Vegan Food: What to Eat for Dinner? Key Ingredients
Vegan food goes far beyond stereotypes of salads and tofu. It’s a diverse, delicious and nutritious culinary universe that meets all dietary needs and offers a multitude of flavours to explore. In this article, we will focus on some key ingredients and how to incorporate them into your vegan dinners.
Legumes: Nutrients in small packages
Legumes are small nutritional treasures that stand out in vegan food. Chickpeas, lentils, beans, peas and broad beans are all members of this family that are packed with proteins, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Chickpeas are especially versatile in vegan food, able to be turned into hummus, falafels, soups, stews and much more. Lentils, on the other hand, form the base of many soups and stews, and black beans are essential in Latin American cuisine, making their way into tacos, burritos and meatless chilli.
Soy and its derivatives: A world of textures and flavours
Soy is the base of many essential foods in vegan food, from tofu to tempeh, through to soy milk and soy sauce.
Tofu is famous for its variable texture and its ability to absorb flavours. It can be used in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries and soups to lasagnas and salads. Tempeh, with its firmer texture and more pronounced savour, is ideal for barbecues and stews.
Cereals: Energy and satisfaction
Cereals, such as brown rice, quinoa, bulgur and oats, are important sources of complex carbohydrates in vegan food. They provide energy and a feeling of satisfaction, in addition to being rich in fibre and minerals.
Quinoa, in particular, is notable for being a “complete grain”, which means it contains the nine essential amino acids that our body needs. It can be the base of salads, pilafs, and even be used to make vegan burgers.
Fruits and Vegetables: Colours and Vitamins
Fruits and vegetables are the heart of vegan food, bringing a burst of colours, flavours, textures and nutrients to our plates.
Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K, as well as iron and calcium. They can be used in salads, smoothies, stews and pastas.
Fruits, in addition to being delicious on their own or in desserts, can also add a touch of sweetness to savoury dishes. For example, apples or grapes can add an interesting dimension to a vegetable salad, and citrus fruits can balance the richness of a dish with their acidity.
Nuts and Seeds: Proteins and Healthy Fats
Nuts and seeds are valuable sources of proteins, healthy fats and various minerals in the vegan diet. Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, among others, are excellent incorporated in granolas, mueslis, breads, salads or as stand-alone snacks.
Oils and Condiments: Flavour and Nutrition
Oils, like olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil, are an important source of healthy fats in vegan food. They are used for cooking, baking and dressing dishes.
Condiments are also essential for adding flavour and complexity to our dishes. Tamari or soy sauce, mustard, balsamic vinegar, tahini, among others, can completely transform a dish with just a few drops.
Tips for a Successful Vegan Dinner
Plan your dinner in advance. This can help you ensure that you are getting a balanced and satisfying meal. Think about your proteins, your carbohydrates and your vegetables. How can you combine them in a way that is tasty and nutritious?
Don’t be afraid of spices. Spices can do wonders to elevate the flavours of your foods and make your dinner really exciting.
The Art of Preparation
One of the most rewarding aspects of vegan food is the preparation. Cooking can be a form of relaxation and meditation. You have the opportunity to experiment with ingredients, flavours and techniques, creating dishes that are not only nutritious but also an expression of your creativity.
For example, you can experiment with different ways of preparing your vegetables: roasting them can intensify their sweetness, sautéing them can enhance their flavour and boiling them can make them tenderly satisfying. You can play with spices and herbs to create different flavour profiles: spicy, sweet, bitter, acidic, salty and umami.
Recipes to try these ingredients in
Now, you have more information about the main ingredients of vegan food, so it is time to surprise your family, friends or partner with a delicious dinner based on products that do not have animal origin. Here, there are some recipe ideas that you will succeed with.
Quinoa and Avocado Salad
For a quick and fresh dinner, try a quinoa and avocado salad. Simply cook the quinoa according to the package instructions, and then mix it with cubed avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and any other vegetable you like. Add a dressing of olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, and you’ll have a healthy and satisfying dinner in minutes.
Tofu and Vegetable Stir-fry
For a protein-rich dinner full of flavour, consider a tofu and vegetable stir-fry. Start by pressing the tofu to remove excess water, and then cut it into cubes. Sauté the tofu in a bit of sesame oil until it’s golden, then add your favourite vegetables: broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, whatever you like. Add soy sauce or tamari, garlic and ginger for flavour, and serve over brown rice or buckwheat noodles.
Pasta with Walnut and Spinach Sauce
For a comforting and nutritious dinner, try pasta with a walnut and spinach sauce. Cook your preferred pasta according to the package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce by blending walnuts, fresh spinach, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Mix the sauce with the cooked pasta, and you’ll have a delicious and protein-rich dinner in less than 30 minutes.
Lentil and Coconut Curry
For a flavourful and nutrient-packed dinner, consider a lentil and coconut curry. Sauté onion, garlic and ginger until they’re soft, then add your favourite spices: turmeric, cumin, coriander, whatever you prefer. Add red lentils, vegetable broth and coconut milk, and let simmer until the lentils are tender. Serve with basmati rice for a satisfying and comforting dinner.