Vegan Cooking Hacks

Vegan Cooking Hacks

Check out our cooking hacks, with basic techniques to make the perfect plant-based dinners.
Fresh Veg Stir Fry
Buddha Bowl
Chipotle Cashew Dip
Creamy Spinach Dip
Cambodian Turmeric Wrap
Lazy Lunch Wrap
Healthy mango smoothie
Hearty strawberry smoothie breakfast
Porridge with fruit
Scrambled Teggfu
Crispy Teriyaki Tofu

How to stir fry

Mix combinations of the following to create delicious, and different stir frys each time.

Also see our tips on tofu and how to cook it

Base: sesame, canola, grapeseed, coconut or olive oil, onion, garlic, soy sauce, sweetener (eg mirin, coconut sugar) ginger, chilli.

Veggies: carrots, courgette, capsicum, mushrooms, green beans, snow peas, sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, etc

Carbohydrates: rice, quinoa, noodles; rice, wheat, bean thread, soba etc.  Cook separately and stir in, or serve up with your stir fry on top.

Flavours: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, hot. Try soy sauce, tamari, black bean, sweet and sour, vegan oyster, vegan fish sauce.

Protein: tofu, tempeh, plant meats, gluten aka seitan, nuts, beans, chickpeas, soybeans, nut meat

Garnish: sprouts, coriander, fresh herbs, chopped nuts, Vietnamese mint,

Sauce: tahini sauce, chilli sauce, satay sauce, ketchup manis, soy sauce, lemon juice, etc

How to make curry

Mix combinations of the following to create a delicious curry. When buying ready made curry paste/Thai curry paste remember to check for fish sauce; there are brands that do not contain it.

Base: oil, onion, garlic, salt/soy sauce, mirin or coconut sugar, ginger, chilli, spices,

Veggies: potatoes, cauliflower, pumpkin, aubergine, kumara, peas, okra, tomatoes, etc

Flavours: Thai curry, korma, Indian style, Madras, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, laksa, etc

Liquid: coconut milk, tomatoes, cashew milk, vege stock, water

Protein: pulses eg lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas also nuts, tofu, tempeh, mock meat, gluten/seitan

Garnish: coriander, soy yoghurt, chutney, seeds

Accompaniment: poppadums, breads, rice, dahl, samosas, etc

How to make a bowl

A buddah bowl style meal is an exciting array of colours, textures, flavours and deliciousness.  They can be one of the most nutritious ways to eat, fun to assemble, and you can mix and match what you already have in the kitchen.

Choose your grain: brown, white or wild rice, quinoa, millet, bulgar, pearl barley, cous cous, noodles, soba noodles, black bean/edamame or lentil noodles.

Add your protein: black beans, butter beans, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans, tofu, tempeh, seitan.

Prepare your vegetables: steam, lightly stir fry (can be done in a splash of water as a healthier option) or roast your selection of vegetables.   You can play around and do a couple of different veges in different ways, for example, cubed roasted kumara and sauteed mushrooms.

Prepare some raw goodness: finely slice some raw veges such as avocado, capsicum, chilli, cucumber, greens, kale, lettuce, peppers, spring onions.

Herbs: chop and chuck in whatever you have, feel like to zing up your bowl!

Nuts and Seeds: roughly chop your selection – it’s quick and simple to dry toast them (keep an eye on the pan and keep sifting it as they cook; it just takes a couple of minutes).  Pumpkin or sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, cashew nuts, mixed nuts, peanuts, walnuts, pine nuts.

Dressing: make a simple salad dressing, tahini, yoghurt, satay, chutney, pesto or hummus style dip/dressing.  See next section.

How to create dressings/dips

Dressings are the crowing glory of any meal and you can easily mix or whizz up  your own in a few minutes.  We recommend adding a nutribullet style blender to your kitchen if you are keen to mix up dressings and dips regularly!

Here are some suggested ingredients; have fun mixing and matching!

Base: extra virgin olive oil, plantbased yoghurt, tahini, peanut butter, cashews (soaked first).

Acidity: balsamic or red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice/zest, lime juice.

Extras for a dip: butter beans, chickpeas, spinach or kale leaves, walnuts, pine nuts, black olives, edamame beans, peas.

Flavours: garlic, ginger, dijon mustard, maple syrup, miso paste, nutritional yeast, yoghurt, preserved lemon, fresh herbs, capers.

Zing: chilli flakes, smoked paprika, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, sumac, salt, pepper.

Consistency: loosen your dressing or dip as required with water – add it just a tablespoon at a time and then blend again.  You can add oil too, but if you start with water you might find the dressing is super flavourful without the need for all that extra oil!

