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Favorite Vegan Staples - & where to buy!

Whether you've been vegan or vegetarian for a couple months, you're trying to cut out your dairy consumption, or you're just interested in learning how to cook with less meat. It all matters, and you're here now so let's talk about the six best vegan staples to have at home, no matter where you're at in this lifestyle journey! If you do happen to be vegan already, there's a good chance you'll already have these or most of these at home right now. Or maybe you're just dipping your toes into meat free and plant based cooking, so if you have no idea what nutritional yeast is and where to get it, sit tight! I got you sweet pea!


Let's dive in, shall we!


1. Non-Dairy Butter


Okay, this has been available since before I went vegan ten years ago, so it's time for you to give it a go if you haven't already! The Earth Balance brand works exactly like non-dairy butter so get to baking and cooking with it asap! You won't be disappointed. There is also a wide variety of other brands out there that are also great to try. MELT brand is great for toast, cooking and some baking recipes, but it's made with coconut oil so it can possibly slightly alter some of the baking recipes you might be wanting to test out. Then there is the common brand BECEL. They've come out with a vegan version of their usual margarine, but like most margarine options, it doesn't have that same great "buttery" taste you might be looking for when substituting for dairy butter. If you want to get real crafty, there are also some vegan butter recipes floating around the internet you could try as well.

Last but not least, we have many brands hitting the shelves that are being created by small vegan businesses. These ones may be a bit harder to find, but are quickly showing up in your usual grocery store fridges! You can also buy some online, a quick Google search of the brand will direct you to the companies website or check out places like vegansupply.ca for any of the following brands!


Earth Balance

  • Found in just about every grocery store *check the health food isle if you're not seeing it

  • Also found in all local health food stores (there's a section on their website that talks about how they only use sustainable palm fruit oil)


MELT organics

  • Found in just about every grocery store *check the health food isle if you're not seeing it

  • Also found in all local health food stores

BECEL

  • Found anywhere you can find the regular BECEL!

These brands below can typically only be found at local health food/grocery stores

  • Miyoko's cultured non dairy spread / Culcherd (name of the brand) variety of flavors / Milkadamia non dairy butter (this ones pretty new)

2. Natur-a Unsweetened Soy Milk


I know there is an overwhelming amount of Soy Milk brand options on the shelves, as well as a million different varieties and flavors and nut bases, etc. etc. Here's why I'm choosing this one specifically. This is a Canadian company based right out of Montreal. They use only certified organic soy beans grown right in Quebec. Canadian made with Canadian ingredients that are organic, that's a jackpot! They have many different varieties (even strawberry milk!!!) but the unsweetened original is so, so versatile. It's the best in my experience for any baking recipe and is neutral, yet creamy enough to use in savory dishes as well. Any time I'm referring to plant milk in my recipes it's always this one, unless I state otherwise. And don't fret, it's fortified so you're not missing out on nutritional value that dairy milk would have provided you if you make the switch!


You can find this brand EVERYWHERE! Comes in 6 packs at Costco - just search for the Kirkland logo as they've re-branded it. Even Dollarama carries it! It's shelf stable so you won't find it in the fridges fyi!


3. Nutritional Yeast


I wouldn't be a real veteran vegan if I didn't tell you about Nutritional yeast! Firstly, it's better known and better sounding as Nooch, so let's go with that. In short, Nooch is a product of Molasses. It's not an active yeast, so it doesn't work like a yeast that rises in breads, although it is magical in it's own little way! It has an almost nutty, but also very cheesy flavor and smell to it. I wouldn't go eating it from the bag, but it's an essential ingredient to get the flavor right when creating vegan cheeses and even vegan meats. It's naturally high in protein and most brands are also fortified so it's high in B12 and has some Iron in there too. If I'm being honest, I put it in everything!


The most common brands are Red Star & Bob's Red Mill but there are a variety of other brands out there too.Where to Buy? Bulk Barn is the most common place, but it can also be found at any local natural food store and some big name grocery stores carry it in the health food isles too, which are typically smaller companies making these ones.


4. Ground Flax Seed


I won't talk about this one too much because I have a hunch that most of you already have this one at home. It's on the list because I use it as an egg replacement in almost all of my baking recipes and even some savory (it makes for a good egg wash for breading ). There are some different measurements around the internet and in cook books for how to use it as an egg replacement, but I always do 3 to 1. Three tablespoons of water to 1 tablespoons of ground flax, then let sit to get thick!

