4 Fun Foods People Don’t Always Know About Before They Go Plant-Based
#3: Cauliflower milk. Just kidding! There is no cauliflower milk. (Hopefully.)
“Kale Yeah I’m Vegan.” So says a T-shirt you’ll find on Cafepress.
Another reads, “I want tofu.” (Don’t think about that one too hard.)
It’s true, certain foods get associated with vegans — quinoa and nutritional yeast too — although they are enjoyed by people of all dietary affiliations.
When people do go plant-based, they may fear giving up their favorite flavors and textures. Cheese is said to be the hardest (if you’re not a quesophobe like me). But the flip side is you often discover countless new delicacies.
Here are 4 foods I never ate growing up until I discovered them on my meatless path.
1. Nice cream (made with frozen bananas)
I now have the perfect excuse to eat ice cream for breakfast! I find that fruit digests best for me on an empty stomach, and it always puts me in such a great mood.
Most recently, I improvised this carrot cake “nice cream” recipe:
- Frozen bananas (peeled and frozen after they got brown spots)
- Frozen plantains (peeled and frozen after they turned black)
- Fresh chopped carrots
- Pumpkin pie spice
This I blended with water, then froze. You can also use an ice cream maker like Yonanas for instant soft-serve!
“Replica” vegan products taste close to the original. Then there are foods like nice cream that are loosely inspired by an original but that are (in my mind) even better. I personally stopped caring for store-bought vegan ice creams. I’m too in love with my salt-free, no-added-sugar kind made from bananas!
2. Tempeh (arguably 10x better than tofu)
Tempeh… isn’t that a college town in Arizona?
No, you’re thinking of Tempe. Tempeh is tofu’s lesser known Indonesian sibling. It’s fermented soy that’s compacted to a firm consistency and it tastes nutty or earthy. You can prepare it like bacon, sloppy joes, breaded meat, taco meat, chicken tenders… basically rediscover all your favorite meats with a tempeh twist!
If you don’t want to eff with tofu, give tempeh a chance. I do love tofu myself (and seitan, which is wheat-derived), but tempeh takes the cake!
3. Aquafaba (infusion of chickpea)
Aquafaba is very fun because it’s one of those “reduce, reuse, recycle” food hacks. The next time you cook garbanzo beans or use some canned chickpeas, save the liquid!
This “garbanzo juice” might as well be a potion ingredient from Harry Potter. Whip it with cream of tartar (just as you would with eggs), and you get a rich foam that will fluff up your baking big-time!
Check out America’s Test Kitchen for how to use aquafaba for best results.
4. Durian (a fruit that reeks to high heaven and will try to kill you)
Sweaty gym socks. Turpentine. Pig poop. The smell of durian has been compared to all of these things.
“Libel!” I want to exclaim. How dare they trash-talk the king of fruits. Yet I will admit it smells like rotten onions. It also looks like it wants to murder you because it’s giant and covered in sharp spikes that can draw blood.
Yes, this is the fruit banned from Singapore subways. The fumes would nauseate too many passengers otherwise. But to some, durian is Heaven on Earth. I was introduced by vegans at a fruit party. Cutting carefully, we enjoyed the custardy goodness within.
The crazy thing is I only ever had it plain. This funky, unique fruit makes for equally one-of-a-kind dishes. The Wikipedia page illustrates durian’s use in just about everything — sauces, candies, chips, cakes, crepes, and gelato. Check out this durian-flavored Yule log. The icing is true to the fruit’s distinctive yellow color.
A few more:
A grain common to Asia and Africa that personally reminds me of scrambled eggs.
6. Hemp seeds
7. Cashew yogurt
Quinoa milk. Hazelnut cheese. Coconut kefir. The non-dairy options are endless these days. Forager has a line of cashewmilk yogurt that I still have yet to try. I’ll have to take nameless Amazon Customer’s word for it:
I absolutely love yogurt, so when I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance I was devastated. I have searched for years to find a decent plant-based yogurt. As soon as I tasted Forager the first time, I knew my search had come to an end. It’s so creamy and flavorful. It is delicious on all my favorite Turkish foods, and I no longer feel as if I’m missing out. I have told all of my vegan and lactose-intolerant friends about Forager yogurt and all their other products. It is amazing!
Does anyone else binge-read random 5-star reviews to feel better when you are sad and lonely, or is just me? Only joking — I haven’t tried that technique yet, but now I will.
Last but not least, the one you’ve all been waiting for… cauliflower milk. It may not be real, but it sure made for a funny April Fool’s joke!
Enjoy your plant food adventures, everyone! As a bonus, be sure to try rutabaga and rainbow chard for me. Such underrated vegetables!