If you’re new to plant-based eating, there are several food items you should take note of and make into a regular part of your diet. These staples will help you to create the bases for meals of all types, from breakfasts to desserts and everything in between. Check out my recommendations for a vegan starter shopping list below:

1. Nutritional Yeast

This product looks like little golden flakes and is much loved in the vegan community. It gives you a boost of vitamin B12, as well as a burst of cheesy flavor and texture. Try sprinkling this stuff atop anything you’d eat with cheese, like pasta, popcorn, pizza, or on casseroles. Use it in this cheesy vegan mac n’ yeast.

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2. Quinoa

Quinoa is a rich protein source; one cup of the cooked grain has 8 grams of protein. It is considered a super food, containing several essential vitamins and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, and copper. You can use it for breakfast in porridge, bake it in cookies, or mix it in salads and sushi.

3. Fortified Nut Milk

Nut milks can be used in anything in place of milk. They’re fortified with B and D vitamins, which are crucial vitamins for vegan to keep track of. Use a cup of your choice of nut milk in a smoothie for a healthy breakfast. Try vanilla caramel smoothie or pink powerhouse smoothie.

4. Blackstrap Molasses

You can certainly get enough calcium without dairy. Try eating blackstrap molasses for quick calcium. Just two tablespoons of the stuff can provide 400 mg of calcium. That’s more than the calcium in one serving of milk or cheese!

5. Cashews

Going vegan doesn’t mean giving up rich and creamy food. Use cashews to make cashew cream, which you can use in countless recipes such as Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Basil Cashew Cream or Raw Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese.

6. Almonds

Almonds are a must-buy because they are a quick and healthy snack. Having ¼ cup of raw almonds will provide 45 percent of your daily value of vitamin E and manganese. Also, use them to make almond butter.

7. Hummus

Hummus is excellent for dipping and using on sandwiches. The chickpea and tahini dip is healthy and creamy. Try it on the vegan humdinger sandwich. For a creative take on the chickpea dip, try spicy sweet potato hummus.

8. Leafy Greens

Greens should always be at the top of your shopping list, as they provide a host of vitamins and nutrient benefits that are crucial to vegans. Kale is one of the best choices. Just one cup of chopped kale contains 206 percent of the daily value of vitamin A, 134 percent of vitamin C, and 684 percent of vitamin K. There are dozens of tasty recipes you can make with kale, such as vegan kale waldorf salad or kale and mushroom gratin.

9. Edamame

For protein that won’t pack on the pounds, choose edamame. One cup of prepared, frozen edamame contains 17 grams of protein and 16 grams of carbohydrates. You’ll keep a trim waistline while also fueling your energy tank. Blend the beans into oil-free kale edamame hummus.

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10. Frozen Fruit

Frozen fruit usually has more vitamins and antioxidants than fresh produce since it’s picked when it’s ripe and then are frozen, rather than carted around and displayed in stores for days. Use frozen fruit for smoothies, which will help you get a nice chunk of vitamins and nutrients. Try blending a strawberry kale smoothie.

11. Organic Sprouted Grain Bread

Be on the lookout for breads, which can sometimes contain milk ingredients.  Sprouted grains are much healthier, so purchase organic sprouted grain bread or make your own. The sprouting process increases the level of antioxidants, vitamins C, B, and carotene.

12. Seaweed

This food is crucial for obtaining sufficient amounts of omega-3 fats on a vegan diet. It also provides iodine and vitamins C and E. Medically, seaweed has been used in China for centuries to treat a host of problems, including swelling, cysts, and enlarged thyroid glands. Add some delicious seaweed salad to your lunch for quick nutrition.

13. Dry Lentils

Legumes are a great food to store in your pantry since dried beans and lentils have a long shelf life. Always having some lentils on hand is a smart vegan move; their versatility makes them great for soups, veggie patties, and salads. One cup of lentils contains about 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein, a combo that helps keep both your hunger and your weight down. Use the lentils to make tasty dishes like lentil and mushroom shepherd’s pie and vegan BBQ lentil meatball sandwich with sweet miso coleslaw.

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14. Tempeh

Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that has a distinctive, nutty taste, and tough texture. It’s easy to prepare, which makes it a great choice for new vegans. Try using it in a vegan tempeh reuben sandwich, tempeh “tuna” salad, and tempeh picatta.

15. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has several uses and can be used on skin, in cooking, and for healing. Its’ versatility makes it a must-buy. Choose cold-pressed coconut oil, which is the healthiest option. Use it to make vegan corn bread.

While this list isn’t all-inclusive, it’s a great start for those of you just starting your vegan journey. What’s on your must-have list for the newbie vegan eater? Let us know in the comments!

Image source: Sunrise POS / Creative Commons