Base Recipes: Meat & Dairy Substitutes Plus Much More

Nothing will save more off your shopping list than being able to make your own veggie meat and dairy products.  And despite how wonderful it is to have so many vegan options widely available in stores these days, I haven’t yet found any dairy replacement that tastes anywhere near as good as homemade.

Meat substitutes


Seitan: the king of vegan proteins

Delicious, versatile, healthy, cheap and easy, seitan aka gluten/wheat meat is by far my favourite meat replacement. We use it for everything from kfc to spag bol.

Full instructions here: Seitan



Stereotypically bland and rubbery straight from the pack, properly prepared tofu is an entirely different beast. Crunchy or moist, chewy or silky, savoury or sweet, tofu can become anything you want it to. Here’s my favourite recipes featuring it.



To come: patties, legumes, jackfruit, sausages


Vegan Dairy


Nooch: put this shit in everything 

Nooch – nutritional yeast – is a wondrous ingredient with a cheesy, nutty, creamy flavour which makes it a key ingredient in most vegan cheeses, awesome in dips and sauces, and sprinkled over any meal. Packed with complete protein and vitamins, and usually fortified with B12, it deserves pride of place in any budget kitchen.


Parmesan Sprinkle

Even better than nooch alone is this substitute for powdered parmesan. The nuts add creamy richness and everything’s better with garlic 😉

Add 1 cup of cashews – raw or roasted – to a food processor with 1/2 cup of nooch, 2tsp of garlic powder and 1tsp salt. Blitz until the cashews are powdered but not ground into butter. Done. Play around and adjust to suit your taste – smoked paprika, onion powder, cayenne, salt and pepper go very well in it.

Store in a jar in the pantry and sprinkle on everything.


Nacho Cheese

This recipe for gooey, stretchy nacho cheese is perfect for so many uses. I’ve been making a double batch for the week then slathering it on everything from curries to sandwiches. Following recipe will give you a thick, stretchy cheese that sets to the consistency of ripe avocado. Add an extra cup of water and it’s an almost-pourable sauce when cold, or add a teaspoon of agar agar and it firms up to almost the texture of processed dairy cheese, for slicing onto sambos. has many other great recipes to try out, including hard cheeses and cream cheese balls.


Magic Potato-Carrot Cheese

Definitely the cheesiest-tasting vegan cheese I’ve had, and so easy to whip up. The transformation from boiled vegetables to rich melted cheese is magical, you have to try this to believe it.

Boil together 3 cups of peeled chopped potato and 1 cup of chopped carrot. Add to a blender with 1/3 cup each of water, nooch, and sunflower or any light-tasting oil, plus 1.5tsp of salt, 1/2tsp onion powder, 1Tbs lemon juice. Blend until it turns to smooth gooey cheesy deliciousness ❤


Homemade Yoghurt

Although it’s great to see more dairy-free yoghurt options appearing in supermarkets, I’ll happily leave them to those who like them and don’t mind the exorbitant pricing. Homemade yoghurt is so much tastier, healthier and versatile, as well as being about 10% of the price 😉 Make it sweet and fruity for lunchboxes, tangy and sour for dips, or strain and transform into feta or cream cheese.

Yoghurt requires just two ingredients – milk and bacteria culture – and a warm bed for 12-24 hours to let the culture grow.

First, the culture. Any live yoghurt can be used to seed milk into more yoghurt, either a couple of tablespoons of a purchased jar or the last bit of your previous homemade batch. Personally I prefer to use fresh bacteria from capsules each time, for the ease and consistency. I buy Red Seal Probiotic 50 Billion, frequently on sale at New World for around $18/30 capsules. Using 1/2 capsule at a time works out at .30c per batch.

Now for the milk. Not every plant milk will work properly for yoghurt, and all give a different result. Generally you want to use one you love the taste of, that’s fairly thick and creamy, and if it’s unsweetened then add 1tsp of sugar per litre to help feed the culture.

We love soy milk, but every commercial soy yoghurt I’ve tried has been disgusting. So I use our favourite milk-like soy milk (Vitasoy Soy Milky in the blue box) and it yoghurts beautifully, thick and creamy in 12 hours. I’ve also had success with Vitasoy Original.

For topping curries or mexican food, sometimes it’s nice to have a super thick, tangy, sour cream type yoghurt, and coconut is excellent for this. I use a can of Ayam coconut cream, open upside down and pour off any water, then transfer to a small jar to go in the yoghurt maker.

To turn the milk into yoghurt, I use an easiyo yoghurt maker, which is just a small chilly bin you fill with hot water and sit your container of milk + culture in to keep warm for 12+ hours. If you haven’t got one, then a normal chilly bin works just as well, or any warm spot around the house – on top of the pc or hot water cylinder. Just make sure it won’t get any hotter than body temperature, as this will kill off the culture. Pour room temperature milk into the easiyo container or any lidded jar, mix in half a capsule of probiotics, and sit it in the easiyo filled with hot water, or in your warm place. Leave for 12 hours, then open it up and taste test. It should have thickened up considerably and developed a slight tangy taste. If it’s not there yet, pop the lid back on and leave it for another 10 hours or so, replacing the water in the yoghurt maker if using to warm it up again. Or, pop it in the fridge anyway for a couple of days and it will slowly keep culturing. I leave our yoghurt about 10 hours overnight then pop some in the lunchboxes to keep culturing all morning, and fridge the rest to finish off slowly over the next 24 hours.



Most types of dairy-free milk can be made cheaper, nicer and healthier at home. Almond is the most popular here, but the basic method is the same for any nut, grain or coconut.


Still paying through the nose for boxed custard? Making your own takes just a few minutes. Most supermarket custard powders are vegan, and Indian supermarkets carry several brands of flavoured custard and pudding mixes for around a dollar. Mix the powder with your favourite milk, add sweetener if required, heat to boiling and you’re done.

– chia, set puddings

– nut butters

– dips

– spice mixes, sauces

– preserving, drying, freezing

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