By Marni Wasserman
Adapted from Marni’s new book, Plant-based for Dummies
The plant-based world—as you probably know by now—is extremely diverse and filled with a bountiful array of amazing foods. There are certain foods that you’ll want to get a headstart with learning how to cook with right away. These staple kitchen items are not only saturated with flavor but also chockfull of the nutrients that you need to maintain a healthy plant-based lifestyle!
Tempeh is a traditional vegetarian staple made by splitting, cooking and fermenting soybeans. It looks like a textured piece of tofu but is more versatile than tofu.
- Where to find it: You’ll likely find tempeh in the freezer or refrigerated section of most grocery stores.
- Where to store it: I recommend buying only one to three packs at a time to keep it fresh. It’s best stored in your freezer.
- How to best use it: Marinate it over night and tempeh takes on the delicious flavors of whatever marinade you choose! It can be used as a veggie burger on its own, cubed up and used in a salad, or made into veggie skewers!
Quinoa is a high-energy pseudograin and complete protein. It’s small and comes in whitish –yellow, red and black varieties. It is rich in essential amino-acid and calcium. It’s high in lysine, iron, phosphorous, B vitamins, and vitamin E.
- Where to find it: You’ll find it at most stores in the grain or dry goods sections. It can be found either packaged or as a bulk item.
- Where to store it: Store quinoa in a glass container in a dark cupboard.it lasts for approximately six months.
- How to use it: This grain is incredibly versatile. Quinoa porridge, salads, burgers, loafs, casseroles, cookies—the possibilities are endless!
Miso is a fermented paste made from soy beans. Soybeans can be fermented into many different flavors of miso. Miso is rich in eight essential amino acids. It’s low in fat but high in salt, and therefore it should be used in moderation. Miso can be a substitute for Worcestershire sauce, salt, soy sauces. It is used in soups, sauces, dressings and more.
- Where to find it: You’ll find miso paste at most grocery stores and health food stores. It’s found in the refrigerated section. Always buy miso that is in a glass jar or container so that you can safely store it in your fridge for months. It’s fermented, so it lasts a long time.
- Where to store it: Airtight glass container can refrigerate miso for year or more.
- How to use it: Miso soups are hearty, warming, and a delicious side to any dinner dish. But did you know miso is also great in salad dressings, homemade pesto, plant-based pates, and more! It adds a salty taste that soy sauce would add, but in a much healthier fermented version!
Nutritional yeast is made from a single–celled organism, which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat. Because it’s inactive it doesn’t froth or grow like baking yeast does; it has no leavening ability. It is yellowish and flakey and often come sealed in a bag or container.
- Where to find it: Most natural grocery stores, often in the spice aisle.
- Where to store it: After use it’s best to keep it in a glass container in your fridge.
- How to use it: Nutritional yeast is versatile as its cheesy flavor can be used as a plant-based substitute in everyone’s favorite cheese-filled recipes. It is great on kale chips, sprinkled on salads, or in sauces to make them extra cheesy!
Mushrooms are the fruit of fungus and among the most medicinal of all foods. They don’t convert sunlight to food. These fungi thrive on other organic matter and are often found growing on decaying wood. Dehydrating mushrooms intensifies their flavors, and they can be rehydrated with water.
- Where to find them: Mushrooms are available at the health-food store, grocery store, and farmers’ markets. Buy only the fresh mushrooms you need, as they don’t last.
- Where to store them: Mushrooms can be safely stored in a brown paper bag in your fridge for up to a week. Make sure dried varieties in a glass jar for long term storage.
- How to use them: Stir-fries, loafs, even Chaga mushroom teas are amazing for your health!
Other kitchen essentials:
- Plant-based protein powders are a kitchen essential. Vega One makes the most delicious smoothies, and you can even use it in baked goods to get that extra dose of plant powered energy!
- Seeds are a kitchen essential. There are a variety of seeds to choose from including chia, pumpkin, sunflower, and hemp to include in your kitchen overhaul.
- Fresh produce is another important component. Buying in small quantities ensures you use it all up and consume it when it is the freshest possible.
Get loaded up with some of these starter ingredients to help make the transition to plants easier, more satisfying, and sustainable!
Simply said, Marni Wasserman’s life is rooted in healthy eating. Certified Chef, Culinary Nutritionist, and founder of Marni Wasserman’s Food Studio & Lifestyle Shop located in midtown Toronto where she teaches her signature cooking classes, and offers collaborative workshops and urban retreats. She is the author of Fermenting for Dummies and the recently released Plant Based For Dummies. Marni uses passion and experience to educate individuals on how to adopt a realistic plant-based diet that is both simple and delicious. She is dedicated to providing individuals with balanced lifestyle choices through organic, fresh, whole, and natural plant-based foods. You can learn more about Marni by visiting: