Friday, February 11, 2011

Vegan Kitchen Essentials Week: Vegan Foods

Did you catch my video yesterday?  I keep saying I am such a huge dork!  Mr. Kummerow thinks I am brilliant though, and that is all that matters!  Personally I love how the still screen-shot of me has me mid-turn with my hair flying at all angles.  Pretty silly huh?

Some thoughts before I get into today's post:

Seriously, my fridge is so bare!  It amazes me how little food we keep on hand in there and yet we always have something healthy and fresh to eat!

Second- am I cheap or what?!  After watching that video, I think I mentioned "sale" a few too many times!  

And last...I just cleaned my kitchen.  Too bad I didn't do that before shooting the video.  Sorry!

Ok, so every vegan book and website out there has their own lists of important foods for a plant-based diet.  Honestly, what I'm about to share isn't rocket science and isn't far off from all the others.  I will give you a short overview of certain foods and nutrients, but I'm not going to talk in depth about all the essentials.  Why?  Because again so many other websites are already addressing these issues.  Why recreate the wheel?  Also, I don't pay that much attention to it in my day-to-day life.  I don't look at what I'm eating and question whether there is enough B-vitamins in my lunch.  I eat a variety of foods that are healthy and wholesome and I believe it provides me with adequate nutrition.  If and when I ever begin to feel ill, sick, lethargic, etc. then I will question my intake. 

I will share with you that I have not been sick all year!  Not once since I went vegan have I come down with the flu or a cold or any other illness that would leave me debilitated for any amount of time.  Sure occasionally I have felt slightly under the weather or had a headache.  Like last night for instance, I just didn't feel good.  But I wasn't sick.  So I would have to guess that what I am eating is taking care of me pretty well.  I don't take any medicine, supplements, etc.  So I can only praise the food I am eating for making me feel so great!  With that said, here are the foods that I eat and I believe are important to a vegan diet.

Vegetables:
anything green!
kale
collards
chard
broccoli
peas
edamame
bok choy
cabbage
celery
romaine
spinach
sweet potatoes
potatoes
carrots
squash (of any kind)
cauliflower
leeks
and so many more!  


I like to try one new vegetable each grocery shopping trip!

Proteins:
Lentils
Black beans
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and hummus
Tofu
Kidney beans
Pinto beans
Tempeh (on occasion when I need it for a recipe)

Healthy Fats:
Peanut Butter (also a good source of protein)
Avocado
Nuts (mostly in trail mix)
Seeds
Seed-butter (sunflower seed butter)
Olive Oil
Tahini
Earth Balance Buttery Spread

Grains:
brown rice
quinoa
millet
oats
whole wheat pasta
brown rice noodles
udon and soba noodles
sprouted Ezekiel bread
whole wheat wraps
bakery fresh breads
bagels
whole grain, organic cereal

Fruits:
Bananas (a must for me)
apples
pears
blueberries
grapes
dried fruit like raisins and cranberries
and anything else that is local or on sale!

Sweeteners:
bananas
brown rice syrup
agave nectar
date sugar
sucanat
organic sugars

Seasonings/condiments:
Shoyu Sauce
Ume Plum Vinegar
other vinegars
chili seasonings
curry seasonings
ketchup

Other:
Almond Milk
Chia Seeds
Flax Seeds
Nutritional Yeast

Occasional:
Soy cheese
Soy Chorizo
other faux meats
popcorn
Tofutti Cream Cheese
Coconut Milk Ice cream
granola bars
Oreos

Go to meals:
Stir fry with tofu, veggies and brown rice
Vegetable soup
Tacos with beans (that's for dinner tonight)
Spaghetti loaded with veggies
Pizza (homemade of course)
Veggie burgers
Veggie lasagna

For a full list of recipes I've made visit the Food page!

Vegetables are always the most important part of every meal that I make (except maybe breakfast).  When I begin to plan a meal I start with the vegetables I have on hand.  They are my favorite part of every meal.  If that is nothing like you, don't worry, the more you eat them the more you will come to love them.  I am lucky because I never disliked vegetables as many kids do.  I have always enjoyed them.

As I am building any meal I next check for some healthy whole grains.  I will add a biscuit, whole wheat wrap, bagel, bread, etc.  We typically only keep really healthy whole grains in the house to prevent me from eating too much!  I love bread!

Then of course I try to add some protein to every meal.  Usually in the form of beans or tofu.  We do not use other vegan protein sources like tempeh and seitan very often.  In fact I have only ever cooked seitan once.  I'm just not a big fan.  I think the fact that it comes from wheat gluten freaks me out a bit.

Fruit is like a treat most of the time.  I try to eat local and seasonal fruit, however bananas are my weakness and I typically consume one a day.  (Sometimes two.)  It is not that fruit is bad for you, and when given an option between a granola bar or piece of fruit for snack, fruit is obviously the healthier choice because it is a whole food.  Of course when deciding between a (really healthy) granola bar and vegan ice cream...the granola bar is probably the best choice...but I would go ice cream every time!

All of your essential nutrients can be found in the foods listed above...with the exception of one piece: vitamin B-12.  What is the deal with this anyway?  While it is true that B-12 is not present in a plant based diet, there are ways to get this nutrient.  Nutritional Yeast is one way many vegans supplement their diets, however not all are fortified with B-12 so check the label.  A multi-vitamin also contains B-12.  Just look for a vegan variety and one that uses vegan capsules.  I will take a multi-vitamin maybe once a month...when I remember.  I also use Nutritional Yeast occasionally in cooking...but not often.  I am not very keen on the flavor.  You do not need a ton of this vitamin.  However, I am no expert, so if you have concerns consult a doctor...preferably a holistic doc who understands your life style and choices. 

Between yesterday's video and today's list, I hope you have a better understanding of what goes into a vegan diet and how to achieve a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle while eating compassionately.  Please, if you have any questions let me know!  Thanks for listening!

Now off to eat tacos and watch Food Matters.  And later tonight Mr. Kummerow and I are chaperoning a high school dance!  Have a good night!

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