Vegan Living 101: Building Your Kitchen

Lately, I’ve been considering what a vegan pantry should look like. There are things I have kept in stock at all times, even before I fully claimed veg*n status. All kitchens should share the same basic skeleton, vegan or not.

Being a student, working retail only part time, I don’t get to splurge on fancy meals every day. Creativity is essential, and dry goods are my friend.

Every vegan kitchen should have a well stocked pantry. The most important things are salt, pepper, olive and/or coconut oil, and a variety of herbs & spices. In my opinion, these are non-negotiable.

What spices & herbs (aside from salt & pepper) do I always have on hand?

  1. Sage
  2. Oregano
  3. Thyme
  4. Curry Powder
  5. Rosemary
  6. Cinnamon
  7. Cayenne
  8. Marjoram
  9. Bay Leaves
  10. Chili Powder
  11. Onion Powder
  12. Diced Dehydrated Garlic (or Shallots, or both!)
  13. Cumin
  14. Turmeric
  15. Red Pepper Flakes
  16. Chervil
  17. Vanilla, Almond, and Peppermint extracts
  18. Cacao Nibs or Powder

It’s nice to have this selection, especially when it comes time to making soup or cooking up a big batch of lentils or beans. The bay leaves help if someone is transitioning into a lentil/legume rich diet, as they apparently help break down the starch that causes stomach distress/gas. Plus, bay just makes any soup, stew, or pasta dish taste great! Just remember that bay leaves are designed to enhance flavor and to never be eaten.

Other essentials are dried beans & lentils. Beans & lentils are often considered the backbone of veg*n protein. A 1-lb bag of beans or lentils usually costs $1 or $2. A pound of legumes can feed a person for at least a week, if not longer. I say a week, because I love legumes.

Sure, they are carbohydrate rich, so one shouldn’t eat a huge mound of them. The carbohydrates in beans & lentils are comprised mainly of fibre, and let’s be real here, fibre is very essential to one’s overall health. I feel that fibre is just as important as protein & fat.

I consistently have a airtight container full of lentils. I love how versatile lentils are. You can make soup, stews, burgers, “meat”balls, chili, “meat” sauce for pasta, taco/burrito/fajita filling, or loafs out of them. In fact, sometime soon, I am going to actually try making burgers out of lentils.

If soaking & cooking beans isn’t your thing, I totally understand. You certainly can opt for the canned variety. However, canned beans always have a higher sodium content, even the low/reduced sodium kinds. Also, canned beans end up always being more expensive than the dried variety. I will always soak a large batch of beans the night before I have a day off, then cook them in the morning. Or, I’ll let them soak while I’m at work or school and cook them when I get home.

In my pantry, I also keep a variety of grains. Oatmeal is always there. I love oatmeal for breakfast. It also can be used for other dishes as a binder, and, of course, cookies. Quinoa is a grain that is great for veg*ns, as it has a decent amount of protein in it. And, apart from potatoes, I was raised with barley as a cheap, nutritious, and filling starch. I love barley. Sometimes, I’ll have a barley & oatmeal mixture for breakfast. And, I find myself wanting barely more than I want rice. Rice is a great staple to have, but I always opt for brown or wild rice. However, I find myself eating barley & quinoa more often.

I’m also a fan of nuts and nut butters. I know that some people are allergic to one or all nuts, so if this is you, ignore this little section. My favorites are almonds and cashews. There is always a bag of either or both hanging out. I also consistently have almond butter on the ready. I’ve found that a handful almonds is the closest thing veg*ns have to an egg… With the added benefit of fibre. Sure, there might be less iron, but that’s what spinach & kale are for.

When people ask me for advice on transitioning into a veg*n diet, the main question is “what do I do about protein?” Well, beans, lentils, nuts, and dense vegetables have sufficient protein for the average human being. But, if you are of the mindset that protein is king, I always suggest investing in a well-balanced vegan protein powder. I’m a huge fan of Vega powder and PlantFusion powder. PlantFusion is wonderful, because the have a variety of flavors, as well as unflavored. Many vegan athletes will often use the unflavored version to enhance mashed potatoes, oatmeal, or other savory dishes. I like the unflavored in a strawberry & almond-coconut milk smoothie. On a daily basis, I use PlantFusion chocolate powder, because I’m a chocoholic. I mix it with Almond Dream Unsweetened Chocolate (almond, duh) milk. So, the protein factor is easy for us veg*ns to deal with.

Last, a veg*n truly invested in their health should, of course, have a fridge constantly stocked with vegetables. But, remember, never buy more than you know you’ll eat. No one should be wasting any food!!

My dream fridge would be full of almond & coconut milk, colourful vegetables, and enough lentils/legumes to last the week. My dream freezer would be full of vegan sorbet & SoDelicious Simply Strawberry Coconut Milk ice cream. (No, SoDelicious is not sponsoring this post. I just love that specific ice cream so much.)

