Today's blog post shares my recommendations on what to include on a plant-based shopping list. This plant-based shopping list isn't just for beginners; it is also a good reminder to all vegans about getting back to the basics of what a whole food, plant-based diet is centered around.
But for you folks just getting started, 2017 is around the corner and the new year provides a fresh start and an excellent opportunity to acquire healthy habits to enrich your life.
You may have landed here because a plant-based diet is one of the top trends of 2017, but for me, plant-based food is more than a trend because it catapulted my health and wellness. I know it can do the same for you.
According to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine, motives of consumers interested in a plant-based diet are for health and wellness, animal-related, or for the environment. But the vast majority of respondents mentioned more than one reason.
Whatever the motive, a plant-based diet is kinder to animals, to people and our planet’s future so hallelujah!
For all of you newbies, I have learned a lot about plant-based shopping since I became vegan close to six years ago. Many hits and many misses. Today, I want to provide you with a basic plant-based shopping list to help get you started and avoid my mistakes.
My best advice would be to keep it simple, and always have some cooked whole grains, veggies and beans on hand for quick, nutritious meals.
Think of your plate divided in four. One-fourth whole grains, one-fourth vegetables, one-fourth legumes like beans and lentils and one-fourth fruit. Have a small side of healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and seeds. You can see a graphic of a healthy plant-based plate here.
Try to stay away from all processed foods, but when you can't avoid it, read the ingredients carefully. It may say “natural” on the front, but that doesn't mean it's vegan, organic or non-GMO.
It is of particular importance that you avoid all GMO products on your plant-based shopping list. GMO food has been genetically altered and treated with the herbicide RoundUp. High residues of RoundUp could be harmful to your health.
Last but not least, don’t try to be perfect. Take it one day at a time.
When you are feeling weak, look at yourself in the mirror and say “I love you, I love animals and I love our planet.” Because that sums it up, a plant-based diet is all about love and respect, and I promise all that new positive energy will help you soar to new levels.
Good luck and here are some of my favorite plant-based shopping list tips.
Milk Substitutes for a Plant-Based Shopping List
Soy milk has a nutrition profile most similar to dairy milk. It is the highest in protein providing between 6 and 8 grams of protein per cup. It tastes great in coffee and dissolves well.
Almond milk tends to be lower in calories and sugar than most non-dairy milk. It also contains monounsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy fats. Almond milk may separate when heated as in a cup of coffee. I love unsweetened almond milk for most of my recipes that are cream based.
Silk has an unsweetened coconut milk which is what I prefer. Each serving is only 45 calories with no added sugar. It also has 50% more calcium than dairy milk. Perfect for coffee, smoothies, and your favorite baked goods recipes.
Cashew milk is the new kid on the block. It is creamy and sweet but can be high in sugar. Make sure you go for unsweetened.
Rice milk is non-allergenic.
Oat milk provides fiber as well as protein; about 4 grams per serving.
Hemp milk is a complete protein meaning that it contains all of the amino acids necessary for optimal health. A single serving of hemp milk provides an entire day's recommended intake of omega 3 fats. It has a nice, light taste and can be added to cereals, oatmeal, smoothies or to drink on its own.
Almond, soy, coconut, cashew, hemp and rice milk can easily be used in baked goods. Some non-dairy milk have a distinct flavor profile. Unless that is the flavor profile you want, make sure you go for unflavored non-dairy milk for most recipes.
Silk also a new line of non-dairy milk called Nutchello. They blend the non-dairy milk with flavors like caramel, dark chocolate, toasted coconut to provide a richer more decadent tasting non-dairy milk. Only 90 calories, no saturated fat and non-GMO verified.
All Silk non-dairy milk are vegan and lactose-free. Silk does not use added fats, additives, or GMOs in their non-dairy milk.
I recommend Silk on this plant-based shopping list because Silk is committed to helping the environment and improving human health.
In 2016 I teamed up with Silk to spread the plant-based message to those who need it most.
Plant-Based Shopping List
Butter Substitutes for a Plant-Based Shopping List
There are many vegan butter options for your plant-based shopping list. Most of them taste just like the butter you are accustomed to. Please use vegan butter in moderation because part of enjoying a healthy, plant-based diet is letting go of excessive oil. All plant-based oil and vegan butter are processed foods that contain high amounts of oil. All oils are pure fat, and most of the great nutrients and properties of the whole food are extracted in the process of making a whole food a plant oil.
If you have or worry about heart disease, I would recommend no oil at all. Learn more about consuming oil and heart disease from heart specialist, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn on youtube.
Cheese Substitutes for a Plant-Based Shopping List
If you like cheese on popcorn, I recommend nutritional yeast. It has a similar salty, nutty taste like parmesan and is delicious sprinkled on popcorn. It is also a great cheese replacement for baked macaroni and cheese.
