More Than 100 Easy Recipes to Create an Awesome Plant-Based Pantry
By Nicole Axworthy, Lisa Pitman
St. Martin's Press Copyright © 2015 Nicole Axworthy and Lisa Pitman
All rights reserved.
Stocking Your Awesome Vegan Pantry
THE FIRST STEP TO CRAFTING your staples at home is filling your shelves with all the essential ingredients for a productive vegan pantry. Here, we're going to introduce you to a roster of versatile superstars: whole grains, nuts, seeds, oils, dried fruit, sweeteners, and spices.
While this is not a complete list of food you might want in your kitchen or pantry, it includes essential ingredients featured in the recipes in this book. Once you have these on hand, you are ready to re-create all your everyday favorites, like the creamer you use in your morning coffee or the crackers you pack for snacks, and to make your vegan kitchen complete!
You don't need to rush out and get everything on this list today. Start with a recipe or two, and you'll begin to recognize the more common ingredients and see their potential. Soon they'll go from weird, health-food hippie ingredients to items you can't live without.
WHOLE GRAINS, FLOURS & STARCHES
We're not telling you to throw out your old basics like white rice and all-purpose flour when stocking your pantry, but there are all sorts of grains and flours that will each bring a little something extra to your cooking, including plant-powered nutrients and delicious, wholesome flavors.
Almond meal & flour: Almond meal and almond flour lend a soft, chewy texture and nutty flavor to baked goods. Almond meal is made from raw almonds with the skins intact and has a slightly coarse texture, while almond flour is made from blanched almonds (which have been heated to remove their skins) and has a delicate and fine texture. Almond flour can also be made by dehydrating the almond pulp leftover from making nut milk. In most cases, we use almond meal but both can be made in your own kitchen (see here).
Arrowroot: Yes, it's made from a root called arrowroot (no creativity here at all). Use it where you'd use cornstarch — it thickens sauces and puddings and helps bind and crisp up the texture of baked goods.
Brown rice flour: This popular gluten-free flour is made from finely milled brown rice and is part of our Gluten- Free Flour Mix (here). Look for brown rice flour at bulk and health food stores and in the specialty food section of large grocers.
Brown rice (puffed): A light and crunchy way to enjoy the goodness of brown rice, this puffed version is used in the Snackworthy Cereal Bars here and the Cinnamon Toast Cereal here. We love Nature's Path and Arrowhead Mills brands, which contain only one ingredient (puffed brown rice!) and can be found at most health food stores and large grocers.
Buckwheat groats & flour: Even though it has "wheat" right in the name, buckwheat is not even related to regular wheat. In fact, it's gluten-free. (Who the heck is in charge of naming these things, anyway?) Raw buckwheat groats are the hulled seeds of the buckwheat plant, as opposed to kasha, which is toasted and much darker in color. Raw groats provide a wonderful crunchy texture to recipes when used whole, or a soft, pleasant flavor when made into flour. You can find the groats and flour at bulk and health food stores.
Chickpea flour: Otherwise known as garbanzo bean flour, this pale yellow flour is made from ground chickpeas. It imparts a sweet, almost beany flavor and aroma, which isn't quite as pronounced after baking. Because it's made from one of our favorite legumes and is high in protein, we've incorporated it in the Gluten-Free Flour Mix here. Look for chickpea flour at bulk and health food stores.
Cornmeal: This common staple is made from dried corn. We prefer organic, stone-ground cornmeal and use it in some recipes to add a little crunch, like the Creamy Five-Grain Porridge here, or for the bottom of homemade pizza crust (here and here).
Millet & millet flour: While most gluten-free grains have a strong underlying flavor, millet is an exception to the rule. We sometimes grind whole millet to add a crunchy texture to recipes like the Pancake Mix here, but millet flour is excellent for lighter baked goods that require a texture and flavor similar to wheat (which is why our Ultimate Gluten-Free Bread here tastes so good). You can find both the whole grain and flour at bulk and health food stores.
Oats (rolled) & oat flour: Oats are one of our favorite grains. They're wholesome, fiber-rich, and have far more uses than just oatmeal (think quick breads, cookies, and pancakes). Oat flour is, as you might expect, flour made from finely milled oats. Note that oats are often processed in the same facility as wheat, so if you're celiac or avoiding wheat or gluten, be sure to buy oats that are certified gluten-free.
Oats (steel cut): These oats are made from whole- grain oat groats that have been cut into pieces. Like rolled oats, steel-cut oats are often processed in the same facility as wheat, so be sure to buy ones that are certified gluten-free if you're avoiding wheat or gluten.
Potato starch: This starch is made from dehydrated, peeled potatoes and is not the same as potato flour! We use potato starch in our Gluten-Free Flour Mix (here) because it has a neutral flavor and fine texture.
