Your vegan pantry will depend on your food preferences, of course, as well as your cooking style. Gourmet cooks may have shelves filled with specialty condiments and exotic ingredients from international grocery stores, while non-cooks may opt for a little (or a lot) more convenience.
You can find the majority of these foods in any conventional grocery store. A few require a trip to a natural foods store, and depending on where you live, some may be available only by mail order.
Pantry Basics Dried and canned beans: You’ll find black, navy, garbanzo, kidney, pinto, and lima beans, plus lentils, black-eyed peas, and split peas in most grocery stores. Check specialty stores for some other interesting
options, including red adzuki beans, maroon and white speckled Ana -sazi beans, and mung beans (great for sprouting).
Grains: Because grains have a long shelf life, you can keep lots of them on hand. Each has its own unique taste and texture, and they are a great way to add interest to meals. Here are a few choices:
• Barley: One of the oldest cultivated foods in the world, this has a chewy quality and mild taste. Pearled barley has the outer bran removed and cooks more quickly but is still high in fiber.
• Bulgur: A fast-food type of grain, this is whole wheat that has been precooked and then dried. It’s common in Middle Eastern cooking, where it’s used to make tabouli.
• Couscous: Common in the cooking of North Africa, this is made from steamed, dried wheat and it cooks very quickly.
• Millet: Americans think of this as bird seed, but it’s widely used in African and Asian cuisines.
• Quinoa: This high-protein grain was a staple in the diet of the Incas, who called it the “mother grain.” Quinoa is fast-cooking and high in protein, which has made it very popular among modern cooks. It has a natural soap-like coating to protect it from pests, so be sure to rinse it thoroughly before cooking.
Wheat berries: A slow-cooking grain with a very chewy quality, it’s usually mixed with other grains.
Italian pasta: This type of pasta comes in a host of wonderful shapes, and many are available in whole-wheat versions.
Asian pasta: Modern choices include mung bean noodles, soba noodles (Japanese buckwheat noodles), ramen, and udon.
Rolled or steel-cut oats and other hot cerealsn Breads and whole-grain crackers
Whole-wheat and corn tortillas Nuts: This list includes almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts,
pecans, and pine nuts. Peanuts are an honorary member of this group since they are actually legumes. So are soynuts, which are soybeans that have been soaked and roasted until they are crunchy.
Seeds: Sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds Vegetable oils: Extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil are basics that will
cover most of your oil needs. See Chapter 5 for an extensive discussion of oils.
Canned tomato products: Prepared pasta sauce, tomato paste, whole and diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and tomato sauce are all handy for making soups, stews, and other dishes.
Vegetable broth: If you don’t have time to make homemade vegetable stock, vegetable broth or bouillon cubes or powder are available.
Textured vegetable protein (TVP™): A dry soy-protein product; rehydrate with boiling water and add to spaghetti sauce for a ground beef substitute.
Sea vegetables: Look for dulse, arame, nori, hijiki, kombu, laver, and others. Most are available in dried form and are a quick addition to soups. Nori is used to make the wraps for sushi.
Coconut milk: Look for reduced-fat coconut milk in the international foods section of the grocery store. It’s an essential addition to many Thai and Indian dishes.
Refrigerator Basics This list includes items that must always be refrigerated as well as those
that should be refrigerated after they have been opened.
Nut butters: Peanut and almond butters are staples. There are plenty of other choices, too, although they tend to be pricey. Nut butters are good for sandwiches or to spread on apple slices, but they also can be thinned with water and seasoned to make great sauces for grains and vegetables.
Sesame tahini: An essential ingredient in homemade hummus that is equally good for sauces and dressings.
Miso: Absolutely essential in Japanese cooking, it is also considered a staple by most vegans.
Fortified plant milks: Soymilk is the most nutritious and protein-rich, but you might also enjoy almond, oat, hempseed, and rice milk.
Fresh or aseptically packaged tofu: Choose firm tofu for scrambles and stir-fries, soft or silken for sauces and soups.
