in the blender and pulse until completely smooth and there are no lumps. A half of a regular-sized banana is the equivalent of one egg. 

The positive aspect of using bananas is that they are readily available. However, bananas have a distinct taste that won’t work out in every recipe. For example, if you were trying to make peanut butter cookies, the banana flavor would alter the taste.

2) Ground Flaxseeds

It is best to purchase the flaxseeds whole and store them in the refrigerator. When it’s time to use them, measure out 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds for every egg that you need to replace. Then, pulverize it in a blender or coffee grinder. 

Transfer the flaxseeds to a bowl and add three tablespoons of water for each egg you need to replace. Add the water slowly while whisking vigorously. Whisk until the mixture takes on a gel-like quality. 

Since flaxseeds are nutty tasting, this egg replacement works best when making things like whole-grain breads, muffins, and pancakes. You may want to experiment to get a feel for the types of recipes you like this to be in.

3) Egg Replacement Product

There are several egg replacement products out on the market that are designed to be vegan-friendly. Look at the packaging to make sure that it’s vegan-safe and that it doesn’t contain any meat byproducts.

These egg replacement powders get mixed reviews. Some like them a lot, others don’t. They’re definitely convenient and good to have on hand. Once you get used to cooking vegan, you’ll start to learn which foods taste best within it.

Since there are several brands on the market, it may take a while to find one that you’re happiest with. When using, just follow the package instructions. They usually come in powder form. If you can’t get it at the health food store, you can easily get it online.

4) Try Tofu as an Egg Replacement

Tofu is also another option you can try if you need to find a replacement product. You can try any form of tofu but this may take some experimentation. Silken tofu seems to yield the best results. You can also use unflavored soy yogurt in the same proportion with similar results.

The nice thing about tofu is that it blends well with most flavors. Flax seeds, for example, have that distinct nutty flavor. Tofu doesn’t have a lot of flavor on its own, especially when paired with stronger ingredients. Another advantage is that it is widely available in most areas, even in regular supermarkets.

To use, just take the tofu and blend it until smooth in the blender. A food processor also may work but it’s important to make sure that there are no lumps and the texture is as smooth as possible. To replace one large egg, use ¼ cup of the blended mixture. 

You’ll need to do some experimenting to see which recipes work best with tofu as an egg substitute. It all depends on the kinds of recipes you try and your personal preferences.

5) Using Flour and Other Leavening Agents

You can also use pastes made from different kinds of flour and leavening agents to replace the eggs. The benefit is that most homes have these ingredients on hand. They also don’t have flavor of their own like bananas and flaxseeds do. They can blend into the batter fairly well.

It may take some experimentation to get the proportions right. Here are some options:
  • 1 tablespoon flour of any kind (try wheat flour, oat flour, or soy flour) and 1 tablespoon of water for each egg.
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon flour, 2 tablespoons water for each egg.
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water blended together also replace one egg.

6) Finding the Right Egg Substitute

Again, as you try these different combinations, you’ll get a feel for which egg substitutes work best for which recipes. As a suggestion you may want to start with one of your favorite foods and try different egg substitutes until the flavor and texture you desire are reached.

For example, if you want to make a batch of blueberry muffins, you can substitute the eggs for any one of these substitution options. Make a note of how it tastes. Next time you make it, try another egg substitute. After trying several, think about which one was your favorite and stick with that. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to tell at a glance which egg replacement products work best for certain kinds of recipes.

Replacing Milk In Recipes

For a vegan, milk from any animal (sheep, cow, goat, etc) is also forbidden. It is also a very common ingredient when baking and cooking. It is also much easier to replace than eggs. 

To replace milk in recipes, just substitute any of these vegan alternatives. For example, if the recipe calls for one cup of milk, use one cup of soy milk instead. Here are some alternative milk options:

Soy milk

Soy milk comes in a variety of flavors and is readily available. Flavors include vanilla, unsweetened, chocolate, and even egg nog. Some brands are thicker and creamier than others. You may need to do some experimenting before you find the brands you like the best. Unless it has a distinct flavoring, soy milk is fairly neutral and blends well in recipes. Soy milk is also rich in protein.