Quinoa & quinoa flour: This tiny grain is celebrated (we're talking a real party here) for its nutritional profile (it contains all essential amino acids, so it's considered a complete protein) and how quickly it cooks up (15 to 20 minutes). Quinoa flour is simply uncooked quinoa that has been finely ground. It works wonders in gluten-free baking because it provides a slightly nutty flavor and light texture.
Quinoa (puffed): Similar to other grains like rice and corn, quinoa can be popped or puffed to lighten its texture. It makes a great addition to the Superfood Salad Booster here. It's not always easy to find, but its usual habitat is the cereal aisle of bulk and health food stores.
Spelt flour: This whole-grain flour is similar to wheat but has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and lower gluten content. We love using it to make wholesome breads, muffins, and cookies.
Tapioca flour: Tapioca flour, also known as tapioca starch, is gluten-free flour derived from cassava root. It is a starchy, slightly sweet, purewhite flour often used in gluten-free baking (and is part of our Gluten-Free Flour Mix here) and for thickening puddings and sauces. Look for it at bulk and health food stores.
Whole wheat pastry flour: This whole-grain flour is much softer and more finely textured than regular whole wheat flour, and baked goods made with it will have a similar consistency to those made with white flour. If you can't find it at your local grocery store, check bulk food stores, which often carry a wider variety of flours.
Sure, white sugar is deliciously addictive, but why not expand your mind and taste buds to discover the potential of other natural sweeteners, like Medjool dates? Oh, how we love those chewy, caramel-flavored dates. While the sweeteners we use in this book are still sugar, we think they're more flavorful, a little higher in nutrition, and easier for the body to process than the standard white stuff. Make some room in your cupboard for these vegan-friendly sweeties.
Agave nectar: Although there has been debate as to the healthfulness of agave, we still use it on occasion. It's a concentrated sweetener, not a health food, after all! Its clean, neutral flavor makes it suitable for recipes where you don't want the maple or caramel undertone that comes from the other sweeteners we tend to use. Look for agave in health food stores or in the specialty food section of major grocers.
Blackstrap molasses: This thick, robust syrup is a by-product of cane sugar processing and is a surprisingly nutrient-dense ingredient (it contains a good dose of iron, calcium, potassium, and more). You've likely used it to make gingerbread cookies during the holidays, but it also adds a lovely flavor component to sauces like L. P.'s Worcestershire Sauce (here) and BBQ Sauce (here) as well as baked goods like Cinnamon Graham Crackers (here).
Brown rice syrup: This golden syrup is derived from cooked brown rice and barley. Its mild sweetness and thick, sticky consistency similar to honey make it ideal for granola and snack bars. We love it because it has a binding quality unlike any other sweetener.
Cane sugar: Most granulated sugar on the market today is cane sugar, but some are more processed than others. That cheap, bright white sugar you find at most grocery stores has had the nutritious molasses removed, has gone through a bleaching process, and often isn't vegan due to the animal bone char used in the filtering process, which is why we prefer to use organic and unbleached evaporated cane sugar that still contains some of the molasses and is slightly tan in color rather than pure white. Wholesome Sweeteners is our favorite brand and can be found in health food stores and the specialty food or baking section of major grocers.
Coconut sugar: This sugar is produced from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm tree. It is a rich, unrefined brown sugar with a hint of caramel flavor, known to be low on the glycemic index and have a high mineral content. Because of its increasing popularity, it's becoming easier to find. We usually buy it in bulk from health food stores, but you can also find it in the specialty food section of major grocers.
Maple sugar: Hey, we're Canadian. We're required by law to use maple sugar and maple syrup as often as possible. Both, as you probably guessed, are made from the sap of the sugar maple tree. Maple sugar adds a delicious maple flavor and is an excellent alternative to syrup. Depending on where you live, it may be hard to come by, but start by looking at bulk or health food stores or order some online. You may want to sing "O Canada" as you eat it.
Maple syrup: One of our favorite ways to sweeten dishes and desserts, this delicious syrup is what you get when you boil the maple tree sap to concentrate it. Maple syrup is typically graded A or B, or light or medium, but either will work in these recipes. Just be sure to use 100 percent pure maple syrup (organic preferred) and not the stuff from Aunt Jemima. We realize it may be expensive depending on your location, but we think it's well worth the investment as a natural and less-processed sweetener.
Vanilla sugar: This flavored sugar can be found in little packets at the grocery store, but we much prefer to make it at home using unbleached cane sugar and real vanilla bean. Check out the easy recipe here.
We use a variety of dried fruit in these recipes, from goji berries and dried figs to dried cranberries, apricots, and raisins. The only thing we suggest is to use organically grown and unsulfured dried fruit that has no sugar added, which can be found at health food stores or sometimes the specialty food section of major grocers. In a pinch, regular dried fruit is fine, too.
