Sisters Jenny and Heather Goldberg of Spork Foods teach vegan cooking classes in Los Angeles and emphasize the use of whole grains and organic fruits and vegetables. They strongly believe that the closer your food is to nature, the better you will feel (it’s also an environmental, political, and humanitarian statement to choose the vegan lifestyle!) That being said, these hip, adorable girls aren’t throwing a hippie granola party. Their classes are filled with amazing flavors, colors, and recipes that will please all palates. Here they share their tips for making that pantry healthy for all members of the family;
We believe that stocking your pantry and fridge with the best vegan products out there makes all the difference in your cooking (a.k.a. allowing people to see that vegan food is incredible). We know you shouldn’t have to prove to anyone that vegan food is right in so many ways, but delicious persuasion sure doesn’t hurt the cause.
If you only have sea salt and pepper in your pantry, that’s a good start, but you will need a few more goodies to make kitchen magic happen. You will need spices, fresh herbs, and other fresh ingredients to get started. If you shop for produce at the farmer’s market (or green market if you are on the East Coast) you will have to do less work to make your food taste good. Why? Because fresh fruits and vegetables contain more minerals than their canned counterparts – and minerals are what we taste when we eat.
If you are not someone who cooks often and you are still looking to build your pantry, start with a spice blend, like “Italian seasoning,” which will have several different herbs in it. This will give you the overall flavor of a type of cuisine without having to purchase too many spices that you will hardly ever use. And by the way, if the spices in your pantry are tasteless or have been sitting on your shelf for more than a year, you may need to toss them and go shopping.
When a person makes the transition to eating more vegan foods, it’s easy to get seduced by vegan junk food – but hold strong and remember to keep your foods real!
If you have the space, try to grow fresh herbs at home. They not only add flavor to your meal, but fresh herbs have many anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They even help stimulate blood flow in the body and are know to aid digestion!
To watch our video on our top 10 pantry items, click HERE (or simply watch below) , but if you have to watch our video on mute because you’re at work – here is more info on our top 10;
Top 10 Foods to Keep in Your Pantry! (In no particular order)
Put them on everything, including toast instead of butter. Avocados, as most people know, have “good fat,” as in the monounsaturated kind. Adding a little avocado to a salad makes you feel full longer, which keeps you from reaching for a crappy snack down the line. Avos are also good for your skin, both when used for a face mask and when consumed.
2. Spelt Bread (Rudi’s Ancient Grain Spelt is preferred)
Great toasted for sandwiches, or cut into squares for homemade croutons. Spelt is a cousin of wheat, but higher in protein and easier to digest. Spelt has been eaten for thousands of years, and was more popular than wheat a long time ago. But because it has essential oils and is more delicate than bleached flour, please store it in the fridge!
3. Unbleached Sea Salt
Use unbleached sea salt in your cooking and baking. Throw the bleached stuff away! Unbleached salt has minerals, which add flavor to your food, causing you to use less salt overall. Evaporated sea salt should have a natural color – depending on where it’s from, it can be red, grey, black or pink!
Use in smoothies, sliced in cereal, or as a replacement for eggs when making pancakes. They also make an amazing, super-easy dessert when baked with a little maple syrup and Earth Balance natural spread. Bananas are super high in pectin, so they are known to relieve cramps – and they work so fast that you even see them eaten on the sidelines of pro football games!
5. Miso Paste (Organic Miso Master brand is our favorite!)
Miso is not only famous for soup, but it can be used in pesto instead of cheese, in dips for a creamy, salty flavor, or in dressings to add texture. Miso helps boost your immune system, so drink miso soup to fend off a cold. It’s also a probiotic food, so it balances your body and creates a more alkaline environment in your intestines. And alkalinity promotes balance and wards off disease. Whoa!
6. Young Coconuts (or coconut water)
Crack the coconut and drink fresh coconut water! It has amazing enzymes that help your body feel balanced and ready to take on the day. Just use a sharp knife and be careful when opening your coconut. By the way, coconuts are actually a large seed! They originally spread around the world by floating in the ocean, landing on a beach, and sprouting from the three holes in the top to form a coconut palm!
7. Nutritional Yeast (Whole Foods brand)
Nutritional yeast has a cheese flavor that can be used to make your own cheese sauce or instead of parmesan cheese over pasta. It has many nutrients that vegans need, including B viteys.
8. Nuts (Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, Brazil Nuts, Pecans, etc…)
Use nuts in salads, smoothies, in your fave stir fry, and eat when you need a little snack. Though they may seem fattening, they are full of “good fats” (monounsaturated) that will satisfy your hunger for a long time and promote heart health. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer for a longer shelf life.
Agave doesn’t raise your glycemic index like sugar, so it is great in tea, over oatmeal, or in dressings to add a little sweetness. It also has about half the cals of regular sugar. Agave comes from the same plant as tequila, so if you have to make a margarita, sweeten it with agave and your agave will feel right at home.
10. Vegan Worcestershire Sauce (Wizard’s brand really preferred)
Worcestershire sauce is the secret to amazing veggie burgers, baked tofu, or vegan ranch dressing. Use sparingly because it is strong, but it is a pantry must. Flavor city, here we come!
If you shop at your local farmer’s market on a regular basis and have these foods handy in your pantry, you will be able to make amazingly tasty vegan food in a snap, save money, shed the pounds, feel healthier, and reduce your impact on the environment.
Spork Foods is a Los Angeles-based gourmet vegan food company owned and operated by sisters Jenny and Heather Goldberg. Their delicious, innovative cuisine emphasizes organic, local, and seasonal ingredients. They offer cooking classes, cooking parties, in-home healthy eating consultations, and small-scale catering. Jenny creates delicious, vibrant dishes that make you feel great. She trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Culinary Arts in New York City, and also holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz. Heather embraced the vegan life more than ten years ago. In addition to Spork Foods, Heather works at one of Los Angeles’s most respected environmental nonprofit organizations.