How to stock your vegan kitchen

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Thinking about transitioning to vegan? Do you want to eat healthier and shop thriftier? Or do you simply want to know how to organize your meat-free kitchen better? Here are some staples to stock at home so it’s easy to cook tasty, nutritious vegan meals whenever you want.

You can find the below items at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, your local health food stores, and even large supermarkets like Safeway, Harris Teeter and Giant. Thankfully, most grocery stores now have at least a “natural” or “health food” section. For those of you in the Maryland/Virginia area, My Organic Market (http://momsorganicmarket.com/retailer/store_templates/ret_about_us.asp?storeID=A6B40AE98C7842A98FC8DE4784880288) is my favorite one-stop place to shop.

Refrigerator




4. Daiya shredded “cheese” (http://www.daiyafoods.com/our-products/cheddar). The best vegan cheese hands down.


6. Miso (http://www.great-eastern-sun.com/index.php/miso/traditionalmisos/miso-9.html). Miso paste is made from a mixture of soy beans, rice or barley that has been fermented. It’s great to use in sauces and dressings, as well as making homemade miso soup (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Miso-Soup-103391).

7. Tahini (http://www.arrowheadmills.com/product/sesame-tahini-organic). Tahini is made from sesame seeds. Essential for making your own hummus! It’s so easy.

Traditional Hummus

1 can chickpeas
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

--Add everything to food processor except olive oil. Blend ingredients, while slowing pouring in olive oil. Blend until thick, creamy consistency.

Also try making your own baba ganoush and other Middle Eastern-inspired dishes (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/23/sesame-treat-cooking-with-tahini/) at home.

8. Tofu/Seitan/Tempeh. I recommend this (http://www.westsoytofu.com/products/seitan.html) seitan and this (http://www.lightlife.com/Vegan-Food-Vegetarian-Diet/Organic-Three-Grain-Tempeh) organic whole grain tempeh. Soyboy (http://www.soyboy.com/baked.htm) brand has really good baked tofu marinated in Asian, Caribbean or Italian flavors.


9. Dijon mustard. If you’re not allergic to mustard, this is delicious in homemade salad dressings. Also for making the best Brussels sprouts: sauté sprouts with some shallots in dry white wine, vegetable broth and Dijon to taste.

10. Dairy-free yogurts. WholeSoy & Co (http://www.wholesoyco.com/our-products/6oz-soy-yogurt/apricot-mango/item/apricot-mango) and Silk Live! soy yogurt (http://silksoymilk.com/products/yogurt), So Delicious coconut milk yogurt (http://www.turtlemountain.com/products/coconut-milk-yogurts), and Amande almond milk yogurt (http://amandeyogurt.com/).

11. Vegan coffee creamer. I’m obsessed with this (http://silksoymilk.com/products/silk-creamer/french-vanilla).


Freezer:

1. Frozen fruit. For smoothies or just to snack on.

2. Frozen veggies. Always good to have in case you run out of fresh produce mid-week. I keep a supply of frozen spinach especially for making green smoothies.

3. Fresh ginger. Keeping ginger root in the freezer is a handy way to extend its shelf life. Add grated ginger to dressings and sauces to give them a little zest. Heidi Swanson's ginger tofu and soba noodle dish (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/ginger-soba-noodles-recipe.html) is delicious.

4. Frozen soup. Make large batches of your favorites and reserve for sick days or nights when you don’t feel like cooking.


6. Couple quick meals (http://amyskitchen.com/products/product-detail/details/000051) if you're stressed for time and need something hearty.



Pantry

1. Extra virgin olive oil

2. Bragg’s apple cider vinegar (http://bragg.com/products/bragg-organic-apple-cider-vinegar.html) and amino acids (http://bragg.com/products/bragg-liquid-aminos-soy-alternative.html). They make a good Ginger Sesame salad dressing too.

3. Nutritional yeast (http://bragg.com/products/bragg-premium-nutritional-yeast-seasoning-salt-free.html). The shaker top is convenient for sprinkling on popcorn, brown rice etc. but I normally just buy bulk.

4. Egg replacer (http://www.bobsredmill.com/vegetarian-egg-replacer.html?&cat=2) for baking sweets, making quiches/casseroles, and holding veggie/bean patties together.


6. Agave nectar (http://www.wholesomesweeteners.com/brands/Wholesome_Sweeteners/Organic_Raw_Blue_Agave.html). Use as a honey substitute when baking, add to oatmeal, sweeten tea etc. Agave nectar has a low glycemic index, which makes it a healthy sweetener that won’t give you a sugar rush.

7. Assortment of whole grains: brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, oats, millet, farro, wheat berries, whole-wheat couscous and other pastas

8. Canned (or dry if you’re into that) beans, canned tomatoes and soups

9. Vegetable bullion cubes. Rapunzel brand is good, which Whole Foods and My Organic Market carry, but your local health food store should have a few vegan stocks to choose from.

10. Garlic and onion! Sautéing garlic and onion with extra virgin olive oil in a pan is the foundation to most successful savory dishes.

11. Sunflower seeds. Buy raw unsalted. Toast seeds on the stovetop or in toaster oven and sprinkle on salads, pasta dishes or add to granola.

12. Nut butter. This (http://www.earthbalancenatural.com/product/creamy-peanut-butter/) is my favorite peanut butter. Of course, if you do not have a nut allergy, explore all the kinds out there: peanut, almond, cashew, hazelnut, raw, roasted, unsalted etc.

13. Vital wheat gluten (http://www.bobsredmill.com/vital-wheat-gluten.html). As long as you’re not eating gluten-free, this is handy for baking and for helping homemade veggie burgers stick together.

Take what you will from this list. Stocking up on fridge and pantry essentials will save you a lot of time and money in the future. Ideally, you only have to shop often for fresh produce and a new carton of almond milk. Everything else, including whole grains, beans, spices and seasonings are already in your kitchen.

Bon appetite!

Rachel Fryer | Email
New Orleans, LA This vegetarian Bikram yoga teacher and English grad student loves writing about meat-free food, fitness and healthy lifestyle tips. Rachel also enjoys traveling, reading historical fiction, eating spicy food and drinking coconut water after an especially sweaty yoga class. She can't wait to adopt a shelter dog (or three) in the near future.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/nancyhugo

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