Essential Ingredients for Every Vegan Kitchen

A vegan diet can vastly improve your health, and it’s much more interesting than a regimen of salad greens. Still, you don’t want to rely on frozen dinners and processed vegan snacks. The best way a vegan can get all their essential nutrients is by cooking their own meals with the right ingredients. This is where most people get nervous. What! Cooking real food without animal products? Seriously, it’s not as hard as you think.First, pack your pantry with a few essential vegan ingredients that are useful in many recipes.

LEGUMES

Let’s start with beans. Beans are low in fat, but high in fiber, protein and good carbs that keep your energy levels regular throughout the day. You can get dried or canned beans of any kind, but a few indispensible beans include: black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, chick peas, split peas, lentils.

GRAINS

Grains aren’t limited to wheat and rice. In fact, let’s forget about wheat and rice for a moment and focus on a few grains that fit perfectly into a healthy vegan diet. First, completely bypass any refined flour or rice. Processed foods are stripped of vital nutrients. Instead, stock-up your vegan pantry with whole grains like barley, oats, millet, quinoa and wheat berry … just to name a few.

NUTS AND SEEDS

This is pretty straightforward, but try to buy raw nuts and seeds for greater nutritional value, and stay away from salted or other flavored nuts. A few vegan favorites are almonds, hazel nuts, walnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds. Seeds are always packed with nutrients and, it might sound strange but watermelon and apple seeds are also filled with vitamins and minerals, so consider eating these as well.

OTHER VEGAN STAPLES

Always keep a box of Ener-G egg replacer. Made of a variety of starches, Ener-G works wonders for baking. It’s a great substitute for both egg whites and egg yolks. You’ll also want to keep at least a few cans of pureed, diced and stewed tomatoes as well as some canned pumpkin and some applesauce. All three of these items come in handy with a variety of vegan recipes. For sweeteners, use agave nectar (made from the same cactus used to make tequila) or stevia, and remember to keep a variety of oils on hand like olive and sesame oil.

Related: Review of Vegan Protein Powder

Most people know that almond or soymilk is a must in any vegan fridge as is block soy, tempeh and frozen organic vegetables. You might also want to include a jar of Veganaise (as a mayo substitute), and a bag of flake-form nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast is not the same thing, so be sure you’re getting nutritional yeast. It’s a wonderful source of B12 and a tasty way to dress up popcorn!

A vegan diet can be diverse, delicious and extremely healthy. So if you’re a new vegan, pack your pantry with these staples, head to the kitchen and get cookin’!