Tuesday, 18 December 2012

10 foods vegans should always have on hand

There are a number of things in my pantry and fridge that have saved my backside on more than one occasion since I became vegan. Here are 10 of them.

1. Flaxseed.
Ground flax is a good egg replacement in practically any baked good. Just mix 1 tablespoon flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water (per egg), whisk or blender it, and add to your favourite recipes. Even better if you keep the flaxseed whole and grind it just before using (I use a coffee grinder), as it keeps the omega-3 intact. Storing your flax already ground can destroy the nutritional benefits, as omega-3 is sensitive to moisture and light. If storing the flax ground, make sure it's in a dark, dry place, preferably not in a clear container.
I keep my flaxseed in a clear glass jar, so I've made it a little sack to keep the light out.
2. Vegetable stock.
It’s essentially free to make, also. Whip up a batch, then freeze to use later in soups, sauces, rice dishes, you name it. No other ingredient has saved me as much time as this one!

3. Coconut milk.
This is the stuff curries are made of: the creamy, smooth, slightly sweet taste of coconut milk. Always keep a can or two in your cupboard for when you need to make a last-minute supper, or whip up some creamy soup or even vegan smoothies!

4. Flour tortillas.
These vegan staples are the quickest sandwich you can make, and so versatile! I use them constantly for lunch wraps, burritos, and in a pinch, even as a flatbread to eat curries and dips with.

5. Hummus.
Not only is it delicious, it’s also a complete protein. That’s right: the proteins in the chickpeas compliment those in the sesame seeds to make sure you’ve got all your proteins in one go. It’s great as a dip with veggies or flatbread, but also don’t forget to add some hummus to your next veggie wrap for awesome flavour and extra protein.

6. Beans & legumes.
My friend Erin is famous for asking, “Where’s your protein?” and she’s right to do so. A can of kidney beans has saved my butt on a number of occasions. You can add beans to anything from pasta to chili to salads, and besides just protein, they’re chock full of calcium and iron as well. (Make sure to eat them with foods that are rich in vitamin C to be sure you absorb your iron properly!)

7. Tomatoes.
Speaking of vitamin C, tomatoes are loaded with it and so versatile. Use them especially in combination with iron-rich foods (such as beans and leafy greens), so that you can boost your iron absorption. Something as simple as having a few slices of tomato in your spinach salad can really help keep your iron levels healthy.

8. Olive oil.
High in omega fatty acids, it’s the best oil for eating raw—in salads, if you make vegan mayonnaise, or in pesto. But be sure not to cook with it, as it destroys the nutritional value and can actually transform the oil into a trans fat.

9. Quinoa.
Technically a grain, but also a complete protein, this stuff is incredibly nutritious. Quinoa is amazing with vegetables and balsamic vinegar in a salad, but also serves really well as a substitute for rice when having curries and stir-fries.

10. Coconut oil.
This is the most nutritious oil to cook with, period. It helps control your cholesterol levels even if you’re not vegetarian, and it helps us to keep our body weights in check. It’s more stable than most oils and doesn’t turn to a trans fat even when heated to a high temperature, as many vegetable oils will do. The flavour can take some getting used to for some, but this is the best cooking oil I've ever used.


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