Do you like to recipe swap? It’s always so much fun to share tips and ideas with others who are trying to follow – and enjoy – a vegan diet. We have chatted with two of our favourite vegans to get the inside scoop on what ingredients they can’t live without when preparing their vegan meals. Have you got a secret ingredient you like to use? Let us know in the comments!
Lucy Lucraft: Vegan Journalist, Blogger + Podcaster
Lucy is a writer, podcaster and busy mum living on the coast in Brighton.
Lucy lives in Brighton with her family and generously shares tips for vegan living through her social channels. Cooking for a young family has its challenges, but using these ten essential ingredients on repeat makes meal-creating so much easier.
I cook so many curries using turmeric. It’s my go-to spice for it’s healing properties too.
From stir-fries to scrambled eggs, I always have some extra firm smoked tofu in my fridge. Weirdly, I used to hate it, but now I can even eat it raw!
I love this stuff SO MUCH for making my sauces a little ‘cheesy’ and adding an important hit of Vitamin B12 to my diet.
Green vegetables, especially courgettes
I have always been a massive green vegetables fan, particularly courgette, broccoli and cucumber. I often grate courgette into salads, pasta dishes or into my favourite vegan Nasi Goreng recipe.
Onions and garlic
These are a must have, for obvious reasons!
I’m partial to a bit of fresh ginger for tea, and for flavouring South Asian curries too.
A boring one but there isn’t a day that goes by without me eating bread. I make my own using a bread machine and I often whizz up pizza dough in there too!
With a wee toddler, we get through a heap of oat milk, and often make our own (we just blend porridge oats and water and strain through a nut milk bag).
Finally, I’m never without chickpeas. I make ‘chickpea tuna’ sandwich fillings and make hummus, chana rice or chana masala most weeks.
Tash, owner of The Kind Store
It’s Tash! She is such a brilliant supporter of emerging ethical brands and small eco businesses
With a passion for ethical shopping, Tash works tirelessly to bring the best vegan, natural and eco-friendly products to a wider audience through her fabulous online shop The Kind Store.
It was hard for Tash to choose just 10 vegan ingredients but she managed to narrow it down to these store cupboard essentials and a few main ingredients that are super versatile and can each be used to whip up a variety of tasty and nutritious snacks and meals.
Needing no introduction, I live on this stuff. I put it on toast, a spoonful on porridge, in a smoothie or you can make a sweet sauce by heating up and adding either plant milk, coconut oil or maple syrup. It’s also great for homemade savoury sauces (see 3 below). I only buy nut butter from 100% nuts meaning there’s no palm oil or added sugars and it comes in a glass jar.
Another super versatile essential. You can buy dried and soak overnight (see if you have a bulk store near you to buy zero waste, otherwise www.plasticfreepantry.co.uk is a great option). I always forget to soak them in advance so I buy them tinned. Not only can you add chickpeas into curries, stews and chilli, you can use them to make homemade plastic free hummus or a quick snack of dry roasted chickpeas. The Chickpea water can also be saved to make vegan meringues although I haven’t tried that yet!
My go-to sauce for adding flavour to a savoury dish. I mix with garlic, ginger, toasted sesame oil and sweet chilli for a basic stir-fry sauce (taste test to find the ratio you like!). I also use a dash for stews, chilli and its great for coating tofu and baking in the oven.
It wouldn’t be a vegan list without mentioning tofu. In the supermarket you can generally find either silken tofu (which is better for sauces and desserts) or firm tofu. Firm tofu is really versatile however if you’re new to tofu it can take a while to become fond of it.
For a beginner, I cut the firm tofu into 1.5cm chunks, coat it cornflour and then fry in the pan with a decent amount of oil. You could also buy or make a marinade to add once the tofu is crispy. My favourite is a sticky sweet and sour sauce.
Another option is marinading the firm tofu overnight for ultimate flavour. I like either soy or a homemade barbecue sauce. Simply cook in the over for 30 minutes. My ultimate favourite is scrambled tofu. Check out a recipe online and you can’t go wrong.
An absolute staple. I buy organic jumbo oats in paper from the supermarket or from Plastic Free Pantry. Use oats to make porridge, your own granola, flapjacks, add to smoothies and energy balls or blend up to a fine almost flour like consistency to make pancakes. I eat them almost every morning. You can also make your own oat milk at home with three simple ingredients.
Coconut milk (in a can)
Not only can it be used to make Indian and Thai curries, it’s great for baking too. Refrigerate to make cake frosting or whipped cream or give it a very good shake and add to your smoothies for a milkshake style thickness.
Choose juicy, fragrant tomatoes but don’t be afraid to use the mushy ones for sauces.
Again not a cupboard essential but if there’s one fresh thing I like to see in the fridge it’s a whole load of tomatoes. You can make so many things from them and add them to so many dishes. Make your own sauce, salsa or pizza base. Whip up a simple salad or add them to stews and curries. I love balsamic roasted vine tomatoes on toast for a simple yet delicious brunch.
We always have almonds and cashews in the house as they are great for snacking and either topping sweet or savoury dishes. Chopped nuts are great for salads and ground nuts can be used in baking. A hit of good fat and protein. You can even soak cashews overnight to help make the ultimate creamy dairy free sauce.
Something that will be a new ingredient to non-vegans in nutritional yeast. It has added Vitamin B12 which is the only vitamin we cannot reliably get from a plant-based diet. It looks like fish food but you can add it to a creamy pasta or risotto sauce, soup, in scrambled tofu or even a nut roast. It has a cheesy flavour however it can easily be added to a lot of dishes without anyone noticing.
I have to mention the mighty baked beans, shop bought in a tin. Did you know baked beans on wholemeal toast is a complete protein meal? If you’re short of time these are a go to in our household and a must have with a big vegan fry up. You can try making your own smoky baked beans from scratch too!
Are there any ingredients we’ve missed? Tell us in the comments!