Sometimes you may encounter an ingredient or technique with which you’re not totally familiar. If you’re wondering, then you’ve come to the right place! Below are some of the answers.

Achiote seed (annatto seed)

  • In a nutshell: small, red seeds cultivated in the tropical Americas
  • Useful for: making things yellow, orange or red (depending on how much is used)

Arrowroot powder

  • In a nutshell: the powdered root of the arrow. Just kidding! It’s the dried and powdered tuber of the arrowroot.
  • Useful for: thickening things when you don’t want to change the flavor as much as cornstarch does

Curry powder

  • In a nutshell: an Indian spice mix heavy on the turmeric
  • Useful for: spicing up everything from curries to mashed potatoes to french fries to mayo-based salads

Garam masala (recipe)

  • In a nutshell: another Indian spice mix that means ‘hot mix of things’ (hot as in able to withstand high heat)
  • Useful for: adding the finishing touches to any Indian dish

Earth Balance

  • In a nutshell: vegan butter
  • Useful for: everything—so much so that most vegan recipes (not just mine) don’t even bother to keep it generic, they just call for Earth Balance


  • In a nutshell: delicious little legumes that pack a protein and fibre one-two punch
  • Useful for: low-maintenance recipes, salads, and answering the question ‘where do you get your protein?’


  • In a nutshell: Japanese fermented paste, usually either rice- and/or soy-based
  • Useful for: upping the umami in any recipe, vegan cheese sauces, dressings

Nutritional yeast (nutch)

  • In a nutshell: large flakes of deactivated yeast
  • Useful for: making anything taste cheesy, thickening vegan cheese sauces, pretend Parmesan

Seitan (recipe)

  • In a nutshell: vital wheat gluten—what remains of bread dough if you rinse away all the starch
  • Useful for: mock chicken or beef in soups, stews, sandwiches, salads, etc. (particularly in Vegan Buffalo Seitan Wings)


  • In a nutshell: another member of the Allium genus (along with onions, garlic, and leeks)
  • Useful for: replacing raw onion, which many find too pungent (especially those who have close conversations shortly after consumption); mincing into dressings and sauces


  • In a nutshell: from the Hebrew טחינה (t’hee-nah), a paste made from ground sesame seeds
  • Useful for: making hummus, vegan cheese sauces and dressings, imparting a mild nutty flavour


  • In a nutshell: tofu is to soy milk what cheese is to cow milk
  • Useful for: replacing eggs (use silken), mashing into a Tofurkey Recipe, cubing and frying for use in a curry, baking for use in sandwiches and entrées

Vegan sugar

  • In a nutshell: sugar cane processed without the use of animal bone char
  • Useful for: sweetening things


  • In a nutshell: fermented (way fermented) fruit juices
  • Useful for: flavouring things—have multiple kinds on hand (apple cider, balsamic, white wine, red wine, champagne, sherry, rice, white, etc.)
Did I miss something?

  • Mitch Kohan

    Had no idea about sugar!

  • LMD18

    I can promise you if you call nutritional yeast “nutch,” nobody is going to know what you’re talking about. If you say “nooch” in a vegan forum, on the other hand, 90% of everyone there will know exactly what you mean.