TDF Recommends

The Dragon Fruit does not receive any remuneration for these recommendations. This list is preliminary, and I hope to add more recommendations soon.

I will be updating this page with information on how to find the products that TDF Recommends.

If you have anything that you love, please comment on this page. I’d love to check out your recommendations.

Foods

  • Vitamin Supplements. OK, OK, vitamins are not foods.  And we should get our vitamins primarily from foods. But if you’re going to be vegan, there’s some nutrients that cannot be had from plant sources alone. Talk to your doctor. (And read those labels, since many vitamins contain animal ingredients!)
  • Whole Wheat Flour.  Do you really need to make every recipe with all white flour? Didn’t think so. Sneak in some whole grains!  It doesn’t hurt, I promise.
  • Quinoa. We’ve all heard of this amazing whole grain. Try making quinoa instead of rice some night. Stir it into your stir fry.  You can also add some extra oomph to your baked goods by substituting some cooked quinoa for flour.
  • Whole Wheat Couscous. Cooks in five minutes. Heaven-sent on those days when you really need to whip up something quickly.
  • Flax Seeds. Painless and yummy way to add some extra nutrition.
  • Pepitas. Pumpkin seeds make any salad, muffin, or bread more exciting!
  • Almond Milk. There’s a million kinds of “milks” out there.  I find many of them offputting, too sweet, chalky, or all of the above.   I am grateful each morning when I pour almond milk on my cereal.
  • Dried Beans. Once you get over any mental block you might have, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been cooking with dried beans your whole life. They taste better, cost less, and you can find more varieties when you go dried.
  • Brown Basmati Rice. This brown rice is the lightest brown rice I have ever encountered. Don’t get me wrong. I love a hearty rice.  I dream of barley, and I don’t even need it to be pearled. But sometimes you want something lighter, and brown basmati rice delivers without sacrificing your need for whole grains.

Products

  • La Tourangelle Roasted Walnut Oil. Drizzle on anything:  salads, bread, oatmeal, pancakes. Good for pesto, too.
  • Stonehouse Olive Oil, Garlic. Luscious on pasta. I still miss butter, but this olive oil makes me very, very happy.
  • Dorset Cereals. The best granola/muesli I’ve ever had, except the stuff I make myself. Pricey, but worth the indulgence.
  • Tofu-Yu. Their Garlic Pepper firm tofu is fabulous. If I could only cook with one kind of tofu for the rest of my life, it would be this one. It’s not packed in water, so it cooks beautifully. You can even bake it plain and it comes out very nicely.
  • Hodo Soy.  I haven’t tried all their products, but their tofu is outstanding. I don’t even normally like tofu that much.
  • Rancho Gordo. Gives new meaning to the phrase “cool beans.” Deliciousness. And the hip packaging will make you feel, well, cool for eating them.

Equipment

  • Cast Iron Pan. I don’t know how I lived without one for so long.  I recently upgraded my pans. I indulged in some fancy stainless steel pans as well as a fancy Dutch oven. My favorite new purchase by far is the $30 cast iron pan. At first it was a little rough going, but it really is true that these pans get better with use so long as you keep them seasoned. Why do I love it so? It gets hot and stays hot. It really sears things and milks (so to speak) all the flavor out of my ingredients. Fantastic.
  • Citrus Zester. I use a lot of lemon, lime, and orange zest. It’s a quick and very easy way to add a lot of flavor and brightness to a dish without adding calories or bad stuff. Washing the citrus well is of course very important. I’d be reluctant to use zest from non-organic produce, but I haven’t really researched this issue. You might think you can get away with using a knife and slicing the top most layer of the fruit peel, but you can’t. Or at least I couldn’t. Love my zester.
  • High Quality Chef’s Knife and Sharpener. These fruits and vegetables don’t chop themselves. And since I don’t want to chop myself, I keep my steel sharp so I can keep it under control. The last thing you want is a dull blade slippy-sliding unpredictably in the vicinity of your hands.
  • Oil Misting Spray Bottle. In addition to using this bottle to season my cast iron pan, it’s perfect for coating ingredients lightly and evenly. I love oil. But sometimes I don’t want to pour a cup of it all over my dinner. I have a Misto. It’s okay. I suspect there might be a higher quality product out there. That said, my Misto has been kicking around for years.
  • Salad Spinner. I eat so many leafy greens and fresh herbs now that I can’t imagine living without my salad spinner. It’s fast, neat, and the best way to dry your leafy stuff. And it’s fun!
  • Food Processor. I just have a little baby one that I got as a gift. I use it for mincing herbs, larger quantities of garlic, chilies, ginger. It makes great salad dressings. It’s kind of a pain in a small processor, but it is possible to make pastry dough in small quantities. I feel like you could also make amazing veggie burgers with the help of a food processor …

Places

  • Bi-Rite Grocery Store, San Francisco. This tiny little store is chock-full of amazing organic produce. It’s like a farmers market open every day.
  • Rainbow Grocery, San Francisco. This place has so much amazing stuff, it was a long time before I realized that the whole darn store is vegetarian. It’s HUGE. It’s also a co-op. There’s more kinds of everything than you can imagine. You can buy fresh spices all the time and pay much less than in a conventional grocery store. Their bulk foods section is a thing of beauty.
  • Any Farmers Market. If you’re going to have a plant-based diet, you want to start out with the best plants. Tired-looking, flavorless produce is not going to keep you satisfied for long, if at all, so it’s worth the extra effort. And sometimes it’s even cheaper as well as much more delicious to shop at farmers’ markets.

Restaurants

  • Millennium, San Francisco. I didn’t know that food like this was even possible. Even if you are nowhere near San Francisco and have zero interest in ever eating a vegan meal, check out this restaurant’s website. Chef Eric Tucker is incredible. Reading his menus changed the way I think about food. I have been told that a lot of their most loyal repeat customers are meat-eaters looking for variety. Also, check out the links to other vegan sites on the Millennium site. There’s a ton and they make for great exploring.
  • Gracias Madre, San Francisco. Hearty, satisfying vegan Mexican food. This place is very popular and just opened in late 2009. Their version of pozole is delicioso! They even grow their own corn.
  • Herbivore, San Francisco, Berkeley. This venerable vegan institution has some great dishes and an extensive menu.

Books

  • Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer. Beautifully written. A brave book that brings a lot of compelling facts together with the author’s incomparable gift for storytelling. This book does not sensationalize animal cruelty or unsanitary practices, which is kind of incredible given the crazed way most animals are raised and processed for food today.
  • The China Study, T. Colin Campbell.  Even if you think the factory farm is a great innovation, Dr. Campbell presents scientific and epidemiological research that heavily supports plant-based eating. You might not care how animals are treated, but you probably care about your own well-being.
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan. Yes, yes, I know you’ve already read it. An engaging, thoughtful book for those interested in knowing more about where food actually comes from and what the consequences are of different meals.
  • The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, Yamuna Devi. You can make many of these recipes vegan easily. The sheer number of recipes and variety of vegetables and legumes makes this one a go-to resource for your kitchen.
  • Any cookbook that you love. I’ve found that there are recipes that just happen to be vegan and recipes that can easily be made vegan in many conventional cookbooks. Vegans don’t need to exile themselves from conventional cooking resources. Experimentation is a wonderful teacher, and finding a way to make something non-vegan vegan will build your cooking wisdom. Play around!

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