Three months into my vegan lifestyle and my pantry has been completely transformed. There are things that you never would have seen before that are now my staples. And there are things that were once my staples that are no longer part of my food vocabulary. Now that I’ve finally had time to clear out the old and organize the new, I thought I’d share my vegan kitchen with you, just in case you’re new to this, or you are thinking about becoming animal free but don’t know what to expect.
Grains, so many wonderful grains. I'm not a nutritionist, but I don't buy into the whole Carbs Are Bad mantra. Complex carbohydrates are an important source of protein, and they give you energy if you eat the right kind. In my pantry you'll find brown rice, black rice, white rice, barley, quinoa, oats, chia seeds, hemp seeds, corn meal, polenta, and pasta. I like to balance my meals with something from each food group. High protein carbs mixed with legumes and vegetables can make a pretty awesome meal, trust me.
You'll also see an assortment of nuts in my pantry. Almonds are a must because I nosh on them throughout the day and I make milk out of them several times a week. Cashews are another important part of my diet. I use them in so many recipes. Soaked and blended they make a wonderful egg replacer for waffles, pancakes, and baked treats. The little pile of seeds in the forefront are sunflower seeds. I like to add them to salads, sandwiches, and sauces for a savory crunch.
Beans were a big part of my diet before I became a vegan, and they're even more important now because they're an essential source of protein. I keep a supply of black beans (great for Mexican food), red beans (chili, beans and rice...), and garbanzo beans, my go to favorite. I open a can, rinse them, add some diced tomato and basil, sprinkle a little balsamic and olive oil on top, and voila, a perfect lunch.
Coconut milk is a new addition to my pantry. This stuff rocks! I made a delicious cheesecake out of it, along with soaked cashews, and coconut oil. It's also a great ingredient in Asian recipes.
Vegetable and mushroom stock, kalamata olives, dried unsweetened coconut (makes good milk), hemp hearts, and agave nectar round out the dry goods in my pantry.
These three are my baking essentials. Vegan cane sugar has taken the place of the sugar that I used to eat because it had bone char in it. Gross! If I had been aware of that when I wasn't vegan I would have changed to the vegan sugar.
Earth Balance soy free butter. I never eat butter on my bread, I only use it for cooking and baking, and I try to use it sparingly. The good news is that I really can't taste a difference between this and dairy butter.
Egg replacer is a must for certain baked goods. I use it to make my cakes, muffins, and cookies. The most important thing to remember when using this is to measure exactly as instructed.
Olive oil and coconut oil are my go to oils. I'll use peanut oil or sesame oil if I'm making stir fry. Coconut oil is high heat tolerant and doesn't have a true flavor. Olive oil is perfect for sauces, salad dressing, and dipping.
Balsamic vinegar is my favorite for salads that I pair with Italian food. White balsamic and white vinegar are great if you want to make a fruity or mustard based vinaigrette. I love red wine vinegar if I'm making a strawberry or raspberry salad dressing.
As you can see, there are also canned tomatoes and an ancient grain pancake mix that I didn't highlight. I didn't include the tomatoes because I'm phasing out the cans for tetra packed tomatoes. I've recently become aware that a lot of canned goods contain Bisphenol A or BPA. This chemical can imitate hormones in a way that is dangerous to our health. Citrus based foods absorb the chemical more than non acidic foods, so it's best to avoid cans that contain it. A few manufactures are omitting BPA from the liners of the cans, but I think it's just easier to buy tetra packs.
The other side of my pantry contains the munchies. Potato chips for my hubby, corn chips for both of us, all of our nuts, wasabi peas, and popcorn. You get the idea.
Out of this one cupboard and my refrigerator that's stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables, and other perishables, I make amazing, healthy vegan meals every day of the week. A little creativity and a lot of passion can feed your stomach and your soul, all without harming animals. How awesome is that?