My Most Used Vegan Ingredients

My Most Used Vegan Ingredients

Healthy plant-based wraps provide a nutritional meal

Protein and Carbs

No matter how long you’ve been vegan, the one question you hear time and time again is: “where do you get your protein?” And, while protein is, of course, incredibly important, it’s only one of the three macros you need to maintain a balanced diet. Fortunately, there are plenty of delicious, affordable and easily accessible vegan protein sources. My pantry staples are tofu, mushrooms, chickpeas and lentils. 

Tofu: There’s a reason tofu is one of the most popular meat alternative proteins amongst vegans. It’s so versatile. Fried, blended, crumbled, sauteed, baked or even eaten raw – there are countless ways to enjoy tofu. One of my favourites is a breakfast of tofu scramble

Mushrooms: Full of wonderful nutrition, mushrooms are often misunderstood. They’re disliked by people who haven’t given them a chance to impress their taste buds. Mushrooms bring a wonderful umami flavour to any dish and can offer a meaty texture if that’s something you crave. 

I really enjoy trying out the latest vegan dishes at restaurants and cafes. But, you can’t quite beat the satisfaction of cooking yourself a wholesome and nutritious meal using vegan ingredients.

I was a vegetarian for many years before committing to veganism, so I’ve always found food and nutrition interesting. It’s why I went to study the subject at university and started my own plant-based food business, Plant Essence. And, while I love cooking vegan food at home, I understand that for some, stepping into a kitchen and trying to rustle up a balanced, healthy and tasty meal can seem daunting – especially if venturing into plant-based cooking for the first time. 

Which meat and dairy replacements should you use? Should you use them at all? Can you eat chickpeas straight from the can? (Yes, you can!) And, what on earth is aquafaba? 

To set you on the path to confidently cooking vegan food at home, I’ve compiled a list of my most used vegan ingredients with tips and tricks on making the most of them.

Mushrooms bring a wonderful umami flavour to any dish and can offer a meaty texture if that’s something you crave

Chickpeas: Packed with protein, chickpeas are another versatile vegan ingredient. You can add them to curries, make hummus, mash and shape them into burgers or simply enjoy them tossed into a salad. You can even use the liquid from the can, aquafaba, as a vegan egg alternative, whipping it into meringues and mouses. 

Lentils: Just as useful as chickpeas, lentils are tasty in curries, salads and burgers, but they’re also a great alternative to plant-based mince meat – which can be heavily processed and full of salt. Plus, there are plenty of types to choose from, such as green, red and yellow, each providing different flavours and textures. 

While carbs are the easiest macro to source as a vegan, thanks to plenty of options such as rice, pasta and bread, my favourite is the humble potato. 

Potatoes – Unlike bread, potatoes are an unprocessed whole food. You can be safe in the knowledge that you’re consuming all the nutrients they have to offer. And, like many of my staples, they are incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed in both healthy and more indulgent ways for a balanced vegan diet.

Sweet Treats

Fruits like bananas with agave syrup make pancakes a delicious vegan treat

It’s no secret that I am a self-confessed dessert lover (check out my recent blog to see some of my top guilt-free vegan treats). Since veganism has soared in popularity, supermarkets are brimming with an increasing range of plant-based alternatives for chocolate, cakes, ice creams, cookies and more.

While I am glad to have more options for indulgence, I prefer to opt for natural sources to keep my mind and body in balance. Bananas and agave are my go-to healthy vegan ingredients to satisfy my sweet cravings at home without giving in to highly processed alternatives.

Bananas: Delicious to eat on their own as a snack, bananas are also a great source of natural sweetness to add to cakes, smoothies, pancakes and desserts such as vegan banana ice cream.

Agave: I like to use agave as a vegan alternative to honey to drizzle on pancakes, coconut yoghurt or granola. It’s also an ideal swap for recipes that may call for processed white sugar, such as sweet chilli sauce.


A common misconception I hear about vegan food (usually from meat eaters) is that vegan food is bland. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth! There are plenty of ways to enhance the flavour of your meals. My top three flavour enhancers are nutritional yeast, miso paste and tahini.

Nutritional yeast: A firm favourite in the vegan community, nutritional yeast is the holy grail for adding cheesy flavour to sauces and dips. It’s also a great source of vitamin B12, which can be tricky to obtain in a vegan diet without the help of supplements. 

Miso paste: Available in a variety of types, the most common are white miso and red miso. Both are go-tos of mine for adding to broths, soups and stews to deepen the flavour. 

