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Food Product Reviews
The Basic Staples in a PrettyWildVegan Pantry
I am connected to several vegan communities locally and world-wide. Almost daily people ask questions about how to stock a pantry for vegan cooking. If you are one of those questioning souls, this post is for you! This post is for all the people who are looking to re-boot their pantry or refresh their grocery shopping list. Maybe you are new to vegan cuisine and really need someone to point you toward some of the best areas of the grocery store. Well, search no more. PrettyWildVegan is here with some answers. (Cut to the unusual stranger, riding into town, carrying grocery bags, on a white horse, in the rain)
I have been exploring plant-based whole foods since the 70’s. It is hard to believe how far the industry has come since then! I find that regardless of what new products come to market (and I do test a lot of new products) my pantry staples tend to be mostly single-ingredient grains, legumes, nuts, and dried fruits. Herbs and spices are critical for creating great flavor in vegan cuisine, too, but I will go into herbs and spices in another post on building flavor profiles.
I suggest you start with a Pantry Re-boot Party. get in the mood by putting on your favorite feel-good music. You are the host and the guest! The party game is called “Cleaning out your pantry, refrigerator, and any other food storage areas that you have control of.” “That sounds wonderful,” you say? Well,Yes! Yes, it is! In this game, You get to throw away the expired, the insulting and the zombied. By that I mean if it is past dates, growing mold, has animal products or words you can’t pronounce as ingredients, or if it is so thoroughly laced with chemicals that it will never go bad, pitch it. Yes….Really….Throw it away. When you are done, YOU WIN!! You get to be proud of yourself and amazed by all the stuff you unloaded! WoooHoooo! You could even take it a step further and get matching storage containers or new shelf paper or lace curtains! The possibilities are endless! You are the host and guest, after all. You get to reward yourself for winning the party game! So use your imagination when you think up the prize!
After you have cleared all the SAD (Standard American Diet) stuff from the pantry, you will have a clearer idea of how much room you have to work with. Then you can start buying healthy alternatives. You can find a fairly comprehensive shopping list HERE (make a live link for a download-able shopping list), or you can certainly make one with your own favorite items.
Now, I have one more suggestion for those just starting out or if you are doing a full re-boot: DO NOT BUY ALL THESE ITEMS AT ONE TIME. To avoid making yourself crazy, consider starting small. Maybe go with just one or two items from a couple of categories. Or, you could try finding a new recipe that you want to prepare. Buy the ingredients for that recipe plus one or two from another category. Do that as many times a week as you feel comfortable. If you go about it that way, you will build up your supplies over time. You will also avoid overwhelm, overspend, and over do. My pantry staples are:
Dry or Canned Legumes (aka pulses)black beansgarbanzo beanslentils (red, green, french, black)pinto beans,kidney beansspilt peas (green or yellow)
Whole Grains (can be intact, or ground into flour)oats (quick, old fashioned and steel cut)rice (all kinds, brown, black, red, jasmine, wild short grain, long grain, etc.)farrospeltteffwheat
Seedsquinoa (whole and ground into flour)hemp (whole or ground)flax (ground)sesame (tahini)pepitaschia seedssunflower seedsCardamom pods
Nuts (raw or roasted, whole, sliced, slivered, pieces and/or nut butters)almondscoconutscashewspistachiospecanspine nutshazelnuts (aka filberts)
Canned goodsartichoke heartsfire roasted tomatoestomato pureecoconut milkcoconut cream
Chocolate (a food category all by itself. All soy and dairy free)cocoa powdercocoa nibscocoa buttercacao powder (organic, unprocessed)chocolate chipschocolate chunkschocolate bars
Dry Pastawhole wheatchick peablack beanlentilgreen bean (made from green beans and water)veggieall shapes and lasagna (depending on what I am preparing)
Salthimalayan pink, black, grey, kosher, sea, coarse, fine ground and large flake.
Sweetenersagave syrupmaple syruphoneycoconut palm sugar
Dried Fruitraisinscherriesmangoesfigsmedjool datestamrind pasteblueberriescranberriespineapple ringssun dried tomatoesshitake mushrooms (not a fruit but I am guessing you will forgive me)
Ok..one other thing…..Full disclosure…..I go grocery shopping just about every Sunday. Every time I go, I buy something I have never tried before. Sometimes it is an item I have heard about but never tasted. Sometimes I buy the whatever-it-is because it is on sale, or I like the container it’s in, or the shape or color, or the idea of it. Like I said earlier, I test A LOT of new products: herbs, seasonings, spices, fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts. That has a lot to do with how all the above became staples in my kitchen. I am almost always in search of the next facet of flavor for PrettyWildVegan food. That’s my rationalization for today, anyway ?