Changing from the standard diet over to plant based can seem daunting. A lot of vegan recipes on the internet contain ingredients you have never heard of, or they are hard to find where you live.
When I cut out sugar, dairy, grain (and later also meat) in May 2021 I quickly found out what I need to have in the fridge or pantry that can easily be combined with any vegetable to give me a satisfying and delicious meal.
Minced garlic and ginger
Garlic and ginger are great for your gut. As I struggled with a candida overgrowth I started adding these two ingredients to my dinners regularly. I also have a problem, and that is that fresh garlic and ginger often get mouldy quickly in my fridge, and I find it a hassle to peel and mince them. The solution: I buy minced garlic and ginger in a jar in my local supermarked. And then I just toss a teaspoon full into my sauces, and it’s all set.
I’m adding this to stews or soups, and often also as a base to my Indian curry inspired dishes.
Indian spice paste
Again, I’m buying these in a jar. My favorite right now is Vindaloo – and the brand I’m buying really only contains spices in the jar. I’m often adding this with some tomato paste to a splash of water, and this gives an amazing base for Indian curry. Indian people probably would say it’s not properly done, and that is ok.
I always have some in the house. These days I rarely use the full can, you can go a long way with 1-2 tablespoons when cooking for 1. So I transfer it from the can to a different airtight container. Then I use it in Indian or Thai-inspired dishes or for satay sauce. It can also be used as creamer in your coffee.
Golden spice mix
You might have heard or even had some golden milk. It’s hot milk with some spices tossed in there that turn the milk yellow. The spice mix contains the following in equal amounts: turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon and ground ginger. I buy bigger bulks of the four spices, and then store my home made mix in a glass jar. This can again be used as spice for your stew, you can also add it to your oat meal, or even in your coffee (with a splash of coconut milk it’s just delicious and quite filling). The four spices are again good for your gut bacteria and also anti-inflammatory – so it’s a boost for your health.
Plant based milk
There is huge variety to be found for plant based drinks that look and “behave” like milk – soy, almond, rice, oat. You can pour them over your cereal, have them in coffee or tea, cook your oat meal or rice pudding with them. If you can’t find them where you live or they are very expensive you can make some of them at home. I’m too lazy to do that, also plant based milk costs about the same as dairy here in Norway – so there really is no need for me.
Again, you can find a lot of different nut butters. I always have a jar of peanut butter in the house, so I can whip up some satay sauce or make dairy-free ice cream. Make sure you read the label so you avoid the brands that are loading your peanut butter with sugar. The brand I buy is only peanuts and a bit of salt, and it’s just as delicious as the “normal” one. I also have Tahini (sesame paste) in the house for dressings and to make hummus. And if you are really craving some sweets a spoonful of those will save you running off to buy some chocolate.
These can sweeten anything. I usually have 2-3 after dinner as my sugary sweet, and since I started always having them in the house I have not bought any chocolate anymore. A friend of mine recommended the following: Half the date, stuff it with a slice of banana and some peanut butter. Eat as is or even freeze them – she says they taste just like a Snickers-bar.