As I’ve mentioned before, there are a lot of misconceptions that vegan food is boring. In my mind, nothing could be further from the truth, but I do agree there are my Top 10 vegan cooking tips and tricks. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Olive Juice – Adding even just a little of olive oil can really bring out the flavors of a dish. Obviously, it’s easy to go overboard on this. I’ve found that a little dab will do, but I do love the flavors it adds. I’ve used olive oil on Hummus, Pastas, and even cakes!
- Spice Girls – Don’t be afraid of your spice rack. A friend gave me a great tip once. She said to place the spice on your tongue so you know what you’re adding to a dish before you do it. Don’t just rely on a recipe to tell you what to add to your recipes. I love to have smoked paprika, garlic powder, cinnamon, turmeric, dill, ginger, nutmeg, caraway seeds, and allspice on hand most of the time. I also grow fresh herbs like basil, oregano, sage, and parsley. I add spices like rosemary and sage to roasted potatoes. It makes such a difference.
- Citrus it up – It’s a good idea to keep a lemon or lime on hand because citrus is a great taste enhancer. You’ll also get a bit of vitamin C in your diet. Besides, having a little lemon on hand to add to your tea is always nice! Or how about lime for your margarita? Now we’re talking. Also, I learned from my friend Liz that squeezing a little bit of lemon over your salad is a great, fresh (and super-low calorie) dressing. Who knew.
- Nuts and Seeds – OK. So there is some truth to the whole crunchy granola side of veganism. But the thing is, nuts and seeds are SO good for you! I love adding nuts to my smoothies to add a creamy texture. I also add them to veggie burgers for the added fat they provide. I’m a big fan of hemp seeds as well. And, of course, we use flax seeds in a lot of our recipes.
- Beans, Beans, Good for the heart! We always have beans on hand. Always. We keep them dried and canned. We use canned beans most of the time, but I also like having the dried variety around. Our favorite beans are black beans but we also use chickpeas, pinto beans, and kidney beans. And sometimes it’s just fun to try different kinds of beans to mix things up. You can’t deny the amazing flavor and healthy fiber in each bite! I’ve even used beans in my Black Bean Brownies.
- Make it Savory – Here are five of my favorite things to add to a recipe to add a special dose of savory: a) We always keep vegetable broth on hand and use it as a flavoring in soups and stews. b) White wine. I might say red wine here, but I think white wine is more versatile. I add it to soups or even things like chili when I want a special dose of savory. c) Tomatoes. Try making a minestrone without tomatoes. It just doesn’t work. It may sound crazy, but even adding a can of stewed tomatoes to a vegetable soup gives it a sort of buttery flavor. We keep stewed, diced, and sun-dried tomatoes around all the time. And we even make sure to have tomato sauces and pastes on hand as well. d) Adding just a bit of Mild Miso Paste to your recipe can make a big difference and finally, e) I recommend keeping a bottle of vegan Worcestershire Sauce on hand because it also adds a nice “meaty” flavor to your savory dishes.
- Make it spicy – I’m definitely a big fan of sriracha. Look, not everyone is into the spicy so having a bottle of sriracha allows everyone to have their dish to their own heat preference. So I will cook the basic recipe in a fairly mild taste profile and then serve hot sauce (or a bottle of hot sauce) on the side so people with a spicier flare (ME!) can dress up the dish as they want.
- Become a short-order cook – Playing on the item above this one, I like to buy things like LiteHouse spices and herbs that allow me to dress up my dish exactly the way I like it. For example, Shawn doesn’t really like cilantro all that much. So I can keep cilantro on hand and add it as much as I want to my dishes. It’s perfect. Same thing with mushrooms. I make a batch and add them to my recipes so Shawn doesn’t have to pick them off the plate.
- Just Say CHEESE – You can buy vegan parmesan, or make homemade vegan parmesan. I recommend having some on hand to sprinkle over your recipes. Also, nutritional yeast flakes (sometimes referred to as ‘nooch’) is great stuff to have around. You can buy it in most grocery stores and it’s perfect for providing a slightly nutty, cheesy flavor to most dishes. I’ve even added it to my DIY Vegan Cheesy Popcorn! There are also some really great vegan cheese products out there. Our favorites are Daiya and Follow Your Heart.
- Get Saucy – I love a good sauce. And having a sauce you can serve over your favorite dishes will make all the difference. I’ve made a Vegan Queso sauce that can be used over a variety of vegan Mexican dishes. And I created a vegan pesto that I’ve served over a variety of pasta dishes. And there’s nothing like a good vegan alfredo sauce that can be served with pasta and even pizza!
I hope you enjoyed these Vegan Cooking Tips and Tricks! Find more vegan cooking information on our resources page. Also, if you’re curious about what kind of vegan you are (or might be someday), take my 3 Kinds of Vegan Survey!