As I was writing this post I realized it was getting much too long so I decided to make it a two part series.
This one includes:
- nuts & seeds
- flours & starches
- nut & seed butters
- oil & vinegar
- and some miscellaneous items.
Part 2 will include:
- dried & canned goods
- pasta & noodles
- herbs & spices
- and more miscellaneous items
I wanted to write a post about something a little different then just recipes. I always get asked about the different ingredients that I use in my cooking. Most people assume they are either very expensive or hard to come by, or both. Which is not true for the most part.
So I create a little guide for you, to show you whats in my pantry an which ones of these ingredients you really need to have if you want to eat this way and also where to get them and how to substitute some of the more expensive ones.
Please not that I live in Central Europe so some of the ingredients that I use might not be local and therefore cheap to whatever area you live in. Always make sure you do your own research.
So let’s get into it!
I use nuts mostly for any kind of dairy substitute, for example I grind cashews together with nutritional yeast and garlic salt to make vegan parmesan. Or you can make sour cream out of cashews or almonds that where soaked in water overnight. The possibilities are endless.
I always have at least one type of nut in my pantry. Mostly it’s cashews or almonds and both of them are pretty interchangeable in most recipes. There is really no need to have tons of different kinds of nuts, as they are pretty expensive. But I would recommend to make at least one kind a pantry staple, because they just add so much flavor and deliciousness to so many dishes.
Nuts are quite easy to come by, I would definitely recommend to buy them in bulk as they are much cheaper that way. There are tons of different websites where you can order nuts from in bulk.
Something I always make sure to have are sunflower seeds. I use them to make salad dressings, vegan cheeses or just as a garnish. If you are looking for a cheap alternative to cashews or almonds they are a great substitute for that. Just soak them overnight as you would with the nuts, season and you can make a lot of dishes that you would normally use nuts for. Sunflower seeds are sold in pretty much every supermarket or health food store.
Another seed that I always keep at home are flax seeds, they pretty much have all the same properties as chia seeds. Making them a perfect egg substitute. The only thing you can’t use them for are puddings, it just won’t taste good. One of the main reasons why I prefer flax seeds over chia seeds is, they are grown locally and are much more affordable.
Some other seeds that I like are pumpkin seeds, I mostly use them as a garnish, but they are definitely not a necessity in my pantry. The same goes for chia seeds.
I always keep a whole bunch of oats at home, simply because I use them for everything. I grind them up into flour, I make my own muesli or granola with oats, I add them to smoothies, I even make bread with oats instead of regular flour (recipe is coming soon) and I also feed them to my dog.
Oats are cheap and versatile and pretty much the perfect food because they taste delicious and keep you full. Oats are very affordable and you can find them in every supermarket. I either like to buy gluten free ones or spelt oats.
There are so many other grains out there about 100 different kinds of rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth and many more. Really you only need to keep one kind, maybe two if you want to change it up a little. I like to have spelt rice and quinoa. Spelt rice because it’s a great and easy digestible alternative to regular rice and quinoa because it tastes amazing and it’s a great source of whole plant protein. But it’s really up to you what kind you prefer and whether or not you want to avoid gluten. Just note that making starchy foods like these grains a staple not just in your kitchen but in your diet is very important as they provide you with so much vital energy.
Buckwheat groats are another favorite of mine. Like oats I use them to make muesli or granola. I also use them to make buckwheat porridge. Another thing that buckwheat groats are great for is sprinkling them on smoothies & desserts. If you eat them raw they taste just like brittle! Buckwheat groats are a little harder to come by, but you should be able to find them in any organic supermarket or health food store.
Puffed quinoa is also a great staple to have at home. You can very easily make it yourself from raw quinoa. Check out this video to see how.
Flours & Starches
My go to glutinous flour is organic whole spelt flour, even though it has a higher gluten content than wheat it is still easier to digest, as long as you are not gluten intolerant of course. So if you are fine with gluten, this one is definitely an amazing staple to have in your pantry as it works for all different types of baking. It is available in most larger supermarkets or of course in health food stores.
As for the gluten free ones, It is always wise to use a mixture of different flours in gluten free baking. My favorite mix is Buckwheat, Rice and Corn. For a lot of bakes you will also want to add a starch like tapioca or corn starch because it acts as binder.
