Natural Foods Guides
Commonly used and well-loved as a vegetable in Asian cuisines, edamame, or fresh green soybeans come in fuzzy green pods containing two of these bright green beauties. Read on to get to know more about them, learn how to cook them, and explore some easy and tasty edamame recipes.
If you haven’t prepared them at home, you might have encountered edamame in Japanese restaurants, where they’re listed among the appetizers. Popped out of their pods and lightly salted, they’re quite addictive! Their flavor is kind of a cross between fresh green peas and fresh baby lima beans — but better. more→
If you keep up with food trends, you’ve likely heard about farro, one of several ancient grains that have made a comeback in recent years. Farro takes its place among grains like quinoa, einkorn, kañiwa, teff, and others that have been around for millennia, and which have become more widely available in the general marketplace. Following are tips on how to cook farro and enjoy it in recipes.
While farro is new to most of us, it’s believed to be one of the most ancient of wheat varieties, along with einkorn. And like einkorn, it’s lower in gluten than modern varieties of wheat, though please note, not gluten-free. Shown at top, Spring Farro Asparagus Salad. more→
Here’s a beginner’s guide to Asian noodles, which are easy to find these days. Ten years ago, soba, udon, bean-thread and rice stick noodles, among others, were rare finds. Now, many well-stocked supermarkets carry these authentic noodles. Here’s a brief lexicon of the most commonly used varieties. Shown above, Udon Noodle Soup with Crisp Vegetables. more→
Tempeh (pronounced tem-pay), a traditional Indonesian food, is made of cooked and fermented soybeans. Sold in cellophane-wrapped packages, it’s even higher in protein than tofu. Tempeh is also quite versatile, but has a more distinct flavor and a dense, chewy texture. Though somewhat of an acquired taste, once you do, you’ll be a fan for life. Pictured above, Tempeh Fries with Horseradish-Dill Mayonnaise.
What is kañiwa? Simply put, this relative of quinoa, is similarly a South American superfood grain making a splash in the North American market. Like quinoa, Kañiwa grows in Peru and Bolivia. It’s an excellent source of protein and amino acids, is exceptionally high in iron, and is gluten-free. Dark reddish-brown in color and about half the size of a tiny quinoa seed, it cooks up quickly to resemble a smaller version of red quinoa. Find out lots more information in Kañiwa: A “New” Ancient Superfood.
One major difference between the two is that kañiwa doesn’t have saponins, the coating that gives quinoa a soapy, slightly bitter flavor if not rinsed properly. A good thing, as I can’t imagine a sieve fine enough for its tiny size.
Quinoa brought to market has already been rinsed of much of its saponins, as otherwise it would be quite unpalatable (this procedure is done with a strong alkaline solution). But it’s always recommended that quinoa be rinsed well again at home to remove any remaining bitterness. Kañiwa is actually easier to process due to the absence of saponins.
It’s recommended to toast the grain on a dry skillet or saucepan first, then cover with water in twice its volume. Like quinoa, the water absorbs in 15 to 20 minutes. Truth be told, both times I used it so far I forgot to toast it, and it was just fine (it has a mild, nutty flavor similar to quinoa’s).
A few simple ways to use kañiwa
- Add 1/2 to 1 cup cooked kañiwa to pancake or waffle batter (depending on the size of the batch)
- Serve it as a sweet breakfast bowl with a maple syrup to taste, chopped nuts, and dried or fresh fruit. Finish with a dusting of cinnamon.
- A savory breakfast bowl is good too, with a little vegan butter and a sprinkling of nondairy cheese shreds. Sweet or savory, a it keeps you full for hours.
- Like many a nutritious grain, kañiwa works well in warm pilafs and room-temperature salads.
- Come fall holiday meals, like its slightly larger cousin, a pilaf makes a nourishing and attractive stuffing for squashes and peppers.
Nutritionally, kañiwa’s profile is remarkably similar to quinoa’s. It’s a good source of complete protein, and is a good source of a wide range of vitamins and minerals. One advantage it has over quinoa is that it’s an even better source of iron.
How to cook kañiwa
Kañiwa and quinoa can be used interchangeably, and are cooked in the same proportion to liquid (2 parts liquid to 1 part kañiwa; it cooks in 15 minutes, like quinoa, or just a bit quicker). To that end, please explore our article, How to Cook Quinoa — and Some Great Ways to Use It. You might also enjoy We Love Quinoa, a volume in our Best of VegKitchen affordable e-book series featuring the 30 most popular quinoa recipes on this site, along with many color photographs.
