Veggie Kitchen in a Nutshell


Not sure what kombu is or where to find it? What exactly is agar-agar, and how is it prepared? This handy guide takes the mystery out of those unfamiliar ingredients and even tells you where to find them!

Agar-Agar: Sea vegetable that can be used in place of gelatin in many recipes. Available in flakes or bars in Asian markets and health food stores.
(Check out the gelatin alternatives section for preparation and substitution tips.)

Agave Nectar: From the agave plant. Can be used as a replacement for honey. Available in natural food stores.

Arrowroot: Starch that can be used for thickening sauces. Use 1 Tbsp. to thicken 1 cup of liquid. Available in health food stores.

Blackstrap Molasses: Unrefined molasses with a stronger taste than regular molasses. Available in health food stores.

Bragg’s Liquid Aminos: Unfermented alternative to soy sauce that can be used to flavor tofu, stir-fries, soups, and pot pies. Available in health food stores.

Brown Rice Syrup: Made from malted brown rice. Can be used in place of sugar, honey, and other sweeteners. Available in health food stores.

Bulgur: Crushed wheat kernels that are typically used in Middle Eastern cuisine. Found in most grocery stores and health food stores.

Carob: Can be used as a replacement for chocolate in baking. Found in health food stores.

Carrageen: Seaweed that can be cooked as a side or used as a gelling agent. (Check out the gelatin alternatives section for preparation and substitution tips.)

Couscous: A nutty-flavored, quick-cooking grain that can be used in place of rice. Found in grocery stores.

Daikon: A large, white, Japanese radish. Found in specialty markets and Asian markets.

Demerara Sugar: Unrefined cane sugar. Available in most grocery stores and health food stores.

Edamame: A green soybean that can be steamed, sautéed, or tossed into soups. Available in Asian markets and most grocery stores.

Egg Replacer: Can be a powdered replacer, like the one made by Ener-G, or puréed tofu. (Check out the egg replacements section for more egg replacers.)

Florida Crystals: A brand of unprocessed sugar. Found in most grocery stores and health food stores.

Galangal: Also known as “Thai ginger.” Similar in taste and appearance to ginger. Found in Asian markets.

Garam Masala: Typically used in Indian food. A blend of cumin, black pepper, cloves, fennel, cardamom, dried chili, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, and other spices. Found in the ethnic section of most grocery stores.

Herbs de Provence: A mixture of dried herbs from the southern region of France. Normally contains marjoram, savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender.

Hijiki: Dark-green sea vegetable that needs to be rinsed before cooking. Found in Asian markets and health food stores.

Kohlrabi: A root vegetable that is similar in taste to cauliflower. To prepare, boil until tender. Found in many grocery stores and Asian markets.

Kombu: Seaweed that is often used as a flavoring agent in soups, stews, and chilis and for braising tempeh. Found in Asian markets and health food stores.

Kudzu: A starchy powder that can be used to thicken sauces, gravies, and stews. Whisk with cold water until smooth to avoid clumping when adding to a recipe. Found in health food stores. (If you do not have kudzu, cornstarch and arrowroot can be used instead.)

Miso: Fermented soybean paste that comes in several varieties. The darker the paste, the stronger and saltier the flavor. Can be used to replace anchovies in Caesar dressing or in a marinade for tofu. Available in Asian markets and health food stores.

Nori: Thin black seaweed typically sold in sheets. Used as a wrapper for sushi. Found in health food stores, Asian markets, or the Asian section of grocery stores.

Nutritional Yeast: Nutty, cheese-like flavored powder. Cannot be replaced with brewer’s yeast or active yeast. Found in health food stores.

Pectin: A natural gelling agent found in fruits that can be used to thicken jams and jellies. Found in most grocery stores.

Quinoa: Pronounced “keen-wah.” A fast-cooking ancient grain that’s loaded with protein. Must be rinsed before cooking. Growing in popularity and can now be found in most grocery stores and in health food stores.

Seitan: Made from wheat gluten. A perfect substitute for meat in any dish. Found in health food stores and Asian markets. (Check out the meat substitutes section for preparation tips and a recipe for homemade seitan.)

Stevia: A naturally sweet herb with no calories. Much sweeter than sugar. Found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores or in health food stores.

Sucanat: A semi-refined cane sugar that tastes like brown sugar.

Tahini: Made from sesame seeds and also called “sesame butter.” Found in the ethnic foods aisle of most grocery stores.

