What's in my Plant-Based Pantry?

The short answer to this question is quite simple: a LOT.

I've said it before - and I'll extend the offer again - if there is ever some kind of nuclear disaster, please come round to my place and I can feed you and your 18 dearest friends for the next decade. 

My pantry staples are:

GRAINS & GRAIN PRODUCTS (sorry Pete Evans! I obviously have a death wish)

Always whole grains and bought in bulk from the health food store, including:

  • Rice, e.g. basmati, wild rice, brown rice. I'm loving brown basmati at the moment as it only takes 12 minutes to cook, is low GI and has more fibre and micronutrients than white (polished) rice
  • Quinoa: choose Australian-grown to support Aussie farmers and reduce food miles. The global demand for quinoa has also driven up the price in Peru and Bolivia to the point where the farmers can't afford to eat their own staple food. You can read more about it here.
  • Oats: steel-cut for porridge (when I've got time to cook it - it takes a good 30 minutes) and ordinary old rolled oats for making a quicker porridge and also for baking
  • Freekah - a nutty, chewy grain  which works really well with du Puy lentils in a salad
  • Gluten-free grains (seeds) such as millet and amaranth - good for salads or as a gluten-free porridge option
  • Barley - great for adding to vegetable soups in winter

Flours, also bought in bulk from the health food store, including:

  • Stone ground whole grain flours such as spelt
  • Gluten-free flours, e.g. buckwheat, brown rice and millet flour, which I occasionally use to make pancakes, cakes and muffins 
  • Besan (chickpea flour) which I use to make egg-less vegan omelettes 

PASTA & NOODLES

  • Whole grain spelt and wheat pasta
  • Buckwheat pasta spirals - a good gluten-free option that has a texture very similar to wheat pasta (I find the others quite flimsy and watery)
  • Lungkow (bean thread) noodles - low GI and gluten-free and only need to be soaked in hot water for 5-10 minutes to cook 
  • Rice noodles of all shapes and sizes for stir fries and noodle soups
  • Soba noodles, which are Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour. Cheaper soba noodles usually have a high percentage wheat flour - shop around and find some 100% buckwheat soba if you can - they taste much more authentic! 

CACAO PRODUCTS 

  • Raw cacao powder, which I use in baking and to make hot cacao  
  • Raw cacao nibs - these are a good alternative to choc chips in baking and great in smoothies 

TINNED  PRODUCTS - choose BPA-free tins and organic if possible

  • Tinned whole and diced tomatoes for soups, curries and pasta sauces
  • Coconut milk for creamy curries 
  • Tinned legumes and lentils

SWEETENERS 

  • Maple syrup - a good natural sweetener
  • Coconut sugar 

BAKING ADDITIVES

  • Baking powder - grab some good quality aluminium-free baking powder from the health food store
  • Bi-carb soda - a raising agent used in baked goods 
  • Arrowroot powder and cornflour - I use both of these to thicken stir fry sauces
  • vanilla bean powder and good quality vanilla bean extract  

HERBS & SPICES

  • I literally own every spice under the sun and use them liberally for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, e.g. turmeric, black pepper, cumin 

SEA VEGETABLES

  • I sprinkle dulse flakes on my dinner meal to make sure I'm getting enough iodine - it has a similar iodine content to iodised salt 
  • Arame (long black strands) which I occasionally use in a macrobiotic dinner bowl meal 
  • Nori sheets for making sushi 

CONDIMENTS / FLAVOURINGS

  • Chilli sauces e.g. sriracha and sambal oelek (a salty Indonesian chilli sauce)
  • Tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) 
  • Kecap manis - a sweet Indonesian soy sauce
  • Vinegars, e.g. rice wine vinegar (used in Asian stir fries and in tofu marinades), balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar
  • Vegan Worcester sauce which I occasionally add to savoury dishes
  • Mirin - a sweet Japanese rice wine which I use in marinades 
  • Nutritional yeast (also known as savoury yeast flakes), which can be found in the health food section of the supermarket or at health food stores. These are bright yellow flakes of deactivated yeast, which are a rich source of B vitamins and are used in vegan cooking to give dishes a cheese-y, savoury flavour. I use nutritional yeast to make plant-based nut parmesan 
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms which I use to flavour the Asian stocks
  • Vegetable stock cubes, e.g. Massel 

NUTS & SEEDS for making nut milks, used in raw desserts or sprinkled on meals 

  • Nuts e.g. almonds, cashews, brazil nuts (a great source of selenium), walnuts 
  • Seeds e.g. pepitas, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, chia, flaxseeds (which I grind and add to smoothies for omega-3s)
  • Tahini - black, unhulled (white) and hulled (white) for making tahini dressing or drizzling over food
  • Peanut, almond and cashew butter for spreading on toast or using in baking 

DRIED FRUITS - buy organic and preservative-free from the health food store or online

  • e.g. prunes, figs, apricots, inca berries, goji berries, raisins  
  • Medjool dates and ordinary dried pitted dates (which I snack on and use to sweeten baked goods and raw cheesecakes)

DRIED LEGUMES & LENTILS - much cheaper when you buy them in bulk and cook them yourself

  • Legumes e.g. chickpeas, red kidney beans, white beans (cannellini), black beans
  • Lentils e.g. du Puy, brown, green, toor dal (which I use in Indian dahl)

I'll do another post soon about all the weird and wonderful things in my fridge - stay tuned. 

x Lucy