Kañiwa is available from online retailers, you can ask your natural foods retailer if they can order some for you.
For a recipes, see Kañiwa Confetti Salad (shown at top).
- For lots more features on healthy lifestyle, explore VegKitchen’s Healthy Vegan Kitchen page.
- Here are more of VegKitchen’s Natural Food Guides.
*This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, VegKitchen receives a modest commission, which helps maintain our site and helps it to continue growing!
I’ve long considered marinated baked tofu a great product and have wondered why it has taken so long to make its way onto supermarket shelves. Finally, it’s getting there! As always, it’s easy to find at any natural foods store, usually shelved alongside the tofu tub varieties.
If you’re unfamiliar with marinated baked tofu, it’s a firmer, chewier, flavored variety. It comes in cellophane-wrapped packages (usually 8 ounces), and is ready to eat as is or to combine with other ingredients in hot or cold dishes. Here are 5 simple ways to use this fantastic product. more→
When you open your pantry, do images of the rugged mountains of South America, the colorful tablelands of Africa and the fertile river valleys of the Middle East dance before your eyes? If not, you have yet to discover amaranth, quinoa, spelt, kamut and teff, the quintet of nutritional powerhouses known as the ancient grains. The legends behind their origins many millennia past, their loss over time and their ultimate modern revival literally tell the story of civilization. Another great ancient grain to discover (or rediscover) is einkorn. more→
Einkorn wheat, one of the latest of ancient grains to be revived for contemporary consumers, is actually the most primitive form of cultivated wheat. Like amaranth, quinoa, and spelt, and farro, einkorn is taking its place as a nutrition-packed superfood. It’s earth-friendly, too. The grain’s hull makes it resistant to pests, so it’s easy to grow organically. And for a specialty grain, it’s surprisingly economical, comparable to organic brown rice and often less costly than quinoa. For lots more on einkorn’s history, nutritional profile, and more, explore einkorn.com. more→
Grits, or hominy grits, are hulled, dried, and cracked corn kernels. To add variety to your grain repertoire, do try them! Please seek out stone-ground grits, which are much more flavorful than the stripped-down quick-cooking grits sold in supermarkets. They make a soft bed of (naturally gluten-free) grain for bean and vegetable dishes. or even as a pleasant side dish. Grits can also play a starring role in simple preparations, rather than just being used as a bed of grain. more→
Tofu has been such a plant-based staple for decades (not to mention the millennia in which it played a starring role in Asian cuisines) that it’s easy to forget that there are still plenty of newbies discovering it all the time. That alone merits this primer, though even for tofu aficionados, fresh inspiration is always welcome. more→
Are you looking for some healthy vegan milk alternatives that can please your taste buds at the same time? Well, the market is flooded with dozens of non-dairy milk beverages and quite a few of them are worth trying. Sounds interesting? Read on below to learn more:
Why Vegan Milk is a Good Choice for You?
No matter whether you are a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, picking non-dairy milk alternatives over the regular ones is always beneficial for you. Let us dig a bit deeper and find out why one should go for vegan milk choices:
- Being free of lactose, it is non-allergenic. So, if you are allergic to cow milk, going vegan will help you a lot.
- If you have lactose intolerance, the chances are big that you experience acid reflux, abdominal gas, bloating, etc. frequently. Dairy-free milk substitutes can eliminate these symptoms fast and easily.
- Acne and regular milk always go hand in hand. The risk becomes even greater in case of skimmed milk. But when you replace your dairy consumption with the vegan alternatives, you get rid of it.
- When the milk is produced from a cow non-organically, it gets contaminated by the antibiotics and hormones injected into the animal’s body. The unnatural production process of milk also causes mastitis to cows, which results into the presence of pus in milk. All these lead to hormonal imbalances and various other ailments in human beings. However, when you opt for non-dairy milk, you can always stay away from these worries.
- Most of the vegan milk alternatives can be made easily, quickly and economically at home and you can even add lots of flavor to it.
8 Best Vegan Milk Alternatives You Should Try
- Soy Milk
It is prepared by pounding and processing dried soybeans with water. You can find a variety of flavors including light, sweet, full-cream, vanilla, chocolate, etc. in the market. The density and creaminess of the milk may also vary greatly and it tastes even better than regular milk.
- The protein content is almost similar to cow milk (around 8 grams a cup).
