Sometimes we buy processed food, but not very often. We usually cook at home from scratch. This was true even before we went vegan. We wanted to know what was in our food, and we enjoyed home cooked meals a million times more that processed food. That still applies. Because of that, we do a lot of cooking at home, and there are a few things I use over and over again in my recipes, including the following 5 staples.
1. Nutritional Yeast
I’ve been vegan over a year, and I can say that nutritional yeast was OK when I first when vegan, but it has slowly become more and more amazing. Now, I love it so much. It really adds that cheesy depth to my sauces that I can’t get from anything else.
Not only is nutritional yeast healthy for you, and helps you get more vitamin B12 in your diet, but it adds a flavor that you can’t get from anything else vegan in my experience.
I add it to my sour cream, jalapeno cream sauce, mac and cheese sauce, Parmesan cheese, and pretty much any sauce that I would have normally added cheese into. I also put it on popcorn for a yummy depth that I love.
We buy a lot of cashews. So many that it boggles people’s minds.
Usually we go through self-checkout at the stores, but once we needed a cashier to ring us through and he was shocked that we had so many cashews. He asked us what we needed them for, so my husband said we use them in coffee, sauces, desserts, etc. The cashier gave my husband a weird look and didn’t say anything else.
My husband uses cashews in his coffee. He blends a handful up, adds the coffee and some agave and salt, and blends that altogether. It comes out like a latte and he won’t drink his coffee anyway else.
I use cashews in sour cream, jalapeno cream sauce, and almost all recipes that call for cream.
The only downside to cashews is that I once read that bugs can live inside them, so I’ve become obsessed with opening each one before I make anything. It’s time consuming, and I’ve never found a bug, but I personally can’t risk it.
3. Beans And Lentils
We have ALL the beans and lentils. You name it, we have it. They are a huge part of our diet. From hummus to chili to lentil soup to cabbage rolls with lentils, we love all things beans and lentils.
We do buy dry beans and lentils. We have a pressure cooker, and it’s so easy to make beans for us that I wouldn’t even consider buying them canned.
If we decide we want a meal with beans, we put them to soak in the morning, then cook them up in the pressure cooker before supper, and while they are cooking we cut up and cook everything else we need.
Black beans don’t need to be soaked and they only take about 25 minutes in the pressure cooker. The rest of the beans we soak and they take about 30 minutes in the pressure cooker.
Of course, lentils cook quickly without soaking or the pressure cooker. FYI, my favorite soup with lentils is called Mum’s Everyday Red Lentils. So good!
We have about 30 tomatoes sitting around on our kitchen counter that I need to can this weekend. And I know that’s only going to last us a month – if that.
We eat tomatoes almost every day. Most of our recipes are Mexican or Indian, and tomatoes always make an appearance in our dishes.
The other day I was at the grocery store trying to find a spice we didn’t have in our kitchen. I couldn’t. Just like beans and lentils, we have ALL the spices! And that makes me happy.
As I said, we do a lot of Mexican and Indian cooking, as well as Italian and Chinese, so we need a lot of spices in our kitchen to keep up with our taste buds.