What do vegans eat? #5: Beans, peas and lentils

Beans, peas and lentils are great! They are highly nutritious and can be used in almost any dish; casseroles, patties, soups, stews, spreads, baked goods etc.

Some beans, peas and lentils include:
Soy bean
Green bean
Kidney bean
Chickpea/Garbanzo bean
Mung bean
Black bean
Red lentil
Green lentil
Beluga lentil
Green pea

legumes

Learning to cook with beans, peas and lentils may take some time and practice. I’m still not great at it, but I learn more all the time. Some types pf legumes are easier to use than others, and since the flavors of the different legumes vary it’s also a lot up to your own taste.

You can choose to cook your legumes from scratch – buying them dried in bulk – which is definitely the cheapest way. You will need soak them in water for at least 4-8 hours, depending on the legume, and then boil on low heat for at least an hour. A list of soaking and cooking times for different legumes can be found here. Some lentils – such as red ones – don’t need soaking, and usually don’t either need to be boiled for that long time.

As a beginner when it comes to cooking with legumes it might be a good idea to start with canned ones. They are a bit more expensive, but much faster and easier to use if the soaking and boiling part seems too hard or time-consuming. When you use canned legumes, be sure to pour out the liquid that they have been preserved in and rinse the legumes, since this will make them easier for your body to digest.

Some legumes, mainly peas, can also be found fresh or deep frozen.

Some of my favorite dishes with legumes include; sweet potato and lentil soup, spicy bean soup, falafel, hummus, different types of patties and marinated beans. Recipes for some of these dishes are coming up soon!

Earlier in the “What do vegans eat?”- series:

#1: Tofu
#2: Plant-based milk & cream
#3: Ice cream
#4: Fruits and vegetables

What do vegans eat? #4: Fruits and vegetables

The base of the vegan diet is of course fruits and vegetables. For some reason people seem to think that basing your diet on mainly these food groups is limiting, when the truth is that there are so much fruits and vegetables out there that I haven’t even tried all of them yet. And I’ve been vegetarian for more than 10 years!

Fruits and vegetables are categorized a little differently depending on if you look at it out of a scientific or culinary standpoint. Since this is about cooking I will use the culinary categorization and give you some examples of different fruits and vegetables;

fruitsnvegetables

Fruits:
Banana, apple, pear, nectarine, blueberry, strawberry, orange, lemon, kiwi, mango, watermelon, cantaloupe melon, pomegranate, grape, persimmon, rhubarb, plum, raspberry, coconut, cherry, date, guava, grapefruit, jackfruit, rambutan, sea-buckthorn, peach…

Vegetables:
Carrot, beet, potato, parsnip, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke, spinach, kale, collard greens, squash, zucchini, eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, watercress, onion, garlic, leek, celery, bamboo shoots, tomato, cucumber, pumpkin, okra, avocado, pepper, cassava, ginger, wakame, nori, kombu…

Well, you get the point. There are tons of them. Beans, since they are a podded vegetable, could also be included here, but I will give beans and other legumes their own post later on.

How do I cook vegetables?
Vegetables can be cooked in almost any way you can think of, depending on the type. You can stir fry them. You can bake them in the oven; as part of a casserole or pie, or just plain with oil and seasoning. You can boil or steam them. You can use them as ingredients for patties. You can deep fry them. And of course you can eat most of them raw!

How about fruits?
I love eating fruits raw, just like they are, but of course you can also use them in cooking and baking. You can make smoothies, jams or juices. You can also use them in different desserts, such as pies, cakes or jellies.

Earlier posts in the “What do vegans eat?”-series:
#1: Tofu
#2: Plant-based milk & cream
#3: Ice-cream

What do vegans eat? #3: Ice cream

“What, is there vegan ice cream?!” is a question I’ve heard many times. The answer to that question is simply put just “YES”! There’s quite a few different vegan ice creams out there, usually based on soy, oat or rice, or simply based on fruits or juices. Since it’s summer and we’ve had many weeks with nice sunny weather in Finland (after we had snow here in Helsinki in the end of June!), I felt that it will fit to do a post on ice cream.

There’s a whole bunch of vegan ice creams in the normal grocery stores, the larger ones usually have the biggest selection, but  smaller stores usually carry some vegan ice creams as well. The site “Vegaanituotteet” lists all the available vegan ice creams in Finnish grocery stores here (you don’t necessarily have to be able to understand Finnish to use the list). Some ice cream stands also carry vegan ice creams (Ingman and Sia, for example).

Sweet vegan ice cream

You can also make your own, very simple, ice cream based on frozen banana and plant-based milk that you mix in a blender until smooth and proper consistency. You can flavor it any way you want, maybe with cocoa if you want chocolate flavor, or vanilla powder for vanilla. Your imagination is the only thing that is stopping you! Just be aware that this ice cream melts quickly, so it should be eaten immediately.

