Even the most seasoned cooks can run into the dreaded meal boredom. I mean, one can only eat so many roasted vegetables with tahini sauce, right?! (Even if that is Christy Turlington’s favorite meal…) Fear not, Peaceful Dumplings, because we’ll help you reawaken your senses without putting in chef-level effort on a Monday night. (Because meals should be a nourishing, joyful ritual, not a stressful production!)
The plant based world is bursting with vibrant colors, textures, and flavors. There are simple ways to get these flavors to truly shine. Instead of relying on fat, sugar, and salt to amp up flavors, I turn to these 5 ingredients to boost my dishes. Next time you’re wondering how not to cook the same dinner yet again, try these 5 hacks to easily take things from ho-hum to heavenly.
Miso is one of my biggest kitchen allies. It’s a fermented soy bean paste which makes it deep and rich with strong umami flavor. I use it in dressings and sauces alike. For the simplest variation, whisk together one or two tablespoons, add one tablespoon of creamy tahini, a splash of soy sauce and a squeeze of lemon. It’s wonderful as a sauce for Asian style noodles or just to drizzle over your veggies.
Made from aged coconut sap and sea salt, coconut aminos are the healthier and less salty version of soy sauce. A teaspoon of coconut aminos has 90mg of sodium, compared to 307mg in regular soy sauce. Perfect to add to your tofu and veggie stir fries, delicious on rice and steamed vegetables – just all around magical because it works like salt only it’s less salty and as a bonus, it’s high in all 9 essential amino acids, potassium, vitamin Bs, and vitamin C.
You love cheese and miss it oh so dearly? Then nutritional yeast will be your best friend. It’s phenomenal on tomato pasta dishes, gratins and chilies. It adds a rich cheesy flavor and a nice yellow color to your dishes. Each brand of nutritional yeast will have slightly different nutritional profiles, but they should all have high vitamin B content including vitamin B12, plus a surprising amount of protein–9g per 2 tablespoons. That’s twice as much protein as chickpeas, by volume!
Ginger has a plethora of health benefits: it’s wonderful for your digestion and acts as an anti inflammatory as well. You can definitely buy fresh ginger root but I love using ginger powder because I don’t have to worry about it going bad and I can quickly add it to dishes without having to peel and chop it up. Ginger powder tastes phenomenal in homemade granola, with dates, nuts, oats and maple syrup. I also love to add it to stir fries and tofu scramble. It adds a nice spicy note to both sweet and savory dishes.
Turmeric is the It-est of It spices right now and for a good reason: it’s the tops for your immune system! Turmeric can easily be added in powder form to curries, stir fries, as well as stews and even baked goods like muffins. I also love to make my own chai tea with some turmeric powder for color and extra nutrition. Just boil water, add a black tea bag, and ground turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper. Add non-dairy milk and coconut sugar, which has lower GI and keeps your blood sugar level more stable. Turmeric chai is milder in terms of flavor but will add a light herbal note and a beautiful punch of color to your food. Make sure to not get it all over your countertops though 😉
What’s your favorite flavor-hack ingredient?
Also by Isabelle: Stronger Bods *And* Smoldering Sex Drives? 4 Reasons Vegan Men Have It Better
PSA: Dairy Isn’t Doing Your Bones Any Favors–There’s A Better Way To Get Calcium
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Photo: Brooke Lark on Unsplash; Mary Hood Luttrell