If you decide to go vegan, it is important to enhance the life-changing experience through revamping fresh and pantry food items, spices, and even some of your culinary tools, a task made easier with the aid of a vegan kitchen list.
How to Compile a Vegan Kitchen List
Be methodical, but don't get bogged down by books and blogs on the subject. Remember you are the one consuming the food, so your list should reflect your tastes, as long as it conforms to vegan guidelines. In other words, if you weren't partial to real sour cream before the transformation, it's not logical to buy the vegan version just to fit the profile. The same logic applies to tools and appliances. If you didn't need a $300 mixer up to this point in your life, you probably shouldn't buy one now.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Planning and shopping for foods is the most exciting part of making a vegan kitchen list. Wander up and down the produce aisles of the best-stocked food market you can find, and really look at what they have to offer. Since you're probably giving up some of your favorite foods, indulge in a few exotic fresh foods to expand your palate and add variety to your meals.
Among the treats available in many stores are:
- Avocados: There are many varieties of avocados available year-round that come in different colors, shapes, and flavors. One type even boasts a bacon flavor if you happen to have a craving for such forbidden fare.
- Greens: Kale, bok choy, mustard, dandelion, and collard greens, fiddlehead ferns, and broccoli rabe are great alternatives to traditional choices like broccoli, iceberg lettuce, and Brussels sprouts.
- Root vegetables: Celery, jicama, parsnips, turnips, and rutabagas offer a nice change of pace from potatoes and carrots.
- Fruits: Star fruit is tasty, healthy and the only fruit that looks like a toy, even when it's carved into bite-size pieces. Plantains provide nutrients and variety. Tomatillos, although they look like green tomatoes, are actually fruits with a slightly citrus taste.
Vegan or not, any cook with a well-stocked pantry can turn out a delicious meal with minimal time and effort. Every vegan pantry should be stocked with:
- Coconut milk and coconut cream: These are shelf-stable and add texture and richness to curry dishes and creaminess to desserts.
- Vegetarian broths and stocks for soups and sauces.
- Canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, which can easily turn pastas and vegetables into tasty main dishes.
- A wide range of oils, including coconut, safflower, canola, and extra-virgin olive. Use those with distinct flavors to brighten stir fry dishes.
- Maple syrup: A natural sweetener that is a perfect substitute for sugar in baking and beverages.
- Brown rice syrup or agave nectar: These sweeteners can successfully replace honey in most recipes.
- Soy or tamari sauce: Healthy condiments that enhance flavor without adding much salt.
Many vegan dairy substitutes have been refined to taste as good, if not better, than real dairy products. Options include non-hydrogenated margarine, soy mayonnaise, non-dairy sour cream made from tofu, and rice, nut, or soy milk.
Tools and Gadgets
To prepare dishes properly and showcase their flavors, you need proper tools. Invest in a good knife with a carbon-steel blade to cut vegetables cleanly and avoid ripping their flesh. A basic blender makes whipping up dressings and sauces easy. For more complex dishes like casseroles, stews, and soups, a food processor easily chops vegetables and can also puree them into silky soup bases.
Keep an Open Mind
At least twice a month, peruse your favorite vegan website for new recipe ideas and stock your kitchen appropriately. As with any dietary routine, veganism can put people into a rut if they don't keep up with new recipes, recently introduced foods, and international influences.