Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Vegan Pantry Essentials

10 Essential Items for a Vegan Pantry

Red lentils, yellow split peas, quinoa, millet, amaranth… just two and a half years ago my pantry didn’t look like this, instead it shelved lots of pasta, rice, canned tuna, some canned beans and really that was about it. My menu was pretty small and unimaginative rotating the same few dishes over and over again. In fact, I have more fun with food now than I ever did,  it’s like me and my kitchen have a new stimulating relationship. But, there are some things to keep in mind when choosing to go vegan, you don’t want to eat French fries and salad alone. You need to be more concienctious about the food you eat, the body has requirements to function properly.  For instance you can get a lot of your protein from whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and calcium from green leafs and other plant based foods. 

Below are essential items you need for a vegan pantry. 
The information below is provided with permission from the fabulous EcoSalon web site - thanks for sharing this awesome list here at Flip Flops and Avocados! 

Stock up on these 10 basic essentials for your vegan pantry including beans, whole grains, non-dairy milk and a variety of seasonings.
Contrary to the assumptions of many a meat eater, vegans don’t solely subsist on lettuce and carrots. But what, exactly, should be stocked in a vegan’s pantry? Anyone looking to make healthy, nutritious meals that are free of animal products should have a few basic ingredients on hand at all times to provide protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals – and let’s not forget flavor. These 10 pantry essentials make sticking to a vegan diet easy and interesting, from beans and whole grains to truffle oils and agave nectar.

Beans, Tofu, Tempeh and Seitan

If there’s one nutrient that Americans tend to focus on when it comes to healthy diets, it’s protein. But no matter what meat-obsessed fad diets imply, it’s easy to get plenty of protein from vegan sources. Beans and tofu are two lean, cholesterol-free options for protein, and they’re incredibly versatile. Canned beans are convenient, but dried beans are cheaper and don’t come with the risk of hormone-altering BPA in the lining of the can. They simply need to be soaked overnight before cooking, or you can whip them up rapidly with a pressure cooker. Firm tofu can be marinated and tossed into just about any dish, while silken tofu is a nutritious addition to smoothies. Seitan is made from wheat gluten and has a meaty texture reminiscent of chicken, and chewy tempeh is a vegan sandwich staple.
Whole Grains & Flours
The difference between whole grains and refined grains goes beyond increased fiber and nutrients. Whole grains are packed with flavor, which translates into tastier dishes and baked goods. Brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, bulgur, spelt, oats, millet, barley and wild rice are a few examples of whole grains that you can incorporate into your diet, and most of them are available in flour form, too. Flours made from quinoa and oats aren’t just for people avoiding gluten – they impart their own particular flavor and texture to recipes like chocolate amaranth quinoa cake.
Non-Dairy Milks
Who needs cow’s milk when there’s almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, coconut milk and soy milk? Stock your pantry with your favorite varieties of non-dairy milks, each of which has its own particular flavor and texture. Coconut milk and soy milk tend to be richer and heavier, frothing up a little more for satisfying beverages. Rice milk and almond milk have a natural sweetness, and heart-healthy almond milk is appropriately nutty. Soy milk is the highest in protein, and hemp milk has lots of omega fatty acids. Avoid the flavored varieties to cut unnecessary sugar and calories. You can easily make your own almond milk with nothing more than raw almonds, water and a blender.
A Variety of Oils and Vinegars
No kitchen is complete without raw coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and raw apple cider  vinegar, no matter what kind of foods you like to eat. Beyond those two absolute basics is a wide variety of vinegars and oils with all kinds of different uses and characteristics. Vinegars include balsamic, red wine, white wine, apple cider, rice and malt. Coconut oil is great for high-heat cooking and baking, sesame oil has lots of flavor for stir-fries and salads. Try oils and vinegars infused with herbs, garlic, chilies and even fruit, too.

(Here at Flip FLops and Avocados  the Bragg brand of raw apple cider vinegar is highly recommended!)

Nuts, Seeds & Butters
Head to the bulk bins at your local natural foods store to stock up on a wide variety of nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, walnuts, macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. You can actually use cashews, macadamias and other types of nuts to make your own vegan ricotta cheese. And when it comes to nut and seed butters, don’t be afraid to branch out from the standard peanut and almond varieties – try cashew, hazelnut and sesame.

 To continue reading the remainder 10 Essentials Pantry List please visit the original article at EcoSalon 

Flip Flops and  Avocados  - Ideas for beans and lentils
Black beans, garbonzo, pinto, white cannelloni  are my staples and can be added to salads, soups and stews and veggie burgers.
Beans need a few hours or overnight of soaking to release its’ starches and undigestible sugars that cause discomfort. Though home prepared beans aren’t as convenient as opening a can remember cans contain a potentially harmful BPA lining .

Green lentils and red lentils which cook up in no time can be made into veggie burgers, used in soups, stews and pate. I use lentils in my lettuce wraps too

when choosing coconut oil make sure it's raw for max nutrients! I use coconut oil in place of many oils when oil is required in my hot pan!

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