Use these different ingredients to create a plant-powered pantry

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Are you veg-curious? Ready to bring more plant-based foods into your life? Once you’ve made that decision, it’s time to rev up your pantry.

We’ve compiled a list of pantry staples that will help you broaden your cooking repertoire and prepare foods more easily. 

Legumes

Legumes are probably one of the most under utilized foods in the standard diet, but they are gaining well-deserved popularity. Here are some common varieties of beans and legumes to stock in your pantry:

  • Chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, white beans, adzuki beans
  • Red and green lentils
  • Soy beans are another plant-powered staple, though most often consumed in the form of tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and fresh as edamame.

Grains and grain products

Expand the grains in your pantry beyond rice and oats. Here are some common whole grains and their related flours to stock in your pantry:

  • Whole grains including quinoa, brown rice varieties, millet, oats, cornmeal, barley, amaranth, bulgur, spelt, and kamut berries
  • Whole grain flours including oat flour, spelt flour, gamut flour, whole-wheat flour, and gluten-free flours
  • Whole-grain products including breads, pastas, and cereals

Seeds and seed butters

Discover seeds on a plant-based diet. Extremely delicious, and versatile for snacks, cereals, salad toppers, trail mixes, and more:

  • Chia
  • Flax
  • Hemp
  • Poppy
  • Pumpkin (and pumpkin butter)
  • Sesame (and sesame butter known as tahini)
  • Sunflower (and sunflower butter)

Nuts and nut butters

Most of us eat almonds or cashews as a snack. Have you ever snacked on pistachios or macadamia nuts? Or, have you tried cashew butter or pecan butter? Look for these in your grocery store:

  • Almonds (and almond meal/flour)
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts

As with seeds, many nuts are churned into butters. They are more common and popular than seed butters as they’re generally naturally sweeter. Common nut butters include almond, cashew, hazelnut, pecan, and walnut. Soy nut butters are another option, as well as classic peanut butter. These are both technically legumes, however, not tree nuts. If purchasing nut/peanut butters, look for those made with pure nuts.

Coconut products

Coconut products have become very popular and are very versatile in plant-based cooking. Coconut is often viewed as a nut, however it’s actually a fruit- so typically well suited for those with nut allergies. Products include flaked coconut, shredded coconut, coconut flour, and coconut butter.

Frozen fruits and vegetables

It is very helpful to have a variety of frozen fruits and veggies for quick meals and when items aren’t seasonal. Look for these in your grocery store:

  • Dried fruit including apricots, cranberries, dates, goji berries, and raisins
  • Frozen fruit including bananas, blueberries, mangoes, pineapple, raspberries, and strawberries
  • Frozen vegetables including artichokes, broccoli, corn, peas, winter squash (cubed)

Dairy substitutes

We have so many vegan alternatives now, not just for cow’s milk but for all dairy products:

  • Nondairy milks: For drinking, cooking, and baking. For most purposes, I prefer plain unsweetened almond and organic soy milks. Other popular nondairy milk includes coconut, rice, hemp, flax, and oat milks. You can make your own dairy-free milks at home. Canned coconut milk is also terrific in cooking and desserts (but not for drinking, cereals, etc)
  • Nondairy yogurts, cheeses, creams, and ice creams: We have yogurts made from almond and coconut bases, cultured nut cheeses and allergen-friendly cheeses, and fantastic ice creams made from cashew, almond, soy, rice, and coconut.

Condiments and seasonings

Seasoning plant-based meals is not much different than for standard meals. However, there are many more natural and healthful options, including:

  • Vinegars (apple cider, balsamic, coconut, red wine, rice)
  • Sauces/pastes (barbecue, chipotle, vegan worcestershire, ketchup, tomato paste, miso, tamari, mustards)
  • Cured/pickled foods (olives, capers, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers)
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Sea salt and seasoned salts
  • Dried herbs and spices

Sweeteners

Use fruit purees, dried fruits, and hr sweeteners in your baking and cooking. My favourites include:

  • Applesauce (unsweetened, organic)
  • Bananas (overripe)
  • Dried fruits (dates, raisins, apricots, and more)
  • Sweet potatoes (yellow and orange)
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Coconut sugar

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Rely on fresh and seasonal produce as the foundation of your diet. Keep quantities of longer storage items like potatoes, winter squash, onions, and root vegetables in cool storage. Shop frequently for more perishable fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens.


Dreena Burton is the author of Plant-Powered Families and other bestselling vegan cookbooks. She is a featured speaker at VegExpo 2016. Find Dreena’s recipes at plantpoweredkitchen.com.

Veg Expo presented by Choices Markets

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When: April 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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