Interesting Food Buys

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Veganism is fantastic.

It opens you up to a world of meals that you’ve never made before, or would usually skim over on a restaurant menu because you’re unsure about them. The ingredients are diverse, numerous and delicious. Many vegans state that the contents of their fridge are much more varied than as a meat eater, and we agree!

There may be an ingredient or two that you don’t know anything about – what it is exactly, where to buy it, how to use it, or what to pair it with. We’ll walk you through this, as well as pricing and handy recipes to get started.

Not checked out the basics yet? Pop on over to our Common Foods page, PLUS print out your shopping list, before diving in here.

Nutritional Yeast

We’ll start with the funny sounding one. Yes, the marketing genius who thought of this name was clearly having a bad day.

nutritional yeast vegan b12

Although in all fairness, it is yeast, and it is nutritious. Nutritional yeast appears as yellow flakes and has a cheesy nutty taste. Many people use it as a seasoning/cheese replacement. We love it stirred into a pasta sauce, or sprinkled onto pizza – basically anything you would usually pop cheese onto. The very best thing about ‘nooch’ is that it’s the only reliable food source of vitamin B12, so feel free to load up on it!

Here in the UK, you can find the Marigold brand in Holland and Barrett, or Ocado/Waitrose for around £3 per 100g.

Meal Ideas – cauliflower cheese, pizza topping, cheesy pasta, loaded nachos, a healthy substitute for croutons on soup, homemade biscuits or crisps, in scrambled tofu, baked or mashed potato topping.

Easy RecipesCheesy Chickpeas, Cauliflower and Wild Rice Soup, Baked Tofu Fingers.

Tahini

Tahini is a beige coloured paste/condiment made from ground sesame seeds, and full of protein and fat. You’ll also find B vitamins, calcium and more. It may not sound appetising (and most vegan tahini in jarwouldn’t eat it straight from the jar as it’s a little bitter), but it’s a key ingredient in houmous, and is beautiful in many sauces or stirred into soup. Mixed with a little water and Dijon mustard, it makes a healthy dip for veggies.

Be aware that you can sometimes buy darker coloured tahini, often made from unhulled sesame seeds and therefore thicker and more bitter.

Tahini is usually found in the Herbs, or World Foods, section of larger stores. You can buy a 300g jar for around £2.50 – most major supermarkets do own brand.

Meal Ideas –  a dressing on salads or pittas, homemade houmous sandwich, stirred into noodles or pasta, used as a dip for roasted cauliflower, falafel or crackers.

Easy Recipes – our favourite Tahini Dressing (you can google even simpler ones too!), Tahini/Raspberry Overnight Oats, Glazed Tempeh.

Tempeh

Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans. However, with tempeh, the beans are cultured and fermented to give a stronger and nuttier flavour. The fermentation process helps us to digest the soy more easily too, so if you do have bloating/gas/indigestion when eating soy, give tempeh a try. It also has more protein, vitamins and dietary fibre, but less fat, so definitely one to try out for good health. Tempeh is firmer than tofu, so many people enjoy it as a gluten-free meat replacement, notably in ‘bacon’ form or chopped on salads.

difference between tofu and vegan tempeh

Tofu and tempeh are different in appearance and taste. Top: tofu, bottom: tempeh.
(photo by Chelsea London Phillips)

Tempeh actually pairs nicely with pomegranate on a fresh salad, and suits both tomato-based sauces or creamier dressings. Depending on how it’s seasoned, it is very versatile.

Tempeh can be purchased plain in a jar or vacuum packed in a container (around £5 per 150g) so that you can slice and season it yourself. Tofurkey also sells their own ready-made tempeh bacon, that you can now buy in Sainsbury’s for around £3.50.

Meal Ideas – plain tempeh marinated in soy sauce and black pepper, baked and added to a salad, Tofurkey bacon sandwich with avocado, tempeh and sweet potato curry, added to a stir fry.

Easy RecipesTempeh Fries with Curry Mayonnaise (this one is great for kids!), Vegan BLT – I can definitely vouch for this, Garlic Teriyaki Tempeh and Broccoli.