You can find this absolutely anywhere, even costco! There's light and dark but there's really not much of a difference so don't fret. You can buy whole flax seeds as well, which just means you'll have to grind them at home.


PS; Keep them in the fridge once you open them!


5. TOFU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


There's no chance I would do a post about must have food items at home and not include tofu. It is THE best. It can be eaten raw, it can be baked, fried, steamed, sauted, you name it, it can do it! Tofu doesn't really have any flavor to it so it can absorb pretty well anything you want. I know you might be sitting there reading this thinking "tofu is gross", but I promise you, if you keep following along with my recipes & posts, I'll have you saying I freaking love tofu in NO time!


Then, we have the firm blocks you may have seen already at the grocery stores. It is packed in water and refrigerated, this is most commonly used in recipes. It's best for marinating and baking any way while keeping its firm, solid texture. Then there's also Silken tofu, which is more commonly found on the shelves. It can be used in some savory dishes, like tofu scramble or creamy dressings/sauces, but it's also amazing in some sweet recipes too...we'll get to those ;)


Before I tell you where to buy it, I do have to say that I think the brand of tofu that you're buying matters. My personal favorite (and the one we ALWAYS) used at the restaurant, is La Soyarie. I usually just grab their Firm variety because it works for everything, but they have a few other varieties as well. They are another local Quebec company that uses only certified organic soybeans grown in Canada.


You can find La Soyarie at a lot of local grocery stores like Farm Boy and also at all of the local health food stores. If you can't find it, my next brand recommendation would be Soyganic Tofu made by Sunrise Foods. It is found at the larger stores like Loblaws and Walmart in the refrigerated health food sections. They have a smoked variety which is awesome and they are also a Canadian company.


In terms of Silken tofu, it can be found in any Bulk Barn and the health food section at any Loblaws or health food store on the shelf. The grocery stores mostly only carry the extra firm variety, but it works for everything anyways. There is also a refrigerated version of silken tofu found in some places but I much prefer the brand Mori-Nu.


6. Vegan Worcestershire Sauce


You may be asking yourself, "isn't Worcestershire sauce already vegan"? The generic brand you're use to actually contains anchovies or fish sauce, unfortunately making it not vegan. We do have some alternatives though! It might not be an ingredient you currently use in your kitchen beyond making Caesars, but it's really great for adding rich deep flavor into things like vegan meats, stews and sauces.


My personal favorite brand that I've been using for years, is The Wizard's Vegan Worcestershire sauce. It has that deep rich flavor we're looking for in vegan substitutes. It can be found in any local health food grocery store as well as online in many places (even Amazon!). I've set to see it in major grocery stores. There are some other vegan brands out there for this, but I've never tried them and I don't believe they're more accessible than the wizard one.


These items didn't make the top 6 list, but I still recommend grabbing them on your next grocery shop if you don't already have them as they are versatile and easily accessible.


Coconut Yogurt ! Great as a snack, in smoothies & great for vegan baking!

  • My fav brands are Riviera unsweetened Vanilla & YOSO unsweetened plain

  • Both can be found in most health food sections at Independent/Superstore and some other grocery stores as well at any of your local health food stores

Cashews! We can get real crafty with cashews and make some super fun sauces, dressings, cheeses and more with cashews, so stock up!

  • Try and grab unsalted and raw if you can! Costco has a great value on these!

Tofutti vegan cream cheese! Use it to replace any recipe that calls for cream cheese, whether it's sweet or savory it will do the job.

  • Find it in some major grocery store health food fridges as well as any local health food grocery stores.

Spice staples! There are a few spices that are handy to have when making vegan substitutes if you don't already stock them currently. Granulated garlic & onion (powder is good too), Poultry seasoning (for "chickeny" things) & black salt. Black salt is what gives our substitute items (like tofu scramble) that "eggy" flavor. It's found at local Indian markets as well as online (amazon!)


As always, if you're wondering about an item you want to find the vegan version of or are wondering what the perfect vegan substitution for baking & cooking is, please reach out to me. I'm here to help you learn & enjoy everything vegan!

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Hi, I'm Melanie!

 

Your home or mine, let's just make it delicious and vegan!

Sharing what I've learned over the last 10 years as a vegan chef and restaurant owner.