Top 10 Plant-Based Vegan Pantry Staples Paramount for Your Health

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The first question many people have when adopting the vegan lifestyle is which vegan pantry staples they should stock. Many people wrongly believe that they are only allowed to stick with the basics like fruits and veggies. Yet, veganism is more than that. Vegan recipes are filled with whole grains, whole foods, savory dishes, coconut oils, baked goods, and even muffins. They can incorporate the sweetest of maple syrups to the saltiest of soy sauces. The bottom line is vegan foods are definitely not dull. 

No matter what your reason is to go vegan. It is an excellent way for you not only to eat better and cleaner but a way for you to feel more energized in the process. That is why, in this blog post, we will discuss what vegan items you should always have in your pantry and how they can help turn any dish into a delicious and flavorful work of art. 

1. Chickpeas 

This rich source of minerals, fiber, and vitamins offers a variety of health benefits. Not only improving digestion, reducing the risk of several diseases but helping with weight management as well. Plus, chickpeas are high in protein, making it a fantastic replacement for meat in vegan diets. And there are a variety of ways to incorporate chickpeas into your daily diet: 

  • Include into soups and stews. 
  • The perfect addition to salads, spruce it up even further by throwing in some flavor with balsamic dressing, apple cider vinegar, or your favorite vegan salad dressings. 
  • Blend or use a food processor to grind into a paste and add to meatless meatballs. 
  • Blend with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini to make hummus spreads. 

2. Lentils 

Packed with magnesium, zinc, potassium, and B vitamins, lentils are an amazing vegan pantry staple that can be used every day. Made up of over 25% protein, they not only make an excellent meat alternative, but they also provide the mineral (iron) that many vegan diets lack. Add these lentils to soups, salads, or enjoy them as a stand-alone snack. The red lentils are also perfect when you mix them with different spices like cumin or turmeric if you are looking for a spicy treat. 

3. Quinoa 

Veganism has embraced quinoa as a nutritious substitute for meat and one of the best vegan foods out there. This gluten-free food provides as much as 14%-18% of high protein content. Plus, it contains essential amino acids that are great for overall health. However, its nutritional profile is not the only aspect that makes it stand out, in addition: 

beautiful quinoa meal, one of the vegan pantry staples
  • Quinoa provides terrific flavor and texture 
  • Quinoa requires half the cooking time as brown rice 
  • Quinoa is ideal for grain-based stir-fries or buddha bowls 
  • Quinoa works well with dried fruit, peanut butter, and even granola if you are looking for a sweet protein-filled snack. 

4. Cashews 

Whether you want a quick snack or looking for ways to flavor up your dishes, cashews are ideal for both. As an excellent source of copper, it not only helps decrease your risk of chronic disease, but it also provides you with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which helps lower your cholesterol and keeps you fuller for longer. Try adding cashews in salads, stir-fries, mixing them with sesame seeds, and even throwing them into smoothies to make your meal complete. 

5. Black Beans 

Considered a vegan staple, black beans are one of the most versatile legumes. They are ideal in a burrito bowl, vegan chili, and arguably the most nutritious legumes out there. This powerful antioxidant is linked to a decreased risk of cancer and provides you with a high protein and healthy carbohydrates source. Plus, they taste delicious in burger form with some flavorful spices like paprika or sea salt, with a dash of extra condiments like ketchup on the side. 

6. Chia Seeds 

Rich in protein and fiber, chia seeds are one of the best plant-based sources of your omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc, and iron, critical for those on a vegan diet. If you are looking for ways to incorporate chia seeds into your meal-plan, consider the following: 

woman holding smoothie with chia seeds, one of the vegan pantry staples
  • Great thickener for all recipes 
  • Perfect as a recovery smoothie 
  • Ideal garnish to your favorite snacks or salads 
  • Make for an awesome treat when you combine with granola and some pumpkin seeds 

7. Flax Seeds 

Flax Seeds are a true superfood. This nutritious ingredient featured in many kinds of pasta, whole grains, meatless meal products, and snack foods provides more Lignans than any other food. This accounts for their ability to reduce the risk of many health issues, such as heart disease, stroke, digestive problems, and inflammation. Additionally, they are effortless to incorporate into your daily smoothie, smoothie bowls, and even salads. 

8. Almond Butter 

Almond butter, like raw almonds, is an excellent source of healthy fats and protein. Thanks to its vitamin E and plant antioxidants, almond butter is a heart-healthy food source that can be combined with fruits or toast and made into the perfect breakfast to help keep you full well into the afternoon. If you are looking for sweeteners to make your almond butter a touch sweeter, consider using some agave, maple syrup, or bee-free honey. 

9. Nutritional Yeast 

Not to be mistaken with Brewer’s Yeast, nutritional yeast, is a vegan staple item. This versatile food will provide you with the daily-recommended amount of B-12, which is often limited in vegan diets. Plus, it is also a great source of potassium, folate, iron, and selenium. What makes nutritional yeast so popular is it is easily added to dips, sauces, and marinades, and often a favorite ingredient in tofu scrambles, vegan queso dips, and vegan mac and cheese. 

10. Coconut Milk 

As coconut milk comes from a plant, you can rest assured it is 100% vegan. And with its delightful creaminess, it is perfect in not only dairy-free creamer recipes or vegan ice cream, but it is ideal if you are looking to make some delicious chia pudding snacks. With its unique flavor, you can add it to any recipe and sauce to provide your pasta dishes and meals with a vegan twist, or just enjoy it in a tall glass as a late-night bedtime snack.

Coconut Milk’s variety of uses has helped make it an important vegan pantry staple over time. One important thing to note about coconut milk is PETA suggests that because Hawaii, Colombia, and Brazil use “human methods” to obtain their coconuts, they should be considered first when purchasing them from your local grocery store. 

Take it One Step Further 

Changing your diet is one thing. However, if you are genuinely looking for ways to improve your overall health and nutrition while also figuring out which food sources are best for your body, consider genetic and nutritional testing with Dr. Karen Threlkel. 
If you ever wondered why your body behaves the way it does or want to know why specific food sources cause you bloating, rather than weight loss, stop wondering and let us help you figure it all out. Contact Dr. Threlkel today for more information.

About The Author:

Picture of Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Threlkel received her degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from The National College for Naturopathic Medicine (now called The National University of Natural Medicine) in Portland, Oregon. She also holds a Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology from The University of Maryland. She is licensed in Naturopathic Medicine by the Government of the District of Columbia Department of Health. Dr. Threlkel is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, past president & current member of the Washington DC Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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