Nut milks

Nut milk beverages such as almond milk and hazelnut milk are also options. Unlike soy milk, these nut milk have a distinct flavor and may not work well in every recipe. There are sweetened and unsweetened varieties as well.

Rice milk

Rice milk also offers a great option to replace milk in recipes. It is also very mild tasting and blends well in recipes. However, it is important to note that rice milk typically doesn’t contain a lot of protein so you may need to compensate for that during the day.

As you become familiar with the different flavors of these milk replacement products, you’ll start to get a feel for which recipes will taste best with them.

Replacing Buttermilk In Recipes

Buttermilk is also an important ingredient used in several different recipes. For a vegan, using traditional buttermilk is impossible since it is an animal product. Buttermilk is simply regular milk that has been cultured, which means that it has some good bacteria in it much like yogurt.

Luckily, you can easily make your own. The process is as follows. It makes one cup of vegan-friendly “buttermilk”.
  1. Measure one cup of soy milk in a glass Pyrex measuring cup.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice and mix.
  3. Let it sit for about fifteen minutes before using it.

Soy milk works the best. Rice milk and nut milk don’t work as well. The chemistry of soy milk is better suited.

Replacing Butter And Lard In Recipes

Butter is another important ingredient that a lot of recipes call for. There are several different things you can do in order to substitute it:

Vegetable oil

If the recipe calls for melted, or even solid, butter you can consider using vegetable oil instead. This, however, may alter the texture of the recipe a little so you will probably need to experiment.


If you really need a solid fat to use in recipes you can use vegan-friendly shortening. This is a manufactured product and filled with transfats, however. So, using it in moderation is best. Shortening isn’t good for you at all! You can also find butter-flavored shortening where a butter flavor is required.


This is another option that can replace butter or other solid fats, especially if you want something with a buttery flavor. However, margarine is also high in trans fatty acids. Watch for transfat-free products, but even those may contain trace amounts of trans fats.

Reducing fat

You can also reduce fat with fruit purees. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, you can try using ½ cup apple sauce and ½ cup vegan margarine or shortening. Other fruit purees you can use include plum puree and banana puree. You may be able to find fruit puree fat replacement products in the store. Just make sure they are vegan-friendly and that you follow the instructions for making a proper substitution. You may also want to try replacing all the fat in the recipe with fruit. However, this may alter the texture too much.

Always make sure that the butter replacement products are used in moderation. A diet that is high in fat and trans fats is not a healthy diet. If you absolutely need them, just use them once in a while.

Common Ingredients Used In Vegan Cooking

Vegan cooking is certainly an art. As illustrated in the previous section, ingredients such as milk, buttermilk, eggs, and butter are essential for certain recipes. But, as we explored, the substitutions are more than adequate. With that said, there are a lot of ingredients that a lot of vegan chefs find essential. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common.

Soy Products

Soy is probably the most versatile plant out there, especially when it comes to creating healthy and protein-rich vegan meals. Here is a list of some of the soy products that are out there:

  • Soy milk. This is readily available and can be found in several different flavors, such as vanilla and chocolate.
  • Tofu. Tofu comes in different levels of firmness such as extra firm, or soft.
  • Tempeh. Tempeh is a fermented product with a hearty, meaty texture that can be used in stir-fries and other meals. 
  • Ground Meat replacement. This soy food is a staple to some because you can make meals such as Spaghetti Bolognese and vegan chili.
  • Soy yogurt. Contains active cultures just like regular yogurt and comes in a variety of flavors.
  • Miso. Miso is a fermented salty paste that is made from soy and is used as a popular, enzyme-rich soup base.
  • Tamari and Soy Sauce. Both condiments are made from soy.
  • Edemame. These are fresh soybeans and are excellent by themselves or in stir-fries.
  • Soy cheese. Soy cheese even melts and has a similar texture to real cheese.
  • Soy sausage hot dogs, and hamburger patties Vegans can enjoy breakfast sausage, hot dogs, and even hamburger patties.
  • Soy “chicken”. They come in a variety of forms such as patties, nuggets, etc.
  • Soy protein powder. Soy protein offers a great way to increase your daily protein intake. You can put a scoop in your morning smoothie, or add it to recipes such as pancakes and breads.
  • Soy flour. This is also a valuable product, particularly for baking.

