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[Veginners] 3 Secret Ingredients to step up your Vegan Cooking

3 Secret Ingredients to step up your Vegan Cooking |

This post is for all of you, who either have been vegan for only a short amount of time, aren’t vegan at all but interested in vegan cooking, or just people looking to change things up in the kitchen. I’ve included my favorite secret ingredients that I use in the kitchen to make food taste awesome: Kala Namak, Liquid Smoke and Nutritional Yeast.

The hardest part, when I went vegan about 4 years ago, was probably getting a knowledge about which ingredients were safe to use (so many hidden un-vegan ingredients in products you wouldn’t expect them!) and which ingredients I could swap for vegan ones, but after weeks, months and years of acquainting oneself with vegan cooking you’ll get a feeling about which key ingredients you can use to make food taste like you remember it.

Kala Namak

Kala Namak |

What is Kala Namak?

Kala Namak is a Himalayan Black Salt, in its rock-form it’s violet to black, when ground it’s pink in color. Due to its high sulfur content, it’s perfect for all dishes that profit from an “eggy” taste and smell.

What to use Kala Namak for?

Kala Namak is perfect for tofu scramble, chickpea omelets and „eggy“ spaetzle.

Liquid Smoke

Liquid Smoke |

What is Liquid Smoke?

Liquid Smoke is, as the name suggests, a liquid with a smoky flavor. It’s very intense, so you’ll only need a small amount for each dish. Tofu, tempeh or soy meats can all benefit from a smoky flavor when marinated or seasoned with Liquid Smoke.

What to use Liquid Smoke for?

Marinate or season with Liquid Smoke all things that could benefit from a smoky flavor. I love to use it on tempeh (either for little tempeh bits for pizza or tempeh strips for soup) and soy granule (for a „meaty“ tomato sauce for Spaghetti Bolognese, Lasagne or as a dip).

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional Yeast |

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast and can be bought in the form of powder or flakes. Nutritional yeast, or as it is often called nooch, is very popular among vegans because of the cheesy flavor. Nooch is a great source for vitamin B, some brands are even fortified with vitamin B12 which makes it perfect for vegans! We, at Veginners, love Nooch and even have written a post about how to calm your cheese cravings with nutritional yeast in the past.

What to use Nutritional Yeast for?

All things cheesy! E.g. vegan parmesan made out of cashews, a vegan cheese sauce that’s perfect for pizza and lasagne or cheesy crackers.

Do you know and use all of these key ingredients? Can you think of any other important ingredients that shouldn’t be missed in a vegan kitchen? Let me know in the comments!

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Sunday 21st of January 2018

How small do animals have to be? I remember yeast not being vegetarian in the 1980s, because yeast are microorganism. There are insects in things like peanut butter and preservatives guaranteed. Is it like a Muslim thing, if you don't know, it doesn't matter? No criticism, Just wondering.


Monday 22nd of January 2018

Hi Jens, good question! Veganism is all about avoiding animal abuse and suffering. It's more about trying our best, because there's is no 100% perfect vegan because even driving a car leads to many little insects getting caught on the front of the car.

Regarding the yeast: "One obvious reason vegans do indeed eat all kinds of yeast is that there is no spinal chord (or muscular tissue, for that matter) and no central nervous system. Simply put, no central nervous system in yeast means there's no demonstrated scientific capacity to experience pain, nor to register anything as pain, and that's what makes yeast different from cows.

That and yeast is technically a fungus. Like mushrooms." (Source: The Spruce)

Tricia Stout

Wednesday 5th of October 2016

You can usually find liquid smoke in any grocery store. It's been a staple since I was a kid and we always got it at any regular store.☺ I grew up in Northern California but have purchased it in Missouri and North Dakota.


Tuesday 11th of October 2016

Ohh that's good to know, Tricia, thanks! I wish we had them in the stores in Europe, too! It would make things so much easier :)


Wednesday 27th of April 2016

I love all of these things, but especially liquid smoke. It is magic!


Friday 29th of April 2016

True that! I ran out of liquid smoke and don't know what to do with my life :D Gotta order it sooooon.

Natalie | Feasting on Fruit

Wednesday 27th of April 2016

I am sad to say I've only tried 1 of the 3! :o I really need to step up my savory game, liquid smoke has been on my list to try for forever. Can you find it at normal grocery stores? P.S. I love the way you photographed them :)


Friday 29th of April 2016

Nooooo! Shame on you :D Hahahaa. Liquid smoke is great! We don't have it at normal grocery stores, though. I always have to order it online. I actually ran out a couple of days ago and it's terrible.. I miss it so much already. :D We do have an extremely smoky salt too, but I don't even dare opening the jar because it smells like the whole apartment burnt down. Some people use smoky whiskey to give sauces, especially BBQ sauces, a smoky flavor - I have yet to try that. We do have a whiskey at home, which I don't like, so I better make a sauce with it :D Thank you, Natalie <3

Rebecca Strength and Sunshine

Tuesday 26th of April 2016

I need the salt! In the mean time I'll keep nooching it up :)


Friday 29th of April 2016

Yes, you do :) It was so weird when I first tasted the salt because I was not used to that eggy taste at all. But now I couldn't live without it. Has been a staple ever since.