If you’re giving up meat, fish and dairy for Veganuary you want to be sure that you’re getting all the food groups, especially if you need to get meals on the table fast.
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables goes without saying, but what about the other food groups to ensure a balanced diet.
I visited north west London supermarket, Kosher Kingdom, with nutritionist Laura Southern who shared her 15 most healthy vegan picks:
1. Auga soups:
Great for a quick, healthy meal — especially in the cold winter months — Laura gave this range of chilled soups a nod for being organic and containing minimal additional ingredients. Nothing you wouldn’t use in your own kitchen.
If you want to make your own speedy soup – try Victoria Prever’s Superfast pea soup – leave out the crème fraiche or use vegan pesto instead.
2. Shneiders 1 Minute Chef - cooked grains:
She is a huge fan of products like this for a convenient lunch — hot or cold. You just need to add chopped veggies — raw or cooked. The range includes tabbouleh with rice and quinoa; fusilli pasta and Lebanese-style mujaddra which is spiced lentils, rice and onion.
For a quick grain-based salad try Lisa Roukin’s Mushroom bean and quinoa salad.
These are really useful for protein and fibre and make easy tasty lunch foods. Again — look for short ingredient lists — Laura gave a thumbs up to the Gosh brand. Her rule of thumb when looking at ingredients is the shorter the better plus, if it would be more at home in a chemistry lab than in your kitchen it doesn’t belong in your lunch.
If you’re eating vegan, you’re missing out on protein from meat, fish and dairy. Get this from beans, pulses, nuts and seeds. So, Laura made a bee line for the chickpeas and beans — you can roast them, make falafel and hummus and add them to salads. Tinned are super quick to use if you’re not a planner, but they’re even better value if you buy them dried and soak overnight before cooking.
Roasted chickpeas make a fabulous Fattoush salad — find a recipe here.
5. Ines Rosales crackers:
Biscuits are often made with butter, but these are made with olive oil. Admittedly more cracker than biscuit, but some flavours are sweet, and they only contain real ingredients. At between £2.69 and £3.69 for only four large crackers, these aren’t cheap BUT they taste delicious.
(Editor’s note: I picked up the cinnamon and the rosemary and thyme flavours — both were great. Each biscuit is individually wrapped which ups the luxe factor even further.)
6. Eat Real chips:
Laura acknowledges that we’re going to snack and says these are great because they’ll give you added protein. She was impressed with the short ingredients list on this range. Laura warned to read the packets when buying crisp-style snacks — even the popped corn versions — to check for e-numbers and additives.
7. Full Green Riced vegetables:
This range also got a huge thumbs up as a great addition to your store cupboard for fast, healthy meals. Mix it with grains or pasta to make it heartier. It gives you an extra vegetable and increases variety. They also make a broccoli/cauliflower mix or sweet potato version. (And yes you can make your own – which is more cost effective but it’s messy and this can be on your plate in minutes, so worth it for speedy meals.)
Look out for Victoria Prevers’s Cauliflower tabbouleh recipe – use a couple of packs of the Full Green cauliflower rice to replace one cauliflower.
8. Finn Crisp Multigrain thin crispbread:
The rectangular version contains fewer additives than the round crackers so best to stick to them. A great addition to your lunch table as they also contain plenty of fibre.
9. Maya Date Spread and Taamei Hagalil Date Syrup:
If you want something sweet to spread on your crackers this spread contains nothing but dates and the same goes for the date syrup above, which is delicious mixed with tahini on toast or crackers and also neat, drizzled over plant-based yoghurt.
Another great use of the date syrup (silan) is in this Caramelised walnut and Brussels sprout salad from Denise Phillips or mix your silan with an equal quantity of tahini for a delicious spread for those Finn Crisp crackers.
10. King Soba Miso Soup
Laura said she’s a big fan of miso soup — which is great for gut health. Buy it ready-to-go in these handy cartons or stock up on jars of miso paste to mix with hot water for a speedy, savoury hot drink. This delicious miso soup recipe with mushrooms and tofu is the work of minutes.
11. Antipastis and salads
There was a great variety ranging from grilled fresh peppers and matbucha from Manna deli and various jarred salads from Ayelet’s to jars of sun-dried tomatoes, bruschetta toppings, pickles and vegan pesto. Laura loves these for quick, healthy meals as they provide huge variety, can be stored in the fridge and make everything taste good. Prices vary, but you don’t always need a huge amount for a big flavour impact, so one jar can last a while.
12. Plant-based milk
You’ll need to replace your dairy milk with a plant-based alternative. Laura’s advice is to give a swerve to any containing gums, e-numbers and thickeners and pick ones containing only natural ingredients which might include water, sunflower oil or rice. She gave a thumbs up to the Rude Health brand and Terrapane brands.
This is a vegan must and another source of protein. Mix with lemon juice and water for a salad drizzle or to slather over your falafel in pita. Or use in sweet bakes. Find plenty of recipes and everything you need to know on buying and storing this nutty-tasting treat in this Tahini 101.
Another great source of protein and a product Laura recommends, saying that Veganuary is a great time to try new flavours and expand the cuisines you’re cooking. Use it for tasty, filling and healthy dishes like this crisp tofu with butterbean hummus and cumin flatbread from Denise Phillips.
15. Whole Earth and Meridian nut butters:
Nut butters are a must for anyone doing Veganuary. But — guess what — check the label as some brands contain many not so healthy ingredients. Look for ones with 100% nuts. Great for making your own healthy, refined sugar-free snacks like Fabienne Viner-Luzzato’s fruit and nut butter balls.