Transitioning into a vegan, or plant-based lifestyle can seem intimidating. Even the thought of following, and maintaining a healthy diet is overwhelming, at times, especially at the beginning. The key to maintaining a healthy habit is efficient planning.
There are so many vegan options to buy nowadays, as the vegan diet is becoming more common. The bad news is, that most of those options are heavily processed, and full of fat and added sugar. Vegan junk food is a culprit. Indulging in it, every once in a while, and in small quantities, shouldn’t pose a problem. The problem begins when people forget about the essentials. Which the vegan diet is abundant.
Creating a list gives us a better understanding of what to have in our arsenal. This will provide us with the building blocks of our vegan pantry. In order for us to eat healthfully, we must go back to the basics. A nutritious vegan diet consists of consuming enough protein, and enough lightly processed/ complex carbohydrates, as well as consuming fat, sodium, and added sugar sparingly. Combining nutrient-dense vegan food items, with exercise, hydration, and adequate rest will ensure our success.
Each category is important. If it is not the main one, it is one that complements your dishes. Oils and added sugar are not nutritious and contain empty calories. Meaning; they are high in calories but are not satiating. Too much salt contributes to health problems, such as high blood pressure. On a brighter note, your palate has the ability to change, hence it adapts to less salt. Lemon juice is an excellent substitute for table salt.
In-season produce is always best. It’s more nutritious, and more often than not, fresher. Dried fruit is an awesome snack. Mixing them with oats, and some nuts or nut butter makes a complete meal. Let’s not forget about frozen fruit. They are the backup fruits. If stored properly they can last for a long time.
This is, by no means, a complete list of all of the vegetables that exist. I picked these because they are the most versatile.
Pickles always add that extra zhuzh!
manzanilla olives stuffed with pimento
mixed pickled vegetables
Whole grains are high in antioxidants and dietary fiber. Starches are essential pantry items (staples). You can bake, make breakfast, make meals, and snacks with them. Take oats, for example!
unbleached all purpose flour
minimally processed ramen noodles
blanched almond flour
minimally processed whole grain breads
mung bean noodles
lightly-salted rice cakes
whole wheat flour
Other Baking Items
unsweetenened cocoa powder
vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
Flaxseed is not on this list. It is under nuts & seeds. This is a baking section, and a nifty trick is mixing flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed) with water, which can be used instead of eggs, to create a binding agent in vegan baking. The ratio is 1 tbsp flaxseed meal to 3 tbsp water. Mix well, and let sit for 5 minutes, then use.
Beans and tofu can be used in so many sweet and savory meals. And there are so many options to choose from. Here are some great protein options:
besan (gram flour)
extra firm tofu
nutritious protein shakes
Canned Food Items
Canned items are always great when you don’t want to spend a lot of time preparing food. They’re especially handy when going on trips.
Jams & Spreads
Jams are a terrific pantry item. I prefer homemade jam, with as little sugar added as possible. Grocery stores do have no sugar-added jams, but they’re either expensive or hard to find. Nevertheless, the internet is full of homemade jam recipes like this one.
natural almond butter
natural peanut butter
red plum jam
roasted garlic paste
sour cherry jam
macadamia nut butter
Using cooking oil in moderation adds different flavor profiles to cooking. Here are the main ones:
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are good sources of essential amino acids. They add different flavors to meals, not to mention that wonderful crunch. Again, moderation is key.
unsweetened shredded coconut
Compared to regular white sugar, these sweeteners have depth to them and produce more pleasurable flavors.
monk fruit in the raw
stevia in the raw
The list of seasoning is never-ending. Experiment, make your own, mix, and match. Start with small amounts, and add more as needed.
chinese 5 spice
red curry powder
red pepper flakes
garlic powder kosher salt
yellow curry powder
Sauces & Condiments
Sauces make or break a dish. Tread with caution, but don’t be afraid to try out different combinations.
apple cider vinegar
white wine vinegar
red wine vinegar
vegan bbq sauce
vegan buffalo sauce
lite-sodium soy sauce
Credits: Sandi Benedicta, source: unsplash.com
A staple in our kitchen is unsweetened soy milk. Not only is it a good source of protein, but the “modern-day” soy milk also doesn’t have that horrible after-taste. It tastes creamy and substitutes regular milk nicely. Soy milk is great in porridge, protein shakes, and baking.
If the goal is to consume empty calories scarcely, opting for unsweetened, or lightly-sweetened plant milk is the way to go.
light coconut milk
Credits: Janko Ferlic, source: unsplash.com
Kitchenware is an important part of making and preparing food. Besides the essentials, like silverware, plates, cups, and bowls, this is a list of what helps us enjoy our cooking and food prep processes.
air popcorn popper
stainless steel pots
fruit cutting board
stainless steel strainer
convection over/air fryer
heavy duty blender
heavy duty cutting board
food prep containers
mixing bowl with lid
stainless steel pans
Recommended kitchen appliance brands are:
Breville (convection oven)
kitchen aid (mixer)
Presto (air popcorn popper)