If you have an ice cream maker it is of course possible to make even more different kinds of vegan ice creams. I don’t own one, so I don’t know much when it comes to this, but someone who does is the blogger behind Kamomillan konditoria, which you could check out if you understand Finnish. If you don’t, the rest of the internet is still full of recipes of all kinds. Good luck!

Earlier in the “What do vegans eat?”-series:
#1: Tofu
#2: Plant-based milk and cream

What do vegans eat? #2: Plant-based milk & cream

Even though you make a decision not to consume cow’s milk (or milk from any other animal), there are still a lot of types of milks out there to put on your cereal, to just drink or to use in cooking or baking. Plant-based milks can be used just like cow’s milk in pretty much any recipe. The same goes for plant-based creams.

There’s a whole bunch of different plant-based milks in the stores – the most common ones being soy-, oat-, rice- or almond-based – from different brands and with a little different flavor. Which one is the best is merely a question about taste, and of course what you plan to use the milk for. Finding your favorite is just a matter of trying different brands, since I have noticed different people prefer very different ones.

  • For drinking or putting in my coffee/chocolate drinks/smoothies I prefer sweetened milk. Usually we buy soy milk, but I also like almond milk for this purpose.
  • For cooking or baking using the unsweetened ones is usually better (in “emergency cases” when I don’t have unsweetened milk at home, I do use the sweetened one for this purpose as well), just for the sake that they don’t taste sweet. Here I like using oat- or soy-based milks.

The plant-based creams that can be found are usually based on soy, oat or rice. There are creams meant for cooking and baking, and also creams that can be whipped. Also here it is mainly a question of taste which is the best one, but I have my favorites:

  • For baking I like to use soy cream, since I have noticed it tends to give more moist cakes than when using for example oat cream.
  • For cooking I prefer oat cream, because it doesn’t have any after-taste, like the soy creams I have tried tend to have.
  • For whipping I usually use soy cream. I have tried using some different oat creams for this purpose as well, but their taste don’t suite me.

I decided not to mention any brands in this post even though I have my favorites. There are tons of different brands out there and their availability vary from country to country, here in Finland we have at least six different brands (probably more) of plant-based milk to choose from, so I’m sure you will be able to find your favorite among them.

Earlier in the “What do vegans eat?”- series:
#1: Tofu

What do vegans eat? #1. Tofu

I love tofu. I can eat the flavored ones straight out of the package, which kind of pictures how much I love it.

Tofu might be a quite mysterious food to the one who has never tried it before, though. I remember the first time I tried to cook tofu. Emphasis on tried. I was a new vegetarian, probably 14-15 years old, I had heard of tofu and wanted to try it out, so we bought one piece, but I had no idea how to cook it. It tasted horrible. Or actually, it tasted absolutely nothing.

Tofu, which can also be called bean curd, is a cheese-looking (but not cheese tasting) food made out of soybeans. You can actually make tofu at home, the process is a bit similar to making your own cheese. Tofu can be found in many different variations; it can be firm or soft, it can be natural or marinated in different flavors. You can also find sausages and other things made out of tofu, both those are a subject for another post.

natural tofu

Tofu can be used in all kinds of different dishes, all the way from deserts to barbecue. It can be used in for example stir fries, soups or patties, or in smoothies or pies as a substitute for dairy or eggs. It’s just a very versatile food.

So how did I go from hating tofu to loving it? I simply learned how to prepare it. I’m certainly no tofu master chef, and to be honest I’m a bit lost in the jungle of all the different types too. However, my best tip in learning how to cook with tofu is to just try it out, and not only once, because it might not turn out well the first time. Learning to cook new things always takes time.

If you have never even tasted tofu, it might be an idea to try it in a restaurant before trying to cook it yourself. The best place to try it out might be in some kind of Asian place. These kind of restaurants usually offer tofu as one of the meat alternatives for many of their dishes, so next time maybe you just choose the tofu instead of beef or chicken in your curry. Maybe you’ll be hooked too, who knows? (Keep in mind though that even if you would not like it the first time, you might still change your mind later on, since many of our food preferences are acquired over time)

What do vegans eat?

There’s a lot of talking about what vegans don’t eat (i.e. meat, eggs, dairy products, animal by-products), but a lot of people don’t know what vegans actually do eat, so I thought I would try to write a series of blog posts about different things we eat. This post serves as a short introduction.

The base of the vegan diet includes:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils
  • Grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Mushrooms

There are also a lot of different vegan food products out there, for example:

  • Non-dairy milk, cream, yoghurt, ice cream (can be based on for example soy, oat, rice or almond)
  • Vegan meat based on soybeans or wheat gluten (tofu, tempeh, seitan)
  • Non-dairy cheese, which is usually soy-based

For you non-vegans out there, what would you like to know about vegan food? Please tell me and I will do my best to answer any questions!