I live in Las Vegas, so I do my food shopping primarily at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Sunflower Market. For nuts, you absolutely can't beat the prices at Trader Joe's. I've looked, to no avail. Luckily for me, there are Trader Joe's stores in my area, but if you do not live in an area with convenient access to the "unique grocery store," another fantastic source of dry goods -- nuts and otherwise -- is Nuts.com (formerly NutsOnline). They're based in Edison, NJ, which is a extra convenient for my East Coast friends, but they ship nationally. Their selection is comprehensive, the products are high quality and shipping is prompt and reasonable. I buy several of my staple items from them, despite the proximity of health food stores in this city, simply due to selection, availability and convenience. A couple of times a year they offer free shipping, so I take full advantage and stock up for a few months.
I recently entered an online sweepstakes held by Whole Foods to win pantry staples for a year (enter by January 31, 2012 if you're interested). In order to enter, I had to e-mail them a list of the items I consider to be "pantry must-haves." My list turned out to be pretty long, and I thought I'd share it with you.
Below are the foods I consider to be pantry essentials for a healthy vegan kitchen (all items are organic whenever possible). Not all of these items are "health foods," but I believe in indulging from time to time, with a measure of moderation, of course... and it's important to have the necessary ingredients on hand if you want to throw together a batch of vegan cookies, for example.
Sprouted whole grain flour
Unbleached all-purpose flour
Sucanat (unrefined whole cane sugar)
Raw honey (I realize that this is controversial for vegans)
Grain-sweetened dark chocolate chips
Dark chocolate bars (70% cacao or higher)
Celtic sea salt
Aluminum-free baking powder
Unsweetened shredded coconut
Raw cacao powder
Raw maca powder
Coconut milk (canned)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
Nama shoyu (unpasteurized soy sauce)
Unsweetened plain almond milk
Flax seeds (whole)
Quinoa (red and yellow)
Split black lentils (which are white, also known as "urad dal")
Whole mung beans
Split mung beans
Chickpeas (canned and dried)
Basmati rice (white and/or brown)
Lundberg "Jubilee" brown rice mix
Low-sodium vegetable broth
Golden raisins (without sulfur if you can find them)
Sweetened dried cranberries
Buckwheat soba noodles
Miso paste (red and yellow)
When I keep my pantry stocked with these foods, I find that I can make pretty much any recipe I come across in my favorite vegan cookbooks or food blogs. I try to steer clear of processed foods, but I'm not an extremist when it comes to upholding these ideals. There's an exception to every rule, in my opinion. Keeps life interesting.
My plan with this blog is to explain each of these choices in individual entries, peppered with occasional feature-length articles that address some of the underlying concepts I adhere to in my pursuit of a healthy vegan lifestyle.
Is there anything in your vegan pantry that I've forgotten? If so, please comment below. Thanks!