Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Vegan Favorites

I wrote this post for a friend of mine (Shout out to @whosthatcurl ) who was trying a vegan diet for at least a week.  I was trying to decide what the best way to help her venture out into vegan food when she lives back in KY and I'm now in DC.  Well, what better way than to post a list of my favorite products that I use almost every day!?  This is helpful not only to her but to anyone who wants to make some changes in their diet whether it be temporary or permanent!  I know when I became vegan I felt like it was really hard to find a source that suggested products to try/use in my new lifestyle, hopefully I can be that resource for anyone who is new to vegan eating! :-)

Some of these products are becoming more widely available in stores other than Whole Foods, some can be found at natural food stores, but if you can't find something at your store of choice, ask the store manager or submit a product request.  The worst they can say is no and you may have to shop at 2 different stores.  Most of my stuff I do get at Whole Foods just because they tend to have a bigger variety than our regular grocery store.  Okay here it goes, and I HAVE LINKED MOST OF THE PRODUCTS TO AMAZON WHERE THEY ARE AVAILABLE IN BULK!!!!!!:  (I update this list a often to make it as thorough as possible! So keep checking back!)

Milks:  I tend to stay away from soy milk.  I use Silk vanilla flavored almond milk mainly for cereal but protein shakes as well. I like to have individual SoDelicious chocolate coconut milks on hand for a sweet treat (esp tasty in a pb banana smoothie!). Lastly most of my cooking is done with the whole foods brand rice milk. Another cool product is MimiCreme (find it on the shelf with shelf stable vegan milks) made from different kinds of nuts. This really does "mimic cream" and can be used in coffee, creamy soups, mashed potatoes or whipped into whipped cream*.  *not yet tested in my kitchen but read somewhere that it was possible!

Cheese: My favorite product that I have found is Daiya cheese. They currently make 3 flavors that are available at many stores: Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Pepperjack. They also have cheese "wedges": blocks of cheese available in Jack, Sharp Cheddar and Jalapeno Garlc Havarti, they also have slices in Provolone, Cheddar, and Swiss, I LOVE THESE FOR GRILLED CHEESE or really any kind of sandwich.  Galaxy Nutritional Foods makes "American cheese" style vegan cheese.  But make sure you get the one marked vegan as some of their cheeses contain milk or casein.  They also make a vegan Parmesan cheese (find it on the shelf not the fridge section).  But again, check the label to make sure it's vegan if it doesn't say on the front label.  For "cream cheese" and sourcream I suggest Daiya and Tofutti brands, respectively.  The sour cream is definitely good in dips like onion dip.

Yogurt:  Again I suggest SoDelicious as they make soy-free kinds that are made from coconut or almond milk!  They have a ton of varieties and have a Greek style!!!

Ice Cream: Back to SoDelicious!  I can't get over how wonderful their products are! They truly satisfy any of my "dairy" cravings.  Look for their coconut milk ice creams! They are sweeter than the soy milk based ones, and a little creamier.  I love the chocolate with peanut butter swirl, mocha almond fudge, and cookie dough flavors.  They also have mini fudge bars and ice cream sandwiches!! Who says you can't have ice cream treats when you are vegan!? (Check out what they make and where to get em: Here)

"Meat":  I SWEAR by gardein!  They have so many meat replacements that I don't miss meat at all.  They really focused on texture as well as taste so it's not mushy like tofu can be!  I worked with their products in so many ways you can really just sub it in wherever you would put meat!  Check their website for their full line (THEY STARTED SELLING VEGAN FISH STICKS WHICH ARE AMAZING!!!!) but I'll let you in on what I almost always have on hand:
Frozen products- ultimate beefless burger (best frozen burger on the market), chick'n scallopiniseven grain crispy tenders, beefless tips, buffalo wings, barbecue wings, barbeque riblets, sliders (chick'n and beefless), crispy chick'n patty, mandarin orange crispy chick'n / sizzling Szechuan beefless strips (for when I don't feel like Chinese take-out/when I'm making fake-out), and stuff'd turk'y breasts/holiday roast (only available during the holidays though so STOCK UP!) I also love their Breakfast Patties and Meatless Meatballs!
New Products- New products from gardein that I haven't tried yet: Veggie Burger (different from the beefless burger), Meatless Meatloaf, or the Ultimate Beefless Ground.

