Many cookbooks will tell you all your must-haves for your kitchen & usually they differ from each other, causing such an overwhelming feeling that your brain shuts down & you start down the road marked "I can't". Don't go there dear BFF...I have narrowed down the list to what I have actually used the most. So before you go and buy 15 different effing cooking oils like myself, let me tell you what you need and where to get it.
Ingredient: Nutritional Yeast Flakes, ie "Nooch"
Why you need it: This ingredient is used to give any dish that savory flavor. Used in Veganomicon's Cheesy Sauce (OMG), most tofu scramble recipes, and homemade "parmesan".
Where to get it: Whole Foods or Food Co-op in bulk section.
Ingredient: Flaxseed Meal
Why you need it: Healthy fat, high fiber, B vitamins, Omega 3's! When mixed with water, it is a great substitute for eggs as a binding agent in baking. Throw it in a smoothie for an extra healthy kick! Store it in fridge/freezer after opening for longer shelf life.
Where to get it: Any grocery store with a health food section. Look for Bob's Red Mill...it's a good one.
Ingredient: High Heat Oils, ie. Refined Coconut, Canola, Safflower, Sesame. Pick one and go for it!
Why you need it: Because olive oil is for drizzling! Actually it's probably not a necessity...I cook with olive oil too, but I think it's nice to have canola oil on hand for stir-frys or baking, where I want a little more neutral flavor.
Where to get it: Any grocery should carry it.
Ingredient: Natural Vegan Granulated Sugar, ie. Succanat, Turbanado sugar, raw sugar, evaporated cane juice. Again, you don't need all of them, pick one and give it a shot!
Why you need it: Because refined sugar is the devil...not to mention un-vegan! Unbelievable, right?? Most white sugar goes through a refining process in which it's filtered through animal bones. I get organic evaporated cane juice and it works fantastic in all my baking. I also get the organic powdered sugar.
Where to get it: Some grocery stores with health food sections, Whole Foods, Food Co-op.
Ingredient: Bragg's Liquid Aminos
Why you need it: Because it's a healthier, lower sodium alternative to soy sauce/tamari for use in cooking. I still have my soy sauce, but Bragg's is nice if you're fingers are getting swollen from your salt intake. Many recipes call specifically for Bragg's, and sure, you can use soy sauce. But as your BFF, I totally recommend getting yourself a bottle...you won't be sorry!
Where to get it: Some grocery stores with health food sections, Whole Foods, Food Co-ops
Ingredient: Dried herbs
Why you need it: Because they are yummy. Many recipes call for fresh herbs, but we don't always have them on hand & they can be expensive. Try substituting 1 tsp dried herb for every 1 tbsp fresh herb called for in recipes.
Where to get it: Any grocery store.
Other things I keep on hand: organic/natural peanut butter, canned chickpeas, white beans, & black beans, canned tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown and white rice, couscous, pasta, apple cider vinegar, dried lentils, whole wheat bread crumbs, Agave nectar, Tahini, brown rice syrup, whole wheat pastry four, all purpose unbleached flour, organic baking cocoa.
Ingredient: Earth Balance Buttery Spread (different from Smart Balance which is not all vegan)
Why you need it: It's a lovely butter substitute in baking or even on toast or bread. I like the whipped, but the original is great. They also have soy-free version.
Where to get it: Most grocery stores with a health food section, Whole Foods, Food Co-op (and look for the shortening sticks too!)
Ingredient: Non-dairy milk, ie. soy, hemp, rice, almond
Why you need it: Because you like cereal, right? Non-dairy milks are great to sub where ever cow's milk is called for. Great in baking, smoothies and milkshakes, or for homemade ice cream!
Where to get it: Most grocery stores now at least carry Silk. And don't just look in the refrigerated isles! Many non-dairy milks are found on the shelf with other beverages.
***Your BFF feels the need to mention that non-dairy milks, more than any other item, are such a personal choice. This one I cannot decide for you...it's a little trial and error. I use Silk original for just about everything. We liked it right away, so I really didn't search much further. Good luck and please share your findings!
Why you need it: If you like mayo, you need Vegenaise. It is the ONLY mayo substitute worth your money. Trust your BFF, don't waste your time on anything else.
Where to get it: Whole Foods, Food Co-op, Naturally Soergel's if you're in the Pittsburgh area. p.s. It's in the refrigerated section!!!!!
Other must haves in the vegan fridge: Firm or extra firm tofu, silken tofu (for dips & vegan ranch), Daiya vegan cheese (best vegan cheese on the planet!), Silk soy creamer for coffee and cooking, Tofurkey meat substitutes if you like lunch meats type things, Boca burgers & crumbles in the freezer, and stay stocked with all your favorite veggies! I always have garlic, onions, mushrooms, and spinach. And don't discount frozen veggies...they are easy to prepare and often just as healthy...but make sure to read the ingredients & avoid the ones with added crap.
Other notable items:
Lightlife Fakin' Bacon ~ makes a BLT, or should I say FLT, that is to die for! (Whole Foods, Food Co-op, Soergel's)
Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips, because sometimes you just need a cookie. (Whole foods, Co-op, Giant Eagle)
Go Max Go candy bars. Mahalo (Almond Joy), Buccaneer (3 Muskateers), Twilight (Milky Way), and Jokerz (Snickers). They are vegan & all natural! Buy them locally at East End Food Co-op or Naturally Soergel's (thanks to your BFF) or at www.gomaxgofoods.com
Better Than Bouillon vegan Vegetable Base, No Beef Base, and No Chicken Base. Great for soups and gravies. The No Chicken Base seriously makes a "chicken" noodle soup that will take you back to the comfort of your childhood! Most grocery stores carry the veggie base, the No Chicken & Beef are harder to find...look in Whole Foods or Food Co-ops for them. And be very careful...they make all natural Real Chicken and Beef bases too! Just look for the 'V' for vegan!
I'm here to answer any questions you may have!
Your Vegan BFF