If You’re Difficult Like Me, Maybe Go Vegan Just in Time for the Holidays

Quinoa, my gosh-darn favorite versatile super-food.

If you’ve been following along with this blog, you know I go back and forth between really healthy eating and not-so-healthy eating. Because I’m just a difficult person, I’ve decided my latest attempt at veganism is going to be just in time for the generally meat-soaked holidays (yeah, I used the term “meat-soaked”!). To get things right, and to give myself a wide variety of choices for meals, I stocked the heck out of my pantry and my refrigerator for some vegan feasts like vegan pizza, vegan mac and cheese, vegan scrambles, grade-school-style chik’n patties (made with chickpeas!), and more. In this post, I’m going to walk you through some of the things you want to stock up on if you want a wide variety of vegan meals at your fingertips. I mean, we all know produce and a variety of spices are the best, healthiest, tastiest way to go, but if you add these non-perishables or long-keeping items to your kitchen, you’ll have so many solid foundations to work from for a vegan diet.

TOFU

Well, yeah, tofu is going to be a no-brainer, because it’s so versatile. You can make cashew cheese, stir fries, creamy dips, and many many other things with this generally neutral soy-based product. I highly recommend, if you are using it in stir-fries or scrambles, to cut it into thin rectangles, and squeeze it between two paper towels and two cutting boards for at least 24 hours. Once you squeeze out the water and season it, you will be amazed at the firm texture and how it picks up the flavor of whatever you throw at it.

MISO PASTE

Not only will this other wonder soy product make a great base for soup, you can also use it in salad dressings to pack a huge flavor punch, or make an incredible sandwich spread with tahini, miso paste, and some water to thin it out a bit that will make any sandwich 1000x better (I had some beet burgers in my freezer that I hated — this spread was so good that I ate the rest of the box!).

NUTRITIONAL YEAST

Full of cheesy umami flavor, this flaky condiment is a go-to if you want to replicate mac and cheese, or just add some flavor to any vegan dish. It’s not active yeast, like you bake with, so don’t feel guilty about just sprinkling it!

WHEAT GLUTEN

If you’re going to make fake meat, from seitan to chik’n patties, you’re going to need some wheat gluten. It’s definitely not for gluten-sensitive people, but it will hold your meat substitutes together so well that you’ll forget your vegan.

NUTS

If you want to replicate the meaty filling to stuffed peppers or cabbage, or you want to make a vegan-style beef wellington (which I’m making for Thanksgiving!), you’re going to need a combination of nuts and mushrooms and onions, no question about it. Walnuts, almonds, and cashews all have a ton of nutritional value, are whole and healthy foods, and, when ground, help you make veggie burgers or other kinds of “ground meat” like meals.

QUINOA

Yes, I have sung the praises of quinoa before, I know it. But, seriously, this super-food is so healthy and good for you that you could literally live on it for a while if you had nothing else. You can add it to blends, or substitute it for white rice in stir-fries. It’s mildly nutty, and, I personally think, has more flavor that white or brown rice.

BRAGG’S PRODUCTS

Okay, I’ll admit I’m a bit of a devotee of the Bragg’s food products. Liquid Amino (which is like a healthier, lower sodium soy sauce), their nutritional yeast, their apple cider vinegar, their spice blend — these are all things I cannot live without in my kitchen, especially when I’m attempting veganism.

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