- High in dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin D, plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, antioxidants, phytoestrogen, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, choline, folate, etc.
- Very low in saturated fats and sugar
- Lactose and cholesterol-free
- Prevents prostate cancer, osteoporosis, cholesterol transportation, etc.
- Strengthens blood vessels
- Eases menopausal symptoms
- Oat Milk
This nutritious milk is made by pre-soaking the grains of oatmeal in water and straining the concotion carefully. It is sweet in taste and thick in consistency. A variety of flavor is available in the market and you are free to pick your favorite one.
- Fulfills almost 35% of our daily requirements of calcium
- Works as a ‘protein powerhouse’
- Fat and sugar content is very low.
- Contains no cholesterol or saturated fats
- Rich in soluble fibers, iron, vitamin A, vitamin D, folate, phytochemicals, etc.
- Prevents a number of cancers
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Promotes digestion and prevents constipation
- Increases ‘good cholesterol’ level and reduces ‘bad cholesterol’ level
- Makes the immune system stronger
- Keeps skin clean and acne-free
- Rice Milk
This thin and naturally sweetened milk substitute is prepared from brown rice grains and is considered as extremely healthy. You can also avail its vanilla-flavored version from your local supermarket.
- Has perfect proportions of protein and carbohydrate
- Great source of antioxidants, B-vitamins, vitamin D, calcium, etc.
- Gluten-free milk
- No saturated fat and cholesterol
- Very inexpensive
- Almond Milk
This wonderfully tasty vegan milk is made by pulverizing soaked almonds thoroughly. The sweet and nutty flavor and high nutrition make it highly popular among the lovers of dairy-free milk substitutes.
- Fulfills 30% of our daily requirements of calcium
- Contains 25% of our daily requirements of vitamin D
- Very low in calories (one servings offers only 30 calories)
- Enriched with proteins, omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, dietary fibers, vitamin E, iron, zinc, magnesium, etc.
- No saturated fats, cholesterol and lactose
- Gives immunity a boost
- Makes teeth and bones stronger
- Helps in healthy digestion
- Perks up the skin texture by offering anti-aging benefits
- Encourages weight loss
- Coconut Milk
It is another creamy, flavorful and nourishing alternative to regular milk, which is basically prepared by grating the ‘meaty’ flesh of ripe coconuts as well as extracting the concoction. You can get both ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ coconut milk for using as cooking ingredients and both of them are super tasty.
- High in dietary fibers, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, iron, calcium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, selenium, etc.
- Contains very less amount of sugar
- No fructose
- Helps in controlling blood sugar
- Strengthens both bones and blood vessels
- Prevents arthritis and osteoporosis
- Gives a feeling of fullness, thereby helping in weight loss
- Cashew Milk
Cashew milk has a natural vanilla flavor and it is made of a smooth, rich blend of water and cashew nuts. It is an amazingly tasty, absolutely creamy and highly satisfying milk beverage.
- Amazing source of proteins, B-vitamins, calcium, magnesium, copper, etc.
- Very low fat content
- Free of cholesterol
- Increases the production of RBCs (Red Blood Corpuscles)
- Promotes healthy metabolism
- Helps in tissue and bone formations
- Keeps cholesterol levels under control
- Enhances cardiovascular health
- Hazelnut Milk
Being derived from tasty and savory hazelnut, this milk tastes heavenly. It also has a nutty flavor, which is very much liked by people. Like all other vegan mil substitutes, it also has high nutrition value.
- High in healthy carbohydrates, vitamin B-12, vitamin D and calcium
- No saturated fats, lactose and cholesterol
- Takes care of bones and teeth
- Keeps you filled up for a long time
- Hemp Milk
It is prepared from the seeds of hemp tree and is regarded as one of the healthiest choices for dairy-free milk. It is widely known for its ‘earthy’ taste and nutty flavor.
- Contains as much as 10 essential amino acids
- Has a perfect omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids ratio
- Loaded with soluble fibers, proteins, vitamin B1, vitamin B5, calcium, potassium,
- Aids in muscle building
- Provides immense energy
3 Simple and Easy Homemade Vegan Milk Recipes
What if you need a good vegan milk alternative for cooking or drinking but do not wish to purchase commercial one? Just DIY! We are giving you 3 easy, simple and fast vegan milk recipes to try at home:
(1) DIY: Homemade Almond Milk Recipe
- Best-quality raw almonds – 1 cup (organic is even better)
- Sea salt – 1 teaspoon
- Distilled water – 2 to 4 cups (as per your preference)
- Take the almonds in a glass bowl and pour distilled water into it to soak them completely. Add sea salt to the water and cover the bowl with a lid. Keep it aside for nearly 12 hours.