There are a variety of soy products out there and this wasn’t necessarily a complete list. It just illustrates the versatility of the food product. Look for soy products that are used from non-genetically modified soybeans. 

But, soy foods have their critics. Some only like to use them in their “traditional” forms such as tofu, tempeh, miso, edamame, and tamari. Opponents of processed soy products are leery of the fact that they are designed to taste like meat or milk products which to them, defeats the purpose of being vegan. Plus, these foods tend to be highly processed which doesn’t necessarily make them healthier. Whether or not you decide to use them is a decision that you should make after you weigh the pros and cons.

Whole Grains

There are so many different kinds of whole grains out there, that it is worthwhile to experiment. Grains are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other important nutrients. They even have protein, especially quinoa – an ancient grain that is especially protein-rich. Here are some whole-grain products to try:

  • Rye
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Wheat products 
  • Pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Oats

These can be ground into flour or used whole. They should form the backbone of a healthy vegan diet.

Nuts And Seeds

These are another essential part of a healthy vegan diet. They are rich in vitamins and minerals as well as important nutrients like healthy fats. Here’s a list of some nuts and seeds to try:

  • Hazelnuts (filberts)
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pecans
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Sesame seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Hemp seeds

You can include them in recipes and also eat them by themselves as a snack.


Legumes are an essential protein source for a vegan, especially when paired with whole grains. They need to be combined in this way in order to form a complete protein. When this is one of your main protein sources, it is important to remember to combine it.

Here are some examples. This list is by no means exhaustive:

  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Cannelloni beans
  • Northern beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Split peas

You can find legumes in dried form, ground into flour, and canned. The dried form needs to be soaked overnight in order to soften it. The canned form is easy to use and great to have on hand. The flour is also a popular ingredient in baked foods and savory cooking.

Fruits And Vegetables

Important for good health, fruits, and vegetables add color and variety to your meals. As a vegan, your entire diet will be plant-based so you need to get your vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from things like fruits and vegetables.

Look for organic produce whenever possible which makes them even healthier. Organic food is also better for the environment. Seasonal, local produce is also best because it helps support your local economy and tastes a lot fresher.

Canned And Packaged Foods

As the vegan diet increases in popularity, so does the availability of packaged, vegan-friendly foods. What follows is a list of some of the things you can find.

  • Bread
  • Desserts
  • Baked goods
  • Snacks
  • Vegan chocolate
  • Canned goods 
  • Beverages
  • Breakfast foods and cereals
  • Etc

The great thing is that you don’t even need to go to a health food store to find a lot of these products. Yes, health food stores have a lot of vegan options, but you can even find vegan products in your regular supermarket. 

Here is a great resource that will give you a list of all the vegan foods you can find at the supermarket:


Print it out so that you can find the things that you need when you go to the store. We’ll examine some of these items in greater detail as we talk about how to stock a complete vegan pantry.

Hidden Ingredients To Watch Out For

As mentioned in a previous section, there are often hidden ingredients in foods that are animal byproducts. A true vegan will take the extra step needed to investigate what these ingredients are and avoid them. 

If it is a packaged food and it is listed as being vegan-friendly, you can be fairly confident that the food doesn’t have these ingredients in it. But, it is still a good idea to check.

What follows is a list of the ingredients to watch out for. There are two types of ingredients – those that are clearly from animal products, and those that may be from animal products or may be from plant-derived products. 

In the second category, the only way to really find out is by contacting the manufacturer of the food product. And if they don’t know, consider not buying their product just to be safe.

Hidden Ingredients From Animals

These ingredients are fairly common in foods so unless a product is labeled as vegan, you should really check the ingredients list to make sure they aren’t included.

  • Albumin - comes from egg whites
  • Milk products - includes whey protein powder, lactase, lactose, and things like milk and dried milk
  • Calcium Caseinate – a fairly common additive
  • Calcium Stearate – also another additive
  • Suet – a type of animal fat
  • Tallow – animal fat product is made from suet
  • Bee products – This includes royal jelly, propolis, honey, and bee pollen
  • Carmine – a food additive that comes from insects
  • Lard – a type of animal fat
  • Casein – this is the protein that is in cheese
  • Gelatin – from animals, a popular product found especially in jellies and desserts

Other common hidden ingredients from animals include:

  • Cochineal
  • Isinglass
  • Muriatic acid
  • Oleic acid
  • Palmitic acid
  • Pancreatin
  • Pepsin

Most of the above ingredients are typically used as additives in food. They have different purposes, depending on the food that will go on.

