This list of whole food plant-based staples isn’t just specific to those of you who want to follow a vegan/plant-based diet, it can be helpful to those of you who just want to include more whole food meals to their diet. It also contains a list of substitute for dairy, egg, and meat.
It’s much easier than you think to eat healthy with a little organization and a well-stocked pantry.
Following a vegan diet, doesn’t necessarily mean eating healthy, there is plenty of junk food that vegan can indulge in. That’s one of the big pros of whole food plant-based diet! Because the food we consume on a daily basis plays a big role in our overall appearance, health, and even mood, we need to feed our bodies with a healthy whole food diet.
It’s so important to focus on nourishing our body with high quality, whole plant-based, nutrient-rich food.
The common concern related to any plant-based diet is protein intake. Let me reassure you there is plenty of plant-based sources of protein. Some of my personal favorites are edamame beans, lentils, chickpeas, and of course nuts.
Contrary to common belief, a rich whole food plant-based diet will likely cover all of your daily nutritional needs. The only exception being Vitamin B12. You need to take it as a daily supplement because it’s not available in any plant-based source.
Before I started my journey on a plant-based diet, I was a bit confused and thought that all you can eat as a vegan is plain and boring dishes. Thank God, I was wrong! Healthy plant-based food is just as tasty sometimes even tastier than food made with dairy, egg, or meat. You can recreate pretty much any of your favorite dishes if you know how to substitute ingredients the healthier way.
I won’t be including any vegetables or fruits in this list but I can’t stress you enough about the importance of consuming fresh veggies and fruits daily! They are packed with essential nutrients, fibers and vitamins, our body needs on a daily basis. So the more the merrier!
Few tips: If they are organic they can be consumed with their skin on after a good wash with white vinegar and water. If not, you should preferably peel the skin. Try to choose local, seasonal fresh products. You can also go for frozen or canned organic veggies and fruits. Make sure to check the ingredients list. In this case, you want to be a minimalist, less is more. I also always make sure to pick the one with the least amount of ingredients.
Beans & Legumes :
Beans and legumes are healthy, hearty, inexpensive and have a long shelf life when they are in their dried form. In addition to being a good protein source, beans and legumes are also very rich in fibers, iron, and potassium.
So make sure to include some of these in your whole food plant-based pantry staples.
Edamame or soybeans, lentils, pinto beans, red beans, black beans, split peas, kidney beans, white beans …
Grains, Nuts, and Seeds :
Whole grains, nuts, and seeds are a healthy source of fats, minerals, vitamins, protein, and fibers. They contribute to maintaining a good blood cholesterol level due to their monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Millet, quinoa, oats, wheat, corn, rice, barley, buckwheat…
Cashews, almonds, peanut, pistachio, macadamia…
Chia seed, hemp seed, sunflower seed, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds…
Herbs & Spices :
Herbs and spices are an amazing way to make flavorful, tasty dishes. They help bring the dish to another level. Besides the usual salt and pepper, I assume most of you have, here are some of my favorites:
Turmeric, cumin, ginger, chili flakes, smoked paprika…
Thyme, rosemary, basil, bay leaf, oregano, sage…
In a whole food plant-based diet, sweeteners are limited. while plain white sugar isn’t an option, you can still satisfy your sugar craving with these ingredients. I mostly use agave and maple syrup for baking or pouring over pancakes.
Coconut sugar, maple syrup, dates, agave syrup
Meat substitutes :
Nowadays, meat substitutes are widely available. I am not a huge fan of processed faux meat, I prefer making my own using gluten wheat, tofu, or dried soy curls.
Soy curls, tofu, seitan, tempeh
Dairy substitutes :
Plant-based milk is an awesome cow milk substitute. Soy, cashew, rice, coconut, oat … the selection is very wide and you will probably find something to suit your taste. I do prefer homemade milk to the store-bought version, I feel like it tastes better, fresher and you can control the ingredients. One of my personal favorites is coconut milk for its creamy and light taste, and I have the perfect easy recipe to make homemade coconut milk.
Cream cheese or any cream can be substituted with cashew cream or even silken tofu. Simply blend soaked cashews with water until smooth
Dairy-free yogurts are more and more available. There are plenty to choose from, soy, almond or coconut-based are the most common. You can definitely make your own yogurt using coconut milk and probiotics, check this recipe from the Minimalist Baker blog.
Nutritional yeast is a big staple in our home. It’s a vitamin B12 fortified powder If you love the “cheesy” flavor this one is a must for you. It’s perfect to make a homemade cheese sauce or vegan parmesan!
Egg substitutes :
They are plenty of egg substitutes, my personal favorite is ground flaxseed, rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, they are excellent for baked goods.
Chia seeds make awesome puddings and jams. It also works fine on baked goods, not my personal favorite as chia has bigger seed than ground flaxseed, and you can definitely feel them especially on cakes.
Aquafaba is the liquid you find in canned chickpeas. You can make your own, but I am not quite sure of how it works. Aquafaba is very versatile, it acts as an egg white. You can whisk it, to make meringues, chocolate mouses and even vegan mayo.
Indian Black Salt or Kala namak is a smelly salt, that gives an eggy flavor to your dishes. Definitely, a must-have to make tofu scrambles or anything that supposed to taste like eggs!!
Mashed ripe bananas & apple sauce can both be used to replace eggs in sweet baked goods.
And If you are looking for a complete guide to a plant-based diet, I would highly recommend trying the ” From A to Vegan – Complete Vegan Starter Kit ” from Nutriciously.