Seitan

Seitan is another odd-sounding meat-replacement that’s good for your health. It’s high in protein and minerals such as iron and selenium. Plus, it’s not soy based, so a great option for those with an intolerance. It’s made from vital wheat gluten – where wheat flour dough has the starch washed from it, leaving insoluble gluten. Some call it the wheat meat! Seitan is firm, meaty, and has that slightly spongy/chewy meat texture too. It pairs nicely with rice, soy sauce, most veggies, mustard, and hot bread rolls. Just buy it plain, chop and add to your meal, or get it pre-marinated.

seitan vegan meat replacement

LoveSeitan chicken-style deli slices

If you’re in the UK, you HAVE to try out LoveSeitan. They deliver it straight to your door in the form of burgers, pieces, deli slices, bacon, or just plain. Their prices are excellent (deli slices for less than £2!) and delivery is free if you spend £20 so it’s worth putting in an occasional order and stocking up.

Otherwise, you can buy it with your regular food shop at Ocado (marinated, jarred from £2.75) or Holland and Barrett (seitan ragu or mock dock for approx £2).

You can also make your own seitan, but it is an art form, and most don’t get it perfect first time! It’s fun to try though. If you’re feeling adventurous, give it a go and send us pics!

Just a warning: by its very name, seitan is full of gluten, so if you’re sensitive/intolerant to gluten you may want to give it a miss, or start with a modest portion.

Meal Ideas – roast dinner with seitan, mashed potatoes, veg and gravy, chopped seitan tacos with onion and salsa, seitan salad baguette, seitan fried rice, crumbled into tomato pasta.

Easy RecipesCurried Seitan Salad, Vegan Steak, Classic Pastry Pie.

Quinoa

At first glance, quinoa looks like the child of rice and couscous, but it’s a delicious grain in its own right. It’s free from gluten and soy, but high in protein, magnesium, all 9 essential amino acids… the list goes on. Quinoa has fewer calories than rice, but more protein and dietary fibre, so it’s a fantastic substitute. It’s lovely and fluffy, so is often used as cereal in place of oats, in salads, or a side to chilli/curry.

Quinoa is really easy to prepare too. Just rinse off a cup of dried quinoa, add to a saucepan with 2 cups of water, and cook for around 15 minutes. It expands, just like pasta or rice, so be aware of this when considering portion size.

The best thing is, you can buy it pretty much anywhere. Every supermarket sells it in their dried food / whole food section, including Aldi (£1.29 for 300g!), or you can buy an organic variety from Holland and Barrett. It can even come in a microwavable sachet all ready to eat, so there’s no reason to exclude it from your diet.

Meal Ideas – in a salad with avocado and houmous, inside warm wraps, as a porridge with almond milk and berries, in a stuffed butternut squash with peppers, made into breakfast cereal bars.

Easy RecipesQuinoa with stir-fried Winter Veg, Chocolate Porridge, Cauliflower Quinoa Pilaf.

vegan meal with quinoa and avocado

Photo by Prudence Earl

Coconut Cream

I know, this probably seems like an odd one. But work with me for a second.  Coconut cream is a simple ingredient that can enhance a number of dishes, from soups to marinades to curries to desserts! Even garlic mushrooms get a look in here.

vegan coconut cream pudding

This is because it has a mild taste that can adapt well. People often think that using vegan ingredients for sweeter recipes is hard, but coconut cream is about as simple as it gets.

The best part is, you can just buy it in a can and pour it into whatever dish you’re making. All major supermarkets carry it for a reasonable price (approx £1 at Tesco), either in the oriental or cooking sauces section. Don’t confuse it with coconut milk – cream contains less water and is much thicker. But if a recipe calls for coconut milk instead, you can dilute down the cream and still use it in its place. Likewise, if you only have coconut milk but need the cream, simply pop your can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. When you open it, you’ll have a layer of cream on top!

Meal Ideas – added to a spicy soup to mellow the flavour, in a Thai curry, used as whipped cream for a cake topping, replacing butter in pie crusts, to make ice cream.

Easy Recipes – Coconut Whipped Cream, Savoury Sauce, Butternut Squash Curry.

 

Phew!