What to put in a wrap

A quick wrap is a perfect and quick lunch for school, work or if you are out and active all day.  Easy to make, and you can create something with what you already have at home.

Main act: choose your show piece.  This could be last night’s dinner (if it will work being wrapped!), vegan deli meat such as plan*t hemp chicken or Grater Goods deli, homemade seitan, roast veges, cooked chili beans, burrito style, tinned nut meat, sauteed tofu chunks.

Second act: perhaps throw in some sauteed mushrooms,  olives, capers, avocado, or anything extra you have in the fridge that might go with your creative wrap.

Raw goodies: now add a choice of cucumber, kale, lettuce, tomato, capsicum, grated carrot, sprouts.

Flavour: you might not need much but you can add as desired – salt and pepper, chili flakes, herbs, aioli, vegan cheese.

Mixing up a smoothie

Smoothies can be created in a blender or nutribullet and are a delicious means of getting an antioxidant glass of goodness into your or the kids!

Green goodness: who knew, but you can throw kale, spinach leaves or spirulina powder into your smoothie and by the time you’ve blended it all in, no one would know!  It’s an excellent way to get some extra greens into your day!

Fruit: banana is one of the best smoothie fruits – old ones are better.  If they are going brown/black you can store them in the freezer and defrost or quick microwave to soften, for your smoothie.  Blueberries are great in smoothies and one of the most antioxidant rich fruits you can eat.  If you use frozen, you might want to cook them first to alleviate potential risk of bacteria.

Other good fruits are pineapple chunks, mango, any stone fruit, melon.

Pack in the nutrients: add hemp, chia or flax/linseed powder (rich in iron, magnesium, calcium and omega-6 essential fats). Or you can buy ready-mixed LSA powder (linseed/sunflower/almond mix).  Oats, nut butter, tahini, nuts, raw cacoa.

Flavour: dates, syrup, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, vanilla extract.

Base: plant milk of choice, yoghurt or water.

Make porridge pop!

Porridge oats are a cheap, hearty and warming breakfast, but they can get a bit samey unless you have a few nutritious additions up your sleeve.

Oats: if you prefer wholegrain oats they do take longer to cook than rolled oats.  It’s not necessary but you can soak them overnight for a creamy, bircher-style texture.

Add some goodies: as you cook your oats you can thrown in frozen blueberries or other frozen fruit, to cook along with your oats.  Walnuts are protein-packed with omega-6 essential fat – but you don’t need many!  Grated apple is good (can be added the night before if you are soaking your oats). Or a few brazil nuts for your daily selenium, goji berries, chopped dried dates or figs.

Pack in the nutrients: add hemp, chia or flax/linseed powder (rich in iron, magnesium, calcium and omega-6 essential fats). Or you can buy ready-mixed LSA powder (linseed/sunflower/almond mix). 

Flavour: cardamom, ginger or cinnamon.

Topping: top with other chopped fruit such as banana or strawberries or whatever you have. Coconut yoghurt.

Vegan hacks & quick tips

White sauce: you don’t have to miss a creamy carbonara or mac ‘n cheese style dinner!  White sauce can be made simply, with flour and plant milk, as you would a dairy white sauce. 
Blending options for a delicious and more nutritious white sauce include cooked leek, cooked cauliflower, soaked cashews, sunflower seeds.  Any of these can be whizzed up in a high-speed blender with your additions and flavourings – nutritional yeast (for cheesiness), olive oil or vegan butter, dijon mustard, lemon, garlic, salt, pepper are just some additions.

Cheesy flavours: Nutritional yeast adds a sparky, cheesy flavour to any sauce.  Available in major supermarkets.  It’s a great source of your B vitamins, including B12 and also provides selenium and folate!

Eggy not-eggs: black salt is an incredible discovery!  It’s actually pink in colour and you can usually find it in Asian / Indian supermarkets or spice shops.  It’s cheap, and a little goes a long way.  Add to your tofu scramble and you’ll be amazed a the flavour – your non-vegan friends may not even be able to tell it’s not scrambled egg!

Liquid Smoke: to be found in boutique groceries or some major supermarkets, this little bottle of flavour can be added to tofu or tempeh as a marinade, to give an extra ‘smoky’ flavour. 
A healthier option is smoked paprika. 

The great Kiwi BBQ

BBQs are all about mixing and mingling with our family and friends, enjoying holidays, sunshine, swimming and socials.

And vegans can do all that AND cook up a feast on the backyard BBQ! Read on for our tips on making a cruelty-free, crowd-pleasing summer BBQ.

Read our dedicated vegan BBQ page!