Stocking your pantry with a few vegan essentials is your key to success against a rumbling stomach. I always keep certain products handy for making easy meals and snacks. Here are some of my essential healthy pantry items …(okay, some need to be refrigerated, but all are essential!)
1. Nuts of all varieties: Nuts a great snack to reach for when hunger strikes. Plus, when you start experimenting with them you’ll find many ways to incorporate them in your recipes. Put nus in your food processor for a few minutes and they turn into a flour, process them even longer and you’ve got a nut butter. You can even make delicious vegan cheeses from nuts! One of my favorites ways to use cashews is this vegan cashew cheese sauce.
2. Quinoa: This grain is a complete protein, which means it includes all nine essential amino acids. I like to use quinoa instead of rice in my stir fries and as a replacement to pasta in pasta salads. Quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor and soaks up the flavors of whatever you mix with it. Keep an eye out for a quinoa post this week.
3. Chia seeds: Yes, these are the actual seeds from the infamous chia pet commercial of the late 80′s early 90′s. Chia seeds are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids and a great source of fiber. Perfect to sprinkle on cereals and oatmeal. This superfood becomes pudding like when mixed with liquid. I love it in my overnight oats.
4. Oatmeal: I use oatmeal on its own and in baked goods. You can grind this down to oat flour and use it in your cookies and cupcakes!
5. Dates: A healthy sugar substitute! I love this date-sweetened coconut ice cream.
6. Beans of all varieties. Beans are high in protein and so easy to make a meal out of. We have black bean tacos at least once a week. Chickpeas are another favorite. Good for falafel, over a salad and my favorite way, chickpea cookie dough!
7. Hummus: Made from chickpeas, this dip is full of fiber and protein and so tasty. I use it as a dip for my raw vegetables and as a spread on these pinto bean falafels.
8. Tofu: An absolute necessity for me. I use this stuff like crazy. We grill it, roast it, pan fry it, you name it, I’ve probably tried it. Here are a few of my favorite tofu recipes: tofu salad (great for lunch!), grilled tofu polenta stacks, hummus crusted rosemary tofu, and buffalo tofu bites.
9. Non-dairy milks: I use these in cereals, cream sauces, smoothies or as a drink on it’s own. There is a wide range of non-dairy milks out there to suit many different palettes; rice, almond, coconut, and hemp to name a few. My favorite is almond, I love it in this peanut butter cacao nib smoothie.
10. Nutritional Yeast: This is a great product to mimic the taste of cheese. I love it used in my version of vegan nacho cheese sauce.