Tahini: A middle eastern cooking essential, tahini is a thick paste made from sesame seeds. It is often associated with making hummus, but it has so many more uses as a vegan ingredient. Add it to sauces, stews and dressings or simply spread it on toast and enjoy.

As you can see, there are plenty of vegan-friendly ingredients you can experiment with to take your plant-based cooking to the next level in terms of flavour and nutrition. For some easy recipe inspiration, check out my favourite blender recipes and save this blog the next time you head to the supermarket to stock up your pantry!

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© 2022. TanyaS.Mansotra
Types of Smudge Sticks and How to Use Them

Types of Smudge Sticks and How to Use Them


Are you curious about the ancient practice of smudging? For centuries, various cultures have used smudge sticks for their spiritual and energetic benefits. These bundles of dried herbs, leaves and flowers are ignited and used to cleanse and purify the energy of objects and spaces. It’s like waving a magic wand, except instead of spells, you get to banish negative energy and fill your space with good vibes! 

As someone who practises spirituality and meditation, I use smudge sticks as a part of my daily rituals to deepen my connection with the divine and to create a sacred space for myself. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog how I use a smudge stick during my candle-gazing rituals, as they help guide me to a more transcendental state of mind for meditation. 

But that’s not all that smudge sticks can be used for! The possibilities are endless, from enhancing uplifting or peaceful energy, to cleansing spaces and raising vibrations. If you’re still curious to explore the vast potential of smudge sticks, then read on for more!



Smudge Stick - Dragons Blood Tree
Smudge Stick - Sage

Cleansed and Protected

Smudge sticks are an ancient and powerful tool used for a variety of purposes, but none quite as popular as cleansing and protection. When it comes to selecting a herb for this purpose, Sage reigns supreme. With a wide range of variations including Desert Sage, Cedar Sage, and the ever-popular White Sage, this herb has been revered by Indigenous tribes as a vital component of their spiritual ceremonies. And for good reason! Its potent aroma is known to repel negative energy and attract positivity, making it an essential addition to any sacred space.

But Sage isn’t your only choice when it comes to cleansing and protection – Juniper and Dragon’s Blood smudge sticks are also just as effective! Juniper is thought to have incredible protection qualities, with its smoke creating a barrier between yourself and negative forces. Dragon’s blood smudge sticks, made from the resin of Dragon trees, can help in strengthening your aura. 

To harness the powerful energy of these smudge sticks, I carefully light the end of the bundle and allow the fragrant smoke to permeate every corner of the space. I focus my intention on releasing any negative energy and welcoming in cleansing and protective energies to fill the space. I allow the sweet fragrance to envelope me, and take a deep breath, allowing myself to be fully present in the moment.

Raising Frequency

I often use Palo Santo as a smudge stick to raise my vibration and rid myself of negative energy. It’s said to have a high frequency, promote positivity and help with grounding. Palo Santo is native to South America and has been used for centuries by indigenous tribes in shamanic rituals. They share the belief that when the smoke of Palo Santo wood comes into contact with our personal energy field, the tree spirit within the wood eliminates negative thoughts and events, repels malevolent spirits, assisting in restoring a sense of harmony and equilibrium.

When I use Palo Santo as a smudge stick, it guides me into a state of transcendence that’s perfect for my meditation practice. As I light the stick, I envision my energy elevating while my spirit becomes more grounded in the present moment. The high frequency and positive energy of Palo Santo helps me feel more centred and connected to myself and the world around me.


When I’m looking to bring in new and uplifting energy, I turn to lemongrass as a smudge stick. Its refreshing and citrusy aroma is believed to enhance mental clarity and promote positive energy. Using lemongrass in my smudging rituals helps me clear out any negative energy and fill my space with a renewed sense of optimism and positivity.

To incorporate lemongrass into my smudging ritual, I light the end of the bundle and let the fragrant smoke waft throughout the entire space. As the smoke rises, I envision a renewed sense of energy and optimism permeating the atmosphere, uplifting my mood and bringing a fresh perspective to my day.


Lavender is a herb I use for my smudge sticks when I want to bring forth a calming energy. It has a soothing scent that can promote relaxation and peace. We’re all aware of how potent lavender is for aiding a good night’s sleep, hence its popular use in room sprays and essential oils. However, burning a bundle of dried lavender is a far better natural alternative, as it eliminates the harsh chemicals that are often added into synthetic products. 

When I want to invoke calming energy, I light the end of the bundle and let the smoke spread throughout the space, making sure to reach every corner. As part of my nightly rituals, I visualise peaceful and calming energy entering into my space to aid a restful and restorative night’s sleep.




