The goal of this post is to guide you through the essential gluten-free vegan staple foods and pantry. I made this list is basic, without any additional rare ingredients and fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables. Having on hand these foods, you would be able to cook up a good nutritious meal without having to rush into a supermarket.
My orientation in this blog and in real life is a vegan whole food diet (currently gluten-free). Therefore you will find in this list the foods, which you can easily combine and make a quick and delicious meal out of them. There are no ready-made grab N go snacks etc.
Additionally, all these essential vegan staples mentioned below have great healing properties and are very beneficial for your gut, liver, heart, and other organs and overall health.
I always make sure that I have these foods in my pantry at all times simply because when I spontaneously want to cook a new dish, I will be able to create it just out of them. Moreover, having these foods in many cases allows you to be able to cook out of my recipes right away without planning your meals far ahead!
I included garlic into the basic gluten-free vegan staple foods and pantry list because I add garlic to nearly every meal I cook. And if I don’t add it during the cooking process, then I would add it raw to my meal in small amounts when I eat. I do that because in the cooking garlic gives an amazing flavor to the dish, it is absolutely necessary for cooking especially curries, Asian and oriental dishes. I eat raw garlic almost every day also because It has amazing antifungal, antiparasitic and anti-inflammatory properties to support overall immune health. ( Read more about garlic health benefits here)
Every savory dish with only a few exceptions I start with sauteing onions. They are absolutely a must in stews, soups, rice and noodle dishes and many more. Basically everything apart from breakfasts and desserts. Onion adds that sweetness to a dish and brings out the flavor of everything you cook it with. I prefer to have red onions in my vegan pantry because they are higher in antioxidants than the yellow ones. (Read more about Onion health benefits and properties here).
Fresh Ginger Root
Ginger is well known for its anti-inflammatory and properties. Aside from that, I keep ginger root in my gluten-free vegan staple foods and pantry list for cooking Asian dishes, I always saute minced ginger with garlic at the beginning of the cooking process. Moreover, It is great of making ginger tea and even ginger- turmeric shots (recipe here). It is basically not only a flavourful addition to drinks and food, but also an immune-savior!
I simply love potatoes. My whole family loves them. If we are in a hurry, potato wedges in the oven are real go-to meal paired with cashew sauce or guacamole. Potato is a very self-sufficient vegetable, which on its own is very filling and can be a base of many dishes. Check out my favorite potato dishes on my Instagram. Potatoes also have great health benefits and scientifically proven to contribute to our good gut flora. Check out this article on Gut Microbiota for Health.
Carrots are incredibly healthy. I eat them raw and cooked. Carrot juice is what I love to have, it is a great Beta-Carotene source and makes my skin glow! In cooking, adding carrots gives not only extra nutrition but also brings sweetness to the dishes. It is perfect for stir-fries, stews, vegetable sauces, steamed and baked.
Sweet Potatoes are very versatile and easy to work with. They are incredibly nutritious. They also contain beta-carotene, antioxidants. Rich in vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3, B6, and also copper, manganese and biotin. (Read more about sweet potato health benefits here). I keep them always available in my gluten-free vegan staple foods and pantry list simply because I can do so many dishes with them, for example like my chickpea stuffed sweet potato recipe. You can have them steamed, baked, mashed, you can even make sweet dishes out of them like pancakes or muffins. The natural sweetness of sweet potatoes is very attractive for kids as well!
Cruciferous vegetables are essential in our diet. They contain high amounts of folate, vitamins C, E, and K, and fiber. Out of all of them, I stock up on cauliflower regularly whereas I change other vegetables according to the season and my cooking preferences. Why cauliflower? Apart from the vitamins, mentioned above, it is also rich in minerals- Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Iron and Sodium. Cauliflower is very versatile and suits to every dish. I cook savory dishes, such as stir-fries, quiche, oven-roasted cauliflower, steamed or boiled. I also consume it raw in salads and add a little bit to smoothies. When you consume it raw, all the nutrients are fully preserved. Be sure to include it into your gluten-free vegan staple foods and pantry and you will have more meal options available.
