Kitchen Tools for Vegans Who Love to Cook!

We came up with the idea of writing about kitchen tools for vegans when I realized that preparing healthy, tasty vegan meals requires a set of tools that not everybody has in a typical kitchen. As you start preparing more whole-food, plant-based (and sometimes even raw!) meals, you’ll see how these tools are not gadgets but really helpful companions on your vegan journey.
Grow Your Own From Scratch Want to learn how to make a kombucha scoby from scratch so you can make your own homemade kombucha? If so, you will need a scoby, also referred to as a "kombucha mushroom" or "kombucha mother culture." We've literally been making our own since the late 80's, so we do have quite a bit of experience with this procedure. Back then, kombucha was not found in stores like it is today, nor were scoby cultures available for sale. You had to basically get a "mother" and liquid starter from a friend (or friend of a friend of a friend in some cases). It was more of a community affair.

Comparing Common Varieties Ever want a nuts and seeds list with nutritional data all on one place, well here it is! We've compiled these break downs for you to refer back to when you want a quick glance at specific nutrient levels. The charts below list the top most common seed and nut varieties to help you evaluate which ones you might want to include more or less of according to your own personal health objectives. This info may come in handy if you're adhering to a precise dietary protocol in which more details might be helpful.

Its Controversial Use as a Healthier Choice Agave sweetener, also referred to as agave syrup or nectar, is the processed sap or juice commercially extracted when ripe from the core of the plant "pina." Today, most agave sweeteners are primarily produced from the same blue Agave tequilana species used to make the popular distilled alcoholic beverage known as tequila. Here on this page, we'll discuss agave sweetener's commercial production and its controversial use and marketing as a "natural" sweetener. And... Is it comparable to high fructose corn syrup?

Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui) or Twig (Gui Zhi) Most people are familiar with cinnamon as a culinary spice or natural flavoring, but a variety that is less familiar here in the West is the one known as Chinese cinnamon. This is the specific type of cinnamon referred to as "Chinese" cinnamon or Rou Gui in Chinese herbalism. It is commonly found in thick pieces rather than the typical "cinnamon stick" or rolled up quill. The other variety is called cinnamon twig or Gui Zhi, which is derived from the branches as opposed to the trunk itself.

Is It a Miracle Curative? Black seed oil, also called black cumin seed oil, is the oil derived by pressing or cold extracting the seeds from the Nigella sativa species. This variety is not related to the Cuminum cyminum species known as cumin, nor the cumin-related species Bunium bulbocastanum, also referred to as "black cumin." The herbaceous N. sativa seed plant is common to Mediterranean locations as well as southwestern Asian countries like India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They don't taste anything like "regular cumin" but have a pungent flavor that is usually combined with other spices.

Do They Contain Fig Wasps? Figs are one of those ancient fruits, up there with dates, grapes and olives, that have been utilized since the dawn of human life. Repeatably mentioned in the Bible as well as valued as a holy tree species in many major religions of the world, they are known to symbolize prosperity, peace and fertility. Native to the Middle East and then spreading to Mediterranean locations, the Ficus carica species has been widely grown and consumed by humans in regions spanning from Portugal to Afghanistan. Within the Ficus genus there are also other tropical variations on the Indian subcontinent, like the Ficus religiosa or the "sacred fig."

Using a Dehydrator, Not An Oven Want to learn how to make pumpkin seeds straight from the pumpkin for a healthy alternative to roasting methods? Use those whole unshelled seeds from your Halloween pumpkin and make healthy nutritious snack food for you and your family. Sure, you can bake them in an oven, but another way to make them without high heat is to use a dehydrator. Much like sunflower seeds in their shell, the end result will give you a tasty snack to crack open and munch on.

Effect on Testosterone and Cultural Uses Tribulus terrestris comes from the genus Tribulus which includes about 13 different species. Despite its thorny nature, the aerial portion of the plant and especially its seeds (or fruits) have been highly valued in certain countries for different therapeutic purposes as an herbal substance. We'll discuss traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese uses, but first... what are the differences between tribulus extracts and other herb-based preparations? And, can tribulus supplements actually increase testosterone levels in men and build muscle mass?

And Black Garlic Vinaigrette This is our black cumin seed salad dressing that also features another black superfood favorite, black garlic! We've reviewed both of these on our black seed oil and black garlic pages, and recently decided to experiment with using them together in an apple cider vinaigrette. The blended end result proved to be the perfect combo for a delicious tasting dressing that is full of health-enhancing potential. Black seeds and their cold-pressed oil have an herbal thyme-like flavor due to the thymol compound, while the black garlic adds a subtly sweet and tangy element.

