So, you are becoming a vegan? Awesome! Get prepared to feel great, and of course, for your relatives and friends to ask you, “Well, what do you eat?”
Chances are, you might be asking yourself that, too. You will probably need to revamp your cabinets and fridge to make sure that while you are cutting out all of that processed, yucky, animal food you are getting a balanced, healthy diet.
Keep in mind, that this might be a big change for you. Sure, maybe you know about tofu—but are you wondering what seitan is? How the heck do you cook kale? What is quinoa, why is it so good for you, and how can you cook it? When I first became a vegan, I was so lost as I came across food that I had never seen- much less cooked!
Below is list of some foods you might want to start keeping on hand. I also show you what they look like, where to find them, and some cooking suggestions!
Kale is a powerhouse! Nutrient heavy, and delicious! I know, it doesn’t look like much. But soon, you will be looking at a big bunch of dark green leaves the same way a carnivore would look at a steak! Seriously! As a vegan, you should be eating dark leafy greens like kale at least once a day. Kale has as much Vitamin C as an orange, and the calcium in kale is more easily absorbed in your body than the calcium in milk!
You can steam kale, with a little bit of garlic and olive oil, and it’s delish! Toss some pine nuts or sunflower seeds on top, too. Yum! You can also add it to some whole wheat pasta, or cook up kale with in with some tofu as well. It has a really rich flavor.
Some other greens that are similar to kale are collard greens, chard, and mustard greens. Trader Joe’s has a great pre-cut bag of greens that I would recommend, and it even has some good recipes on the back! Alicia Silverstone has a recipe for Sicilian Style Collard Greens that feels like a special treat! Get those greens! Get them in a smoothie, a burrito, a salad, a pasta dish- the possibilities are endless/delicious!
You will find quinoa around where you find the couscous or rice in the grocery store. This grainy little superfood is actually a complete protein! It’s high in fiber, and has 8 grams of protein per serving. And, it’s yummy of course, which is why I am writing about it. It kinda has a nutty flavor to it—tastes like a satisfying carb, yet it is guilt free because it is so good for you…sigh.
You can use can serve it on the side of some veggies, or even eat it on its own tossed with some basil or scallions. Serve it with a stir fry, or top your salad with it for an extra boost. Quinoa is really good tossed with roasted sweet potatoes and tempeh! Quinoa cooks up in about 10-15 minutes, so it can be your new weeknight wonder.
(By the way, it’s pronounced keen-WAH. You’re welcome.)
Seitan is a fake little meaty food that is actually made from wheat. It takes like chicken. No, really, it actually does taste like chicken. (I personally like it better than chicken, and that means a lot, because I used to be quite a fan of a good chicken cutlet). When you go to a vegan restaurant, seitan is usually what the “chicken nuggets” are made of. It’s pretty easy to cook- you can just cook it in the pan with some veggies. You can also make chicken kabobs with it, put it in a burrito, bread it like a nugget- you get the picture. Anytime you might want to have a chicken-y experience, go with seitan. To me, it’s one of the best meat substitutes.
I like West Soy brand, if you are wondering. West Soy has it cubed, un-cubed, flavored. You will usually find it next to the tofu section in the grocery store. Most of the grocery stores by me tend to be very veggie friendly, but if your grocery does not carry it, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or any health food store will have it for sure.
Tempeh is cooked, fermented soybeans. It comes vacuum-sealed in a hard little package. It’s grey.
I know. Tempeh does not sound, or even look, all that appealing upon initial introductions. However, I know that you will be impressed by how tasty tempeh can be. It is can be eaten just cut up, right out of the package. I like to marinate it, or at least sauté or bake it, before eating. It’s great in chili as well. Whole Foods has a recipe for roasted sweet potatoes with tempeh, and I’m kinda obsessed. Also, tempeh is especially good for you because as it ferments, it becomes more nutritious! Through the fermentation process, it becomes even easier to digest. It’s also less processed than tofu, because tempeh uses the whole bean.
You can even make bacon from it! Just sayin’.
So there-4 new tasty foods to add to your new vegan diet. Try them. I dare you.