Transitioning to a more plant-based diet can be challenging at times. When I stopped cooking meat I started stocking new products that were tasty and easy to cook. So for those of you that feel a bit lost with vegan or vegetarian cooking, here are some of my favourite green eating staples!
I love almost all types of cabbage! The greatness of the cabbage is the versatility, that they are nutrient dense, cheap and keep for long (like really long). Cabbage can be used as a filler in many dishes, it is great for stews, soups, casseroles, salads or just as a side. You can pickle it, make sauerkraut, kimchi, steam it, boil it, fry it or just eat it raw. My favourites are kale and red cabbage (preferable pickled in a bit of apple cider vinegar).
Similar to cabbage, onion is cheap and durable. I use all types of onion to cook: yellow, red, garlic, spring onion, shallots. They are anti-inflammatory and great for adding flavour to a dish. It is very rare that I eat something that does not include at least one type of onion, raw or cooked. My favourite is to add a bit of pickled red onion or fresh spring onion to top of a dish. It adds a nice touch!
Regular potato and sweet potato are my best carbs (sorry pasta, I still love you though…). They work great boiled, mashed, baked, fried or whatever way you would like them. In addition to eating them as a side (or as me the main), you can add them to curries and stews, you can make hash browns or patties by mixing them with some nice spices and herbs. I also love to make sweet potato tacos with some black beans and loads of cilantro!
Peas & beans
The great thing today about peas and beans is that you can buy them ready in tetras or cans, which is fast and accessible. But the cheapest way to to buy dried ones and cook yourself. They provide a great amount of protein and can be added to salads, soups, curries and most other dishes. If you do not like the taste or the structure, I would try to either blend them into a soup or marinate them to get some flavour. I mostly eat chickpeas, which I put in salads and curries, or black beans, that I use for tacos, bean patties and salads.
I love tomatoes in any form! When I was a child I did not like fruit so my grandmother would cut up tomatoes for me to eat. Still today I tend to buy cherry tomatoes as snack for movie night! Tomatoes contain lycopene, a potent antioxidant, that has been linked to decreased risk for several diseases.
In my kitchen you can almost always find a few cans of diced or whole tomatoes. They are a great staple that keeps for long in the pantry and they can be used for soups, stews, sauces and what not. However, my favourite is to eat a perfectly ripe tomato with just a tiny bit of herb salt.
Grains are a great filler that you can put in salads, bowls or sub for when you have no rice at home. My favourites are quinoa, buckwheat and wheatberry. I tend to use then mostly for bowl base or as the side of a soup or curry, or to make breakfast porridge. They are great carbs, that fill you up, without being too “fast”, and I personally like the taste and the texture of them.
If I am completely drained for food inspiration or seriously cramped on time, I make lentil soup. Lentils are a great source of protein and they are often very cheap. I prefer the red ones best, both for the flavour and for the fact that they are fast cooked. If I have more time I like to make chili with green lentils.
So if you are finding it hard to cultivate a vegan or vegetarian diet, you could try incorporating more of these foods into your your