Tamari: True soy sauce. Fermented from soybeans. The wheat-free version of shoyu, another soy sauce. Found in Asian markets and most grocery stores.

Tamarind: A fruity and sour pod from a tropical evergreen. Found in Latin, Asian, and Indian markets.

Tempeh: A cake of pressed soybeans. Found in most grocery stores and health food stores. (Check out the meat substitutes section for preparation tips and more information.)

Turbinado Sugar: Light brown raw sugar that has been partially refined and washed. Found in more grocery stores.

Umboshi: Tart Japanese plum that is dried and pickled. Found in health food stores and Asian markets.


Don't know what to use in place of meat in your favorite recipes? There are now widely available alternatives to just about every type of meat, including chicken-, pork-, fish-, and beef-style products. Plant-based meat substitutes have come a long way in both taste and texture since the days of the first veggie burger, thanks to the growing popularity of vegetarian diets. Faux meats are most often made from soy or wheat protein and are available fresh, dried, or frozen. Check out the vegan shopping guide for a list of vegan meat alternatives that can give you the flavors you grew up with minus the cruelty to animals, and try the following meat substitutes for mouth-watering, cruelty-free, and heart-healthy meals.

Tofu: First used in China around 200 B.C., tofu has long been a staple of Asian cuisine. Tofu soaks up flavors and is best when marinated for at least 30 minutes or served with a flavorful sauce.

There are two types of tofu that you'll want to try: fresh, water-packed tofu (always refrigerated) for when you want the tofu to hold its shape, such as when baking or grilling, and silken tofu, which is packed in aseptic boxes and usually not refrigerated, for pureing. Try firm or extra-firm tofu for baking, grilling, sauting, and frying and soft or silken tofu for creamy sauces, desserts, and dressings. Silken tofu is used for making a heavenly chocolate cream pie but will fall apart if you try to make it into shish kebab. When baking tofu, cook it in a marinade so it will soak up more flavor. To give tofu a meatier texture, try freezing it for two to 24 hours and then defrosting it.

Press the water out of the tofu prior to preparing it. Wrap the tofu in a towel and set something heavy on top of it for at least 20 minutes, and it will be ready for marinades, sauces, freezing, and cooking.

Tempeh: This traditional Indonesian food is made from fermented soybeans and other grains. Unlike tofu, which is made from soybean milk, tempeh contains whole soybeans, making it denser. Because of its density, tempeh should be braised in a flavorful liquid (see recipe below) for at least one hour prior to cooking. This softens it up and makes the flavor milder.

After braising, you can dredge the tempeh in flour, corn meal, or a mixture of ground nuts and flour and panfry it. Then try adding it to a sauce and continue cooking it for an enhanced flavor. PETA's famous Tempeh Creole recipe is an example of how satisfying tempeh can be.

Seitan: Also known as wheat gluten, seitan is derived from wheat and is a great source of protein. Try seitan as a chicken substitute in your favorite recipes. We recommend trying Seitan Piccata or Macadamia-Encrusted Seitan With Mango Broccoli Slaw. You can find seitan at most health food stores—but if you are feeling adventurous, you can make it at home.

Whole Grains and Legumes
Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, protein, B vitamins, and zinc. Legumes include pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, peanuts, and black-eyed and split peas. Use beans as a protein source in salads, soups, stews, and rice dishes. Check out our recipe section for delicious whole grain and legume recipes.


For every dairy product, there is a cruelty-free alternative. In addition to being more humane than cow's milk, soy-, rice-, and nut-based milks and cheeses are generally lower in fat and calories and contain no cholesterol.

Milk: Soy, rice, or nut milk can replace cow’s milk in any recipe. Soy and rice milks are available in a variety of flavors including plain, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. If you cannot find a nondairy milk, try making soy milk at home.

• For desserts, try using almond, oat, or coconut milk.
• For whipped cream, try Rich's brand nondairy whipping cream, beaten until stiff peaks form. You can find it at most Kosher or specialty baking stores.
• For buttermilk, combine one cup soy milk and one tablespoon vinegar.
• Silk brand creamer makes an excellent coffee creamer.

Cheese: You can make vegan cheese at home; check out the many recipes available on the internet or in "old school" books ( try The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak, available online at the PETA Bookstore There are also plenty of convenient alternatives to cheese, such as the following, available at the grocery store or online:

• Vegan Gourmet Cheese Alternative by Follow Your Heart brand comes in mozzarella, nacho, Monterey jack, and cheddar flavors and contains no casein (a milk derivative).
You'll find it in natural food stores or online at
• Tofutti brand makes a wide variety of soy cheeses, including nondairy cream cheese,
as well as vegan sour cream and ice cream.
• Replace cottage or ricotta cheese with crumbled, seasoned tofu.
• For parmesan cheese, try Soymage brand vegan parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast flakes.
• If you cannot find vegan cream cheese, make your own with our recipe.