Ingredients That May Be From Animals

The following ingredients serve different functions in the food that they are in. Some are considered additives. Others emulsify foods and supply extra fats. However, just because it sounds like an animal ingredient, doesn’t mean it is. They could be synthetically manufactured or come from plants. You’ll need to check.

The ingredients include:
  • Emulsifying agents
  • Fatty acid
  • Adipic acid
  • Glyceride
  • Glycerol
  • Capric acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Magnesium stearate
  • Monoglyceride
  • Anything listed as “natural flavoring”
  • Clarifying agents
  • Disodium inosinate
  • Glyceride
  • Glycerol
  • Stearic acid
  • Diglyceride
  • Polysorbate
  • Sodium stearoyl lactylate

Yes, some of those ingredients are hard to say – some of them don’t even sound like food! They all have different purposes in the foods that we eat on a daily basis, even foods that we don’t think to consider. The point is that if you want to live a truly vegan lifestyle, it is worth the extra step to follow up and determine if your favorite foods use animal versions of these ingredients.

However, it is important to understand that the ingredients mentioned in this section can be found in almost everything. If you try to focus too much on it, it may get too overwhelming. It is important to find a good balance between wanting to be a strict vegan and living a fulfilling life. If things go too far, it could affect your health in a negative way from the stress.

Being a vegan is definitely a lifestyle commitment. Learning about the foods you need to eat, how to make vegan-friendly substitutions while baking and cooking, and all about the ingredients you may want to avoid are all necessary parts of embracing the vegan lifestyle.

Setting Up The Vegan Pantry

Setting up your pantry is an essential step to being able to easily create meals on a whim. For people who have been vegetarians all their lives, setting up the pantry will not be a struggle. However, if you’ve just recently converted to a vegan, you’ll probably need to start from scratch. You may have some ingredients on hand, but most of your pantry may not be vegan-friendly.

Of course, this list will not include perishable items such as fruits and vegetables. However, even some perishable items, such as certain brands of tofu, soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, etc can be stored on the shelves and not in the refrigerator because of the special packaging.

#1. Take Inventory

The first step to building a vegan pantry is to take inventory of what you have. This step is mostly for those who have just become vegans. However, if you have been vegan for a while, you will also benefit from this. The goal is to go through and think about everything that you have and determine if it supports the vegan lifestyle. 

You may also want to look at the ingredient lists of all your packaged foods to determine if any of the hidden ingredients listed in the previous chapter exist. Even if you have been vegan for a while, you may still find some foods in your pantry that you should not have there.

If you do find a lot of foods to get rid of and they have not been opened, do not throw them away. Give them away to a local food pantry. Just because you will not eat them does not mean that someone will not benefit from them and appreciate having something to eat.

#2. Stock The Essentials

It isn’t entirely necessary to have a large pantry filled with tons of ingredients and packaged foods. All you need to do is sit and think about the things that are really important to you. If you don’t bake that often, for example, don’t bother buying baking supplies until you really need them. If you are the type of person who loves cereal and has a few bowls a day, you may want to keep packages of nut milk, soy milk, rice milk, and extra cereal in your pantry so you don’t need to run to the store all the time. 

Once you figure out what you need and what your eating preferences are then you can start buying things to put in your pantry. If you do not take the extra time to think about what you need, you’ll end up purchasing things you won’t eat. Then, the food will go to waste. Just stock the essentials and if you need other things, you can buy them as you go along.

#3. Purchase Any Extras

It can be expensive to stock your pantry all at once. There are certain ingredients that you may need once in a while, such as tomato sauce and other items. It isn’t important to buy some of these extras at first. You can add to your pantry gradually as you go shopping or as you realize you need them.

In general, it is nice to have the ingredients on hand to make a few simple meals such as pasta dishes, soups, and grain and legume dinners such as rice and beans. Think about the kinds of foods you like to eat and purchase the extra ingredients to have them on hand.

If you are on a tight budget, you can take care of these items as you go along. Plan your meals in advance and write out a shopping list. You can buy these extras at the beginning of the week and store them as you buy them.

