Finding good tasting and good-for-you Vegan foods

Written by Guest post on Wednesday, 07 February 2018.
Tagged: health, healthy eating, healthy lifestyle, nutrition, vegan

Finding good tasting and good-for-you Vegan foods

When I was advised to cut out dairy for while to alleviate a chronic sinus problem it was a real challenge! Being a lover all things dairy, I wanted to find healthy substitutes for my usual butter, cheese and milk. I decide to check out the Vegan aisle of the health food store. Take a look at what I found.

When I first looked at Vegan foods, I wasn’t greatly impressed by some of them. They seemed to rely heavily on soy, flavours and other additives that I really didn’t fancy adding to my diet. Then I came across these four Australian-made products that I really liked and that were healthier than the general run-of-the-mill Vegan offerings. Here’s what I found that worked for me.

1. Organic Coco Quench Coconut Milk

CocoQuench2This is styled as a “Delicious Non-dairy Coconut beverage”. I have used it in tea (not so great), coffee (not bad at all) and with cereal (really quite nice).

Many of the alternative milks, or mylks as some style them, have a long list of ingredients that include gums and added sugar. Not this one!

Coco Quench has only four ingredients: filtered water, organic coconut milk (20 per cent),  organic brown rice and sea salt. The latter provides 55 mg sodium per 100 mL which is really really low.

I have also used CocoQuench to make coconut milk kefir and instead of milk to make pancakes and semolina. It worked fine in all of them.

2. Botanical Cuisine Vegan Cultured Butter

CulturedButter in jarThis is a low FODMAP food for those of you sticking to a low FODMAP diet. It is certified organic and describes itself as “Enzyme rich, nutrient dense, fermented raw plant based food. Gluten and dairy free”. It has nine ingredients: olive oil, coconut oil, activated raw macadamias, activated raw cashews, turmeric powder, spring water, pink lake salt, citrus fibre and culture. The salt content provides 62mg sodium per 100g though as you’re only going to be using a scrape or two it’s not going to make much difference.

I like the flavour of this spread. It’s oily enough not to make your toast soggy, slightly salty like butter and melts nicely on hot veges or toast.

VeganButter

3. Botanical Cuisine Persian Style Macadamia Feta

FetainJar

This is a favourite. It is certified organic raw vegan produce and I actually prefer it to ordinary Feta though it is a little pricey. However, my favourite goat milk Feta is pricey too.

The listed ingredients are: activated raw macadamias (50 per cent), activated raw cashews, spring water, coconut oil, olive oil, pink lake salt, black peppercorns, thyme and culture (organic).

The salt content will give you 573mg sodium per 100mL which is high as expected.

Other Botanical Cuisine products

CollageOne thing I do like about the Botanical Cuisine products is that they come in re-usable/ recyclable glass jars instead of plastic tubs. Botanical Cuisine make a range of vegan products, not all of them dairy substitutes, and if you check out your local organic store or health food shop, you may spy such goodies as Japanese Fermented Slaw and Vegan Might (similar to Vegemite and similar yeast spreads but nicer, in my view).

4. Nakula Harvest Coconut Yoghurt

I tried several coconut yoghurts and ended up throwing them out as I found them unpleasant. Nakula, which I found in Woolworths, comes in the flavours of Passionfruit, Mixed Berries, Mango and Plain. I didn’t like the last two but found the Mixed Berries and Passionfruit varieties quite nice and a reasonable substitute to have with my morning muesli. What's more they donate money from the sale of their products to provide drinking water to schools and orphanges in Asia.

Nakula

Ingredients for the Passionfruit variety are: Coconut (79 per cent), Passionfruit Puree (15 percent), native starch, dextrose and cultures.

In case you’re wondering what native starch is, I called and asked. It’s cornflour. Being coconut, most of the 10.7 per cent fat content is saturated, quite a bit more than milk yoghurts. However, on the plus side, the sodium content is 26mg per 100mL which is less than half that in most milk yogurts and the sugars are only 6.4 per cent which is between a half and a third of that in normal yoghurts. But it doesn’t have stabilisers, emulsifiers, flavours or colours added. So, nutritionally it’s a case of swings and roundabouts – you take your pick!

The bottom line

Whether you are a committed vegan or have to swear off eggs or dairy for a period of time for health reasons, it really pays to shop around.

You don't have to accept those vegan foods that are not healthy. The foods listed above are tasty, reasonably healthy and are made in Australia. 

Written by Munaiba Khan, retired naturopath with an interest in nutrition.