There are many vegan cheese substitutes on the market but always remember these are processed foods. I prefer nut and homemade vegan cheese. No only is it delicious, it is simple to make. Place 1 cup of raw cashews that have been soaked for one hour or overnight in a food processor. Add 1/4 cup water or non-dairy unflavored milk like soy, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and a couple of garlic cloves. Process until smooth. Taste for seasonings.
Also, just because it is in the vegan cheese section, don't assume it is vegan. Many rice and soy cheese makers add casein (from cows) to help the cheese melt.
Egg Substitutes for a Plant-Based Shopping List
There are many commercial egg substitutes on the market, and you can make your own.
Ground flax seed eggs (makes two eggs) – Whisk 2 tablespoons ground flax seed with 5 1/2 tablespoons of water. Put the mixture in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to thicken. I like ground flaxseed eggs for binding because it has a gelatinous component.
Bananas – Use ripe bananas to add moisture. One mashed banana can replace one egg in cakes and pancakes. Make sure it is compatible with the other ingredients in the recipe.
Applesauce – Use applesauce to add moisture. Replace one egg with 1/4 cup of applesauce in sweet desserts.
Chia Seeds (makes one egg) – Similar to the ground flaxseed mix. Whisk 1 tablespoon chia seed with 3 tablespoons of water – mix & let sit for 15 minutes.
Cornstarch – Combine two tablespoons of cornstarch with three tablespoons of water
Arrowroot – Combine two tablespoons of Arrowroot with three tablespoons of water
Chickpea Flour – Whisk three tablespoons of Chickpea flour with three tablespoons of water
Applesauce and Bananas – Mash up or blend about a half a banana or 1/4 cup applesauce to use as an egg replacer in baked goods such as muffins, pancakes or yeast-free quick bread.
Tofu -blend 1/4 cup silken tofu until tofu is smooth and creamy.
Aquafaba is the high-starch liquid from a can of cooked chickpeas. It has good thickening and foaming elements. You can whip it up to make whipped cream, mayonnaise or add lightness to dishes that use eggs like pancakes, muffins, and waffles.
Drain one can or carton of chickpeas and use the liquid in place of an egg or an egg white in a recipe.
One tablespoon of aquafaba = one egg yolk
Two tablespoons of aquafaba = one egg white
Three tablespoons of aquafaba = one whole egg
I don't eat many faux types of meat, but they may help you with your transition and there are many innovative companies creating delicious plant-based substitutes.
Check the ingredients carefully and make sure they are non-GMO, organic and made from plants. Always remember the best food you can eat is whole, plant-based foods that are closest to their natural state.
Nuts, Seeds & Dried Fruits
Nuts are high in protein and can be added to almost any meal. I like slivered almonds on salads, oatmeal or just for snacking.
Seeds and dried fruits are excellent toppings for oatmeal and salads.
Hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, and chia seeds contain a great balance of omega-6 and omega-3s which help keep your heart super healthy.
**I like to have two tablespoons of any of hemp, ground flax seed or chia seeds a day**
**Always buy ground flaxseeds. This particular seed has a hard outer cover and it is more difficult to digest.**
Buy any and all fresh in-season organic vegetables (more reasonably priced when in season) Eat as many vegetables as you like!
Keep a lot of lemons on hand to squeeze over vegetables and greens.
Buy fresh parsley, cilantro, garlic, ginger and mint when possible for additional flavoring.
Lentils, Beans, Quinoa, Soy, Chick Peas, Green Peas, Artichokes, Hemp Seeds, Chia Seeds, Oatmeal, Pumpkin Seeds, Hemp Milk, Edamame, Spinach, Black Eyed Peas, Broccoli, Asparagus, Green Beans, Almonds, Spirulina, Tahini, Nutritional Yeast, Peanut Butter and Amaranth all have high amounts of protein. You can see a full plant-based protein list here.
I also like organic non-GMO tofu. You can add tofu for extra protein to pretty much anything. It takes on the flavors of whatever you mix it with.
Tempeh – Is made by deep-frying fermented soybeans. There are many commercial faux meat products made from tempeh including bacon. Taste wise, tempeh has a slightly nutty and earthy flavor.
Seitan – Seitan is a food made from gluten, the main protein of wheat. Seitan is chewy and easily takes on the flavors of your favorite seasonings. Perfect for chilis and stews. It is also protein-packed and cholesterol-free. If you don't have a problem with gluten, seitan is a great meat replacement.
Chickpeas – My very favorite protein. Add to salads and soups. Mash them up with a little vegan mayonnaise and put them on sliced bread with avocado, sprouts, and tomatoes.
Whole Grains – Quinoa, Brown Rice, Bulgur, Barley, Millet, Oats, and Farro are just a few choices.