An Example of A Vegan Pantry

Even though pantries may differ from household to household, it will be helpful to view a sample pantry. You can use this as a starting point while trying to figure out how to stock yours, or you can take this list to the store and start shopping! It’s up to you.

It may help to think of your pantry in terms of categories such as breakfast items, snacks, etc. Here’s a rough list:

Breakfast Items

  • Whole grain hot cereals such as oatmeal or cream of wheat
  • Cold cereals to eat with soy milk, nut milk, or rice milk
  • Vegan-friendly pancake mixes
  • Vegan baked goods such as muffins


  • A variety of healthy snack items such as granola bars 
  • Vegan treats such as cookies and cakes
  • Crackers and other baked items

Misc. Items

  • Nut milk, soy milk, rice milk, and tofu in special packaging to help it store in the pantry and stay fresh longer
  • Canned soups, soup mixes, and other boxed meal products such as vegan macaroni and cheese
  • Nuts and seeds such as almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and pecans.
  • Pasta – look for whole wheat varieties
  • Items like spaghetti sauce, capers, pickles, extra ketchup, salad dressings, etc

Grain Products

These are just a few examples. Buy things that are in accordance with your preferences

  • Whole wheat rice
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Wheat flour
  • Quinoa


  • One vegetable oil to cook with
  • At least one kind of flavorful oil such as cold-pressed olive oil or roasted sesame oil
  • Tamara and/ or soy sauce
  • Vinegar – you can keep several kinds on hand such as balsamic, rice wine, and red wine vinegar
  • Salt, pepper, and herbs and spices

Baking Items

  • Leavening agents such as yeast, baking powder, and baking soda
  • Vegan-friendly egg substitute
  • Different kinds of flour
  • Sugars and other sweetener products such as maple syrup and rice syrup

This list is just designed to be a jumping-off point. It is almost impossible to come up with a blanket list because people’s food preferences vary greatly. The approach most people like to take is to purchase things one at a time as you need them.

Remember to look at the ingredients, especially when you are buying packaged food. As we’ve explored, there are often hidden ingredients that are not vegan-friendly where you would least expect them.

Basics Of Vegan Cooking

So, we have spent some time thinking about some of the common ingredients that are usually included in vegan foods. We’ve learned how to stock the pantry and also find hidden ingredients in foods that vegans should not eat.

The next step is to actually learn how to cook.

If you already know how to cook, you can skip this chapter. But, I would recommend reading it anyway because there could be things in here you don’t already know. To receive the proper instruction, you really should cook with someone who knows what they are doing, so you can learn from them. 

Or better yet, you can take some cooking classes. Search around your area to see if you can find any vegan cooking classes that can give you a good introduction to some of the techniques. 

Even though we will go over the techniques you need to know to put together a variety of foods in this chapter, it can be fun learning in a group environment.

Here is a basic list of some of the techniques you need:

  • Setting up your kitchen
  • How to follow a recipe
  • Basic cooking techniques

People could spend a lifetime learning how to cook and not even scratch the surface. So, we’ll go over some of the basic techniques. If you want to learn more, you should probably consider enrolling in a class.

Setting Up Your Kitchen

As mentioned in the previous chapter, stocking your pantry is an important piece of the vegan cooking puzzle. The other is to have a well-equipped kitchen to cook a variety of recipes. Now, there are two types of chefs out there. Those who like to use a lot of gadgets, and those who don’t. Most home cooks tend to fall somewhere in between. 

Here’s a list of some of the basic kitchen supplies you need to have on hand in order to be able to cook a variety of recipes. If you come across something that you want to make that calls for specialized equipment, you can either consider buying it or making a substitution.

  • A good set of knives that include a bread knife and a chef’s knife. Unless they are serrated, make sure you keep them sharp. You’ll also want a large cutting board. 
  • An electric mixer. If you do a lot of baking, you may want to find an upright mixer that sits on your countertop.
  • Various utensils such as a pair of sturdy thongs, a sieve, wooden spoons, rubber spatulas, and a sturdy wire whisk. 
  • A small toaster oven and a microwave
  • A blender and/or a food processor.
  • Optional, but nice to have on hand – a submersion mixer, crockpot, ice cream maker, a bread maker if you can’t do without freshly baked bread
  • A good variety of pots, pans, baking dishes, and mixing bowls.