Condiments/Miscellaneous:  I use Earth Balance soy-free natural buttery spread in place of all of my butter needs.  But on top of that, I also get their coconut spread.  Made from coconut oil it's a little sweeter so it is great on sweet things like pancakes, cinnamon toast, and anything else that can needs to be slightly sweetened.  They also make "vegan buttery sticks" which are great for baking because they are easier to measure.  
Earth Balance's Mindful Mayo  and Hampton Creek's Just Mayo are my picks for my mayo fix. 

Vegans only eat salads right?  WRONG but when I do, I love Annie's Natural Goddess Dressing on my salads. And recently I've been OBSESSED with Organicville's Vegan Ranch Dressing. 
Nutritional Yeast.  It looks and smells weird, at first...  But trust me if you're going to eat a plant based diet, you should definitely have this in your kitchen.  Its a great source of B-12 and can be used to make sauces taste cheesy.  (see my Mac-No-Cheese recipe)
Baking something and need to use eggs?  Have no fear, there's a replacement for that too!  I use Ener-G egg substitute that is a powder, made from potato starch, that when you mix with water, provides to your baked good what an egg would.  However it cannot be used in recipes like scrambled eggs, for that you should use tofu. (I have a recipe for a breakfast scramble that I need to upload to this blog!)

Other items I always have on hand:  Zico Coconut water (natural and chocolate flavors), pasta (check the labels as some may contain egg), rice (white, brown, sushi), quinoa, couscous, cans of beans like: chickpeas/garbanzo beans, black beans, kidney beans (light and dark), and black eyed peas, pretzels, a cornucopia of spices, Braggs' Liquid Aminos, mustard (pretty sure I have like 8 varieties in the fridge right now), big cans of diced tomatoes, canned tomato sauce, jars of pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce (check the labels to make sure there is no cheese or meats in the sauces), peanut butter (big jar and to-go packs), popcorn, vegetable broth, jars of Better Than Bouillon (vegan chicken broth) oatmeal, dried lentils, tortilla chips, red curry paste, cans of baby corn/water chestnuts/bamboo shoots.

Veggies/Fruits I always have: potatoes, onions, cucumber, lettuce, kale, leeks, butternut squash, corn (frozen),  peas (frozen), edemame (frozen), Portobello mushrooms (grill for a tasty sandwich or use in place of meat in other recipes), bell peppers, celery, carrots, garlic-fresh, minced, and powdered (SO IMPORTANT!), eggplant, tomatoes, cabbage (red, green, savoy), apples, nectarines, strawberries, blueberries, broccoli, cauliflower, bananas (I put most of them in the freezer for smoothies), fresh basil, and zucchini (try cutting in half lengthwise brushed with oil salt and pepper then grilled until soft--AMAZING!).

I'm pretty sure I've just told you everything that is or has ever been in my kitchen... I'm still trying new things and will try to remember to update this if I find anything else I like.  As always if you have question about anything, or you're not sure what to do, just ask! :-)  I will answer you questions to the best of my ability.  

I hope this helps anyone trying to switch to a vegan/plant based diet or if you just want to add some vegan eats to your menu.  Be sure to browse the site for recipes to try.  I am trying to get better about posting more often.  Seems as though when I do post, I post a few in a row then nothing for a while.  Here's my challenge to you:  get an item (vegetable, fruit, meat substitute) that you aren't used to or don't typically like.  When cooked in a new way you may find a different taste/texture about it that you didn't know was possible and could end up liking it! 

Good luck and remember, Just Ask! I'm always here to answer any questions I can!
Happy Vegan Eating!


Sara Polton said...

Great list! I might have all of these in my fridge right now. Tortillas are a staple in my kitchen. I can whip up a taco, wrap, or whatever at a moments notice. I also need fresh garlic at all times. A garlic press is the best thing I've ever purchased.

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