Vegan cooking can be daunting at first. Here are 18 vegan essentials that will help you master those vegan recipes.
As I mentioned in my first post on this blog, one of the best things for me about going vegan is it forces you to cook better. There are thousands of vegan recipes out there to be tried. You won’t get far though unless your cupboard is well stocked.
You should always buy organic, non-GMO and ethical products where possible. The intake of harmful chemicals from processed foods over a long period of time is damaging to your health. I understand this is not always practical but we should try as best as we can.
Lucky for us, most supermarkets are now very good at labelling products to help us shop ethically. The charity Veganuary offers a helpful guide here.
Avoid canned food. I know this is not always realistic and I also use canned goods every now and then simply for convenience. But, I would not make a habit of using canned foods. They go through huge processing methods that can remove a lot of the food’s nutrients. There can also be extra ingredients lurking inside and the can itself leaks nasty chemicals such as BPA into the food.
Where to BuyEverything on this list should be available in your local supermarket or health shop. If you do not live in an area where these items are readily available they can all be bought online, just click the images.
So, here is my list of essential items you need in your cupboard:
This is essential to add to soups and stews. I also add a tablespoon to quinoa and rice when cooking for extra flavour.
Packed full of nutrients, fibre and antioxidants.
A great parmesan cheese replacement. Also a key ingredient to a lot of the homemade vegan cheese recipes out there. It can also be used to make vegan pesto.
Nutritional Yeast is a great source of protein and B12.
Chickpeas, black beans, red and yellow lentils.
It’s important to buy your beans and legumes dried. This means you have to soak them overnight. I understand this can be a ball ache.
However, beans and legumes contain a chemical called phytic acid. It blocks absorption of certain vitamins and minerals, also known as ‘the anti-nutrient’.
Soaking, cooking or sprouting reduces the phytic acid content. Due to their hot and quick pressurised cooking process, canned foods maintain a lot of the phytic acid. The food is then pointless to consume as you are unable to absorb the nutrients.
Essential as part of a healthy breakfast. Avoid quick and instant oats though as they lack any real nutritional value.
Steel oats are full of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Peanut, cashew, walnuts, almonds and pecans.
It’s important that you also soak your nuts. Again, they contain phytic acid which can work as an ‘anti-nutrient’ in the body.
Sunflower, hemp, pumpkin and sesame seeds for salads, roast veggies, burger patties, stews and many other dishes. I often just eat a small bowl of salted pumpkin seeds as a snack.
Flax seeds are great for baking as an egg replacement. Chia seeds are great for smoothies.
All are a great source of protein, especially chia as they include all the essential amino acids.
Whole grain brown rice, quinoa and whole grain pasta.
Whole grains are important because they contain vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, phytochemicals and fibre. Refined grains such as white rice and wheat flour are much less nutritious.
There are vast amounts of health benefits in apple cider vinegar.
Extra virgin olive, flax and coconut.
I use olive and flaxseed oil to add to salads, hummus and baba ganoush. You should use coconut oil for any type of cooking whether it’s in a pan or in the oven. This is due to its high smoking point and it’s health benefits.
You can use normal table salt if you don’t fancy paying out for the Himalayan stuff. But you should read the health benefits first.
Oregano, Basil, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Thyme and Herbes De Provence.
Used in all manner of recipes. All are essential!
Cumin, Cayenne Pepper, Paprika (plain & smoked), Garam Masala, Turmeric, Chilli Powder, Ginger Powder, Garlic Powder, Fennel Seeds and Mustard Seeds)
I believe the best vegan food you can make comes in the form of a curry. Therefore, the above is always in my cupboard.
Soy sauce is a great cooking aid and condiment.
If you don’t want Soy you can use coconut aminos which is very similar. It’s slightly sweeter but also contains all the essential amino acids. It is pricier as a result.
I recommend making your own, it’s so simple and you can adjust to your liking. I like Jamie Olivers chilli sauce recipe. A good hot sauce is essential, I add it to pretty much everything I eat.
Chillis are full of vitamin C. They help digestion, burn fat and can assist in the relief of migraines and muscle, joint and nerve pain.
Coconut cream has a thousand different uses. I personally use it as a creamer in my curries, soups and smoothies.
It’s also far healthier than dairy cream and is packed full of benefits such as brain boosting, fat burning and energizing medium-fatty acids.
Can be used to replace nasty nutrient-free refined sugar. Perfect for baking, in your tea/coffee and sprinkled on pancakes.
It also packs nutrients like zinc and iron as well as antioxidants.
I use cacao powder mostly to in my smoothies and to bake my butter bean brownies (recipe coming soon). It can be used in many baking recipes.
Cacao is a superfood. It contains 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries! The highest source of plant-based iron. Packed with magnesium, more calcium than cow’s milk and it has been proven to work as an anti-depressant.
This one is pretty obvious, you use it to bake. However, there are many other ways to use baking powder that you probably don’t know.
There you have it, that is my essential vegan cupboard shopping list. If you think I have missed any essentials out please let me know.