Yogurt: Try Silk, Whole Soy, or Stoneyfield Farm O'Soy brand vegan yogurts alone or in a recipe. You can also make vegan yogurt at home with our recipe. For a sweeter version, omit the mustard and add sugar or fruit.

Ice Cream: There is a wide variety of vegan ice cream available on the market. Try Soy Delicious, Soy or Rice Dream or Tofutti, brand. If you're feeling adventurous, check out our vegan ice cream recipe to find out how to make homemade nondairy ice cream.


There are plenty of egg substitutes available for baking or preparing a dish that calls for eggs. Ener-G Egg Replacer is a reliable egg substitute for use in baking. It is available at health food stores and most grocery stores.

Tofu: Tofu is great for egg substitutions in recipes that call for a lot of eggs, like quiches or custards. To replace one egg in a recipe, purée 1/4 cup soft tofu. It is important to keep in mind that although tofu doesn’t fluff up like eggs, it does create a texture that is perfect for “eggy” dishes.

Tofu is also a great substitute for eggs in eggless egg salad and breakfast scrambles.

In Desserts and Sweet, Baked Goods: Try substituting one banana or 1/4 cup applesauce for each egg called for in a recipe for sweet, baked desserts. These will add some flavor to the recipe, so make sure bananas or apples are compatible with the other flavors in the dessert.

Other Egg Replacement Options

• 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. potato starch
• 1 egg = 1/4 cup mashed potatoes
• 1 egg = 1/4 cup canned pumpkin or squash
• 1 egg = 1/4 cup puréed prunes
• 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder
• 1 egg = 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed simmered in 3 Tbsp. water
• 1 egg white = 1 Tbsp. plain agar powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water, whipped, chilled, and whipped again

Egg Replacement Tips

• If a recipe calls for three or more eggs, it is important to choose a replacer that will perform the same function (i.e., binding or leavening).
• Trying to replicate airy baked goods that call for a lot of eggs, such as angel food cake, can be very difficult. Instead, look for a recipe with a similar taste but fewer eggs, which will be easier to replicate.
• When adding tofu to a recipe as an egg replacer, be sure to purée it first to avoid chunks in the finished product.
• Be sure to use plain tofu, not seasoned or baked, as a replacer.
• Powdered egg replacers cannot be used to create egg recipes such as scrambles or omelets. Tofu is the perfect substitute for eggs in these applications.
• If you want a lighter texture and you’re using fruit purées as an egg substitute, add an extra 1/2 tsp. baking powder. Fruit purées tend to make the final product denser than the original recipe.
• If you’re looking for an egg replacer that binds, try adding 2 to 3 Tbsp. of any of the following for each egg: tomato paste, potato starch, arrowroot powder, whole wheat flour, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, instant potato flakes, or 1/4 cup tofu puréed with 1 Tbsp. flour.


It's probably no coincidence that gelatin rhymes with skeleton—because that's exactly what it is—animal bones (along with animal skin, hooves, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage all boiled together into a goo that's added to all kinds of candy and baked goods). Luckily, there are plenty of easy gelatin alternatives available so that baking doesn't have to be bad to the bone.

This flavorless gelling agent, derived from cooked and pressed seaweed, is available flaked, powdered, or in bars. For best results, grind the agar-agar in a coffee grinder or food processor and then cook it, stirring it regularly until it dissolves. When used in a recipe, agar-agar sets in about an hour and doesn't require refrigeration to gel. For a firmer gel, add more agar-agar, and for a softer gel, add more liquid. And don't worry if you don't get it right the first time—you can fix a faux pas simply by reheating the gel. Here's a general guide on how to use agar in recipes:

• Substitute powdered agar-agar for gelatin using equal amounts.

• 1 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 tsp. of agar-agar powder.

• Set 2 cups of liquid using 2 tsp. of agar-agar powder, 2 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes, or one bar.

• Keep in mind that highly acidic ingredients, such as lemons, strawberries, oranges, and other citrus fruits, may require more agar-agar than the recipe calls for. Also, enzymes in fresh mangoes, papaya, and pineapple break down the gelling ability of the agar-agar so that it will not set. Cooking these fruits before adding them to a recipe, however, neutralizes the enzymes so that the agar-agar can set.

