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Whether you are taking part in Veganuary or would like to incorporate a few more plant-based recipes into your life, I have got you covered! The following tips are perfect for anyone recently breaking into the world of vegan cooking.
To excel at vegan cooking, you must know the basics of cooking vegetables as these ingredients are likely going to make up the bulk of your meals. I grew up eating boiled vegetables, which resulted in a strong aversion to many veggies once I got older. However, veganism spurred me to experiment in the kitchen, allowing me to discover roasted vegetables, stir-fried vegetables, vegetable tempura, and that mushrooms can taste remarkably like chicken! Once you learn how to make the most out of vegetables, you will begin to realise that you no longer need animal products after all.
There’s much more to seasoning than Italian herb blends and paprika! Don’t get me wrong, these are strong, versatile ingredients, but your vegan cupboard and pantry should be filled with dozens of more choices, too. From spicy cardamom to anise-flavoured fennel, exciting seasonings are fundamental if you’d like to cook different cuisine or create your plant-based alternatives.
A chef’s knife is an excellent place to start as this tool will help you dice veggies, chop herbs, nuts, etc. It’s versatile and will probably become your most-used knife. A paring knife is for peeling fruit and vegetables, slicing garlic, etc.; this is another one that will come in handy with vegan cooking. I would recommend doing your research and purchasing high quality knives as you’ll be using them a lot. It also makes all the difference when you use the correct knives for specific tasks, for example, you wouldn’t use a bread knife to cut a butternut squash!
You may look at nutritional yeast (also known as ‘nooch’) and think that it doesn’t look like much, but don’t judge a book by its cover - it’s a miracle ingredient! It’s well-loved due to its ability to provide food with a cheesy, nutty flavour, making it a must-have for creamy sauces or creating your own vegan cheese. You can find nutritional yeast in health stores, online, and in certain supermarkets.
I think this might be the most important tip in the whole article. Once you learn how to take your favourite foods and veganize them, you’ll be unstoppable. Animal products, who? You certainly won’t need them anymore! Now, I know that this is easier said than done because it can be challenging initially, but you should start small. Start by following recipes that have already been veganized, for example, fish and chips, spaghetti and meatballs, and meringue. The more you try new recipes, the more you’ll learn and improve; and once you’ve gained experience in the kitchen, you can apply what you have learnt from other recipes to create your own. Also, with the amazing selection of plant-based products available now, veganizing dishes is easier than ever.
How else are you going to know if your food tastes good? You should apply this tip to all cooking, not just vegan! Tasting your food every few steps allows you to change things accordingly, add appropriate seasonings, and rectify mistakes before they’re irreversible.
Not all cooking oils can be used in the same way; they all have different uses, strengths and benefits. A few of the most common cooking oils include coconut, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, sunflower and sesame. These oils have different smoke points; for example, extra virgin olive oil has a low smoking point meaning that it isn’t the best choice for cooking at high temperatures. However, extra virgin olive oil is perfect for using in dressings.
I have been vegan for over four years, and I’m still learning all of the time. Your general knowledge of cooking will undoubtedly help you when it comes to making vegan recipes, so if you’re a keen cook already, then I’m sure you’ll learn quickly. But remember to keep an open mind and be willing to improve your skills by listening to advice, reading blogs and cookbooks, watching videos etc.
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