26 things I always have in my pantry

These are the items that are essential to my vegan life.

1. Beans, beans, beans: I always have at least 4 kinds of beans – 2 canned, and 2 dried. For canned beans, I prefer garbanzos (chickpeas) and cannellini. For dried, at the moment I’ve got loads of black beans, plus kidney beans, coco beans, and adzuki beans. I’ve also got some borlotti beans & yin yang (a.k.a. orca) beans from my garden. I use more black turtle beans than anything else, so I maintain a sizable supply of those in particular. I’m growing my own, so that will help, but I don’t have enough space in my garden for a year’s worth.beans-1001032_640

2. Buckwheat: I really wasn’t kidding in my review of buckwheat when I said it’s my new favorite thing. I now add toasted buckwheat to every salad.

3. Whole grain rice: I like to keep a variety – black & red are my favorites.

4. Potatoes: I check my potato supply every week and make sure I have enough for at least 2 spontaneous meals. I usually have both sweet and white potatoes on hand.

5. Cashews (raw): These little guys form the foundation of the most wonderful vegan cream, sour cream, cheese and cheese-based sauces and spreads.

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6. Corn: This might sound ridiculous, but, as of this writing, I have 23 cans of corn in my pantry. What? It was on sale. Plus, my partner and I both love corn, and we add it to every salad we make, so we go through a lot.

7. Corn tortillas: I use these for lunch all the time – just toss on some lettuce, beans, a veg, salsa or other dressing, and bam – hearty, healthy 5-minute lunch.

8. Cornmeal: One of my favorite breakfasts is cornmeal mush with maple syrup & berries. And who doesn’t love chili with cornbread??

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9. Flaxseed: Aside from the fact that one of the Daily Dozen checklist items is 1 T ground flaxseed, they also make the best egg replacers for burgers, patties, brownies, etc.

10. Ketchup: Because black bean burgers & oil-free baked fries!

11. Lentils & split peas: I typically keep black (beluga), red, & puy lentils, though I don’t use them as often as beans. And I love split pea soup with smoky tempeh, so the split peas are also a must-have for me.

12. Lettuce: Okay, I don’t keep lettuce in my pantry, but I always make sure I have some. In the summer it’s easy – I keep it in my garden. The rest of the year, I buy a large head of lettuce every week, and it’s never lost.

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13. Maple syrup: This is my favorite sweetener, and I use it in dressings, desserts, and, of course, on pancakes & waffles!

14. Miso paste: Because you never know when you’re going to want to have a miso soup lunch.miso-934742_640

15. Mustard: For dressings, burgers, and much much more!

16. Nutritional yeast: Simply a must-have for, like, everything.

17. Oatmeal: Another one of my favorite breakfasts, but also an essential ingredient in the best veggie burgers ever.

18. Olive marinara: Oddly specific, perhaps, but there’s a reason. It’s amazing. And I make a vegan pizza every Saturday night using this brilliant marinara.

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19. Pasta: I try to keep at least 3 full bags/boxes of whole grain pasta. I prefer whole wheat because it’s the cheapest and cooks very well, but sometimes I’ll be in the mood for something different (see my review of corn pasta).

20. Pesto: You can’t ask for a better quick & easy pasta dinner! There’s a vegan pesto available at a shop near me, but I prefer to make my own using the basil & nasturtiums from my garden. I always have a batch in the freezer.

21. Spices: I have a crazy spice collection. They don’t all fit in my spice cupboard. But the ones I use the most are black & szechuan peppers, paprika, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, turmeric, coriander, cardamom, & cinnamom.

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22. Sriracha (a.k.a. Rooster sauce): I used to keep this around for deviled eggs before I was vegan. Now I use it in soups, sauces, and stir-fries.

23. Sun-dried tomatoes: I also put these on my vegan pizza, but they’re also a great addition to salad dressings, sandwiches, spreads, dips, etc.

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24. Tahini: Essential for both my favorite salad dressing, and my favorite hummus.

25. Tamari/soy sauce: I use this stuff a lot – in stir-fries, in my favorite salad dressing, pretty much anytime I eat garbanzo beans, with avocado, the list goes on…

26. Veggie stock/bouillon: I don’t keep this in my pantry, either, because I don’t buy it, I make it. I save the leftovers from herbs & vegetables in the freezer. When I have enough, I make a stock and freeze it.