- Rinse the swelled up almonds well under running water to get rid of all sorts of enzyme inhibitors.
- Now, put the almonds in a blender and pour rest of the distilled water into it. Blend thoroughly to mash all the nuts.
- Strain it or not, your creamy almond milk is absolutely ready!
(2) DIY: Homemade Oat Milk Recipe
- Oats – 1 cup
- Agave nectar or maple syrup – 1 to 2 tablespoons (as required for sweetness)
- Sea salt – (1/4) teaspoon
- Distilled water – 3 cups
- Rinse the oats well and drain them perfectly before placing them in a bowl.
- Add water to it and cover with a lid. Let the oats soak for 8 to 10 hours so that they get softer as well as easier to process.
- Once again, rinse the oats well and remove the oat slime completely.
- Shift them to a blender and pour distilled water into it. Blend for some time and sieve it.
- Press the semi-pulverized oats with the backside of a spoon in order to take the maximum milk out of it.
- Add agave or syrup and sea salt to the concoction and your homemade oat ilk is here!
(3) DIY: Homemade Brown Rice Milk Recipe
- Sea salt – 1 teaspoon
- Distilled water – 2 cups
- Clean and wash brown rice properly and soak it in water for a couple of hours.
- Cook it as usual.
- Now, place the cooked brown rice inside a blender jar. Also, add sea salt and distilled water to it.
- Blend until a smooth, thick milk is formed. Voila!
So, are you ready to switch to vegan milk alternatives?
Soni likes to share her knowledge with the world helping others to live a healthier life. She also loves to share her express her views and explore anything and everything that can feed her pen.
Wondering how to cook quinoa to perfection? Quinoa is a delightfully versatile addition to a vegan diet. Quinoa is high in protein and fiber, and you can add it to salads, chilis or you can make a basic, easy side dish with quinoa. Or you can eat it for any meal as a healthy quinoa bowl. The best part is that quinoa is easy to cook, even easier than rice. Below are several methods on how to cook quinoa just right.
If you want to know how to cook quinoa as a basic side dish, it’s as easy as boiling pasta. You get a pot of water or veggie broth boiling, and then stir in your quinoa. You want one part of uncooked quinoa to two parts liquid. Then you simply simmer the quinoa on low heat until it’s done. This usually takes roughly fifteen minutes, but check the consistency of the quinoa. Just don’t open the pot too much as that can affect cooking times.
You’ll know it’s done when all the water is absorbed or it’s the level of softness you like. You can play with the texture by adding some water to make a more porridge consistency or you can use a little less water for a drier grain that separates. When you’re finished, you can also fluff and separate the grains a bit for some added presentation.
A cool little trick to get a more rich, toasted flavor is to brown your raw quinoa in a pan before you boil it. It gives quinoa even more of a nutty flavor. You’ll simply add oil to a pan over medium-low heat and then add your quinoa. Make sure there’s enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and enough quinoa to evenly toast it in one layer. Toss it until it’s evenly browned.
Cooking quinoa in a rice cooker
Because quinoa is a grain that’s similar in texture to rice, you can also use a basic rice cooker to cook your quinoa. This is also easy, as it requires one part raw quinoa to two parts liquid (water or broth). Add both the liquid and the quinoa to the cooker. Then you simply turn on your rice cooker and let it cook. Usually it takes about thirty minutes with this method. Fluff it with your fork at the end.
The soaking method
There’s considerable debate out there as to whether you should soak your quinoa before using it. The theory, outlined at thenourishinggormet.com, states that soaking the quinoa before cooking is supposed to make it more easily digestible and get rid of anti-nutrients.
What the heck are anti-nutrients? These are synthetic or natural compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food. An example is phytic acid, which is common in grains and can bond with vital nutrients, making them harder for the body to absorb.
Soaking quinoa also makes the grains lighter in texture and easier on the stomach.
You do this by soaking quinoa in warm water in a warm place with an acid enzyme like raw apple cider vinegar. You use one part warm water to one part quinoa for soaking, and add a couple splashes of your raw apple cider vinegar. Let soak for 12-24 hours. Then strain and rinse the quinoa well before cooking.