Tempeh: An ancient food from Indonesia, this cake of fermented soybeans has an indescribably delicious flavor.
It’s a great protein source to toss into stir-fried dishes.
Vital wheat gluten: A flour made from wheat protein, it’s used to create seitan, which has a chewy, meat-like texture. You can also buy prepared seitan.
Dried fruits: Figs, apricots, prunes, and raisins.
Vegan mayonnaise: There are several brands on the market, but Vegenaise, made by the Follow Your Heart Company, is the most popular
Vegan margarine: Most vegan cooks swear by the Earth Balance brand,
which is widely available and does not contain hydrogenated oils.
Veggie meats: Look for these in the frozen and refrigerated section of grocery stores. Be sure to check labels since some contain dairy and eggs.
Vegan cheeses, cream cheese, sour cream and yogurt: These are made from soy, almonds, hempseed, and even coconut.
Fruits and vegetables Lemons and limes White and sweet potatoes Onions and fresh garlic
Condiments: Ketchup, mustard, relish, pickles, salsa, barbecue sauce, black and green olives—the same condiments that you’ll find in the refrigerators of most omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike.
Frozen corn and peas: Nice to have on hand to toss into grain salads.
They do not need to be cooked.
Premade pizza shells
Vegan ice cream
Backup: The freezer is a good place to store extra packages of tempeh,
seitan, and veggie meats, as well as nuts and seeds (which can turn rancid
in the cupboard and even in the refrigerator after a long enough time).
Iodized salt: Many vegan cookbooks suggest using sea salt. But sea
salt has the same effects on blood pressure and calcium loss as any
other salt—and it’s not a reliable source of iodine. So use salt sparingly,
and when you do, choose plain iodized salt.
Vegan Worcestershire sauce: Traditionally, this sauce is made with fish
(anchovies), but low-sodium Worcestershire sauce is often vegan. Or
look for one that says “vegetarian” on the label.
Jams, jellies, and preserves
Tamari: A more authentic version of soy sauce.
Nutritional yeast: Look for Red Star brand Vegetarian Support Formula
because that’s the type that provides vitamin B12.
Vinegars: Apple cider, balsamic, and white wine vinegar will cover
most of your needs, but there are many others available. Rice vinegar is
great for adding an authentic Asian flavor to stir-fried dishes.
More Luxurious Condiments
Cooking enthusiasts will want to have these on hand, but even if you
don’t consider yourself a “gourmet” chef, they can add fast, easy flavor
to basic grain, bean, and tofu dishes.
• Hoisin sauce
• Teriyaki sauce
• Curry paste
• Artichoke hearts
• Sundried tomatoes packed in oil
• Roasted red bell peppers
• Olive tapenade
• Liquid smoke
• Dried shiitake mushrooms
Ground flaxseed or EnerG egg replacer or soy flour: These are used
for replacing eggs.
Agar powders or flakes: Boil this seaweed in water or juice to produce a
gelatin-like product. You’ll find it in natural foods stores or Asian markets.
Baking powder, baking soda, flours
Chickpea flour: Natural foods and specialty stores are packed with all
kinds of flours. Chickpea flour is a “basic” because when it is used to
thicken vegetable broth, it makes a wonderful gravy to pour over
mashed potatoes and vegan Thanksgiving stuffing. In Indian groceries,
it’s usually called besan.
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Sweeteners: There are plenty of great vegan sweeteners on the market,
beet sugar, rice syrup, barley malt syrup, and maple syrup.
Blackstrap molasses: Add small amounts to stews and bean dishes; its
bold, rugged flavor means that a little goes a long way. Blackstrap molasses (not regular molasses) is a good source of iron and calcium.
Vanilla and lemon extracts
Herbs and Spices
The sky’s the limit when it comes to herbs and spices, especially if you
love to cook and experiment with ethnic dishes. If you want just the basics, here’s what to keep on hand:
• Bay leaves
• Cayenne powder
• Chili powder
• Curry powder
• Garlic powder
• Onion powder
Coffee, tea, wine, beer, soft drinks, juices, and whatever else is popular
in your home.
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