Top Reasons to Drink It Aloe vera gel and juice, for consumption purposes, is typically extracted from the Aloe barbadensis Miller subspecies of the main "true" Aloe vera plant. This is the most popular variety for dietary use because of its larger sized leaves and medicinal qualities. As a hardy succulent desert-growing plant, aloe has developed a specialized storage structure which enables it to efficiently hold water within its thick green skin. These features provide a moisturizing gelatinous fiber and juice that can have a health enhancing and healing influence when consumed as a dietary food.

Is It Better Than Raw Garlic? Black garlic has a long history of use as a prized medicinal and culinary superfood in several Asian countries, primarily Korea, Japan and Thailand. Utilized today for its distinct flavor and texture as a gourmet ingredient, it is also becoming popular for its exceptional nutritional value that in some aspects supersedes the raw garlic it was created from. Made from whole unpeeled Allium sativum bulbs, it is allowed to age for a period of time, eventually darkening the bulbs and turning the cloves a dark black licorice-like color.

A Tasty Raw Vegan Bacon Alternative Our coconut bacon bits recipe makes a great topping for salads, meals and is even delicious as a crunchy snack eaten by the handful. It's crispy, salty, smoky-sweet and tastes pretty darn close to bacon, but it's completely vegan and pig friendly! What is coconut bacon? When most websites use the term "coconut bacon" they are most always referring to dried coconut slices or pieces that have been baked with spices. They are not the long traditional shape of bacon strips, but are more like "bacon bits."

An Alternative Natural Sweetener Pure maple syrup is made from the sap extracted from certain species of maple trees primarily growing in the northeastern U.S. and Canada. Tapping maples for this clear sweet liquid is a practice originally acquired from various indigenous woodland tribe's native to these regions. The syrup we are explicitly referring to is 100% pure maple syrup, which is nothing but the boiled sap from the maple tree. Manufacturers use the word "pure" to make the distinction that maple syrup is the only ingredient.

The Andean Gluten-Free Grain Quinoa is a whole grain variety that originated in the Andean highland regions of Peru and Bolivia, where it was utilized as a staple food source by pre-Columbian civilizations. Becoming increasingly popular among a more mainstream audience for its higher protein to lower carbohydrate ratio, it has also taken center stage as one of the top gluten-free grains advocated for those with gluten intolerance, wheat allergies or celiac disease.

Detox Uses as a Periodic Dietary Supplement Activated charcoal is a manufactured form of carbon that has been utilized since the early 1900's as a natural remedy and top universal antidote employed around the world for extreme cases of toxic contamination or gastrointestinal poisoning. Today it is not only a convenient household first aid kit item, but is likewise considered a potent substance to take during periodic cleansing regimes due to its ability to effectively adhere to toxins and chemicals that may accumulate in the body.

A No-Bake Flourless Cake Using Superfoods This is our tried and true carrot cake recipe we commonly make for birthdays or special gatherings. It is a gluten-free flourless cake with no baking required. All you'll need is a food processor for the cake ingredients and a blender for the cashew cream cheese frosting. While eating a raw carrot cake might seem a bit odd at first, rest assured it is not at all as unappetizing as it may sound. This particular recipe, we have perfected over the years, offers the best blend of dense cake-like texture and thick, smooth, sweet cheesy frosting.

Beauty Herb and Sexual Tonic Schizandra berry tea a is a delicious and fruity liquid made with one of the top major Chinese herbs, schizandra berries. Also spelled "schisandra", the fruit has been highly valued since the beginning of Chinese herbalism for its full spectrum of tonifying properties, often prized alongside ginseng, goji and reishi mushroom. Unlike other berries, schizandra is not a fruit you would commonly consume by the handful, but is rather prepared as an energizing and restorative tonic tea or taken in extract form.

A Homemade Soy-Free Alternative This black bean miso paste recipe is an American-style miso or "modern miso", a non-traditional version utilizing black beans as opposed to the customary soybean selection. It is made the same way you would make Asian varieties; you simply substitute black beans instead of soy. This can not only be a preferred option for those trying to avoid soy products, it also tastes absolutely delicious using this legume option. When making a homemade miso paste, is important to know going in that there is a good amount of waiting required.

Raw Vegan Using Superfoods Our vegan key lime pie recipe is a no-bake pie made with non-customary ingredients plus, as always, a few superfood surprises, like moringa powder. In this recipe we use raw vegan "uncooking" methods that are frequently employed when making live food desserts, like cheesecake, pudding and pies. We had to play around a bit with the different ratio of ingredients, but finally got it just right and the recipe below is the end result. While conventional key lime pie is similar to lemon meringue pie, ours is more like a cross between a custard and a cheesecake.

Its Benefits Over Other Varieties The use of apple cider vinegar has deep roots in American history and was once a popular homemade ferment created from hard apple cider. Often claimed to be the age-old remedy elixir prescribed by Hippocrates himself, "the father of modern-day medicine", its cultured use can be found worldwide wherever apple trees are abundant. But, what exactly is it and why is it more beneficial than other types of vinegar?

