With health awareness becoming more and more prevalent, many people are turning to the healthiest possible diets and cooking methods. Vegan recipes have blown up in popularity recently and for good reason; they’re really, really good! And while vegan recipes are plentiful, trying them out in a steamer takes them to a whole new level. Being on a diet and eating healthy doesn’t have to be so boring anymore with bland, boiled vegetables all the time. If you want to spice up your plant-based dishes with both delicious and nutritious ingredients, then you have come to the right place.
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Why Should I Steam Food?
Steaming isn’t really new, but the creativity these days when it comes to cooking has really made it worth trying. Veganism also goes hand-in-hand with steaming, since nobody really wants to eat steamed chicken breasts, but some steamed broccoli and cauliflower with some maple syrup and sesame seeds? Delicious!
Why is steaming so healthy, though? First of all, it completely eliminates the extra calories from oils or butters that would be used in sautéing or pan frying. That alone eliminates some major health risks. If you’re on a vegan diet and don’t consume butter, or you don’t want the cholesterol headache that comes with several cooking oils, then steaming is ideal.
Second of all, science-wise, steaming is a cooking method that preserves most if not all the food’s nutrients like vitamins B and C. It’s estimated that boiling food can cause up to 25-35% of folic acid and vitamin C loss but steaming slashes that number down to 15%. This is because food doesn’t come in contact with any water or a direct heat source in a steamer basket or a bamboo steamer.
Can I Steam Any Food?
Most food can be easily steamed without issue, but some exceptions include cucumbers and watermelons, for their high water content which would turn all mushy, and any food coated in any form of breading or batter. Otherwise, most foods are perfectly steamed. Some time differences must obviously be kept in mind, as steaming tofu or vegan animal protein alternatives will obviously take longer than some veggies. The amount of water added to steam can also change waiting time drastically.
Once done, steamed food should never wait so as not to turn soft or mushy. It also pairs excellently with sauces like garlic, sesame, ginger, and soy sauce.
How Can I Steam Food?
There are several ways of steaming food, and all of them work well enough without getting too fancy.
- Electric Steamer: An electric vegetable steamer is probably the easiest way to get delicious vegan recipes cooking in no time. It’s a bit of an investment, but it’s worth it for cooking several dishes at the same time. For example, steamed vegetables can go in the top compartment, while some tofu can cook in the bottom.
- Steamer basket: A steamer basket is the most traditional method for steaming. It has worked for hundreds of years, and it still works to this day. It’s simple enough to add over a pot of boiling water and let the flavors of those steamed veggies or gluten-free dumplings harmonize.
- Makeshift steamer: Surprisingly, it’s simple enough to make a makeshift steamer with water, a pot, and a plate. Just add some water to boil, add a heat-safe plate over it, cover the pot, and leave the steam to cook the food. It’s easy, cheap, and hassle-free.
- Microwave: A microwave is the kitchen’s Jack-of-all-trades, and for steaming it’s no different. Just add a few tablespoons of water to a microwave-safe bowl, add the veggies or other ingredients to the bowl, cover it with a lid or plastic wrap, and let it do its magic.
Best Vegan Steamer Recipes
In the world of culinary arts, these are some easy and delicious vegan steamer recipes:
Vegan AND gluten-free sounds like a dream for many, and this easy and delicious ginger-infused steamed veggies recipe will hit the spot for Chinese food lovers. It’s a simple 5-minute recipe that just needs some ginger, cauliflower, garlic, and any veggie of choice. The coconut sauce gives it a refreshing tropical kick. It can be served with rice or with gluten-free noodles for an easy lunch or filling dinner.
For a protein-packed vegan steamer dish, this steamed tofu with soy garlic sauce recipe is both filling and delicious. Steaming is ideal for tofu, as it softens it up without making it mushy. A steamer basket, electric steamer, or just a pot works for this dish, and the real superstar is the soy garlic sauce that also brings in the Asian-inspired flavor while leaving the sauce completely customizable along with its two main ingredients. The original recipe calls for sesame oil and vegetarian oyster sauce, but like any vegan recipe, that’s not set in stone, as long as other ingredients compliment the aromatic taste.
Being vegan does not mean missing out on delicious and healthy dumplings, and this recipe lives up to the challenge. While it’s slightly more complex than other recipes on the list, it’s definitely worth it. The recipe calls for vegan dumpling wrappers, which are perhaps the most difficult ingredients because the rest are easily available ingredients like mushrooms, cabbage, soy sauce, and ginger. Still, the filling can be customized to one’s liking. The best thing about this recipe is that the dumplings can also be frozen and enjoyed at any point.
Who said steak can’t be vegan? This recipe provides the closest replica to a real steak with vegan ingredients. Seitan is perhaps the closest meat alternative in taste and texture, made from vital wheat gluten. This main meal has a ton of protein, and the steak itself is easy enough to make with just a food processor, the vital wheat, kidney beans, broth, and liquid smoke. The steak is then steamed and ideally pan-seared. This dish can be served with a healthy side dish like steamed asparagus, steamed potatoes, or even some air-fried or oven-baked fries for the full steakhouse experience.
Chinese steamed bao buns are another great way to take vegan cooking to a whole new level. This dish combines the aromatic taste of ginger and garlic with the heat and sweetness of sriracha. The baked cauliflower filling gives a hint of fried chicken buns, especially with the sriracha sauce. It’s an easy recipe with natural flavors, and although it might need some work for the bao buns dough itself, it will for sure be a new favorite weekend meal.
Just because someone is vegan doesn’t mean they can’t have delicious, hearty, and decadent desserts. This date pudding recipe only takes 15 minutes to prep and is both delicious and healthy. With some pitted dates, black sugar, nut or oat milk, and some baking soda, the steamed date pudding can go toe-to-toe with any heavy non-vegan cake and manage to get a lot of hits in. The steaming adds much needed moisture, like a soft and spongy cake. It also pairs really, really well with creamy vegan butterscotch sauce.
I hope you enjoy these and maybe even step out of your comfort zone, my friends! As always, more coming soon.