Are you ready to get started with these ingredients? Great! Why not show us what you made! Tag us @learnervegan on social media, or drop us an email and your pics could be shared by us! You can also get some handy advice about surviving your first food shop as a new vegan.

If you’re in the mood for more recipe ideas, head over to our page for Learner Vegan budding chefs! Or if you want to know more about vegan alcohol, you’ll want our quick and easy 5 minute guide to these beverages.

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  • Why try vegan?
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1. HEALTH:
Many objective studies show that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and stroke. It also cuts your risk of certain types of cancer, such as colon and breast. Processed meat is classed as a carcinogenic.
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2. THE ANIMALS:
Can we justify the suffering and death of animals, when we can live happily and healthily without inflicting it? A high proportion of 'meat' animals never see daylight, and many die in their cramped, unhygienic surroundings before they reach the slaughterhouse. Even humane meat is marketing. Is there a humane way to kill somebody that doesn't want to die?
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3. HUMANS:
Veganism isn’t just an animal rights issue, it’s a human rights issue too. Feeding grain to livestock reduces the amount of food that is available to underdeveloped nations. Around 75% of soybeans produced are fed to animals, for example. People go hungry, while that same food they could be eating is given to animals raised for slaughter. Many of these slaughtered animals are then transported to affluent countries such as the UK, for us to eat!
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4. THE ENVIRONMENT:
Most of us have realised by now that climate change is real and happening as we speak. Raising animals for food uses many more resources than growing plants. 30% of the ice-free surface area of the Earth is used to either rear livestock, or grow the food to feed it. They produce a huge amount of methane (cows alone in excess of 150 billion gallons per day!), and methane is thought to be 25 to 100 times more harmful than CO2. This is all without mentioning pollution, deforestation, land degradation, and water scarcity.
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These are brief explanations, do feel free to conduct your own research or ask questions.
Do you think it's worth it so we can eat meat?
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Katy
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#newvegan #learnervegan #veganbeginner #vegancommunity #vegetarians #veggielife #veggielove #veganhelp #vegansupport #dairyfree #plantbased #plantbaseddiet #meatfree #meatless #veganbuys #veganmealplan #animallover #friendsnotfood #veganwannabe #vegannewbie #goingvegan #beingvegan #almostvegan #veganuk #ukvegans #ukvegan #vegansofig #dairyfree #flexitarian #glutenfree
  • ⠀
Did you read it yet?⠀
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Have a look over my latest post: ⠀
Which Vegan Documentary Should You Watch?⠀
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Not all documentaries are graphic or about animal abuse. I've included films about health, marine conservation and the environment. Find out which one suits you!⠀
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LINK IN BIO⠀
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#newvegan #learnervegan #veganbeginner #vegancommunity #vegetarians #veggielife #veggielove #veganhelp #vegansupport #dairyfree #plantbased #plantbaseddiet #meatfree #meatless #animallover #friendsnotfood #veganwannabe #vegannewbie #goingvegan #beingvegan #almostvegan #veganuk #ukvegans #ukvegan #vegansofig #landofhopeandglory #cowspiracy #dominion #documentaries #veganlife
  • ⠀
I'm always going on about how great vegan food is... but even the best of us can make some fatal errors at meal time!⠀
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Crumpets, melted cheese, and marinated grilled tempeh.⠀
A nice easy lunch, I thought. Not the healthiest, but I'm busy and pregnant.⠀
WRONG!⠀
It was awful - dry and hard. But it seemed like a good idea at the time...⠀
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Spill the beans! What's the worst meal you've had?⠀
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#newvegan #learnervegan #veganbeginner #vegancommunity #vegetarians #veggielife #veggielove #veganhelp #vegansupport #dairyfree #plantbased #plantbaseddiet #meatfree #meatless #veganbuys #veganmealplan #veganshopping #foodfails #animallover #friendsnotfood #veganwannabe #vegannewbie #goingvegan #beingvegan #almostvegan #veganuk #ukvegans #ukvegan #vegansofig #veganfails
  • Which Vegan Documentary Should You Watch?⠀
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That's the big question!⠀
Many people have heard of vegan documentaries, but are either too scared to watch one, or have no idea where to start. How about you?⠀
