The vegan lifestyle is one of the most highly acclaimed in the world. In fact, according to a health and nutrition survey from the CDC, the vegan diet is one of the six most popular American diets — including vegetarian, pescatarian, paleo, keto, and omnivore — and the one with the lowest carbon footprint at 0.7 kg of CO2 per 1,000 calories consumed. This is significant compared to the keto diet’s 3 kg of CO2. Additionally, the diet is deemed generally healthier than its counterparts. Studies suggest that a well-executed vegan diet can reduce the risk of certain conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
However, following the vegan diet is more than just giving up meat from your daily meals. Like other healthy diets, it’s important to ensure your vegan consumption still provides you with essential nutrients that benefit your health and body. Below, we’ll look at four vegan pantry essentials and how to cook them:
Brown rice is a rich source of fiber, carbohydrates, and other nutrients, making it a good base for various dishes. For cooks looking to meal prep for several servings, the best Aroma rice cooker they can use is the Aroma ARC-150SB which can hold up to 20 cups of rice. The model is also multi-functional, offering cooking options such as slow cook, flash cook, sauté-then-simmer, and steam for you to pair your brown rice with other vegan ingredients. Meal prepping rice is easy with a rice cooker, but keep in mind that cooked brown rice can go bad if not stored properly. Make sure you use an airtight container, and your brown rice should be good for four days or up to a week.
Beans are a vegan staple, and for good reason — they’re easy to pair with other ingredients for a filling and healthy meal. CNN’s feature on dried beans highlights that both canned and dried beans are nutritional all-stars, high in dietary fiber and plant protein, and other important nutrients such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Best of all, beans are cost-effective and budget-friendly. Beans are also easy to prep, perfect if you have a multicooker. No time to cook? Our past post featuring the “Tex Mex Burrito Bowl Recipe” is great for easy and healthy prep that goes with brown rice as well. Storing the burrito bowls in mason jars also makes them a good grab-and-go meal.
Olive oil is one of many vegan-friendly cooking oils. Insights from VegNews on the healthiest cooking oils highlight extra virgin olive oil as a healthy and versatile oil featuring a rich flavor. Made up of 73% monounsaturated fats and small amounts of vitamin E and vitamin K, extra virgin olive oil helps fight inflammation, helping protect your heart and cardiovascular health. Don’t be deterred by the myth that you shouldn’t use olive oil for high-temperature cooking — deep-frying in extra virgin olive oil won’t ruin your food and will even give it the olive oil flavor. You can also use olive oil for sautéing, stir-frying, roasting, and baking.
Last on the list is another flexible vegan staple — tofu. Used as a meat substitute in many vegan recipes, tofu can do more than just mimic the texture of meat. Green Matters wrote about the wonders of tofu cream cheese made from soft blended tofu. It’s rare to see on grocery store shelves, but you can easily make it yourself in less than 10 minutes. Unless you’re allergic to soy, tofu cream cheese is also an excellent allergy-friendly option over traditional and nut-based cream cheese. If you don’t like cream cheese in your meals, tofu is flexible enough to work into other meals. Using air fryers like Tovala’s new smart model, you can deep-fry tofu for a crispy and healthy serving and other vegetables. The smart air fryer also comes with preset recipes like crispy Brussels sprouts if you’re out of kitchen ideas.
Article written by: Rosey Jamison
Image by jcomp on Freepik