Saturday, August 14, 2010

Vegan Pantry

Via Minimalist, we share thoughts on living simply. Within the context of simple living, we can consider simple eating. The vegan diet offers a healthy way to eat simply and compassionately. In Diet for a Small Planet, Frances Moore Lappé breaks down the inefficiency of a diet based on meat, poultry and eggs. Very simply, if you eat factory farmed meat, you eat considerably more grains, corns and other crops fed to these animals than if you ate these foods directly. Many more of the world's starving could be fed by these crops, instead of wasting food resources on animals who will later be slaughtered for a burger.

You in? Let's get your vegan pantry set up. Here are a few cupboard essentials and simple meal ideas for any night of the week.

1. "Milk"

Every vegan needs a gallon of "milk" around, and the choices are endless. Experiment with rice, almond, soy and hemp milk to find your favorite consistency and flavor. Combine a few peeled, cubed and boiled potatoes with your milk of choice, salt and pepper for delicious dairy-free mashed potatoes. A word from experience - stick with "original" flavored milk. Mashed "vanilla" potatoes taste sweet and strange, like the worst birthday cake you've ever encountered.

2. Nutritional Yeast

This flaky, slightly yellow powder is rich in B-12, a vitamin the vegan diet lacks. Buy in bulk at your local health store and sprinkle over just about anything - soup, pasta, vegan pizza. Nutritional yeast has a slightly nutty flavor and mimics parmesan cheese. Combine nutritional yeast with cupboard essential #1, a dollop of mustard and loads of black pepper and you've created a quick and easy "cheese" sauce that tastes great over pasta.

3. Tofu

Use shelf stable, extra-firm tofu to cook up a delicious meal in minutes. Saute onions and green peppers in olive oil until soft, toss in cubes of tofu (drained), salt, pepper and garam masala. Continue stirring until tofu is slightly crispy and heated through. This simple vegan scramble is amazing with Sriracha hot sauce.

4. Spices and Seasoning

Vegan meals lend themselves naturally to spice, heat and salt. Experiment with hot sauces, spices and salts to find your favorites. Mine include garam masala and sea salt. Garam masala, a combination of many ground spices, is sold in bulk at Ellwood's and adds flavor to Indian dishes, soups and tofu scrambles. Cut up raw zucchini, yellow squash and a red onion, toss in a casserole dish, coat with olive oil spray and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake uncovered at 400 until your apartment smells like heaven and enjoy a simple and healthy meal in minutes. P.S. - Sprinkle the roasted veggies with nutritional yeast too!

5. Beans

Your mom was right, beans are the magical fruit. Hey! Have cans of ready-to-eat beans on hand at all times. My favorites include refried beans, black beans and vegetarian baked beans. You can toss black beans in your tofu scramble for added nutrition and bulk and create a quick dip for chips by combining and heating the refried beans with hot sauce and a dash of canned vegetable stock.

For more information about the vegan diet, visit the Vegan Outreach website.

Anne Marie Vastano

2 comments:

Hello, I'm Emily. said...

Great post! I'm feeling inspired...

Kristen said...

Thanks! AMV did an awesome job on this one. I'm not vegan myself, but I find the food I've tried to be as delicious (if not more so) than non-vegan food.