These are my staples, and I fell that every new & seasoned veg*n should invest in the same. Buying in bulk & having airtight containers are very helpful. Remember, our health is a constant journey. We need to treat ourselves & our planet well. And, we all choose our diets for different reasons. I have chosen this for myself, because it feels right to me. If you don’t agree with the veg*n lifestyle/diet, that is absolutely fine & [most of us] veg*ns respect that.

[This is just a little preemptive disclaimer: I am not a licensed doctor or nutritionist. Please just take what is written here at face value. This is what works for me and has worked for me for almost two decades. And, through discussions, this is what works for many veg*ns. If you are deciding to transition into a veg*n diet, please do further research, including talking to a licensed nutritionist and your primary care physician.]

Beautiful Smile


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I’m going to be completely honest right now. I am routinely forgetful about brushing my teeth twice a day. I know, gross, right? Luckily, I’m not prone to horrific breath due to the fact I keep well hydrated, I’ve sworn off cigarettes, and I don’t eat meat. Also, I am partial to mint, green, and white tea. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I go a week without brushing. But, I’ve grown out of my obsessive need to brush three times a day.

I’m currently in the process of getting rid of any dental care products with fluoride and sodium lauryl sulfate. This switch is fun, although a bit challenging. Finding “alternative” products that taste good and work has been interesting.

Right now, I’m loving Jason Sea Fresh toothpaste. Not super minty, but it cleans my teeth very well. And, a plus is that it has blue green algae and calcium carbonate to help protect the natural enamel. I’ve only had one cavity in my life, and it was a baby tooth. My adult teeth are cavity free (I’m the only person in my family who has cavity free teeth!), so I’ll do anything to keep my teeth that way. he toothpaste also has parsley, which is a common bad breath neutralizer. I keep some of Lush Cosmetics’ Toothy Tabs in my school & work bag, in case I end up eating something garlic or onion laden. My favorite ones are Chou Chou and Dirty. These are handy to have when you are on the go and especially if you are traveling. They are dry, so they can come on a plane with you. Who wants to be left stranded without a way to brush your teeth? The toothbrush I currently use is by Preserve. They are a great brand that has a wonderful recycling program. I hate throwing away toothbrushes, yet can’t quite get on board with an electronic brush.

As far as mouthwash goes, I used Crest for awhile. Again, in an attempt to clean up my oral hygiene, I’ve switched over to something considered more “natural”: The Natural Dentist Healthy Balance Rinse. I’m obsessed with this. It’s Peppermint Sage and tastes so fresh! Peppermint is just a great breath freshener and sage is a very mild antiseptic/astringent agent. (Here’s some basic research on sage.) This rinse also has Xylitol, a sugar alcohol sweetener that has been studied to help prevent tooth decay. Instead of being a “regular” sugar that bacteria likes to feed on, xylitol is non-fermentable, therefore essentially starving the bacteria and allowing for less decay and, perhaps, even a slight remineralization of the enamel. Sorry, bio-chem lesson is done! I promise! Another quick and easy mouth rinse I use is a DIY one. I’ll get an ounce of water and put in a few drops of some essential oils. The best to use are peppermint, lemon, and tea tree. The peppermint for freshness, the lemon for sweetness and antibacterial properties, and tea tree for antimicrobial/antibacterial properties. In a pinch, it gets to job done!

For the last week, I’ve been fighting off a cold. This inspired me to update my oral health routine, as our mouths can be pretty gross. And, as I mentioned, I’m not one to brush twice a day. Again, gross, I’m sorry! I was introduced to a supplement called hyperbiotics PRO-Dental.* This is a mint flavored chewable supplement that puts healthy, good bacteria at the source of bad breath, canker sores, gingivitis, and possible ear/nose/throat infections. Now, I know a cold is a virus, so probiotics can’t decrease the time of a cold. But, allowing my mouth to fight off bad bacteria and replenish it with good bacteria, I’m protecting my mouth in some manner. The recommended dosage for maintenance is to chew one pill once or twice a day after brushing/rinsing. The idea is to replenish your mouth with the good bacteria will there is a minute amount of bad bacteria in it. They have a intense repair suggestion, which I’m currently doing. They suggest you chew 2-3 tablets once or twice a day. I usually remember just to chew three tablets once a day, which is much better than nothing! It’s only been a week, so it’s too soon to tell how effective this new routine really is. One thing I have noticed is that my breath has been a lot fresher, which is unusual for me when I have a cold. I definitely suggest this to anyone who does have oral health concerns or is prone to ear/sinus/throat infections. For purchase, their site (available above) directs you to Amazon.

In another post, I’m going to talk about lip care. I’d like to share it here, but there is so much to say. For your enjoyment and my sanity, it’s best if I call it a night and write the post later this week.

Happy trails everyone! Hope you all are having a wonderful February. Remember to smile and laugh and enjoy life!

 

*This is a sponsored post powered by BrandBacker. I received the supplements free of charge to try. Everything else was paid for with my own money. Neither BrandBacker nor hyperbiotics told me what to say or how to write this post. My opinions are my own, and I will never discuss a product if I don’t believe it has merit.