My plant-based essentials
There’s no shortage of reasons why you should start eating a more plant-based diet. Not only is it good for the environment and proven to have several health benefits, it also opens you up to an incredible world of delicious, clean foods and products. That’s right, veggies are cool now!
I’ve spoken before about the common myths that eating plant-based is boring or complicated, when I actually find it incredibly convenient given the amazing variety of products that are available and how versatile they can be. As a practicing flexitarian (I haven’t cut out meat altogether, but I try to eat plant-based around four days a week), there are some convenient go-to pantry products that I always make sure I have on hand to keep me inspired.
I’m just nuts about nuts, which is great considering how many nut and nut butter varieties there are. From peanuts and almonds to walnuts and pistachios, they are packed full of healthy fats and proteins and are incredibly filling, making them an ideal treat for snacking. Throwing some good ol’ fashioned PB (peanut butter) in your morning oats, on your wholewheat toast or using it as a dip for a snack is a great way to keep yourself energised and focused for the day.
Tip: If you’re new to eating plant-based and missing the creaminess of dairy in your recipes cashew nuts are a great alternative for cream. Just soak your cashews anywhere from two and twelve hours to soften them and then blend them until smooth.
Focusing specifically on chia seeds and flax seeds, these little gems are often overlooked or underrated, but they are loaded with fibre, fatty acids and antioxidants. If you’re confused between the two that’s understandable, but chia seeds are tiny, oval-shaped seeds that are quite flavourless, whilst flax seeds are bigger and have a slightly nutty flavor. Both are great for sprinkling over your oats or salads and adding to your baking, while flax seeds are a neat alternative if you’re missing eggs in your diet, and chia seeds are great for thickening up recipes like overnight oats or smoothies.
Tip: To make an egg substitute using flax seeds combine one tablespoon of ground flaxseed and three tablespoons of water and allow to sit for about five minutes.
Because who doesn’t love some beans on toast? Jokes aside, beans are an essential for plant-based diets thanks to their surplus of fiber and protein and their usual cost-friendliness. Whether you’re opting for canned or dry beans, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils are great options to keep on hand.
Tip: The liquid that chickpeas are soaked in (aquafaba) can act as a substitute for eggs.
Great for adding a bit of texture to a plant-based meal, I like to keep my pantry stocked with rice (brown and white), quinoa and bulgur wheat. Grains might not feel like the most exciting thing to incorporate in your diet but they are very filling and can be added as the base of a tasty salad to give it a kick, or as the core part of a grain bowl with some delicious roast veggies.
An ideal and convenient way to add some flavour to your dishes, you can buy vegetable stock cubes in store or make your own at home if you have time. Home-made stock is a great way to use up vegetables that are on the way out but still fresh enough to eat.
Thanks to the fact that it’s solid at room temperature, coconut oil is a great replacement for butter and is super versatile, suited for everything from baking to roasting veggies. As is the case with high saturated fat products, a little goes a long way.
Coconut milk is a liquid pressed from the grated flesh of a fresh, ripe coconut, and is used in everything from curries to soups, smoothies, coconut whipped cream and plant-based sweet treats like ice cream.
Tip: Coconut milk can differ in its consistency based on the brand and packaging so make sure to double check your recipe for which type you’ll need.
Perfect for dressings, glazings and vinaigrettes, vinegars are a great way to give any dish an extra kick, and with apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and rice vinegar widely available, there’s a good variety of options to choose from.