12 Vegan Foods You’ve Probably Never Heard of

12 Vegan Foods You’ve Probably Never Heard of

Are you a vegan who feels like you’ve tried everything? Then are you familiar with Tiger Nuts? What about Kai-Lan, the veggie typically known as Chinese broccoli?

Part of the fun of a new diet is trying the myriad of foods and recipes that are available. For vegans, this means exploring the rarest fruits, vegetables, and grains from around the world.

2 Approaches to Food

When it comes to food, people typically fall on two ends of the adventurousness spectrum. There are those who are stuck in their culinary ways, content to eat the same foods each and every day. And on the other side are the adventurous eaters, those who would not only try anything but are willing to seek out new vegan food options.

Why Seek Out New Foods?

Trying new foods can add a lot of fun to your diet. But deeper than that, it’s a way to expand your culinary palate. When you have more foods you’re comfortable cooking, that means more options for hosting friends, cooking for the family, and providing sustenance for yourself and loved ones. It’s also recommended to try a variety of foods for health reasons - our bodies crave a variety of vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and seeking out new foods can provide that.

Vegan Delicacies - 6 Natural Foods You’ve Never Heard of

1. Gai-Lan (Chinese Broccoli)

If you want to add a new green vegetable to your meal plan, gai-lan is a nutritious option that is well worth exploring. Similar to broccoli but with larger leaves and smaller flowerheads, gai-lan is a staple in Asian cuisine, including Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese. If you like to do stir fries or cook Asian dishes on occasion, then consider this thicker and more bitter alternative to broccoli.

Fun Fact about Gai-Lan

Ever heard of broccolini? It’s a fusion between broccoli and gai-lan.

Vegan Recipe with Gai-Lan: Gai-Lan and Shitake Stir Fried Brown Rice

2. Sunchoke

Nicknamed the Jerusalem Artichoke, the sunchoke is actually native to North America. The sunchoke is a tuber and makes an excellent substitute for other starchy root veggies like the potato. If you’re into growing your own veggies, sunchokes grow really easily and can be a great source of potassium, iron, protein, and carbohydrates for vegans.

Fun Fact about the Sunchoke

Sunchokes were a food staple of explorers in the Old World, and although they’re named Sunchokes, they bear little similarity to the artichoke.

Vegan Recipe Featuring Sunchokes: Vegan Ravioli with Herbs

3. Nopales

Typically sold as flat green pads with a riveted texture, nopales are the flesh of the prickly pear cactus. Known for their soft fleshy quality, nopales are also rich in vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium. Since nopales grow throughout Mexico, you can often find them in Mexican cuisine such as tacos, burritos, and salads.

Fun Fact about Nopales

There are currently 114 species of edible cactus that are unique to Mexico.

Vegan Recipe Featuring Nopales: Ensalada De Nopalitos

4. Breadnuts (Maya Nuts or Ramons)

Nuts are an important source of protein for vegans, and the breadnut or Maya Nut as it’s also called, is no exception. The breadnut was a staple food for the Mayan civilization, providing fiber, protein, potassium, and iron. Combining antioxidants and a low glycemic index, breadnuts offer extremely healthy benefits that make them worth a place in your pantry.

Fun Fact about Breadnuts

The breadnut was once written off as a famine food, but in 2001, the Maya Nut Institute rediscovered its benefits. The institute is currently spreading the word about the benefits of this nut throughout poor communities in South America.

Interesting Product Using Breadnuts: Capomo Maya Nut Coffee

5. African Horned Cucumber (Blow Fish Fruit or Kiwano)

Few plant-based foods are as bizarre in appearance as the African Horned Cucumber. On the outside it resembles a spikey, yellow-orange melon, but once you cut inside, the green seedy texture reveals why it was named after the cucumber.  The unique exterior alludes to the taste of this fruit - a cross between melon and lemon.

Fun Fact about the African Horned Cucumber

The juice from the African Horned Cucumber can remedy heartburn, eczema, and acidity. Other benefits of eating the fruit are that it relieves urinary problems and kidney conditions.