Some people make the mistake of buying everything at once. This is a mistake, especially if you’re new to cooking. You’ll start to understand your personal style.

How to Follow Recipes

Learning how to follow recipes is a very important skill to learning how to cook. Most recipes are pretty straightforward. However, it is easy to take them for granted until something is going wrong. There are many handwritten recipes out there that leave out crucial ingredients without meaning to. If you come across a recipe like this, having a good knowledge of how recipes work can help you decode the missing ingredient.

If you are just learning how to cook, you’ll be following recipes all the time. However, as you get more comfortable in the kitchen, you’ll gradually start to lose your dependence on them.

After you follow a few recipes, you can start to write your own original dishes down. Just remember to list the ingredients in the order that they will appear in the instructions. This makes the recipe easier to follow.

Basic Cooking Techniques

After you set up your kitchen and make sure you understand how to follow recipes, the next step is to learn some basic cooking techniques. Here is a short list of some of the things you’ll need to do in order to cook.

1. Learn How To Use Your Knives

There is a right and wrong way to chop. Most people don’t think much about it. However, the wrong technique can get you injured and also make you inefficient. In order to learn, you’ll want to work with a professional. Always make sure your knives are sharp, too. It’s actually more dangerous if they’re dull.

If you don’t want to take cooking classes in order to learn proper chopping techniques, you could always watch a cooking show on television and mimic what they do.

It is essential to have a high-quality chef’s knife on hand. When cooking certain things, such as salads and soups, most of your time is spent chopping. If you learn how to be efficient you can save a lot of time.

2. Learn The Differences Between Boiling, Heating, And Simmering

These are three very basic cooking techniques for the stovetop. Boiling is when you typically set the heat on high and wait for the mixture to bubble. Heating something is when you let it get hot but not boiling (so there won’t be any bubbles). When you simmer something, you put it on low heat for a long amount of time. Things like soups and stews, for example, are typically simmered.

3. Learn The Difference Between Baking And Broiling

The terms “baking” and “broiling” are not the same thing. However, some things that can be baked can also be broiled, and vice versa. Baking happens at a lower heat than broiling. Classic things that are baked include bread, cookies, cakes, and savory dishes such as vegetarian lasagna and roasted vegetables. Things like vegetarian lasagna, for example, can also be broiled.

Most ovens come equipped with a broiler. However, each one is different. You’ll need to read your manual in order to learn how to operate yours.

4. Learn How To Use All Of Your Appliances

Another crucial step to creating vegan dishes is to make sure you understand how to use all of your appliances. For example, you may not know it but your microwave may also have a convection oven setting. You may not realize what it’s capable of until you read the manual.

Also, you’ll be able to make adjustments in recipes according to how your appliances work. For example, if the instructions say to beat something on high for two minutes, your mixer could take longer if the “high” setting is not as powerful as the mixer used to test and write the original recipe.

5. Common Cooking Terms And What They Mean

Once you get acquainted with your kitchen and start following some recipes, you may come across some terms that you don’t know what to do with. Here are some common ones you may encounter:

  • Mashing, You can either mash with your fork if it is a smaller portion or a masher tool. Some people prefer to whip things that are normally mashed such as potatoes or squash.
  • Whip, You can use a hand mixer, an upright mixer, or a wire whisk to whip just about anything. 
  • Crush, You can crush things with the back of your knife, the bottom of a glass, or other heavy objects. There are also special kitchen gadgets used for crushing.
  • Grate, Graters come in different forms. Just take your pick. If you need to grate an orange peel or lemon peel, a small hand-held grater is best.
  • Knife techniques, There are several different kinds of knife techniques you can do including chop, julienne (matchstick-sized pieces), crush, and slice.
  • Blend, Depending on what you are blending you have three choices – a regular blender, a hand-held submersion blender which works best for soups, and a food processor. The tool you use will depend on the recipe.
  • Puree, When a recipe tells you to puree something, you can do it in small batches in the regular blender, use a submersion blender, or use the food processor.

This is just an overview of some of the techniques you will encounter. A good, comprehensive cookbook will help you define any other terms you need to learn. Or, you can look online.

