Vegan Pantry Staples

Keeping a well-stocked kitchen full of vegan foods is important for a well balanced vegan diet and our overall health.  Any great nutrition plan contains some basic staples.

These are the nutritional powerhouses that everyone should keep in their kitchens.

Kale
molasses
DriedBeans

1. Kale

This vegetable seems to be everywhere these days, and for good reason.  Kale is part of the cruciferous family, which also includes broccoli and cauliflower.  Packed full of antioxidants and rich in vitamins and minerals, like vitamin A and calcium, kale is as nutritionally rich as it is versatile.

RELATED READING: Beyond Kale: A Green Leafy Greens Primer

Kale can as easily work in a green smoothie as it can in a stir-fry.  Eat at least one serving (which is a cup raw or half cup cooked) of the dark green veggie on a daily basis.

2. Beans & Legumes

Talk about a plethora of shapes, colors, and tastes!  From the ordinary chickpea to the uncommon adzuki, beans are chock-full of nutrition.  Protein is often thought of as the main nutrient in beans, but they are also rich in fiber and iron.  Plus, they don’t cost much, and are low in fat.  Depending on the variety of bean, they are wonderful for easy dishes like dips, soups, salads, and casseroles.

RELATED READING: How to Include Beans into Your Vegan Diet Without Causing a Stink

3. Blackstrap Molasses

Perhaps your only experience with blackstrap molasses has been in gingerbread or baked beans. You probably never gave much thought to it, but blackstrap molasses is an excellent source of iron and calcium. A tablespoon provides almost 20% of the recommended daily allowance of both.

RELATED READING: Why Osteoporosis Prevention Should Be a Priority – Even for Vegans

Add blackstrap molasses to hot cereals, smoothies and baked goods, stir it into nut butter, or even dilute it in hot tea.  This dark sweet liquid is as tasty as it is healthy!

4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Like vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acid is an essential nutrient found in a few fantastic foods.  Just a small handful of walnut halves (about 7-9) or a tablespoon of ground flaxseed provides the suggested daily dose.  Sprinkle ground flaxseed onto salads, stir it into oatmeal, or blend it into a smoothie for a nutrient-packed treat.

RELATED READING: Raw Recipe: Jalapeno Flax Crackers

Omega-3 fatty acid may reduce the risk of chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, joint pain and inflammation throughout the body.  This nutrient also plays a major role in mental functioning (memory, concentration, and problem solving), and for this reason is often called “brain food.”

5. Vitamin B-12

While a vegan diet, when done properly, can provide all the nutrients necessary for optimal health, there is one nutrient that vegans must pay special attention to: vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 isn’t readily available in a whole, unprocessed plant-based vegan foods, however, our nutritional needs can easily be met by regularly eating B-12 fortified foods or by taking a vegan B-12 supplement.

In any way, shape or form, we cannot stress enough the importance of having a reliable source of this powerhouse vitamin in your diet. Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy blood and a healthy heart and brain, so everyone eating a vegan diet needs to take this nutrient seriously. The easiest and most reliable way to meet your nutritional needs is by supplementing your diet with a vegan B-12 sublingual tablet. Sublingual just means that you dissolve the tabs under your tongue, allowing the B-12 to enter your body by being absorbed into the blood vessels in your mouth. (Yay! Science fact!)

The daily recommended vitamin B12 intake for adults is 2.4 mcg. If you opt for fortified foods, 2-3 servings per day will typically provide your daily dose. Supplements can vary in strength, so choose between 25 and 100 mcg pills daily, or a 1,000 mcg pill 2-3 times per week.

Shop for Vegan B-12 Sublingual Tablets

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This page is authored by KD Traegner with ntritional information provided by Anya Todd RD, LD. Last update May 2015.