Medjool dates: We can't forget to mention one of our favorite natural sweeteners. Dates were crowned the fruit of the kings when they were first discovered around 6000 BC, and we understand why. This larger, sweeter variety of dates has a deep caramel flavor and can be used whole or made into Date Paste (see here). We often use them in no-bake desserts like the Almond Press-In Pie Crust (here). You can find Medjool dates in bulk and at major grocers and health food stores.
Ah, chocolate, the one ingredient that lifts us up when we are down. You can always find some chocolate in our pantries in one form or another.
Cacao butter: Cacao butter is the pale yellow fat extracted from cacao beans. We use raw cacao butter that has not been heat processed or treated with chemicals and buy it in bulk from reputable online stores. You can also find it at some health food stores. It's well worth the investment!
Cacao nibs: Known as nature's chocolate chips, cacao nibs are made from cacao beans that have been roasted, hulled, and crumbled into small pieces. We love using them as a garnish or to add crunch to recipes, like our Go Anywhere Chia Cereal (here). You can find cacao nibs at most health food stores.
Cocoa powder: For these recipes, we use natural, unsweetened cocoa powder, which doesn't contain any additives. It has a bitter taste on its own yet lends a rich, deep chocolate flavor to baked goods. Don't confuse natural cocoa powder with Dutch-process cocoa powder, which has been treated with an alkalizing agent. And make sure you don't accidentally pick up "instant cocoa" or drinking cocoa, which isn't the same thing at all — it's a mix of cocoa powder, sugar, and often dried milk, ready to be made into a cup of hot cocoa.
Dark chocolate bars/chips: We think it's worth paying a little more for good-quality dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa, which means there is less room for fillers like milk powder and refined sugar (more fillers and sweeteners mean less of the good stuff). Always check the ingredient label to make sure it doesn't contain dairy. If you have a gluten or nut sensitivity, check to make sure the chocolate has been made in a dedicated facility. Enjoy Life and Camino are two of our favorite brands.
HERBS & SPICES
We use a variety of herbs and spices in this book. As you build your collection, don't waste your money on spices in expensive glass jars from the grocery store. Instead, find a reliable source for bulk herbs and spices and buy them in amounts according to quantities you need and will actually use. Dried herbs and spices should be replaced every six months or so anyway, so go ahead and throw out that five-year-old jug of dried basil — the flavor just won't be there anymore and it can make your food taste dull. Fresh herbs, of course, should be used within a day or two of buying them.
Black salt: Otherwise known as kala namak, this type of rock salt is a fabulous flavor enhancer in vegan dishes made to mimic the taste of eggs, since it provides a pronounced sulphur taste and aroma. Despite its name, kala namak is actually light pink in color (a little baffling, we know!). You can find it at Indian markets or specialty spice stores.
Madras masala spice blend: To save money, we sometimes use good-quality, premade Indian spice blends like Madras masala, which contains a number of intoxicating spices to create a South Indian curry mix. We love to support our favorite local spice company, Arvinda's, for this particular blend but any similar blend will do.
Vanilla beans: There is nothing like the flavor and aroma of a whole vanilla bean, which is the fruit of the vanilla orchid (indigenous to South and Central America). Be sure to purchase soft, fresh vanilla beans and use them as soon as possible. Many of our recipes call for the seeds of a vanilla bean: simply use a paring knife to split the pod down the center lengthwise and gently scrape the tiny seeds out of the inside using the dull side of your knife, then add the seeds to the recipe. You can find vanilla beans at bulk and health food stores (sometimes they come in little glass tubes).
Vanilla powder: Wait — you can get vanilla in powdered form? Yup. Once we discovered this, it became one of our favorite ways to enjoy this flavor. It's made from grinding whole vanilla beans. It can be pricey, but well worth the investment if you want to add real vanilla flavor to your desserts. We buy it from health food stores or online.
Other dried herbs and spices we use: garlic powder and garlic granules, onion powder and onion flakes, fine sea salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, star anise, ground cardamom, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground nutmeg, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, cumin seeds, curry powder, coriander seeds, garam masala, mustard powder, mustard seed, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, freshly ground black pepper, ground white pepper, turmeric powder, chili powder, chipotle powder, dill seed, dried dill weed, dried basil, dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried marjoram, and dried oregano.
NUTS & SEEDS
Raw nuts and seeds are staples in our kitchens since we use them as a base in many of our recipes, or for added bulk and nutrition in trail mix and granola. In general, nuts and seeds should be stored in the fridge or freezer, especially if you live in a warmer environment and you're not going to use them right away. (Continues...)
Excerpted from DIY Vegan by Nicole Axworthy, Lisa Pitman. Copyright © 2015 Nicole Axworthy and Lisa Pitman. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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