Creating A Complete Meal

Just because someone is a vegan does not mean they will be naturally thin and super healthy. This is because it is still possible to have too many calories as a vegan, despite the wealth of nutrient-dense foods to choose from. So, every effort needs to be made to create balanced meals.

This can be a challenge, especially if you are first starting out as a vegan. One reason for this is that certain vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B12 and Iron, are more easily found in meat products. In addition, Iron is more readily absorbed in the body when paired with meat.

Nutritional Considerations

This section will cover some of the challenges vegans face when putting meals together. It is designed to help you create healthy and balanced meal combinations that will leave you full of energy and health. If you want to lose weight or stay thin, just remember not to consume too many calories in addition.

Getting Adequate Protein

People who eat meat take getting enough protein for granted. All they need to do is consume dairy products and a serving or two of meat or fish a day in order to do it. But vegans need to get their protein from plant sources. Fortunately, there are things in the plant world that are still rich in protein:

  • Soy products
  • Nuts, seeds, nut milk, and nut butter
  • Grains, especially quinoa
  • Legumes such as kidney beans. Remember to eat a serving of grain at the same meal to make

You may also want to consume a serving or two of protein drinks per day. Just make sure the packaging indicates that it is vegan-friendly. A popular ingredient in most protein powders is whey, which is derived from milk and should be avoided.

Eating Enough Iron

For women, getting enough iron is enough of a challenge. For a vegan, it’s even tougher and many vegans end up with iron deficiencies. On the advice of your doctor, you may want to take an iron supplement. You can find plant-based, vegan-friendly iron supplements at the health food store. In addition, eat these foods:

  • Spinach
  • Green beans
  • Brewer’s yeast (a supplement)
  • Wheat germ
  • Lima beans
  • Dried fruit such as raisins and prunes
  • Cooking in a cast iron skillet
  • Blackstrap molasses (used in baking or taken as a supplement)

In order to make plant protein more absorbable, pair it with a vitamin C-rich food, drink, or supplement. For example, you can have a small glass of orange with a meal that contains a lot of iron.

Eat Foods Rich in B-Vitamins

Vegans get enough of most of the B Vitamins because grains are a good source. However, Vitamin B 12 is a little more challenging. The only hope for this is to supplement it with a vegan-friendly version of B 12 which is often synthetic. Some cereals and drinks also contain B 12. 

Eating Enough Calcium

Thanks to fortification, it is easier than ever for a vegan to get their calcium. Here are some foods to have:

  • Soy milk, nut milk, and rice milk are often fortified with calcium. Make sure the product is vegan-friendly and contains a good amount of calcium.
  • Nuts such as hazelnuts and almonds are also good sources of calcium.
  • Leafy green veggies and other vegetables such as bok choy, collard greens, turnip greens, and okra are also rich in calcium.

When preparing the vegetables, try not to boil them unless you drink the water. A lot of the calcium leaves the food during the cooking process and goes into the water.

Getting It Right

If you’ve been a vegan for a while, you may already have the hang of this. If not, you may want to plan some of your meals out in advance until you get the hang of it. Even if you’ve been a vegan for a while, it’s a good idea to periodically take a step back and plan a few meals. Not only will this help ensure that you get the nutrients you need, but it helps build variety because you can plan meals around new ingredients.

Besides planning meals, you can also keep a food journal. In it, keep track of what you eat, how you cook it, whether or not you like it, and if you would change anything. It’s also a good way to see if you are getting the right nutrients. You don’t need to analyze it too heavily. You can just glance at it to make sure you’re getting what you need.

It’s a good idea to take a multivitamin supplement in addition to eating a healthy diet. This will help you make sure your body has what it needs to keep you healthy.

Vegan-Friendly Ethnic Cuisine

There are various ethnic cuisines that are largely vegetarian. As a result, they have a lot of tasty vegan dishes that you can enjoy. This gives your diet much-needed variety.

Here is a short list of some of the cuisines out there. Most of these also have meat dishes, but their vegetarian options are very tasty.

