Five vegan ingredients you've never heard of

If you’re following a vegan diet, buying key ingredients is crucial and can make cooking a lot easier. Read up on five lesser-known staples that are worth hunting out.

Five must-buy vegan ingredients for your storecupboard

It’s a common misconception that following a vegan diet is difficult, but if you stock up on storecupboard staples it can be a breeze. These five ingredients are some of the more unusual ones but with so many uses and health benefits, they deserve a place in your pantry. You should be able to find them in health food stores or online through a quick search.  

Five must-try ingredients for those following a vegan diet… 

Nutritional yeast

Vegan cashew ParmesanThese golden yellow flakes are a vegan’s best friend in the kitchen. They’re a rich source of vitamins and minerals and add a savoury, cheesy, nutty flavour to any dish where you’d normally use cheese. Many varieties are fortified with vitamin B12 which is typically found in animal products so it’s a great way to boost your intake. Use nutritional yeast in a dairy-free mac ‘n’ cheese, to make our vegan cashew Parmesan or sprinkled over salad, vegetables, soup or pasta. 

Try it in… Vegan cashew Parmesan
 

Tempeh

TempehPronounced ‘tem-pay’, tempeh is an excellent source of vegan protein made from whole soya beans that have been fermented and shaped into a firm block. It has an earthy, nutty flavour and a firm, meaty texture, similar to mushrooms. Packed with fibre and vitamins, tempeh is a delicious alternative to tofu and can be sliced, marinated and cooked how you like. Our tempeh salad is vegetarian but you can simply swap the honey with maple syrup to make it vegan.

Try it in… Sticky tempeh, mango & lime noodle salad
 

Gram flour 

Rainbow bhajisSometimes called besan flour, gram flour is made from ground chickpeas and is commonly used in Indian cookery. It’s higher in protein than regular flours and can be used to whip up savoury vegan omelettes, pancakes, pakoras and flatbreads. Gram flour is also gluten-free and can even be used as a vegan egg substitute in baking. You can often find this in larger or international supermarkets, negating the need to go to a specialist shop.  

Try it in... Rainbow bhajis
 

Agar-agar


Coconut creamsKnown as ‘kanten’ in Japan, this jelly-like vegan gelatine substitute is made by boiling seaweed. Although it might sound strange, it’s commonly used as a stabiliser and thickener in jellies, preserves and ice cream. Sold in flakes or powdered form, agar agar is first dissolved in liquid then simmered to thicken. Use it in our creamy coconut pudding for a fruity and delicately spiced vegan, dairy, gluten and nut-free dessert, perfect for a dinner party.

Try it in…  Chai coconut mango creams
 

Aquafaba

chickpeasIt might sound like the name of a new girl band, but aquafaba is actually the strained water from a can of chickpeas that is usually discarded. Not immediately appetising, but when whipped with electric beaters it transforms into a thick, fluffy consistency, just like eggs do, and can be used to make vegan meringue. Who said vegans can’t eat Pavlova?

More on vegan diets... 

Our best-ever vegan recipes
How to eat a balanced vegan diet
Spotlight on vegan diets
How to make vegan cheese

Do you use any unusual vegan ingredients at home? Tell us in the comments below…

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