With the release of What the Health and Okja on Netflix, I’ve had several friends ask me for tips on eating Vegan. I started with my list of plant-based protein sources, and thought it would be helpful to share some of my staples I keep stocked in my cabinets and fridge/freezer.
Let’s start with dry goods:
- Quinoa – It comes in a variety of options and you can also get a pre-cooked variety from Trader Joe’s frozen section.
- Brown Rice – I usually get the instant variety or a pre-cooked frozen bag because I’m not great at cooking rice. If you have a rice cooker or instant pot, whole grain brown rice is definitely the way to go.
- PB2 – If you’re avoiding peanuts for any reason, I also like almond butter, but in my opinion the powder mixes better in smoothies, which is what I keep it on hand for.
- Rolled and Steel Cut Oats – While Steel Cut has negligibly more nutritional content than their rolled counterpart, both are great items to have on hand. Rolled are great to mill into flour using your blender (my Nutribullet handles the task just fine) for baking, and are easier to make in the microwave. I would recommend avoiding oatmeal packets as these usually contain added sugar and preservatives.
- Bars – Lately I’ve stocked up on Health Warrior bars. To get a discount on your order at www.healthwarrior.com, you can use my code “HEALTHY.HANN30”.
- Nutritional Yeast – Fortified versions have B12 and adds a cheesy flavor to foods.
- Pasta – I don’t eat much pasta, but you can find lots of whole wheat vegan varieties!
In my fridge, I always have on hand:
- Lemons/limes – These are great for adding flavor to salads without dressing, or adding to water.
- Fresh fruit – I’ve been buying red grapes lately for their antioxidants, but I also love all types of berries when they are in season, too. I also buy a couple apples to eat as snacks and fend of sugar cravings – I like pink lady and honeycrisp, but Granny Smith has less sugar, so sometimes I’ll buy those.
- Avocados – I buy 2-3 small avocados a week to eat on toast and salads. I probably eat 1/3- 1/2 of an avocado a day, but not every day. I’ve found the secret to keeping them fresh is storing them with the used side covering the side that’s leftover with the pit still in tact.
- Organic Baby Spinach or kale (or both) – It comes down to personal preference but I usually have both for smoothies and salads. Kale is great for smoothies because the blender will start the process of breaking down its tougher fibers, but it also has a stronger flavor than spinach. I prefer the pre-washed bags and boxes of spinach and kale because I don’t currently have a salad spinner, but buying fresh, unpackaged, is obviously cheaper.
- Various Vegetables – this varies week to week as I get a lot of my produce from a local co-op, Fresh Harvest, which sources in-season fruits and vegetables and delivers them to me at my workplace. You can sub anything you don’t like for something else as long as you update your basket online in time. If you live in the Atlanta area and you’re interested in joining, you can mention my name in the referral box for a discount off your first delivery to your home or office. If you’re not ordering from a co-op, try to buy in season and think about planning your meals for the week before your grocery shop so you don’t have a bunch of randoms left over to try and put together.
- Cauliflower – If someone asks me my favorite food, I always say cauliflower, and as such, I always keep it on hand to roast for dinner when I’m feeling lazy (or just craving it).
- Hemp seeds – These usually find their way onto Avocado toast or salads, but can also be used in smoothies.
- Almond Milk – I’ve tried a few brands, but unsweetened vanilla varieties are my favorites to use in smoothies or added to hot tea. Be sure to check the ingredients and buy brands that don’t use carrageenan.
- Organic Extra Firm Tofu – I don’t eat this every day or even every week (read my blog post on Tofu, here), but I do like to keep it on hand.
- Kite Hill cream cheese style spread – Again, I don’t eat this every day, and I don’t always have it on hand, but the chive flavor is amazing and great to have on hand when your coworker brings bagels every Friday.
- Tahini – I keep a jar in the fridge for making homemade salad dressing and hummus.
- Earth Balance Vegan Butter – This is great for when you need that buttery taste with no dairy. It comes in several varieties like coconut, soy free, original and more.
- Liquid Aminos – You can use coconut aminos or Bragg’s in place of soy sauce.
- Kombucha – Included for the sake of completeness, I keep a few bottles of GT’s kombucha in my fridge at all times. I usually have a mix of the pasteurized and classic (the dark bottles that contain up to 0.5% alcohol) so I can sip on them throughout the week.
In my freezer, I keep:
- Ezekiel Bread – If you’ve ever tried to find this bread at the grocery store, it’s usually in the freezer section with the exception of Trader Joe’s and Sprouts. At TJ’s you’ll find it with the rest of the bread unchilled, and at Sprouts it’s in the refrigerated bread section. You could keep it in your fridge once you buy it if you’ll use it quickly, but I prefer to keep it frozen for longer shelf life. It really shouldn’t be left on the counter more than a day because the live grains will mold quickly.
- Frozen Bananas – I let my bananas get slightly spotty, then peel and cut in half and store them in the freezer for smoothies.
- Other Frozen Fruit – I also keep Mango pineapple, and berries for various smoothie combos, too.
- Frozen quinoa – What can I say, I like to keep a lazy girl option on hand?
- Boca crumbles – I mentioned in my Protein post I like to keep these on hand just in case. I don’t use them often, but are a great Protein boost for tacos, chili, or spaghetti sauce.
- Green Peas – These are easy to steam or sometimes I’ll throw them on a salad still frozen for a nice crunch.
- Frozen Okra – I love my okra and cook this by lightly steaming it and then roasting it.
What else do I keep in my cabinets:
- Organic Canned Black beans
- Organic Canned Chickpeas
- Organic Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
- Lentils – These are super easy to cook and come in a lot of varieties too.
- Coconut oil – Use this in place of butter in your stir fry or baking recipes.
- Hot sauce – Duh.
Can you think of any staples I missed? Let me know your staples in the comments!