Healthy food, especially healthy vegan food, usually has a reputation for being bland, thin, and, well, tasteless-which couldn't be farther from the truth. Vegan meals can be just as rich and savory as non-vegan meals, and the added bonus here is that no matter what you add to your salad, sandwich, cake, or whatever to give it substance, it's bound to have tons of nutritional benefits.
There are tons of ingredients out there that will turn a regular vegan meal into a decadent, delectable dish.. Check out some recommendations below, and feel good knowing that by adding these simple ingredients to your meals, you're feeding your body with nothing but healthy (and tasty) vegan food!
1. Cacao nibs
Cacao beans are the source for all chocolate and cocoa products, and it's always best to go straight to the heart of any ingredient. Raw cacao nibs are a great alternative to vegan chocolate chips because they're rich in antioxidants, and just one ounce contains four grams of protein and literally no sugar. Mix them into your vegan cookie dough, blend them with your favorite smoothie, sprinkle on top of your dairy-free ice creams, or even add them to your coffee. Your taste buds will be praising the South American gods after you try them. Also, pretty much everything you need to know about cacao nibs including the best brands available in the market and yummy recipes can be found here here!
2. Nutritional Yeast
Okay, It doesn't sound appetizing, but nutritional yeast is a staple ingredient in any hearty vegan recipe. Its powdery form makes it such a versatile ingredient that it can be used for virtually anything. From mixing it with water for a healthy drink, to sprinkling it on top of salads, or processing it with other ingredients for hearty veggie burgers, adding nutritional yeast to a meal not only brings more texture and substance to it, but it also packs in tons of amino acids and B-vitamins. It's pretty much called nutritional yeast for a reason. Read this article to learn everything about nutritional yeast, with tips on how to use and some great vegan recipes!
3. Cashew Cream
Cashew cream-literally ground up cashews and water-is a wholesome, dairy-less substitute for heavy cream. You can add vanilla extract and sugar for a sweet cream, or salt and lemon juice for a savory one. Cashew cream has all the benefits of the nut (copper, fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats) and a significantly less amount of fat and cholesterol than regular heavy cream. Cashew cream is great for ice cream recipes, as a fruit topping, or even the base for creamy pasta sauces. It's really that good! Try making this Fig Cardamom Walnut Scones with Cashew Cream or these delicious Cashew Cream Cups!
4. Plant-based Protein Powders
Most protein powders have some kind of dairy in them, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy them in a vegan diet. Plant-based protein powders are made from seed proteins like hemp and whole grain brown rice, and also spinach, kale, broccoli and alfalfa. Add a scoop of protein powder to oatmeal, a smoothie, or even vegan pancakes for a creamier texture and a boost of nutrients-most of these plant-based protein powders constitute for a couple servings of vegetables per scoop! ('Whey' in on plant-based protein powders here!)
5. Dairy-free Yogurt
Dairy-free yogurts are just as nutritious as dairy-based ones. They've got active and live cultures, and usually less fat and sugar per serving. Veganize recipes that call for yogurt by substituting it with a soy-based one or cultured non-dairy milk. Dairy-free yogurts are creamy and smooth, so that smoothie or baked good will still be just as decadent and rich. Don't believe us? Make this Raw Coconut Yogurt from scratch at home or use a store-bought non-dairy yogurt to make this Fruity Frozen Yogurt Marbled Cake!
This article was originally published on One Green Planet.