Legumes – Lentils & Beans are a high source of protein!
**Don't believe everything you read about gas and beans. There are many things you can do like soaking the beans with a little baking soda and throwing away the soaking liquid. Another tip, cook a whole peeled potato with the beans. Do not eat the potato and toss before serving. Digestion shouldn't be a problem once you've adapted to the dietary fiber increase. Also, there should be no problem with lentils and chickpeas aka garbanzo beans.**
Fruit – any and all fresh in-season organic fruits (more reasonably priced when in season)
**Fruits like lemons, limes, cranberries, pomegranates, grapefruit, kiwis, pineapple, blueberries, strawberries and blackcurrants are very low in sugar. Combine with seeds and nuts.**
**If you have digestive issues, try a cup of warm lemon water when you wake up in the morning or a half hour before eating**
**Please note all white processed cane sugar is whitened with animal bone char and not vegan – see this link for more information**
Unprocessed Stevia for coffee and tea – check and make sure there is only one ingredient on the label and no dextrose.
100% Organic Maple Syrup (my favorite sweetener for recipes)
Unsulphured Blackstrap Molasses – Has a low glycemic index** and high in iron and magnesium content
Common Condiments For a Plant-Based Shopping List
Vegan Mayonnaise – There are many manufacturers of vegan mayonnaise. Once again, use sparingly, it is a processed oil based food.
Non-GMO Ketchup and Mustard
For the cupboard
Cartons of low-sodium Chickpeas, Cannellini Beans and Black Beans
Roasted red peppers in the jar
Cartons of kitchen ready low-salt organic ground tomatoes
Rice Flour if you are gluten-free
Seasonings are a vegan's best friend!
Red Pepper flakes
Sriracha (hot sauce)
Low-sodium Tamari or Soy Sauce
Organic Vegetable Broth
I like to use vegetable broth for sautéing instead of added oil. Stock up on organic vegetable broth because you will be using it for many of your soups and stews.
Pasta & Noodles
Whole-wheat pasta is easy to prepare. Serve with some sauteed chopped tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and basil.
Soba Noodles – cook them in a vegetable broth and top with vegetables.
“On the go” Breakfast and Cereal
Instant steel-cut oats (serve with slivered almonds and berries)
Warm farro with organic maple syrup (high-protein)
Almond yogurt (serve with slivered almonds and fruit for a high-protein breakfast)
Warm Quinoa or Farro with almond milk, raisins, and chopped fruit
Warm Bulgur with non-dairy milk, nuts, and fruit
**Starting your day with a non-resistant starch like bulgur is ideal for health and weight loss. Resistant starch is any starch that isn't digested or absorbed in the stomach or small intestines. Studies have shown that resistant starch increases absorption of essential minerals, improves gut health and increases feelings of satiety.**
Hummus – Hummus, made from garbanzo beans, is an excellent high-protein snack. Serve with carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes or spread inside some whole wheat pita bread and stuff it with cucumbers and sprouts.
Whole Wheat Pita Chips – Cut whole wheat pita bread into triangles and put on a cookie sheet. Roast at 400 degrees F until crispy. Serve with salsa or hummus.
Baked sweet potato – Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Wash your sweet potato, poke some holes in it and bake until tender. Drizzle some maple syrup on top or stuff it with vegetables.
1/2 cup popcorn kernels and one tablespoon nutritional yeast.
Pop popcorn kernels in an air popper. Transfer popcorn to a large bowl. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast and mix evenly. Nutritional yeast adds a cheese-like flavor and keeps the crunch of popcorn. Many brands of nutritional yeast are fortified with B12.
6 cups water, 1 pound edamame – Bring water to a boil in large pot. Add soybeans return to a boil. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Or purchase shelled frozen.
Homemade trail mix – Make your own. It could include raisins, dates, walnuts, almonds and oats, or use as a cereal with some almond milk for a quick and easy high protein snack
Frozen Mango or Banana – just freeze and put in the food processor for a creamy ice-cream like dessert. Top it with nuts and a little maple syrup.
Bake a fruit like apples or pears for sweetness. Top it with nuts, cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup.
A small piece of 72% dark or bittersweet chocolate. Most chocolates marked over 70% is non-dairy but always check the ingredients. You may see the word cocoa butter which sounds like a dairy ingredient, it is actually the fatty portion of the cocoa bean and is naturally dairy-free.
Hope you enjoyed this plant-based shopping list. You can find most of the non-dairy milk options on Silk's website. You can also sign up for their newsletter which includes yummy plant-based recipes and coupons. If you are having trouble finding Silk non-dairy milk, here is a store locator.
I would like to thank Silk for sponsoring me, sharing this plant-based shopping list and for helping me spread the plant-based message.
Happy New Year everyone and thank you for being part of our healthy community.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.