Tools & Ingredients

A growing list of tools and ingredients that I've tried and how they worked for me:

Tofu: Apparently this is made out of soybeans. I also suspect rubber. Kidding. But really, the one time I  used it as "chicken" in sweet & sour sauce, I dropped a piece of it and it bounced like three times. And that's pretty much how it tasted too. Bouncy. Squeaky. It's really more of a texture issue than a taste problem. But I'm sure I'll get used to it. The firm and extra-firm kind is easiest to find and is used as a meat substitute most often. The soft and silken kinds can be used to make "cheese", creams and sauces, and desserts. I used the soft silken kind once to make lemon bars and they weren't too hateful. And the great thing is, this stuff is cheap!

Nutritional Yeast Flakes: Little yellow powdery flakes that are used for making things that need to look and taste like cheese. Magical. Find them in the bulk bins of the health food store.

Almond butter: Pretty much what it sounds like. A little more expensive that peanut butter, so I try to limit usage to recipes instead of slathering it on my apple. Which is delicious, btw.

Coconut oil: Pricey but indispensable. Can be used for cooking or as an ingredient in baked stuff.

Soy milk: Sweeter than cow's milk, and a little thinner. Great over cereal and granola. Used a lot in baked things, but can be substituted for almond milk usually if you're worried about getting too much soy.

Vital Wheat Gluten: Not gonna lie, I have no idea what this stuff is made of. I just know it's used in recipes that need a meaty texture. Find it in the bulk bins of the health food store.

Earth Balance: Vegan butter made mainly of soy, canola oil, olive oil, and flax. At first I thought this had a really weird smell, but I'm so used to soy products now that I don't even notice. Plus now they have a version that has no soy, so there you go.

Agave: A plant-based liquid that is slightly sweeter than sugar. It has a rich, dark taste, kind of like children's robitussin. If you were to taste it by itself. Not that you would. Great for baking.

Cookie scooper: I use this A LOT. So pick up a good-quality stainless steel model that has the little spring release.

Electric chopper: Mine is small, holds about two cups, and costed less than $10. Works great as a less messy and cheaper alternative to a food processor. I use it almost every day, so it's a worthwhile purchase.

Blender: I use a Ninja. I'd describe it as somewhere between a regular blender and a Vitamix. I use it about as often as my smaller food chopper, it just depends on what kind of volume I'm dealing with. It's also great for making fruit smoothies because it can handle pulverizing ice cubes to smithereens.