The Ayurvedic Dopamine Bean Mucuna pruriens is a well-known Ayurvedic herb used extensively in one of the oldest health care systems in the world, the traditional Indian medicine of Ayurveda. As a highly valued rasayana or rejuvenating plant-based substance, it is acknowledged for its potential as both an aphrodisiac and nervine tonic. It has likewise been utilized therapeutically for centuries to provide balance to reproductive and nervous system functions. Sometimes referred to as the "dopamine bean", it is also valued as a high-yielding source of L-DOPA or levodopa, a precursor to the mood-uplifting neurotransmitter dopamine.

Our Top Favorite Plus Other Best-Selling Models What is a vegetable spiralizer? Most health-conscious chefs today have heard of these very handy and inexpensive specialized slicers that, with some hand cranking involved, can basically create gluten-free, vegan, low-carb pasta-like noodles. Whether you're looking for creative, colorful and/or nutritious ways to add more vegetables into your diet or trying to eliminate refined grains, a vegetable spiralizer can be a simple way to add flair and texture to your meals. Learn about some of the top-rated brands as well as our own personal favorite vegetable spiralizer model.

A Weed or Nutritious Superfood? Wild dandelion greens are the young or mature leaves of the dandelion plant, probably one of the most famous wild edible foods known worldwide. Often considered by gardeners or lawn owners alike to be a type of troublesome "weed", to the typical herbalist or forager dandelions are viewed as a highly nutritious food source and medicinal herb. Growing in abundance in spring and fall seasons, learn more about their benefits and how to safely identify and harvest your own.

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Why They Can Be A Healthier Choice Date fruits from date palms are one of the oldest cultivated food crops, dating back to ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, regions historically referred to as the "early cradles of civilization". One of the rare "fruits of the desert", date palms are a symbolic icon of paradise or the "Garden of Eden", representing growth, vitality and abundance. Dates are also hardened, usually via dehydration methods, ground and sold as a "date sugar" available as a natural sugar substitute for use in various foods and drinks.

Our Review Plus Nutritional Benefits Tiger nuts, also called earth almonds or chufa, are a relatively new and trendy food recently introduced on a larger scale to worldwide health food enthusiasts in 2013. Claimed to be a wild foraged food source gathered by Paranthropus boisei or the "nutcracker man", the early ancestor of modern-day humans, they are frequently marketed as a "paleo" food. Evidence also suggests that they were a popular crop cultivated in ancient Egypt thousands of years ago. Although they are grown and have naturalized to moderate climates around the globe, the nuts are native to the Eastern hemisphere, mainly Africa, the Middle East, India, Madagascar and Mediterranean countries in Southern Europe.

Using Organic Fo-ti Root Learning how to make a tincture is a fairly simply process that doesn't require a whole lot of skill or fancy equipment. In this recipe we'll show you the basics when preparing tinctures from herbal roots. In this case, we utilize one of our often-made favorites that we always like to have on hand in large quantities, our fo-ti root tincture! Tinctures are a very convenient and therapeutically effective way to take herbs. They are very potent, usually more so than teas or tablets, and are readily available for dropping into drinks, teas or just plain water.

A Mineral-Rich Table Salt Alternative Pink Himalayan salt is a natural salt that has only recently gained popularity among health-conscious consumers in the last 15 years. Also referred to by the names pink salt, Himalayan crystal salt and occasionally Himalayan sea salt, it is primarily used as a table salt alternative. Like little "mini crystals", it is known to contain a rich source of trace minerals that exist within a unique crystalline form. Shades may vary from rosy salmon-colored pinks to sheer white or translucent, with darker pigments usually indicative of its mineral concentration and iron content.

A Dehydrated Recipe Using Fo-ti and Fresh Ginger A good raw gingerbread cookies recipe in your arsenal of healthy holiday treats is a nice thing to have when you want to splurge and celebrate this traditional food-feasting time of year. And, just because you want to try to maintain good dietary practices that won't cause weight gain, fatigue or digestive issues, doesn't mean you can't enjoy customary dessert or food alternatives. Most all Thanksgiving, Xmas, or other cultural-specific recipes have their healthier substitutes. This recipe is our raw vegan version of the gingerbread cookie, a common treat served at Christmas in the U.S.

Potential for Enhanced Exercise Performance Beetroot juice is a concentrated vibrant magenta colored liquid that has in the last several decades been shown to have numerous health-enhancing properties particularly beneficial to athletes as well as aerobic workouts. Today it is often sold commercially as a sports drink or performance boosting energy supplement for this reason. Studied in recent years for its positive effects on the cardiovascular or circulatory system, red beetroot is known to be one of the richest sources of naturally occurring nitrates as well as betaines and other antioxidants like the betalain pigments, particularly betacyanin and betanin which give beets their deep red-purple color.