Our Favorite Things Part 2 – Ingredients

As promised, here is part two of what we find important or use often in the kitchen.  We know that we use some pretty funky-sounding ingredients and want you to know more about them so that you can use them too!

If you missed part one, Kitchen Gadgets, check it out!

Nutritional Yeast

Delicious and good for you, Nutritional Yeast packs a good amount of protein into a small serving, as well as is usually fortified with B12 (which is an essential vitamin for vegan health).

We use this at almost every meal because it can turn a lot of dishes into stunners! It has somewhat of a cheesy taste and can be sprinkled on salads, in marinades, soups or pretty much anything.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a good source of omega 3’s, fiber, protein, antioxidants and calcium. We use them in baking, to make a chia pudding, or to add volume to our morning oats. They soak up to 10 times their weight in liquid and can be used as an egg substitute in baking.  Additionally, since they soak up so much liquid, we’ve read that it is a good source of hydration (in the soaked state).

Be creative with your chia! We like to mix ours with 1 part chia: 5 parts liquid (almond milk tastes good) and throw in some vanilla extract and add spices such as cinnamon to make a ‘pudding’.  Other options include mixing the milk with pumpkin and a little sweetener before soaking the seeds to make a pumpkin ‘pudding’, or using cocoa/carob powder to create a chocolate one.  If you attempt one of the above ideas, mix the chia and liquid/ingredients and let it sit for about 5 minutes before mixing again. Mix it again after about ten minutes and let it sit overnight to have it fully soak up the liquid and flavor.

Non-Dairy Milk

Our favorite milk is Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk (in the refrigerator section). In our opinion, it tastes like melted ice cream and is great in cereal or baking or when used in soaking chia seeds.  While it does not have much protein (as most almond milk varieties don’t), we usually drink it more to enjoy the flavor.  In fact, because Elysia does not have a Trader Joe’s close to her, she fills up her shopping cart when she comes home!

Other milk options include Soy, Coconut (canned or drinking varieties), Hemp, and Rice milks. You can usually substitute soy at any coffee place for regular milk in your favorite latte and more and more places are offering other varieties as well.  You can usually get unsweetened varieties of each kind and many have chocolate or seasonal flavors as well (ex. soy/rice/coconut – nog).  Canned coconut milk can be used to make vegan whipped cream or to make soups creamier.

While we haven’t tried making homemade milk yet, it is on our list of things to make!

Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are a good source of fiber and Omega-3’s (which many people don’t get enough of) and are a healthy addition to your morning cereal, oatmeal, or non-dairy yogurt.  However, they must be ground in order for your body to absorb their nutrients. You can buy ground flax or grind it yourself in a coffee maker!

Stir one tablespoon of ground flax seeds into 3 tablespoons of warm water and let it sit until gelatinous to equate to one egg in baking. If you don’t have flax, click here for other ideas.

Note: Flax in its ground state does not last very long and we have read that you should keep it in your refrigerator/freezer to prolong its lifespan.


Garlic Salt, an Italian Seasoning blend, Onion Powder and Garlic Powder are among our favorites.  Add these and some Nutritional Yeast to a ‘buttered’ piece of bread and pop it under the broiler for a couple of minutes (don’t forget it there though!) and you have a deliciously ‘cheesy’ garlic toast. We also like to add these to tomatoes before roasting them in the oven, to tortillas/flat bread before putting it in our Panini press, and a whole host of things to up the taste.

Other spices that we enjoy include cinnamon, caraway, Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Grinder, and more. We do tend to use the same things over and over again so are trying to branch out a little in the spice world.  What do you like best?


While we don’t use cheese-alternatives often, Daiya has been our favorite choice thus-far. It is good for topping pizza, in a grilled cheese sandwich or wherever else you’d use cheese.

Teese‘ Cheese from the Chicago Soy Dairy is also pretty good and we’ve had their sauce at a Vegetarian festival over macaroni (although we’ve yet to see the sauce version around here).


Organic Garden Veggie Tempeh

As you’ve seen from several of our recipes (Tempeh Sliders, Maple PB Tempeh Lavash, Tempeh Pot Pie…), tempeh is a staple in our diet. It is made from soybeans and is an excellent source of vegan protein. Steaming it for about 10-12 minutes before use takes our any bitterness that may exist and also helps it to soak up the flavor of any marinade.


Crumble tempeh as a replacement in taco ‘meat’ (our favorite is to use Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning and make the recipe on the package – we use two 8 oz. packages to replace a pound of hamburger), or use your favorite marinade and let it soak for a couple of hours and enjoy it as is or on a sandwich.


Note: Unlike usual, we did not take the pictures in this post and have linked each to its original origin.

What ingredients are a must in your kitchen?