Smudge Stick - Lavender


If you’re seeking to tap into the love frequency, using a rose smudge stick is a perfect avenue to take. It has a sweet and floral scent that can promote self-love, romantic love and friendship. Roses have been a timeless symbol of love, and are closely associated with goddesses’ such as Aphrodite and Venus. When used in a smudge stick, they can be a magical tonic for your heart chakra, allowing you to receive and give love unconditionally. 

When I want a boost of self-love, I light the end of the bundle and let the smoke spread throughout the space around me.  As the smoke rises, I visualise love and positive energy filling my heart chakra and the space around me.



Smudge sticks can be a powerful tool for spiritual and energetic practices, helping to deepen your connection with yourself and the universe. I encourage you to experiment with different smudge sticks and find the ones that resonate with you the most. Remember to always set an intention when using smudge sticks and visualise the energy you want to bring into your space, be it a sense of love, tranquillity or to raise your vibrations.

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© 2022. TanyaS.Mansotra
My Favourite Guilt-Free Vegan Desserts

My Favourite Guilt-Free Vegan Desserts

I am a huge advocate for adopting a vegan diet as it has many benefits for your health, spirituality and the environment. Done the right way, a vegan diet can be rich in nutrients and low in saturated fats, which can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic illnesses. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and decrease the unnecessary suffering of animals, making it the ideal diet choice for anyone that wants to do better for the planet and the creatures we share it with. But many worry that going vegan means missing out on sweet treats like cakes, cookies and ice cream.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Vegan desserts can be just as indulgent and delicious as their non-vegan counterparts. And by choosing vegan desserts, you not only satisfy your sweet tooth but also fight against animal cruelty while supporting a healthier food system.

Having studied nutrition at university, I would argue that vegan desserts are an important part of a balanced lifestyle. Treating yourself to a sweet indulgence once in a while can help prevent feelings of deprivation and promote a positive relationship with food. So, don’t be afraid to include vegan desserts in your diet – they can be a delicious and healthy addition to your meals and snacks! So, here are a few of my favourite vegan desserts that I think you’ll absolutely love.

Orange Chocolate Mousse from Plant Essence

If you’re a fan of chocolate and citrusy flavours, then this dessert is perfect for you. The Orange Chocolate Mousse from my own plant-based foodie venture, Plant Essence, is a light and airy dessert made with raw dark chocolate, vegan cream, and orange zest. This vegan dessert is not only delicious but is also packed with antioxidants and healthy fats.


Walnut Brownie from Plant Essence

Another delicious dessert from Plant Essence is the Walnut Brownie. This vegan dessert is made with walnuts, dates, and raw cacao powder, making it both healthy and indulgent. The texture of this dessert is fudgy and moist, and it’s the perfect dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth.



Vegan Milk Choco Biscoff Donut

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Ice-Cream from Ben & Jerry’s 

Ice cream is a dessert everyone loves, and it’s easy to find since plenty of vegan options are readily available in most supermarkets! The Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Ice-Cream from Ben & Jerry’s is a vegan dessert that is sure to delight your taste buds. This dessert is made with almond milk, fudge brownies and chocolate chunks, making it a perfect indulgence.


Since vegan desserts tend to include more natural, wholesome ingredients and zero animal products, you can bank on them being just as good for your body as they are for your taste buds. Whether you’re a vegan or not, these desserts are sure to satisfy your sweet cravings. So, go ahead and indulge in these treats guilt-free!

Vegan Orange Chocolate Mousse

Milk Choco Biscoff Donut from Donaccino

For a classic dessert with a vegan twist, I highly recommend the Milk Choco Biscoff Donut from Donaccino – a vegan dessert sure to satisfy your sweet cravings. This donut is topped with vegan milk chocolate and a Lotus Biscoff biscuit and filled to the brim with Biscoff spread, making it a delicious and decadent treat!


Cake Me Out dessert from Vibe Café

If you’re someone who loves to eat cookie dough, then you’ll love the Cake Me Out dessert from Vibe Café at the Al Wasl branch in Dubai. This vegan dessert is ultimate decadence with a vegan cookie dough base, topped with chocolate ice cream, crystal sugar and coconut cream. Plus, the space has funky decor., so it’s a great spot to snap some pics while you enjoy your vegan dessert.


Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Ice-Cream

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© 2022. TanyaS.Mansotra
Spiritual Healing Plants: Amazonian Hapé and Sananga

Spiritual Healing Plants: Amazonian Hapé and Sananga

Spiritual Healing Plants

Amazonian Hapé (Rapé)

Also known as shamanic snuff, Amazonian Hapé is a psychotropic spiritual healing plant used for thousands of years in sacred rituals. Derived from a type of tobacco plant known as mapacho, Hapé isn’t to be smoked like cigarettes but instead administered through the nose.

