I’ve never been a fan of cutting corners. In fact, ‘taking the road less traveled’ has long been the story of my life… Okay, explaining this would require a different blog post – or a whole different blog – so today I’m just focusing on how (and why) this applies in the kitchen.
The biggest reason for cooking at home a lot for me is the fact that it’s healthier. That’s a no-brainer: even vegan restaurants tend to use some ingredients that are far from doing us any good (like oil, fake meats, etc.), plus is there anyone reading this who lives in the land that’s robust with numerous vegan restaurants? If you are one of the very few lucky guys, you’ve probably noticed that even in a vegan paradise, eating out a lot still costs a pretty penny. The obvious solution: let’s cook healthy food at home!
For those of us who are really interested in making food as healthy as possible, another issue may arise: a lot of store-bought ingredients for our vegan home-cooked creations are either produced using questionable practices, or contain less-than-healthy components. Case in point: carrageenan in some non-dairy milks, or hydrogenated oils in many peanut butter brands.
Thankfully, the vegan blogosphere comes to the rescue! With some help from the adventurous vegan folk, we can create just about any vegan staple ingredients at home – from non-dairy milk and tofu to fermented vegetables and various sauces – and make them much healthier than their conventional versions.
I’ve done some digging to save you time on searching yourself – so here’s a list of 10 healthy homemade kitchen essentials, BECAUSE HOMEMADE IS ALWAYS BETTER!
10 DIY Plant-Based Kitchen Staples:
- Homemade peanut butter from scratch. I make this recipe at least a couple times a month – peanut butter is a big deal in our house! The addition of ground flaxseed makes this PB even healthier because it boosts its omega-3 fatty acids content. The same technique can be used to make nut butters from other nuts of your choice.
- Homemade non-dairy milk – see this step-by-step post by Cathy Fisher of Straight Up Food blog. Cathy explains how to make almond, pecan, oat and rice milks at home using no-fuss techniques. Want to get even more adventurous with turning that milk into homemade yogurt? Colleen from Waking Up Vegan describes the process with great detail in this post.
- Homemade vegetable broth. I am generally averse to buying those little vegan bouillon cubes in stores because reading their ingredients lists often makes me hyperventilate. Plus, I’ve discovered this great method of making your own veggie broth that literally costs you nothing because it uses all of those veggie scraps that would otherwise go into trash. Homemade and plant-based is always better than store-bought and processed, at least in my book.
- Homemade mayonnaise. I’ve searched Pinterest far and wide, and yet most homemade mayo recipes either contain oil, or seem kind of suspicious. Thankfully, one of my favorite vegan bloggers, Susan from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, posted a healthy tofu-cashew mayonnaise recipe that’s not only oil-free, but also has just 15 calories per tablespoon! If you make too much of this mayo at once, you can even freeze the extras for later.
- Homemade tofu, tempeh, and seitan. The methods for making them are abundant on the interwebs: check out these tutorials for making regular tofu, as well as hemp tofu and even chickpea flour tofu! For homemade tempeh inspiration, click here, and to see an easy seitan recipe by yours truly, go over here (pictured below).
- Homemade barbecue sauce. I prefer not to buy complex sauces or marinades in stores for the same reason as why I don’t mess with bouillon cubes. My recipe for a basic barbecue sauce from this post is highly customizable to taste, and only takes a couple minutes to make! That’s the recipe I used for the seitan nuggets in the above picture.
- Homemade pizza crust. My go-to whole-wheat pizza crust recipe from this post goes beyond just a pizza crust: it makes great breadsticks, rolls, and regular loaves of bread.
- Homemade fermented veggies – cabbage in particular. Fermenting makes vegetables easier to digest and infuses them with good-for-the-gut bacteria, similarly to yogurt; fermenting at home is also cheaper and usually yields better-tasting results. Here’s a recipe for classic sauerkraut. I’ve been long fascinated by Korean kimchi (napa cabbage fermented with this and that), but all recipes I found seemed too labor-intensive. However, this kimchi recipe is relatively simple and might be worth a try!
- Sprouted beans, grains and seeds. Sprouting turns them into little nutritional powerhouses, plus it’s very easy and cheap! You can either use a special jar like this GEO Sprouting Jar or do it old-school with a mason jar and some cheesecloth. Here’s more explanation on doing this right.
- Homemade energy bars. Okay, maybe this isn’t an ingredient, but it still deserves a mentioning. Most store-bought granola/energy bars are not much healthier than a candy bar anyway, plus they often use highly processed ingredients that may not be vegan. I’m a big fan of this post by Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete blog in which he describes not just one recipe, but a formula for an almost unlimited variations of healthy energy bars that are especially great for active people because of their higher protein content (thanks to beans).
I had other thoughts for DIY kitchen staples, but this post was getting kind of long anyway, so my buck stops here. You’re welcome to add your own ideas for homemade kitchen staples though, so feel free to speak out in the comments!
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