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Those of us who have watched documentaries found them vital in our vegan journey, allowing us to make an emotional connection to animals and the suffering we pay for them to go through, and take our health more seriously.⠀
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This post includes documentaries that span a range of topics, and I narrowed it down to those that are crucial for new vegans too. Give it a read!⠀
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Of course, there are plenty more documentaries out there. Have a recommendation? Comment on the post and let me know!⠀
😁😁⠀
Katy⠀
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LINK IN BIO - CHECK IT OUT!⠀
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#newvegan #learnervegan #veganbeginner #vegancommunity #vegetarians #veggielife #veggielove #veganhelp #vegansupport #dairyfree #plantbased #plantbaseddiet #meatfree #meatless #animallover #friendsnotfood #veganwannabe #vegannewbie #goingvegan #beingvegan #almostvegan #veganuk #ukvegans #ukvegan #vegansofig #vegandocumentaries #vegandocumentary #cowspiracy #forksoverknives #whatthehealth
  • ⠀
We can 100% thrive on a vegan diet.⠀
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Don't believe me?⠀
Even the NHS, WHO and Association of Nutritionists and Dietitians have confirmed that a well-balanced vegan diet is suitable for all stages of life, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and childhood.⠀
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There are many misconceptions around vegans being weak or deficient, but many athletes, bodybuilders and regular people are thriving as vegans. Just look at Tony Gonzalez, Venus Williams and the 'Hench Herbivore'!⠀
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Any lifestyle can be unhealthy if we don't eat the right things. With the fast-food culture, many of us are consuming too much saturated fat, refined sugar, refined carbs and processed foods. ⠀
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We could all do with a rundown in nutrition! I've created two guides - basic nutrition, and advanced nutrition, which are in my bio.⠀
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Katy⠀
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#newvegan #learnervegan #veganbeginner #vegancommunity #vegetarians #veggielife #veggielove #veganhelp #vegansupport #dairyfree #plantbased #plantbaseddiet #meatfree #meatless #veganbuys #animallover #friendsnotfood #vegannewbie #goingvegan #beingvegan #almostvegan #veganuk #ukvegans #ukvegan #vegansofig #vegannutrition #veganhealth #govegan #healthyliving #veganhealth
  • How did Learner Vegan materialise?⠀
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I’ve met wonderfully supportive people along my vegan journey, but also a few judgemental folks that criticise and argue in a non-constructive way. There’s been masses of complex information to understand along the way, on a huge variety of vegan-related topics. Some of it can be a struggle to understand.⠀
Veganism doesn’t have to be as hard as I made it for myself! And that’s really why I wanted to create this site.⠀
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Firstly, to create a safe space. Somewhere you can come if you fall off the wagon. No judgement, no criticism. Just a friendly face and support to reach that vegan goal, whatever it may be or however slowly you are working towards it.⠀
Secondly, to help people who were like me 6 years ago. People with no clue about veganism, perhaps even with pre-conceptions and doubts about the whole lifestyle. But with a thirst to find out more, to make some kind of change, because supporting these violent industries doesn’t sit right with them anymore.⠀
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Does any of this sound like you?⠀
You may not know where to start. You’re probably overwhelmed by the masses of conflicting information out there. I was too!⠀
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Learner Vegan is a one-stop shop. It makes everything simple and easy to understand. I’ll talk you through ethics, shopping and cooking… plus everything else! I’m on hand as your vegan guide. To answer tricky questions, motivate you, and help you back on the wagon if you slip up.⠀
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Remember: reading this is your first step toward a compassionate lifestyle. I’m all for celebrating these small changes, because every change is an animal saved.⠀
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What do you need help with?⠀
Katy⠀
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#newvegan #learnervegan #veganbeginner #vegancommunity #vegetarians #veggielife #veggielove #veganhelp #vegansupport #dairyfree #plantbased #plantbaseddiet #meatfree #meatless #veganbuys #veganmealplan #veganshopping #animallover #friendsnotfood #veganwannabe #vegannewbie #goingvegan #beingvegan #almostvegan #veganuk #ukvegans #ukvegan #vegansofig #veganforlife #govegan
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