Vegan Recipe Featuring African Horned Cucumber: Kiwano, Banana, and Pineapple Sorbet

6. Mangosteen

The mangosteen is a fruit that is extremely rare in North America but prevalent near Indonesia. With a purple exterior and the appearance of nuts growing out of the top, the mangosteen contains a white, edible fruit that is rich in vitamin C. If you can get your hands on a mangosteen, prepare to taste one of the most appealing and unique fruits in the world.

Fun Fact about the Mangosteen

The mangosteen is revered for its sweet and sour taste, but it’s also one of the most high-maintenance fruits in the world. It takes 8-10 years to grow a mangosteen, so only a lucky few get to experience this fruit.

Vegan Recipe Featuring the Mangosteen: Mangosteen Date Ice Cream

Vegan Creations - 6 Man-made Foods You’ve Never Heard of

While fruits and veggies get their rarity from growing in the far corners of the world, man-made vegan foods can be equally innovative. Often filling in gaps in the vegan diet, these additions make life as a vegan a lot easier - and more fun. Check out some of the most creative vegan food products and consider how they’d best be used in your kitchen.

1. Vegan Shredded Cheese

Completely devoid of cholesterol, lactose, and gluten, Vegan Mexican Shreds by Go Veggie are a perfect topping for your favorite vegan dishes. From vegan tacos to vegan pizza and salad, Vegan Mexican Shreds will make you wish you went vegan sooner. Plus, they pack more 55% more calcium and 90% less saturated fat than ordinary cheese.

2. Vegan Breakfast Pockets

Vegans are busy people and now there’s a quick vegan breakfast product that’s perfect for that fast-paced lifestyle. The Vegan Breakfast Pockets by Gardein are only 200 calories each and are ready within three minutes in the microwave. While frozen products will never take the place of fresh foods, it’s good to know there are companies broadening the options for vegans.

3. Dairy Free Greek Yogurt by Daiya

Greek yogurt has become extremely popular in recent years due to its high protein content and probiotic benefits. Now vegans have access to a variety of Greek yogurt flavors as well, thanks to So Delicious. With high fiber and flavors like raspberry and chocolate, you’ll want to make room in your fridge for Daiya Dairy Free Greek Yogurts.

4. Vegan Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza by Tofurky

One of the most popular foods in the world is pizza, and vegan food innovator Tofurky has ensured that vegans can experience this food without meat, dairy, or gluten. Their new Crispy Zesty & Smokey Frozen Pizzas are gluten-free and non-GMO. With a steady supply of new vegan foods entering the market, Tofurky has been enhancing the vegan diet since 1980.

5. So Cheezy Vegan Nacho Dip

A product that can add a lot of variety to your vegan lifestyle is So Cheezy Vegan Nacho Dip by Vital Eats. Made strictly from chickpeas and vegetables, So Cheezy Nacho Dip can be used as a sauce over your favorite pasta or a dip for chips, crackers, or veggies. This versatile product lets you add nacho cheese to your favorite entrees without all the saturated fat.

6. Vegan Peking Roast Duck (Mun-Cha’i-Ya)

Peking duck is an upper-scale entree with a unique flavor not found anywhere else. Now vegans can appreciate Mun Chai-Ya, Peking duck made from braized gluten, a non-GMO wheat protein. Made in Taiwan, this canned food product provides a lot of cool new options for fans of Asian recipes. Plus, it’s a valuable source of protein with 11g per serving.

Try New Vegan Foods and Enhance Your Culinary Experience

There are numerous reasons to try new vegan foods - it’s fun, it’s good for you, and it expands your dietary options. Whether you try a new fruit or veggie with each trip to the supermarket or you stay up to date on the latest vegan products to hit shelves, there are a lot of advantages to being an adventurous eater. Whether you choose to play it safe or challenge yourself to engage in new culinary experiences, we at Bhu Foods wish you the best in your decision.