Also known as Irish moss, this seaweed, found in coastal waters near Ireland, France, and North America, is best when used for making softer gels and puddings. To prepare carrageen, rinse it thoroughly, and then soak it in water until it swells. Add the carrageen to the liquid you want to set, boil for 10 minutes, and remove the carrageen. One ounce of carrageen will gel 1 cup of liquid.

Kosher Gelatin
Many kosher gelatins are vegan. Try Lieber’s unflavored gel, Emes Plain Kosher-Jel, Carmel’s unsweetened gel, KoJel’s unflavored gel, and Hain Superfruits.


Here are some secrets for saving time while jazzing and lightening up your recipes:

• Use vegetable oil instead of animal fat for frying and sautéing.
• Use vegetable stock or broth or wine instead of animal-based stocks in soups, sauces, and stews.
• To liven up your rice, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pot and sauté one tablespoon of garlic for two minutes. Add the rice and sauté until lightly browned. Cook the rice according to package directions, adding vegetable broth instead of water for flavor.
• Use only the freshest ingredients in your recipes.
• To perk up wilted lettuce, add lemon juice to a bowl of cold water and soak lettuce for an hour in the refrigerator.
• If a soup or stew is too salty, add chunks of raw potatoes. Discard them after they have cooked—they will have absorbed the salt. If a soup or stew is too sweet, add salt. If a main dish or vegetable is too sweet, add one teaspoon of cider vinegar.
• When sautéing zucchini, potatoes, carrots, and squash, use a fork to stir. Spoons often break up the vegetables.
• To thicken sauces: Try using cornstarch mixed with cold water (in a one-to-one ratio), brown rice flour (approximately 1 2/3 teaspoonfuls per 1/2 cup of liquid), potato starch or flour (2/3 teaspoon per 1/2 cup of liquid), tapioca flour mixed with cold water (in a one-to-one ratio), or ground nuts.
• Save time by reading a new recipe all the way through first and making sure you have all the ingredients and tools. Try mastering six to eight recipes and using them in rotation—a trick gourmet chefs use.
• Brown rice syrup can be used in place of sugar, honey, and other sweeteners. To substitute for sugar, use 1 1/4 cups of brown rice syrup for 1 cup of sugar and use 1/4 cup less of a liquid called for in the recipe.


No vegan kitchen would be complete without these helpful items:

• Fresh fruits and vegetables: Don't be afraid to try new ones.
• Soy, rice, or nut milk: Both are great for sauces and salad dressings.
• Coconut milk and coconut cream: The higher fat content is great for sorbets, ice creams, and baking.
• Soy sauce and tamari: These are great as a basic sauce ingredient.
• Vegetarian stock: There is a wide variety of faux-chicken stocks and vegetable stocks available. If you have the time, try making our Roasted Vegetable Stock, which can be kept in the freezer for future use.
• Nonhydrogenated margarine: Good brands to look for are Earth Balance and Soy Garden.
• High-quality oils: extra-virgin olive oil, safflower oil, canola oil, and coconut oil
• Nondairy sour cream: try Tofutti brand
• Maple syrup: an alternative to sugar for baking and for sauces
• Agave or brown rice syrup: can be used in place of honey in recipes
• Florida Crystals: unprocessed vegan sugar that can be used instead of refined sugar in any recipe
• Nutritional yeast: has a rich, nutty flavor and makes delicious cheesy sauces; can also be used in breading, dressings, and soups as well as on pasta
• Agar-agar: creates delicious vegan Jell-O, pudding, and jelly
• Arrowroot and/or cornstarch: great as a thickening agent in soups, stews, and sauces.
• Canned tomato sauce: always useful in preparing last-minute meal
• Staples: beans, rice, frozen veggies, and garlic
• Soy mayonnaise: Use in place of traditional mayonnaise in pasta and potato salads, sandwich spreads, and sauces; try Nayonaise or Vegenaise brands.
• A blender
• A food processor
• A chef's knife: It has a rigid blade with a slight curve that facilitates the rocking motion most chefs use in chopping and is perfect for slicing, dicing, and chopping.
• Good cookbooks (for example, check out the fabulous selection of vegan cookbooks at )

If you wanna know more about Vegetarian/Vegan lifestyle, including lots of jummy recipes to inspire your kitchen activities, just click the following link and you'll find a rich library of links :

VEGGIE LIFE @ Animal Voice Links Archive

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