When someone approaches me about adopting a cruelty free lifestyle, normally their first question is “What do I eat?”
Since most of what we eat starts with what we buy, I’ve decided to answer that question with a series of posts on what I buy when I go shopping. I wish I could go shopping with all of you and help you pick out everything you need, but that’s sort of impossible, so this will have to do. This isn’t meant to be a literal shopping list for anyone, but more of a guide to help you get started.
If you don’t want to end up spending half of your rent on food, keep it simple when perusing the shelves. You don’t need every specialty item you come across at Whole Foods. Most of your necessities can be found at your closest grocery store.
Week one is focused on basics! These are the products I buy frequently and use almost daily. Good things to have on hand at all times.
Coconut oil. Easily the most versatile item in your home. You can cook and bake with it, you can use it as an aftershave, or on your body and hair as a moisturizer. Some argue that it can be used as a deodorant, although I can’t personally vouch for that claim. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but turns to liquid when heated or held in your hands. It’s especially effective as a moisturizer due to it’s small molecular structure, enabling it to penetrate the shaft of your hair and moisturize from within, instead of just coating the hair as most other oils do.
Tofu & Tempeh. Some argue with me on this one, and if you’re not a tofu fan, i’ll be the first to tell you it isn’t necessary. However, it can be really useful as an egg substitute in tons of recipes, and breakfast burritos would be far worse without it. Not to mention, you can cook it on it’s own and serve with a number of dishes from miso soup to pad thai. Tempeh is great for marinating and grilling or pan frying. Also made from soybeans, tempeh can be crumbled up to make delicious savory meatballs, or cut in strips to make bacon.
Tortillas. Keeping with the burrito theme, tortillas are always useful. Stir fry, salads, scrambled tofu, almost anything can be rolled up in a tortilla and enjoyed on a new level. Also it costs like two dollars for twenty of them.
Grains. Farro, Barley, Quinoa, Orzo, Bulgur. So many options here! Most of these grains are naturally gluten free, they have a ridiculously long shelf life, and can usually be prepared quickly as a filling side or base for a meal.
Pasta. While this can easily fall under the ‘grains’ category, I included pasta separately as a convenience item. Cheap, easy to find and easy to make, pasta can be topped with a creamy homemade cashew alfredo sauce, or baked to make vegan mac ‘n’ cheese. Pasta is endlessly versatile and easy to store for long periods of time. Gluten free pastas are available in more and more stores as well, look for quinoa or spelt noodles if you’re avoiding gluten.
Lentils & Beans. Filling. High protein levels. Quick and easy to make and versatile. We’ve been through this already. A bag of dried lentils is handy to have and will last on your shelf for a long time.
Apple Cider Vinegar. I may have lied about the coconut oil being the most versatile item in your home. Apple Cider Vinegar can be used in salad dressings, on roasting veggies, as a facial toner, or it can be taken as a shot daily to help prevent and lessen the impact of sinus infections, ear aches, sore throat, candida, stiff joints, high cholesterol, fungus, swelling and heartburn! ACV is magical.
(Tips for taking daily shots of ACV for the health benefits:
- Don’t take more than 1 tbsp at a time. Any more of it can be hard to swallow.
- ALWAYS have a large glass of water ready to chase it down. Trust me on this.
- Make an effort to buy the raw, unfiltered and unprocessed Apple Cider Vinegar marked ‘With the Mother’, this means the natural, fermented enzymes haven’t been removed yet and you can get the most nutrients out of your AVC. I recommend BRAGG Organics which can be found at a variety of stores.)
Herbs & Spices. If you don’t already have some of these, they’re a worthwhile investment. If you’re low on funds, spices can make a boring meal interesting without sacrificing nutritional value.
Some of my go to spices and herbs:
Raw Cashews. Any kind of nut or seed works if you aren’t a fan of cashews, but I suggest them specifically because they’re lower maintenance than most other nuts when it comes to soaking times. That reminds me – ALL OF YOUR NUTS MUST BE SOAKED PRIOR TO USING. This is due to nuts naturally growing with enzyme inhibitors that are supposed to keep them from sprouting prematurely, but when eaten, can have adverse affects on your digestive system. Soaking your nuts and seeds in warm water will not only remove these inhibitors, but will encourage the growth of positive enzymes, and raise vitamin B levels in your nuts and seeds. Every nut and seed has it’s own ideal amount of soaking time, but cashews tend to take less time to soak and can be made into a creamy, cheesy sauce in under an hour. (Although I do recommend soaking for at least 2 hours and up to overnight for best results. I get ahead of the game by always having at least 2 cups of cashews soaking in tupperware in the fridge at any given time. This cuts down my sauce making time from an hour to about 5 minutes.)
100% Pure Organic Grade A Maple Syrup. I’m picky about your syrup because I care. You might look at the price tag of a bottle of Aunt Jemima and decide to go with that one over the glass bottle, but that would be a mistake. Here’s how you can tell:
Ingredients List from Aunt Jemima ‘Original’ Maple Syrup:
Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, water, cellulose gum, caramel color, salt, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate, sorbic acid, preservatives, and sodium hexametaphosphate.
Ingredients List from 100% Pure Organic Grade A Maple Syrup:
100% pure maple syrup.
Spending a couple extra bucks on the good stuff is worth it. This stuff can be used to sweeten anything- from smoothies and oatmeal to savory dishes like roasted brussels and butternut squash and it’s 100% natural, baby!
Oats. Plain old, uncooked, rolled oats are a useful addition to your pantry. You’ll start to like oatmeal when you learn to jazz it up a bit with fruit and seeds or cocoa powder and maple syrup. With an immersion blender, oats can also be ground into a flour that is naturally gluten free and good for baking.
I originally had a good amount of produce on this list, but I decided to forego the produce until next week. Since fruit and vegetables are the most nutritionally dense food on the planet, I decided they needed a post of their own.
Until next week! Happy shopping.