MY KITCHEN ESSENTIALS:
Eating healthy and wholesome food daily can be easily achieved if you have some sense of every-day preparation in your kitchen. The following blog post includes my must-have foods which you will always find in my cupboards.
OATS – I begin almost every day with some form of oats, be it porridge, overnight oats or muesli – so I always make sure that i have a full container of oats available to me. Quick oats tend to work better for overnight oats, so I tend to stick with them for everything. If I ever need flour in the kitchen, I tend to just make my own oat flour by popping some oats into a nutri-bullet. They really are such a multi-functional food.
BANANAS – I eat anywhere between 1 to 5 bananas a day, so I always have a bunch handy to me. I try to keep at least 3 bananas chopped up in the freezer at a time also. I use them for nice-cream and smoothie bowls, and when they’re blended from frozen they taste so creamy and ice-cream-like. The spottier they are before freezing, the sweeter they are! So don’t let your black bananas go to waste – peel and freeze them. Fruit is the original ‘fast-food’, so having bananas and different fruits in your fruit bowl acts as the perfect convenience foods.
FROZEN BERRIES – Frozen berries are the perfect alternative to fresh berries, without the hassle of having to deal with quickly-spoiled fresh fruit. I add frozen berries to smoothies, nice-cream and yoghurt. I also make berry jam almost every day to top my oats or toast. Creating your own jam means that you can ditch all the added sugars and preservatives which can be found in store-bought conserves. Simply stew the berries, mash them up with a fork and add some agave to quench the bitterness. Voila!
NUT BUTTER – Essential in every kitchen! Nut butters are so versatile and they can add flavour to any dish. I personally adore the peanut butter which I make myself, but my favourite store-bought butters would have to be Pip & Nut. I use peanut butter in my oats and on toast, but I also create peanut curry and satays with my nut butter – I use an unbelievable amount of it.
NUT MILK – Another essential item when following a plant-based diet is milk alternatives. I add nut milk to cereals, tea, coffee, smoothies, sauces, baking and so many cooked dishes. I honestly couldn’t go a day without it. I typically buy Alpro hazelnut or coconut & almond flavoured nut milks. Hazelnut milk is the creamiest and most delicious in my opinion.
MILLED FLAX SEEDS – I make sure that I have one 15 gram portion of milled flax seeds every day as they are an amazing source of Omega 3 essential fatty acids (good fats). Simply add to your oats in the morning, or perhaps a smoothie!
CACAO POWDER – I have recently been trying to omit chocolate from my diet as to avoid the refined sugars within it. Instead, I have been adding cacao powder to my oats, smoothies, yoghurts and baking. It carbs the chocolatey cravings, while providing your diet with iron, magnesium and calcium. It’s also delicious!
AGAVE – I don’t add sugar to anything, so agave acts as the perfect natural sweetener to add to baked goods, coffee and desserts.
GOOD QUALITY BREAD – My boyfriend and I are obsessed with my homemade sandwiches, and I make him one for his lunch most days. I find that using a good quality bread makes all the difference to a sandwich. I typically use a wholemeal sourdough bread or a wholemeal spelt loaf. White bread is made from bleached flour which I tend to steer clear of as I find that it makes me feel much more bloated, and it doesn’t sit in my stomach as comfortably as wholemeal bread does.
HUMMUS – Hummus is the perfect addition to any meal. Scrape it on toast, spread it on a sandwich, add it to your salad or top a baked potato with it! The possibilities are endless. I personally make my own hummus. Doing so gives you the freedom to alter the flavours to your own taste. It’s also much more affordable this way. (Especially if you are someone like me who eats it by the spoonful).
TAHINI – As one of the prime ingredients in hummus, tahini (sesame seed paste) can always be found in my kitchen. I use it to thicken sauces, to make salad dressings, in hummus and even in baking! Its relatively neutral taste is the perfect thickening agent and its creamy texture ensures a beautiful consistency in whatever it is that you are creating.
TINNED BEANS – High in protein. High in Fiber. High in iron. Low in fat. Need i say more? Beans are an essential element of the vegan diet, and I make sure that I have between 1 to 3 serving of beans a day. Tinned beans are much more convenient than dried beans, so I tend to primarily stick with them.
RICE – Many of my mealtime dinners include rice. Rice fills me up and keeps me satisfied for the remainder of the day. Dried rice is so in-expensive and should be an essential item in every pantry.
POTATOES – Obsessed. When I went vegan I swear I ate potatoes every single day for months! They’re so tasty in every form and so simply cooked. I chop mine into thickly cut chip shapes and par-boil them before seasoning them and air-frying until they are golden and crispy. I always have lots of potatoes on hand.
FRESH VEG – I primarily use onions, garlic, peppers, courgette, cucumber and dark leafy greens (particularly spinach) in my kitchen. These are always available to me, but I also tend to keep a variety of fresh veg at hand to add to and enhance my dishes.
That is all of my essential items which you will always find in my kitchen! Of course I always have different spices, cereals, grains, fruit and veg available too – but I don’t find them as essential to my every-day life as what I have listed. The meal possibilities from the ingredients above are endless! Eating a plant-based diet does not mean that you have to over-complicate your shopping list or your cooking. Find out what suits you the best and work from there. Trial and error will become your best friend when you start eating a plant-based diet. Sticking to basics will ensure great results, and eating whole plant-based, natural foods will have you looking and feeling your best.