Go-to pantry items for a plant-based professional chef. These go to pantry items are ideal to maintaining a healthy lifestyle!
Being a VegHead takes planning and understanding of what is best to eat to make sure you’re always properly nourished. For the first 3 years I was a vegetarian I was completely lost! I was literally losing my hair and had zero energy. I had to reeducate myself on proper nutrition and balanced meals (they don’t focus on vegetarian cuisine in culinary school). Five years later and after a lot of research, I now know what I always need to keep in my diet to maintain optimum health.
I’ve listed the core ingredients that I always use, keeping all of you from researching healthy eating for years! I keep these around and mix them up with a variety of fresh vegetable and fruits.
**This is definitely a page to bookmark for future reference!**
Almonds are the perfect snack and one of the healthiest nuts! They are a rich source of protein and fiber. I keep raw whole almonds on hand for a late night snack. I make them part of my dessert and it totally helps my sugar cravings. I love having sliced almonds ready to quickly add to any salad or parfait.
Walnuts always seem to end up in at least one of my dishes throughout the day. A 1/4 of a cup (which should be your nut intake for the day) has 100% of the Omega 3s you need for healthy brain function! I’ve been on a kick where I’m adding walnuts to all my lentil dishes and stir fry’s. Walnuts are also my go-to for granola bars & power balls.
Oooo the lovely hemp seed! My friends mother told me about these little guys a few years ago I was surprised I haven’t heard much about them before. After reading up on their benefits & their protein content (10g per serving & a complete protein) I ran right out to the store & bought the biggest bag. I literally sprinkle them on every dish & in smoothies. They have a very mild flavor and add a great crunch to any meal. Plus, it’s an extra way to add some more protein to your meals.
Packed with Vitamin E & Copper they make a satisfying snack with loads of nutrients. They are a great addition to my trail mixes for the best grab and go snack. They always seem to end up in any granola bar or power ball I make for a good crunch factor making them the perfect addition for any baked goods.
Black beans should be in everyone’s cabinet at all times. These are my go to bean for any taco, wrap, salad, or soup! I have both canned and dry on hand. If I have a dish in mind for the week I simply put the dry beans in a crock pot overnight on low and have cooked beans ready the next morning. For canned beans always make sure you read the label and there is nothing in there but beans & water.
My ultimate favorite! 1 cup contains 15g of protein and 13g of dietary fiber…you can’t beat that. They are seriously good with just about anything…really though, good with anything. My new obsession for the past couple weeks has been making falafel (recipe coming soon). They are so easy and delish. I add them to any salad for that extra fullness factor to help keep me going for the rest of the day.
We all know at this point that quinoa is a top player in the super food category. It’s a complete protein making it a fantastic addition to a VegHead diet. I love quinoa because it has no flavor making it versatile to any style of cuisine. A great way to start adding Quinoa into your diet is mixing it with other grains like couscous & rice. Or mix it up with your favorite greens for a satisfying salad.
When you first transition over to brown rice it can be a little tough. Your palette goes into “what the heck is this bland stuff you’re giving me” mode. But once you get use to it you’ll never go back to the processed white rice again! My favorite is Trader Joe’s brown rice medley of long grain brown rice, black barley, & daikon radish seeds. It is the best! I even got my parents to eat this blend and they enjoy it too!
Lentils, lentils, lentils oh how I love you! Why they came into my daily eating habits so late in my life I’ll never truly understand. But boy am I glad they did! They are hands down the best staple in my diet. My favorite way to eat lentils is in soup..of course! Check out Lentil De Provence Soup recipe…it is delish! There’s a few different types green, brown, or black, they are all just as fantastic as the next! The variety from texture…black & brown lentils are toughest good to use them in burgers, green are next in line, then red which are delicate and cook quicker. Lentils also have so many health benefits like aiding with digestion, increase energy, weight loss, & heart healthy!
Disclaimer: They can be really hard on your stomach…I start doing sprouted lentils from Don’s Finest Living Foods and whew what a difference.
Whole Grain Oats
Oats are the perfect way to start the day! They are so filling and have many heart healthy benefits. My weekend breakfasts usually consist of oatmeal packed with dried raisins, sunflower seeds, & walnuts! They are even better in baked goods too. However you have them they should absolutely be in your diet.
CHEF’S TIPS & TRICKS
- Keep these items (or just your pantry) stocked helps you spent less money at the store weekly. I usually stock my pantry about once a month. I also use convenient companies like Thrive Market & Rustic Roots they deliver organic ingredients right to my home!
- If you are trying to reach a healthy lifestyle & are meal prepping keeping your pantry stocked will help you spend less money after your first initial food shop.