5 Cheap Vegan Flavor Boosters.
One of the biggest complaints in vegan cooking is that there isn’t enough flavor and variety. People get bored pretty quickly from salads and steamed vegetables. Here are my most 5 used flavor boosted items I start almost very meal with.
- Minced Garlic - As my grandpa always says you can never have too much garlic. But when you’re busy or tired from working a double or 2 night classes and a late night in the library, it’s not always convenient to peel and cut fresh garlic for a wholesome meal. But don’t run to the vending machine just yet, just prepare by picking up some minced garlic next time you’re at the grocery store. It seems simple, and it is. This little jar will not only last for a SUPER long time, but it will make it a lot easier to add a flavorful and healthy kick to dinner.
Garlic has a ton of health benefits. Studies show that eating garlic can help regulate lipid levels which promotes good cholesterol. Garlic is widely accepted as a natural antibiotic and unlike man made antibiotics, your body does not build up a resistance to garlic. Garlic has a number of other health benefits ranging from being a high source of antioxidants to increasing blood flow, some even believe it to be a remedy for cancer patients.
(Also look out for jars of minced ginger for new flavor experimentation—ginger is awesome.)
- Red Star Nutritional Yeast - Try not to be turned off by the name. The name sounds as granola eating vegan as you can get, but nutritional yeast is actually really good and does not have an over bearing flavor at all. Nutritional yeast can be sprinkled on top of pasta like a Parmesan cheese, or you can add it to a sauce for a faux-cheesy flavor.
Now you don’t need to get Red Star brand necessarily, but I recommend it because it is specifically advertised for vegans. There is one thing ALL vegans MUST know about the vitamins they need to be healthy, and one of the most overlooked ones is vitamin B12. You can only get this vitamin from animal/microbiotic sources, so a lot of vegans don’t get enough of it. It is important to take a supplement, and eat it whenever possible. B12 deficiency can lead to damaged nerve endings and problems with memory. Not fun.
Luckily! We don’t need to take in that much B12 to be healthy. I recommend just taking you b12 supplement, and using a table spoon of Red Star daily in your cooking. Just make sure you store it in a dark place though, or it can kill the bacteria that makes it healthy in the first place.
- Vegetable Bouillon Cubes - This may not be my healthiest suggestion but it will save any meal going wrong. Any time you really think you just can’t save your meal, throw a half of a bouillon cube in and see how it goes. It hardly has any calories, just make sure you’re buying low sodium cubes.
- Salsa - Lucky! You already have this in your fridge, and if you’re like me when I was in college, you will substitute meals for chips and salsa a couple days a week …maybe more. The great thing about salsa is it has onions, garlic, green pepper, and tomato in it, what’s more flavorful than that! A combination of those 4 ingredients are the all mighty base to any good food. So when I REALLY don’t feel like cooking properly, I just throw a tablespoon of salsa on the frying pan and work from there. It cuts out the chopping time and tastes awesome. It’s not exactly gourmet, but I challenge your dinner guests to tell the difference, mine never do ;)
- Potted Herbs - Last but certainly not least, for a refined touch to your salsa stir fry with nutritional yeast parm topping, try cutting up a few basil leaves or maybe some home grown rosemary. Potted herbs not only add a touch of sophistication to your meal but man will it save you money! You buy a basil plant for $5 at the grocery store and as long as you don’t let it die, you have free basil for the rest of your days. If you think $5 is steep for a little window plant, take a walk down the herb section of the grocery store and thank me later.
And There you have it! 5 ingredients that will add an inexpensive boost to your next home cooked meal.