Healthy Staples In A Vegan Kitchen

When you cut out dairy and meat products from your diet, you might think you won’t be able to enjoy food anymore. With cooking as my treasured hobby, I initially felt disappointed too. But then, I started finding a lot of inspiration, online and beyond. Plant-based foods are not part of a diet, but instead encourages you to eat more whole-foods. Today, I want to share some tips on how you could fill your pantry as a vegan

Whole Grains

Carbohydrates are needed by your body for fuel. Whole grains do not just keep you full and energised but they also contain fibre to help maintain a healthy gut. I love eating rolled oats with almond milk and bananas for breakfast. Instead of white rice, try brown, red or wild rice. Other grains you can try are Barley, Amaranth, Millet, Couscous (available at TESCO) and of course, Quinoa.

P. S. Popcorn is also a wholegrain!

Legumes

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Legumes are inexpensive and a great source of proteins for vegans. Use them to make burger patties, salads, hummus or as fillings in wraps. Edamame, chickpeas, red or green lentils, kidney beans, peas etc. are some legumes found in most stores in Malaysia.

Dairy and Meat Alternatives

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Soy milk is a great and inexpensive alternative for cow’s milk in Malaysia. Nowadays, Almond milk has also emerged as a delicious substitute (as cheap as RM 9.90 in Village Grocer). There’s also Santan (coconut milk), great to use in curries and soups instead of milk or cream.

Cheese! Many of my friends have mocked me for not being able to eat Pizza or Carbonara pasta. Nutritional Yeast might be a weird name, but you won’t regret buying it. Just last week I used it to make the creamiest vegan pasta and my friends didn’t even realize there was no cheese in it. You could also buy Vegan Cheese from Jaya Grocer, but it costs RM 30 and won’t last very long.

Tofu, Tempeh and other soy products are good alternatives for meat. I also use mushrooms as a replacement sometimes.

Nuts And Seeds

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Healthy fats (unsaturated fats) are a crucial part of any meal that will keep you full for long. Studies have shown that consuming unprocessed nuts (no added sugars or flavouring) does not have any effect on a person’s weight. There’s Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts, Pistachios, Pecans, Hazelnuts and of course, kacang. without which Satays would be incomplete. And why stop at nuts? Sprinkle your breakfast oats and pancakes with some Chia seeds, Flax seeds (Omega-3 fatty acids) or Hemp seeds for those added nutritional fat that keeps your hormone in check! And if you aren’t a fan of these, try eating olives and avocados.

Nut butters & Tahini

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Great for breakfasts and snacks, nut butters are healthy fats that make normal food a notch higher. I’m not talking about peanut butters with added oils and sugar, but those pure nut butters. (I love Pic’s peanut butter, for just RM 19.90) They can also be used as dips for fruits or rice crackers. Tahini deserves a special mention. It is made of sesame seeds and is mainly used to make hummus. But it can also be used as a dressing or an ingredient in pasta sauces.

Vegetables

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One thing you can eat without any inhibitions are vegetables! Yes, salads are boring but that’s not all greens are about. You can put them in smoothies and mask their taste with fruits, use them in wraps or just cook them to your liking. Switch normal french fries to sweet potato fries and you will never go back.

Fruits

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Do I even need to say anything more? Fruits are low in calories and high in fibre. Durians, rambutan, bananas and apples are healthier than store-bought cookies and chips. Add them over oats, put them in muffins or blend them into smoothies.

To conclude,

  1. Soak your beans and lentils before cooking, this reduces the cooking time
  2. Frozen and fresh vegetables have the same nutritional content, but frozen vegetables are cheaper and last longer!
  3. As a student, don’t give into trends of cooking only in coconut oil (which is $$$) or an only juicing diet (lacks fibre and a lot of macronutrients)
  4. Remember, cutting off an entire macromolecules group, be it carbs, fats or proteins, has been found to cause health problems in the long term. Veganism is not a diet. You should not restrict yourself, but try and eat good, wholesome food in healthy proportions
  5. Authentic Chinese and Japanese vegetarian food are mostly vegan and a great option in case you are out and your stomach growls. So are most dry Indian cooked vegetables (curries may or may not be)

Stay healthy and happy!

Featured image by Unsplash

Written by Katyayni Ganesan

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates

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