Other great gluten free flours are chickpea and coconut (especially for sweets). I will definitely create a post in the future that goes more into depth of gluten free baking.
As for starches, its pretty wise to keep a least one kind of starch in your pantry. I use tapioca because its not just great for binding sauces (use it very sparingly) but also for making vegan cheese (!!) and jams.
Most of these gluten free flours are available in organic shops or health food stores. Tapioca can sometimes be a little hard to find, a good tip for that is to check out your local ethnic food shop.
This is a bit of a tricky one. When it comes to sugar and sweeteners everyone will tell you something different about which ones to avoid. My rule is always the less something has been processed the better it is for you.
So my favorite sweetener is medjool dates. They can be easily incorporated in smoothies and baking and of course are essential for most raw desserts. You can also make your own date sirup by simply cutting the dates into small pieces and boiling them with a little bit of water until they disolve. Medjool dates can be found at your local fruit shop or market, as well as in organic supermarkets and even some large regular supermarkets.
I also like to use coconut sugar. Coconut sugar has a lower fructose count than regular sugar and it also contains fibre and nutrients which regular sugar does not. Now, coconut sugar is quite expensive, but one bag of 500 grams usually lasts me for about 2 months, as I don’t use it a lot and only in very small amounts. I buy coconut sugar at my local health food store.
I also use agave & maple sirup quite a lot in my recipes. Agave has gotten kind of a bad reputation recently because of its high fructose count. I find however as long as you make sure to by the least processed, raw kind and use it in moderation you should be fine. The same goes for maple sirup. I buy mine at my local health food store.
Tahini & Nut butters
I think if I had to choose to only buy one of all the foods mentioned in this post for the rest of my life it would be tahini. I use it to make so many things, like salad dressings or pasta sauces. I add it into smoothies and desserts and of course hummus. The list goes on. I would definitely recommend having a pot of tahini handy at all times. You can buy it pretty much at any supermarket and its not expensive at all compared to other nut butters.
Another great love of mine is peanut butter. I wouldn’t say its a necessity to keep around but its definitely great to add to desserts, smoothies and sauces. Make sure to check the ingredients before you buy peanut butter, a lot of them have quite a lot of nasties in them.
As for other nut butters I’m not really to fuzzed about them. I find they are very expensive and can be usually substituted with tahini or soaked a ground up nuts.
Oil & Vinegar
I’m a big fan of coconut oil as you may have noticed. Not just for cooking but I also use it on my hair & body. So naturally I always have a big pot at home. With coconut oil I can’t stress enough that this is not a product you should try and save money on. Coconut products are expensive because harvesting coconuts is difficult and usually they are importet from a far away country. In order to meet the high demands and to keep prices down they way coconuts are being harvested can be very unethical. I don’t want to get into it to much because this is not what this post is about but just know that you should be doing your research before you buy these kinds of products. I buy most of my coconut products from this brand.
I don’t really use other oils that much, sometimes I will add some cold pressed olive oil to my dishes. But generally I try to stick to coconut oil.
As for Vinegar there is really only one kind you will ever need and that is apple cider vinegar. I cant even begin to tell you all the amazing benefits that including ACV in your diet will have. Just know that it is amazing for you digesting, metabolism and so much more. Make sure to buy the raw and unfiltered kind, you can find it at any health food store. Its very inexpensive and will last you for a very long time.
Nutritional yeast, if you’re vegan or trying to become vegan and even if you’re none of those things and just like tasty stuff then you better stock up on this one. It is technically a spice, but I had to include it here. It’s honestly the best thing ever because it tastes like cheese. I add it to pretty much every sauce I make, I use it to make vegan cheese, I add it to pesto or just sprinkle it on top of pasta dishes. It’s also a natural source of b12. I get nutritional yeast at my organic supermarket or health food store.
Psyllium husk, a little seed that will do magic for your digestion of you drink it mixed into some water in the morning. But it’s also amazing for baking because it will hold together pretty much anything. I use it to make pizza bases and yeast free bread (recipe coming soon).
This is it for part 1. To be continued very soon in part 2!