If you’re a newbie to plant-based eating, there are several food items you should take note of and incorporate into a regular part of your diet. These staples will help you to create the bases for meals of all types, from breakfasts to desserts and everything in between.
Here’s an alphabetical list of basic food supplies that you will find in most well-stocked vegan kitchens. They are common, easily found items that are good to keep on hand. A few of these food products might be new to you, but most of these items will be appreciated. They include many of the basic ingredient substitutes for most recipes and food preparation. Not everything is on the list; items like salt, pepper and other common animal-free items are not listed assuming most homes would already have them…
- Agave Nectar (replaces sugar and honey). Remember honey is an animal product.
- Apple Cider vinegar – choose organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (like Bragg’s) which also contains “mother,” strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky, cobweb-like appearance.
- Balsamic vinegar (great for a salad dressing).
- Braggs Liquid Aminos (made from soybeans, a concentrated protein, flavor enhancer, great for salads, sauces, etc.). A great substitute for soy and tamari sauce.
- Breads – Natural, organic, whole grain is best (although most authentic/old fashioned French/Italian bread is vegan.) Avoid honey and high fructose corn syrup as ingredients.
- Butter substitute – The best dairy-free vegan butter substitute is Earth Balance brand (organic/whipped). It tastes quite rich and buttery, has a smooth consistency and is reasonably priced. As an added bonus, it is also gluten-free, non-GMO, and, unlike most margarines, it has no hydrogenated oils.
- Canned or dried beans – garbonzo, kidney, black, red, pink etc…
- Canned vegetarian/vegan – baked beans and refried beans.
- Canola oil – organic only, about 93 percent of canola oil in the United States is genetically engineered, and only 7 percent is certified organic. Also avoid any canola oil products that are hydrogenated.
- Coconut oil – Can actually be classified as a “superfood.” On top of being one of the healthiest oils known it’s also works well to soften and clear skin and recondition hair. Bonus; very good for high-temp frying.
- Fruits – fresh, frozen and dried.
- Garlic – fresh.
- Garlic powder (granulated garlic. Avoid garlic salt.
Grains and Whole Grain Flours:
- Rice (long-grain brown, basmati, arborio, quick-cooking, etc.)
- Whole grain berries (like wheat berries, triticale, etc.)
- Wild rice
*Whole grain flours (for baking)
- Specialty flours (quinoa, teff, rice, etc. – especially good for gluten-free)
- Spelt flour
- Whole wheat flour
- Whole wheat pastry flour
- Maple syrup – Buy organic only, regular commercial maple syrup often contains formaldehyde (used in the tap to keep the syrup from clotting and the tree from healing, and sometimes used to clean the lines).
- Meat substitutes and alternatives – Vegan burger (click on: 12 Vegan Burger Brands), Tofurky, Seitan, Tempeh are all good. Many meat substitutes can be made from TVP (“soy-based” textured vegetable protein).
- Nutritional Yeast (a deactivated yeast) – A must for vegans. A nutty/cheesy flavor. Sprinkle on salads, popcorn, casseroles, pizza, sauces and more. Makes into a great vegan cheese alternative!
Nuts – The healthiest being:
- Brazil Nuts
- Cedar Nuts/Pine
- Olive Oil (choose organic, extra virgin, first pressing whenever possible). For basic cooking and salads.
- Pasta – There are now plenty of gluten-free pastas for those who can’t tolerate gluten.
- Peanut Butter – Choose “natural” peanut butter, either freshly ground in the store or a national brand. These usually just contain peanuts, although some do have a little salt. Avoid hydrogenated oils and sugars.
- Popcorn – Especially good cooked in coconut oil and topped with a little salt and nutritional yeast.
- Rice – Brown (long/short grain and basmati)
- Salt – Keep in mind that salt is salt – it is 40 percent sodium. We need only 1,500 mg of sodium per day – far less than the average daily intake of five to six grams. Choosing a good additive-free salt is most important, taste a variety to decide which you prefer and buy only small quantities until you find the one you like. Confused? Click on: A Guide to Salt Varieties
- Seeds for sprouting – Alfalfa, lentil and mung being the most common.
- Soy milk (sweetened or plain for soups and sauces). Other dairy milk alternatives to try are almond, rice, coconut and hemp milks.
- Spices – keep a variety on hand…choose from this list, click on: Spices For Cooking in Your Vegan Kitchen
- Spike or Vegit type seasoned salt
- Sugar (unrefined) – Like "Sugar in the Raw", Turbinado, or a brown rice syrup, unbleached cane sugar, etc….
- Tahini (sesame seed paste) Used to make hummus, a great bread spread! Or you can just buy some hummus.)
- Tofu – Of the store bought varieties many consider Nasoya Tofu the best; it is certified organic, non-GMO, made with 100% whole organic soybeans, and comes in five textures: Super Firm Cubed (pre-cut, perfect in stir-fry or atop salad), Extra Firm (ideal for stir-frying, broiling, hearty stews and casseroles), Firm (perfect for slicing, dicing and pan-frying), Soft (great for sauces, soups and salads) and Silken (a delicate tofu with a smooth consistency, excellent for blending into dressings, dips and creamy desserts). *Note: Trader Joe's brand is considered by some to be among the best 'store bought' tofu available.
Tomato Products, Canned:
- Diced, in 14- to 16-ounce cans (try fire-roasted or Italian-style for extra flavor).
- Crushed or pureed, in 14, 16, and 28-ounce cans.
- Tomato sauce, avoid ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and added sugars.
- Tortillas – Versatile and delicious whole grain tortillas are high in complex carbohydrates and fiber, providing energy and supporting healthy digestion. Tortillas are a good source of B vitamins. The iron in tortillas helps blood move oxygen throughout your body.
Stay tuned…Coming soon “Cauliflower – A Versatile Vegan delight is In Season”
Rae Indigo is ERYT 500