02/07/2010

Guest Post - Top 5 Kitchen Must-Haves for the Frugal Vegan Chef

Top 5 Kitchen Must-Haves for the Frugal Vegan Chef

The decision to become a vegan can be a daunting prospect on many fronts.  Coming from a traditional American diet that demands five food groups, it can be difficult to figure out how to get all the nutrients you need when you begin to limit your options for intake.  In addition, most grocery stores do not cater to those seeking vegan items (or organic, or special dietary needs).  Plus, these products can be very pricey!  But there are a few inexpensive staples that every chef embarking on a vegan meal plan should have in their kitchen.

1.       Quinoa – this little-known grain has been dubbed the “Mother of all grains” and has actually been grown in the Andes Mountains for 6,000 years!  Like most grains, it can supply your body with carbohydrates, but surprisingly, it is also a great source of complete protein and essential amino acids (similar to milk).  It is also gluten-free and easy to digest.  Can’t find it in stores?  Order it online in bulk and get a better price!

2.       Whole grain bread – while a yearning for this complex carbohydrate used to require a trip to the health food store, you can now find it in any grocery store, and often as a generic brand.  Carbs provide the main source of fuel for your body and by choosing whole grains, you will avoid the ups and downs of higher fat and sugar products like white bread, that break down quickly in your body.  You’ll also get more fiber, which aids in digestion.

3.       Spinach – the healthy benefits of this super food cannot be overstated, and you can enjoy it in many forms: raw, steamed, creamed, and in a wide variety of recipes from smoothies to pasta to pie.  It is high in antioxidants and a vast array of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, K, B2, and B6, as well as iron, calcium, folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids (among others).  Unbelievably, you can often find coupons for this veggie if you buy the packaged grocery store brand!  Or you can just go to your local farmer’s market and haggle for a better price.

4.       Virgin olive oil – this monounsaturated fat is a good addition to any diet.  Use it to cook or drizzle on salads for a rich source of energy that helps you feel full and makes your meal more satisfying (without the health problems that you may encounter from other types of fats).  A bottle of this beneficial fluid can be fairly pricey, but most markets offer a generic brand that is just as good at half the cost.

5.       Tofu – many who choose a vegan diet worry about missing out on calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth.  Although milk is a good source, it’s not the only one.  Just a few ounces of tofu can offer the same amount of calcium as a cup of milk, and it is far more versatile (this soy product can pick up the flavor of almost any other food).  It is also a great source of protein.

Jennifer Kardish is a communications coordinator at RTA Kitchen Cabinets
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4 comments:

The Voracious Vegan said...

I agree SO much! Each of these things are a staple in my kitchen, and with them you can form a million different meals and snacks. Healthy, delicious, and easy to use - what more could you want? Great post!

River - The Crafty Kook said...

I love four of those... now if only someone could hit me with a magic wand and make me love spinach!

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miss v said...

Numbers 3-5 are absolute STAPLES in my kitchen. right on!