It's the start of the year and people will inevitably make resolutions. Lose weight. Eat better. Give more. Expect less. Shop less. Clean out the closet. Have a better relation with the Mother-in-Law....and the list goes on and on. I applaud all efforts for self improvement and generally do what I can to help those around me succeed in whatever they think necessary to improve themselves and their lives. With that said, a friend ask for my list of essential foods for a strict vegan diet, so, here are my favorites:
Coconut Milk, Boxed, Organic from Trader Joe's - A lighter version than canned for cereal and smoothies. Recipe here.
Garbanzo Beans - I roast for salads and snacking, use for curry dishes and what would hummus be with their yumminess?
Avocados - Salads, sandwiches, guacamole and smoothies
Cannelleni Beans - I love to use them for a bruschetta I knocked off from one of my favorite tapas restaurants, Spuntinos, in Clifton NJ.
Mushrooms - Add to soups and stir-fry
Asparagus - One of my favorite veggies! I like to flash steam then do a quick saute with garlic and sundried tomatoes.
Sun Dried Tomatoes - added to pestos, pasta, and salad dressing
Brussel sprout -roasted using my rosemary pesto or salt, pepper and olive oil
Broccoli Rabe - sautéed
Canned stewed tomatoes - great in soups, stews and pasta.
Frozen Cherries - Low on the glycemic index and great for smoothies, mocktails/cocktails and snacking
Frozen strawberries - Low on the glycemic index and great for smoothies, mocktails/cocktails and snacking
Kale - add to a smoothies, salads or sauté with garlic, white wine and a little lemon for quick side dish
Bell Peppers - Chances are if I'm adding onions, i'm adding bell peppers. They are super easy to roast and can be added to sandwiches and sauces to add flavor. Red bell peppers are also essential for my mango salsa. Recipe with bell peppers here.
Vegetable Stock - used to cook rice, quinoa, bulgur and as a base for all soups and stews. When you are used to having meat at every meal, the thing you miss most is flavor. Using a stock adds a dimension of flavor that would be lost if you cooked with just water.
Coconut Oil - Used for roasting or mashing potatoes. Because of the great flavor I also use it to sauté veggies for many vegan dishes. It doesn't burn very easily so also great for frying. I like to use it for frying green plantains. Recipe here.
Mixed Nuts with dried Cranberries - Snacking made easy and a great salad topper.
Walnuts - I sprinkle with salt, cayenne, garlic powder a little olive oil and roast on 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes. I add to salads or just eat as a snack.
Ripe Bananas - I grill ripe bananas and add to a buttery biscuit (Not vegan), sprinkle a bit cinnamon or nutmeg and drizzle with a little honey and it is ridiculously tasty and beyond satisfying! Also a great snack when paired with almond butter
Fresh mango - I use for salads, salsa, and smoothies.
Green Plantain - Fried, pressed and served with black beans - a great gluten free meal.
Olive oil - used for salads, salad dressings, pasta, hummus and the list goes on.
Canola oil - used for frying
Curry - curry adds great flavor and depth to vegetables, rice, quinoa and bulgur. I love to pair it with coconut milk.
Garlic - I would be nothing without garlic.
Onions - I can't eat raw onions but I love adding yellow or vidalia onions to soups, stews and curry dishes.
Sriracha - adds a little heat and flavor to any meal. [Honestly, I make my own sauce but it's kind of involved and a big secret. :)}
While this is not an exhaustive list, I tend to go back to these items over and over while on a vegan diet. I'm sure i have forgotten some items I routinely eat but will add them as I remember them.
If you are going vegan, GOOD LUCK and HAPPY NEW YEAR to ALL!