While tobacco is the main component in Hapé, the final medicine is a mixture of other sacred healing plants. The exact mix of tree barks, leaves, seeds and roots also included is a closely guarded secret by each shaman, meaning each experience is slightly different depending on the combination of the other plants’ healing properties. The ingredients are combined and ground down with a pestle and mortar into a light-coloured powder before being strained through a fine mesh. 

Since Hapé is a psychotropic substance, it’s really important to pay attention to your set (mindset) and setting (physical environment). You want to create an internal and external space that feels safe and intentional. For your set, my advice is to go into the Hapé ceremony with a clear intention in mind. This could be to answer a question you’ve had, find guidance or deepen your connection with yourself. For your setting, choose a space that feels sacred to you with safe energy. If anything doesn’t feel right, it’s best to take a moment to pause, step back and only proceed if you feel comfortable doing so. 

Hapé v-shaped Kuripe pipe

It remains an ancient cultural practice that is still commonly used by Amazonian tribes to enhance their night vision while hunting, but it is fast becoming widely recognised for its additional spiritual healing benefits. These benefits include detoxifying your body, increasing visual perception, clearing pent-up anger, resetting your energetic field, treating ocular diseases and it can even be used in conjunction with other practices to heal depression, anxiety and addiction. 

Since the eyes are incredibly sensitive, administering Sananga can be uncomfortable, and I personally find it quite painful. However, the burning sensation only lasts a few minutes and is actually a big part of the ceremony and the plant’s healing powers. The ceremony leader will guide you through the pain with some deep breathing. Riding through the discomfort is worthwhile as you’ll reap the benefits of the endorphin rush that comes after. I usually experience a sense of detoxification, intense relaxation and overall feel much lighter emotionally and physically.

While it is a potent medicine, you can administer it yourself without a guided ceremony, so long as you double-check (and triple-check) your source is reputable and thoroughly educate yourself beforehand.

Since embarking on my spiritual healing journey, I’ve come to understand how integral it is for me to feel rooted. Connecting with the Earth on a deeper level helps me feel a sense of oneness and calm with myself, others and the world around me. Because of this, I have such a strong sense of gratitude for everything Mother Nature provides. And one of her many gifts is the power of healing plants.

I’ve enjoyed documenting my experience with spiritual healing plants and taking note of how each medicine makes me feel and draws me deeper into my inner self for some time now. In my last blog on the topic, I looked into the powers of Cacao and Blue Lotus, both of which are great if you’ve just started out experimenting with this type of healing. This blog, however, takes things a bit further by looking at slightly more potent plants: Amazonian Hapé and Sananga. 

Since both plants have the potential for more powerful spiritual transformations, I would advise you thoroughly research each medicine and read about other people’s experiences – which I hope this blog will help you with! When you’re confident in your decision, be mindful of your mental state and surroundings (which I go into more detail below) to make sure you feel as supported as possible to let the plants work their magic.

Hapé Tepi applicator instrument

As mentioned, Hapé is administered through the nose, but it’s not snorted or inhaled, instead, it is blown forcefully up the nostrils. If served by someone else they will use a Tepi applicator instrument, and if serving yourself then you’ll need to use a v-shaped Kuripe pipe. 

It’s administered first to the left nostril, signifying death and then to the right for rebirth. It can feel a little uncomfortable when it’s blown into the nose, but this passes, and you’ll quickly begin to feel the effects. It instantly opens and cleanses the pineal gland and relaxes the body. Personally, I find it calms me while raising my awareness, making it perfect before a meditation. 

It goes without saying, always seek out a reputable practitioner to administer or supply Hapé!


Another Amazonian spiritual medicine, Sananga is made from the roots and bark of a shrub found in Brazil and the rest of South America. This healing plant is typically administered as a liquid eye drop, which is extracted by grinding the root and bark into a fine powder to release the juice. 

Spiritual Healing Plants: Amazonian Hapé and Sananga

While I have found that Amazonian Hapé and Sananga have helped me with spiritual healing, that’s not to say they are miracle cures! The journey to deepening your relationship with yourself is a long path you’ll likely be walking for the rest of your life. Plant medicines are just one of the many tools you can use to help you on your way to becoming at peace with yourself, so make sure to use them in combination with other spiritual practices and learning like meditation, movement or reading.

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© 2022. TanyaS.Mansotra