Last month I moved out of my very homey apartment in Athens, Georgia and flew up north to Washington D.C. I moved into a temporary house for the summer that I share with two other interns. Not wanting to take over the kitchen and scare my new roomies away, I accumulated a list of things I use almost daily as a vegan. These are the products I am constantly using in my kitchen for various reasons. As you will see most of these items are not produce. I tend to change up my produce with the season or current sales. I also like to buy produce in smaller doses to prevent cluttering in the kitchen and because I do not currently have a car, so I have to carry my groceries home (and I am no push-up queen). For these reasons, I created a list of 10 vegan staples that I use pretty much daily and that don’t spoil quickly. With these you can jazz up or create a number of easy vegan meals. I’ll talk more about how to use each one specifically.
Most individuals on the standard American diet have no idea what this is (but they should cause it’s AMAZING). Tahini is made from blended sesame seeds.. so like peanut butter but with sesame seeds instead of peanuts. I use this in EVERYTHING. Salads, pasta sauce, Chinese food.. you name it. This is a great substitute for making creamy healthy sauces without using oils. I mainly use it for salad dressings and Buddha bowls. My favorite sauce to make is 1-2 Tbsp of tahini mixed with the juice from one lemon. So simple, so healthy, and so so delicious. I could seriously eat this plain (I actually do sometimes).
Buy this in bulk to save money. I use lentils at least 5 times a week. I love putting lentils on salads and veggie bowls. I also love making an Indian lentil dahl by adding turmeric and other spices. Another great way to use this, that I am currently perfecting a recipe for, is for a healthy meat free Bolognese sauce.
Whenever someone says eating healthy is expensive, my first thought is “girl do you know how much a banana is?” Bananas are soooooo cheap, and if you are looking to buy them for even cheaper try asking the staff in the produce section if they have boxes they don’t plan on using or that you can buy in bulk. I love buying bananas in bulk over the summer and freezing them (remember to freeze them without the peel.. definitely made that rookie mistake the first time I did this) and using them for smoothies!
Also a smoothie staple. Spirulina is a green algae that is great antioxidant, immune booster, and source of energy.
Quinoa or Rice
Both of these should be on every vegan’s staple list. Both great to bulk up a salad, use as a base for a Buddha bowl, pair with curry, etc.
In my opinion, pure maple syrup is the best sugar alternative. I use this for all things I want to add sweetness to: oatmeal, coffee, baked goods, hot cocoa, and I even use it in pasta sauces.
If you are looking to lose weight and need some small alternatives to replace calorically dense foods, an easy swap is trading your normal peanut butter for powdered peanut butter powder. Peanut butter is (delicious of course, but) high in calories and fat; approximately 200 calories just for 2 tablespoons.. and let’s be real, who can only eat 2 tablespoons at a time?
Spices..Specially 3: Pink Himalayan Sea Salt, Cracked Pepper, and Red Chili Flakes
I top every salad, bowl, pasta, dahl, etc. with these three spices. Sometimes instead of making a dressing for my meal I just add some lemon juice and these three. It’s amazing, I promise.
Speaking of lemons.. I am not exaggerating when I say I put lemon juice on/in literally everything. I use it for salad dressings, I put it in my water and teas, I even squeeze it over pasta, avocado toast, and chili. The great thing about lemons is that they are extremely cheap, great for digestion, and so versatile.
Oats can do anything. Besides their amazing capability to make oatmeal, they can be the secret ingredient to a gooey chocolate chip cookie, blueberry pancakes, protein balls, veggie burgers and more! They work as great binder for recipes and blend easily to make out flour.
I am not really a superfood person but I recently started using these little guys and I love them! I mostly add them into oatmeal and smoothies. I like adding these because they keep me fuller longer and give me a little energy boost. If you have a fast metabolism like me, I’m sure you find yourself awkwardly apologizing to your co-workers when your stomach starts furiously gurgling around 11 a.m. Adding an extra source of healthy fats, such as chia seeds, to your breakfast can help delay this awkward apology for a bit longer.