Optimum Flavour in Plant Based Meals
When you first encounter vegan and or plant based eating you may see some rather scary ingredients that you never know existed. Here I will list all the usual suspects with a description and the flavours they add. Most you will find at your supermarket - but if you live out of a large city you may have to hunt through your local health shop or track them down online.
This is a fermented soybean product and you will find it in the international section of your supermarket with the Japanese foods. It can be dark or light. I get the light - the dark is even more concentrated in flavours. Miso is very salty so can be used for a salty flavour. You need to wean yourself of added salt as it raises blood pressure. Evidence shows that miso does not cause the same spike in blood pressure. Use it for a hint of saltiness though - our western tendency to drown everything with salt, fat and sugar drowns out out ability to enjoy the flavour of real food! SALT REPLACER
Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. It is traditionally used in middle eastern food hummus but can be added to many dishes. You will find it in the health food section of the supermarket. Tahini has a thick dense consistency (like peanut butter) and has a hint of bitterness. Use it to thicken, add depth of flavour and to add body to sauces etc.
Nutritional Yeast in a yellow flakey product and is frankly a bit weird. Weird but delicious. Vegan famously use nutritional yeast as a cheese replacement. It can be sprinkled on or in any dish to add a cheesy touch. I also add it to my Parmesan Blend and a condiment to add to many dishes. I get nutritional yeast from specialty food stores or health stores. I am yet to find it in a supermarket. CHEESE REPLACER
If you are from Australia or New Zealand you need no introduction! You may struggle to find vegemite elsewhere. Vegemite is a spread made from brewers yeast and has a rich savoury flavour. The flavour is in the same ball park as soy sauce - so could replace say sauce for flavour in dishes. Vegemite is of course a processed food so it is not, you know, it's own food group but rather a handy flavour enhancer. ALTERNATIVE TO SOY SAUCE.
Ground flaxseed adds no flavour but is essential in the plant based kitchen. Ground flax seeds can be added to anything for their omega3 offerings but are also a useful thickener and egg replacer (added with water). You will see it often and there will be instructions as to how to add. Find it in the health food section of the supermarket.EGG REPLACER
Molasses is a byproduct of sugar refining so is not strictly healthful - it is fine to use molasses as a flavour enhancer as it will add a rich, burnt, bitter sweetness... and nutrition. White sugar is a refined product with all the vitamins and minerals sucked out of it. Molasses is essentially what is sucked out. Find Molasses in the health section of the supermarket (or with other sugar products like golden syrup). As with all the above ingredients - I am not suggesting setting up camp with the molasses and a spoon. Use it to add a hint of sweetness to your home made condiments, and dishes. SUGAR REPLACER
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