  • Indian. There are plenty of grain and vegetable-based options.
  • Chinese. The Buddhist monks eat a largely vegetarian diet.
  • French. Fresh fruits and vegetables form the centerpiece of this Mediterranean cuisine.
  • Italian. Italian food also focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Korean. Lots of rice and vegetables are consumed on a daily basis. 
  • Thai. Much like traditional, produce-based Chinese food, Thai also packs some heat.
  • Vietnamese. Another Asian cuisine that uses a lot of plant-based foods.
  • Greek. Another Mediterranean region cuisine that features a lot of fresh produce.

This list is by no means exhaustive. For example, Mediterranean cuisine in general is vegan-friendly because there are a lot of dishes that focus on plant-based foods. There are a lot of countries that make up that region including France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Morocco, and Algeria. 

Asian cuisine in general also has a lot of dishes that are made primarily from plant-based foods. Even if a recipe like a stir fry calls for some meat, you can easily leave it out without hurting the flavors.

Special Nutritional Considerations

The vegan diet is an ideal one for building health. As mentioned in a previous chapter, however, it is still possible for there to be overweight vegans because all you need to do is consume too many calories. You can also be unhealthy as a vegan by not getting enough of the right nutrients. However, those problems can be easily fixed by cutting calories and creating better, more complete meals.

However, some people have bigger health problems to worry about. Some may be using the vegan diet to help them restore their health. Others chose to become vegans for other reasons and it just so happens they have health problems such as diabetes.

Here is a list of some common health afflictions and how to adjust the vegan diet to accommodate it. Remember that the vegan diet is a healthy diet to begin with so it makes these adjustments a lot easier.


There are two kinds of diabetes – Type 1, which people are born with, and Type 2, which comes later in life. The vegan diet, especially a low-fat one, is especially useful for people who have Type 2 diabetes. However, Type 1 sufferers can also benefit. 

If you stick to low-fat foods, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and plenty of fruits and vegetables it will help manage your condition naturally. Also, make sure to take the medication you are supposed to. When your body can’t produce insulin or doesn’t manufacture enough, there’s no other way for your body to get it except with the medicine.

Diseases Of The Circulatory System

Diseases of the circulatory system, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and generalized heart disease, all benefit from the vegan diet naturally. This is because it is low in fat and cholesterol. Also, if you have high blood pressure, you can take an extra step and make sure that you don’t consume excess salt.

This is another case where following the vegan diet as you normally would benefit your health and can help with these health problems.

Low Dat Diet

The vegan diet is naturally low in fat. In fact, because you are not consuming any meat products, it is low in saturated fat and high in the helpful fats that come from avocado, nuts and seeds, and various vegetable oils.

However, there are some things to keep in mind. First, stay away from trans fats. In many ways, these are even worse for you than saturated fats. Also, you may need a small amount of saturated fat in your diet. You can get what you need by eating coconut every once in a while. You can also cook with coconut oil which could take the place of butter or lard.

Low Sugar Cooking

If you follow the vegan diet as it is meant to be followed, the vegan diet is naturally low in sugar. However, just like with any lifestyle, there is the possibility that you can overdo it. Yes, your body needs some sugar. You can get it naturally from fresh and dried fruits as well as maple syrup, sugar cane, or rice syrup. 

However, there are also baked goods and other sugary possibilities (such as vegan-friendly chocolate) that can become just as addictive as their non-vegan counterparts. Moderation is the key. If you want to follow a low-sugar diet, train your body to enjoy sugar in its natural state when it’s present in fruit and not to enjoy baked foods.

Low Sodium Cooking

People who follow the vegan diet are just as prone to consuming too much sodium as anyone else. Followed in its purest state, the vegan diet is low in sodium. But reach for the salt shaker too often, and this could negatively affect your health. 

Packaged and processed foods exist no matter if you are a vegan or not. So does the salt shaker. Avoid it, especially if you have a tendency to retain water or if have high blood pressure.

Gluten-Free Cooking

At first glance, it may seem like a challenge to do away with gluten on a vegan diet. However, it is still very possible. If you need to avoid gluten, here is a short list of some of the grains to avoid:

  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Kamut
  • Spelt
However, there are still plenty of grains and starches that you can eat.
  • Rice, especially brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Potatoes
Just follow the vegan diet as you normally would but only stick with those grains that don’t produce gluten. 

As you can see, you can easily adapt the vegan diet to help with a variety of health problems.

Read Also:

Post a Comment