 

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Cornmeal, Nasturtium & Beluga Lentils

Breakfast_textCorn is a wonderful ingredient! There are so many different ways to eat it – from corn tortillas to popcorn, and it plays a double-role in your Daily Dozen, since it can be counted under either whole grains or other vegetables. I haven’t had cornmeal mush since I was a kid, and I suddenly had a craving for it, so that’s what I’m having for breakfast (minus the butter, of course).

  • cornmeal_20160627_1354541/4 c. cornmeal
  • 1/2 c. hazelnut milk (+ 1/4 c. water if you like a wetter mush)
  • 1/2 c. blueberries
  • 1 T maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 nectarine (or fruit of choice)

To make cornmeal mush:

  1. Add the liquid and the cornmeal to a small pot, and simmer on a low-med heat for ~7 minutes
  2. Add blueberries & heat through
  3. Stir in maple syrup, if using

The additional fruit can either be cut up and added to the mush or, as I did, simply eaten on the side. I was thinking some chopped dates might be a very tasty addition to the mush! Perhaps I’ll do that instead of the nectarine next time.

Checklist items: berries, 1 other fruits, 1 whole grains (3 out of 18 servings)


snack_textIt’s early, but breakfast was pretty small this morning, so I’m having a light mid-morning snack.

 

  • 1 c. melon pieceswp-1467101903567.jpg

I found an interesting melon at the grocery store. There are so many types I’ve never tried. This one is a Santa Claus Melon, and it’s excellent…a perfect, light snack.

Checklist items: 1 other fruits (1 out of 18 servings)


lunch_textI’m in the mood for rice and lentils. I plan to switch soon to non-white varieties of rice (here‘s why), but for the moment, I only have Basmati, heretofore my favorite. I’ve never had black or purple rice, and I can’t wait to try! But, for now, the lentils are the stars of the show. I’m using a mix of red & beluga lentils today.

  • wp-1467108359811.jpg1/2 c. lentils, pre-cooked
  • 1/2 c. rice, pre-cooked
  • 1/2 c. beet greens, pre-cooked
  • 1/4 c. celery
  • 1/4 c. red bell pepper
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 T flaxseed, ground
  • 1/4 c. arugula
  • 2 corn tortillas

I often have some cooked rice and either beans, peas, or lentils in the fridge. This makes it super easy to throw together a nutritious meal! Also, I grow beets in my garden and, when I harvest them, I cook the greens in boiling water for 1 minute, then freeze them, so I’ve got greens from my own garden throughout the year. Here’s how I put lunch together:

  1. Saute celery & bell pepper with garam masala, tomato paste, and water
  2. Add beet greens, rice & lentils and cook just until warm
  3. Turn off heat, and add lime juice.
  4. Put 1 c. of mixture on each corn tortilla
  5. Sprinkle flaxseed on top, along with arugula
  6. Wrap & eat!

Checklist items: 1 beans, 1/2 cruciferous, 1 greens, 1 other vegetables, flaxseed, spices, 3 whole grains (8 1/2 out of 18 servings)


dinner_textI love salad. Especially this time of year, when we’ve got lettuce, arugula, radishes, beets, peas & various herbs coming out our ears. Well, technically, out of our garden. I’m always excited for when the nasturtiums start to bloom. They add both color and spice to salads. The flowers are edible, and the leaves have a robust peppery flavor.

  • wp-1467118137655.jpg1 c. peas
  • 1/4 c. broccoli
  • 1 c. red leaf lettuce & nasturtium leaves, mixed
  • 1/4 c. cucumber
  • 1/4 c. red bell pepper
  • 1/4 c. red radish sprouts
  • 1/4 c. corn
  • 1/4 c. dry-roasted sunflower seeds
  • Chef AJ’s House Dressing
  • Nasturtium flowers

The only instruction worth adding here is to put the flowers on the salad after the salad has been served. Even if you’re just making it for yourself, it’s worthwhile to take a moment to enjoy the fact that you have a gorgeous bowl of food in front of you.

Checklist items: 2 beans, 1/2 cruciferous, 1 greens, 2 other vegetables, nuts (6 1/2 out of 18 servings)


Dessert_textI’m not sure you can really call this a dessert, but after dinner I went out to the garden, picked a handful of raspberries, and ate them, along with an apricot from the store.

  • 1 c. red raspberries
  • 1 apricot

Checklist items: berries, 1 other fruits (2 out of 18 servings)


Taking account of the day:

20 servings in total.

We got at least the minimum recommended servings of everything.

In addition, we had one extra serving each of berriesother vegetables, and whole grains (depending on how you want to count the corn).