An A - Z of Vegan Foods (Part 2 - N - Z)
This is the second part of my A - Z of vegan foods hub. The original hub was very long and so I decided it would be better and easier to read and use split in two. The first part can be found at An-A-Z-of-Veganism Part 1
N – Nuts. Nuts are a healthy and nutritious food that are a great addition to any vegan diet plan. They are available in a wide selection of varieties as well as in prepared products such as nut butters and flour. There are also many ways in which nuts can be used as ingredients in vegan cooking. These include cakes (within them or as alternate flours), as a topping for salads, breads and noodle dishes or to create substitute cheeses and spreads. Nuts are healthiest when eaten raw as much of their good oils are broken down during the roasting process. Nuts are good sources of vitamins E and B2, protein, folate, fibre, and contain minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium.
Some varieties of nuts include brazil, cashew, walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts and macadamia nuts.
O – Oils. There are many oils produced that are suitable for vegans such as sunflower, peanut, hemp, vegetable, corn, coconut and olive oils. Cold pressed oils are considered to be healthier than those that are processed using heat. Saturated and hydrogenated or partial hydrogenated oils are thought to increase the risk of many conditions such as heart disease. Monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats contain omega oils which are essential for good health. Vegans often do not get enough omega 3 oils from their diet but can resolve this by taking supplements or by adding flaxseed oil and/or ground flaxseed to their daily diet. Check any bought supplements as non-vegan omega supplements are made from fish oils and therefore unsuitable for vegans.
P – Pasta. Most pasta is vegan but some can contain milk, butter and eggs so it is worth checking.Most supermarkets stock a range of pasta shapes and varieties such as spaghetti, noodles and lasagne sheets. There are also pastas flavoured with vegetables or made with corn, rice and buckwheat. Pasta is also available as shapes containing fillings such as spinach, garlic or tomatoes.
Whole wheat pasta contains many minerals required for good nutrition including, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium and manganese. It also can be served in a wide range of dishes either as a side item or the main ingredient.
Q – Quorn. Quorn is a vegetarian alternative to meat and is often mistakenly thought to be suitable for a vegan diet as well. All quorn products contain a small amount of egg white and many also contain milk so they are not suitable for vegans. There are alternative products such as mince, sausages and burgers that are suitable for vegans though many can only be bought from specialist or health shops.
It is also possible to make your own burgers and sausages from mushrooms or beans such as those in my previous hubs, Free From Vegan Mushroom Burger Recipe and Mushroom Facts and Vegan Free From Sausages (wheat, egg, milk, soya, nut free).
R – Rice. Like pasta, rice is a very versatile food that can be bought in many varieties and can be used for main meals, snacks, cold foods and even puddings. Brown rice is more nutritious than white. Rice can be used as a side to dishes such as chilli con-carne or curries or can be a main ingredient when cooking risottos or paella. Rice can also be served cold mixed with vegetables or as sushi or rice balls. Japanese sushi rice is used for making these as standard long grain rice is not sticky enough to hold the finished product together. Rice is low in Saturated Fat, Sodium, and Cholesterol so makes a healthy choice of food.
S – Spreads. There are several brands of vegan spreads available to buy such as Pure and Vitalite which can be used in sandwiches and for baking. Some supermarkets also stock Free From spreads that maybe suitable. Instead of having a butter type spread in sandwiches, you could use vegan pates or spreads such as peanut butter, coconut butter or hummus and other similar dips.
T – Tofu. People are divided on whether soya products such as tofu are safe for us to consume and in what quantities so if you are concerned it is worth doing some research before making any conclusions as soy products do also have health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease.
Tofu comes in silken and firm varieties and can be used in a wide range of applications. Tofu can be used to make vegan spread and dips such as tofu cream cheese, can be used in stir fries or breaded and fried and can even be used in making cakes. Tofu can be easily flavoured by marinating.
U – Udon Noodles. Udon noodles are a Japanese noodle made using wheat flour, salt and water. The dough is then rolled out and thinly sliced. The noodles have a chewy texture and in Japan are often served with a hot broth and topped with vegetables or seafood but they can be used as any other noodle would. Udon noodles come in dried and instant varieties and are easily prepared.
V – Vital Wheat Gluten. This is used to make a vegan meat alternative known as seitan or wheat meat and is preferred by some people as it does not contain soy.It is made by washing wheat flour dough until all the starch has dissolved and only the insoluble gluten remains. Vital wheat gluten is high in protein and low carb.
Vital wheat gluten powder is mixed with water and then cooked, normally by boiling or steaming. Stock can be used for flavouring or herbs and spices can be mixed into the powder to create an endless range of varieties. This can then be formed into sausages, nuggets and roasts or cooked as a large piece that is then chopped or sliced to use in salads, stir fries and sandwiches.
W – Whey. Whey is the liquid that remains after milk has been curdled and strained during cheese making. It is used as a food additive to give a food some of the properties of milk without the manufacturer having the expense of using milk. Whey can be found in many unexpected foods such as sweets and packaged rice and noodle products.
X – Xanthan Gum. This is used as a food additive and is especially common in gluten free breads and other baked goods. While xanthan gum it ‘self is vegan in some cases the processes in which it is produced use animal products such as whey so therefore it is not a truly animal free item.
Y – Yoghurt. Many supermarkets and shops now stock a range of yoghurts that are made with milks such as soya and coconut and can be useful when transitioning to veganism. These can be expensive compared to dairy based yoghurts and also unsuitable for people who wish to avoid or limit their intake of soya products. Home made yoghurt can be made fairly cheaply and easily with or without a yoghurt maker and there are many recipes available online via vegan or allergy recipe websites, blogs or books. The resulting plain yoghurt can then be flavoured, used as an ingredient in other recipes or even made into frozen yoghurt.
Z – Zereshk. These are the dried berries of the Berberis vulgaris (barberry) and is used in dishes such as zereshk polo.The berries are cooked with rice and spices such as cinnamon and saffron. Zereshk berries are valued as a digestive aid and are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. They can be bought from Persian and middle eastern shops and eaten on their own have quite a sour, tart taste.
© 2013 Claire