One of the most important lessons of eating a strict plant-based whole foods diet is being prepared.
Preparation is what gets you through the trap of, “Oh, man…I don’t have anything here at the HOUSE to eat, and I don’t want to go to the store NOW and so I guess I just have to eat PIZZA, HAMBURGERS and DONUTS with you guys. Oh? We don’t have that here? I’ll have them DELIVERED! I gotta eat, right? RIGHT?!”
Yeah, that trap is actually a doozy, into which I have fallen a time or thirty. Our brains can be the most divisive opponent in the fight for health.
So to combat our superior reasoning powers and the temptations they bring, I make sure I have my “foundational food” in my pantry at all times…or most of the time. It’s like Batman’s Utility Belt…if he were vegan…and…you know…carried FOOD around instead of…smoke bombs and Batarangs.
Black Bean Hummus (Recipe Coming Soon!)
I use this for EVERYTHING. I can use it as a vegetable dip. I can use it as a coating for amazing veggie sandwiches. I can use it with tortillas to make a more mexican-flavored veggie or bean taco or burrito. It’s something I eat A LOT.
Bell Peppers (Red, Green, Yellow and Orange)
The green bell pepper is great for Hopping John (black eyed peas and rice), as well as flavoring a host of other dishes. The brighter colored peppers have a sweeter flavor and are great for adding to beans and rice, serving as a homemade pizza topping, or just going on a sandwich in slices.
Garlic, Onions and Spices
These items will vary based on preference, but I always want to make sure I can season my food. This is kind of a no-brainer, but I make sure I have it all on hand. I like Mrs. Dash spices, Paprika, Onion Powder (not too much because of the sodium), Cumin, Crushed Chiles, Red Pepper and fresh Cilantro. Just make sure you have what you need to create the flavor profiles you like.
Canned, Reduced Sodium or No Salt Added Beans
These are so foundational if you get in a bind. They’re a quick fix, which is a MUST, and can be used in SO many ways. Use them for beans and rice. Use them in black bean burgers. Use them in stews. Use them in dips. Keep them in the pantry. You will use them.
I like to have dried beans in the house, too. Ideally, you want to use the dry more than the canned because they have so much less sodium. You can soak the beans during the day, drain them in the evening and then either use them or refrigerate them to use during the week. It’s just great to have them on hand.
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Tacos and burritos and wraps are fantastic quick fixes. It’s always a good idea to keep these in the pantry. A word of warning, however. The sodium content in ALL brands is fairly high, usually about 250mg to 300mg PER TORTILLA. Once or twice a week at most with these, if you can.
Brown Rice, Quinoa or Whole Wheat Pasta
Make sure your pasta uses WHOLE wheat flour and not just wheat flour. You can get regular brown rice or Minute Brown Rice. Studies have shown them to be about the same nutritionally, so it’s really up to you. Quinoa has a great earthy flavor that you’ll love with beans or veggies. It’s great to have these on hand. They usually don’t take long to prepare and are very filling.
Baby Spinach, Kale or Other Greens
I use Baby Spinach on SO many things, whether on sandwiches, in beans and rice or in a stew. It’s a great vegetable to add to just about anything, and boosts the nutrition immediately.
Food for Life Ezekiel Bread
I love sandwiches and burgers, and with this bread, I can have both. There are several different types of this bread. You’ll find some of their varieties in health food stores or larger supermarket chains in the frozen section. Lightly toast it and enjoy!
This is, again, just my foundational food list. I’d love to see yours! Anything you’d add? Take away?