pantry

i thought it would be helpful if i included my pantry basics.  check back sometime again for additions as a find/fall in love with new ingredients!  for those readers who are already familiar with vegan cooking, a lot of this will be familiar territory for you but for those who are new to veganism or who are trying out plant-based recipes, these are some of my favourite things that i like to keep within arms reach....

fresh fruits &  veggies...
i love my summers for my csa (community shared agriculture) subscription when it's all about what's fresh and local and seasonal!  additionally, my favourites that i always try to have on hand include baby spinach, avocados, bananas, tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, and kale (of course!) 

whole grains...
brown rice - this is by far my favourite grain...it's nutty and filling and a breeze to make (especially when i plug in my rice cooker!)

quinoa - i first discovered quinoa back in my university days when i'd buy it in bulk in a little paper bag at the stone store in guelph.  it's a nutrient powerhouse, cooks up in 15 minutes flat and is so versatile.  great for use where rice is called, for cold salads or tacos, but also great as a breakfast porridge too.

millet - this one is actually fairly new to me so sometimes i forget that it's even in my pantry!  millet is gluten free so it's easy on the tummy for those with gluten sensitivities.  i also love it in homemade veggie burgers!

barley - amazing chewy texture and a nice switch-up.  especially good for stews and risotto.

rolled oats - i always go for the real deal, not quick-cooking oats.  and i always buy loonsong garden oats.  they're grown and milled locally on manitoulin island and are incredible.  great for granola, soaked raw oats & baking.

protein sources...
beans - i try to keep a variety of beans & legumes in my pantry because let's face it, variety is the spice of life!  my favourites include:
                                         - chickpeas
                                         - black beans
                                         - cannelli (white) beans
                                         - red lentils
                                         - kidney beans

tofu - tofu is great because it's so versatile.  i always have extra-firm tofu on hand for grilling, frying, baking and chopping into curries & stir-fries.  i also love a good tofu ricotta!  i like to keep a bit of silken tofu on hand also for making dips and desserts.

tempeh - a lot of folks have never heard of tempeh or have maybe had a bad tempeh experience so have sworn it off.  these folks should try it again.  i LOVE tempeh.  just like tofu, it comes from soybeans.  however it is much less processed - to make tempeh whole soybeans are fermented with a grain and pressed into a block.  tempeh has rich, nutty flavour and can be braised, baked, broiled, barbecued, crumbled, cubed or grated.  the secret to tempeh is that you must steam (or simmer) it for 20 minutes before you marinate it.  this will hydrate it and cut the bitterness out.  most people that have had a b.t.e. (bad tempeh experience) likely didn't know to steam it first.  even if you've sworn it off, i urge you to try it again!!

tvp - tvp stands for texturized vegetable protein.  it's most easily found at the bulk barn.  it's purchased dehydrated, and once rehydrated it can be a stand-in for soups, sauces & chilies where you want a ground-up texture.  m loves it in our vegan bolognese.

nuts, seeds & their butter...
(i love them all but these ones are my staples)
cashews - i only buy them raw and then roast them as need be (which i don't find is very often).  they are have the ability to blend up into a rich cashew cream that can be sweet or savoury.  they're pretty much amazing.

almonds & walnuts - again, i buy them raw and will roast them on occasion for a snack but they make for great snacking raw too.  they both also are lovely in raw brownies or cookie dough bites.

sunflower seeds, hemp seeds & sesame seeds - i feel like a broken record, but buy them raw.  amazing salad toppers & granola additions.  hemp is especially high in omegas.  just try them.  you won't be sorry.  (hemp seeds/also known as hemp hearts are fairly pricey so i pick mine up at the bulk barn.)

chia seeds - these little guys are worth their weight in gold.  they look a bit like poppy seeds and are high in fibre, omegas, calcium, protein & antioxidants.  they also absorb over ten times their weight of liquid and many people like to make a chia 'gel' that can be used as a thickener or egg replacer.  try to get a tablespoon a day in by adding chia seeds to a smoothie, pudding, oats, etc.

flax seeds - also high in omegas i use flax seeds most often to make flax eggs as an egg substitute in baking.  1 tablespoon ground flax seed (flax meal) + 3 tablespoons hot water + 5 minutes = the equivalent to 1 chicken egg.

peanut butter - i only ever buy natural peanut butter (ie the only ingredient is peanuts).  if you're still a fan of of the synthetic peanut butters that are loaded with sugars, oils & salt, try making the switch.  it'll definitely be a big adjustment at first, but i guarantee that once you make the change, you will never go back to the over-processed stuff.

tahini - is sesame seed butter.  it's traditionally found in hummus to add a creaminess but also is great in sauces and salad dressings.

oils & seasonings...
toasted sesame oil - a must for asian inspired dishes!

tamari - my favourite soy sauce ever

braggs - a much different flavour from tamari.  i love it in soups and stews.

apple cider vinegar - a must for curdling non-dairy milks in baking.  it has so many other uses too - in fact there are entire websites devoted to it!

white miso paste - a salty, pungent, fermented soy bean paste.  i use it in sauces, dips and of course my vegan pseudo caesar salad dressing

dijon mustard - some like it smooth, but i love the grainy one!

nutritional yeast - not to be confused with brewer's yeast, nutritional yeast is a flaked powder that is high in b12 and has a cheesy(ish) flavour.  great in coating tofu, making sauces {like miso gravy} & dressing taste cheesy & as a popcorn topper.

extra virgin olive oil (aka evoo if i'm a lazy typist that day)
canola oil
rice vinegar
capers

for baking and sweet things...
maca powder - this raw powder is extracted from a peruvian root vegetable and has been used by indigenous peoples for hundreds of years.  it has rich, earthy flavour with notes of caramel and you need only take a very small bit of it {1/4 tsp - 1 tsp a day} to reap its benefits.  it's known to boost energy, regulated hormones & increase libido too! ;)  i like it in my chocolate smoothies & raw cookies.

earth balance vegan margarine - the best vegan butter around.  rumour has it their coconut spread is hitting the shelves in canada soon and i couldn't be happier!

agave nectar - this natural sweetener comes from the agave cactus.  that's right, the same source of tequila.  it has a mild flavour and doesn't make your blood sugar spike, meaning no crashes either!  yahoo!

maple syrup - another natural sweetener.  makes me proud to be canadian.

organic cane sugar - sometimes i need the real deal.  (i still haven't mastered a the sugar-free cupcake!)  but if i'm going to use sugar, i make sure that it's vegan and ideally organic.

flours (all purpose, whole wheat, spelt)
real extracts (vanilla, mint, coconut)
chocolate & carob chips (always check the ingredient listings as many contain milk ingredients)
dates
dried fruit (cranberries, unsweetened coconut, etc)
frozen fruit

non-dairy milks...
unsweetened almond milk & unsweetened so delicious coconut milk - these two are my favourites, but if they're not for you, try rice or hemp or oat or soy - and find whatever floats your boat!

coconut milk  - cans of coconut milk are great to keep on hand for soups & curries or even for making a whipped cream!