Tomatoes are also not only a healthy fruit ( yes, it is technically a fruit) , but also great to have on hand for a quick Italian style pasta sauce, basically, any sauce would only benefit off tomatoes. Moreover, they are great to show in a salad or to cut for a toast. My favorite sports are cherry tomatoes ( for their extra sweetness and the convenient size) and Roma tomatoes ( great for soups and stews). They are also a great source of Vitamin C, that is why I recommend serving a few fresh tomatoes on the side with Iron-rich foods like legumes, grains, leafy greens, etc, as vitamin C is crucial for absorbing Iron.
Lemons are not only a great source of vitamin C, but also they are incredibly handy in drinks, sauces and salad dressings. I also drink hot lemon water (1 mug of warm water with a juice of half a lemon) every morning. It helps your liver to eliminate toxins better and benefits digestion. I use at least 1 lemon in my cooking or drinks every single day!
Apples are my go-to snacks. They are easy to chop and grab. My toddler loves apples. They are also incredibly healthy and great not only for snacking, but also for making smoothies, pies and oven crisps. For example in this Pumpkin Crisp recipe, pumpkin could be easily replaced with apples. And another great use of apples is that they are great for salads! For example, in this recipe, I combined cabbage, fennel, and apple and it is very delicious as it gives that sweetness to the vegetables, which are not sweet by nature.
Bananas are incredibly healthy and filling. They are rich in Potassium and vitamins B6 and C. (read more here). Why did I include them in this list? Simply because I add them to my oatmeal mashed as you don’t feel the pieces of banana, but it gives it sweetness and flavor. Moreover, you can freeze them and make a nice cream just with bananas alone or combined with other fruits like in my Peach-Raspberry nice cream recipe. They are also a great smoothie base, and pancake base like in my 3-ingredient gluten-free pancake recipe. Furthermore, bananas are high in calories and will feel you up if you are hungry just by snaking. Banana chips are also a great snacking option for kids and adults!
Avocados are absolute essentials for my gluten-free vegan staple foods and pantry list because I consume avocados every day. They are a great healthy fat source and as green salads are better digested with a fat source, it is healthier to add avocado into your salad than oil. They are also very versatile, you can eat them whole, you mash them( like in this recipe) or make guacamole. You can also make a pesto out of it or even this chocolate mousse.
Fresh or Frozen Blueberries
Blueberry is a superfood. It is incredibly healthy and even improve our brain function, being very low in sugar and even allowed on candida diets. I personally love adding blueberries to my smoothies, porridge, morning and oats. And if you suddenly ran out of fruits in the morning, frozen blueberries will save your breakfast (self-approved!)
Dates are dried fruits, but I also put it into a fruit category for convenience. Dates are incredibly healthy and nutrient-dense. However, they also do have a high GI, so people with diabetes should be careful with them. I always stock up on dates because I use them as a natural sweetener in smoothies, oats. I also love them as a snack combined with walnuts. They are good in salads too.
Rice is my all-time staple in my gluten-free vegan staple foods and a pantry list. I often cook rice as a side dish for stir-fries, chili sin carne, stews, and vegetable sauces. Moreover, rice can be great on its own -combine it with a few vegetables and spices, and you will get a super flavourful and rich dinner like in my Oriental Pumpkin Rice recipe. I usually stock up on brown rice, basmati rice and occasionally risotto rice like for this Vegan Paella recipe.
Buckwheat is a well-know complete protein and Iron -rich gluten-free grain in Eastern European countries. In Russian cuisine, it is a very common side or main dish on its own! I have a feeling like buckwheat is underestimated in other parts of the world and people don’t consume it enough. There are two types of buckwheat – dark brown( thermo processed) and green (freshly dried). The brown buckwheat is great on its own like in my Ultimate Buckwheat Bowl recipe. And the green buckwheat is great for making buckwheat flour and bake with it or use as a “bread” crumb coating like in my Celery Schnitzel recipe or in sweet recipes like these Buckwheat Pancakes
Oats are incredibly nutritious. They give you a lot of energy an fill you up if you use it in breakfast pancakes or porridge. Moreover, oats are great for cooking patties, fritters and other foods, which require some sticking properties as they help with it. I use gluten-free oats in my everyday meals. Adding oats to smoothies makes them, even more, filling and nutritious too!
Quinoa is another gluten-free vegan complete protein source. Apart from protein, quinoa is rich in Iron, Zinc, Folate, Manganese, Phosphorus, Copper, etc. (Read more about quinoa benefits on Healthline.) I love adding boiled quinoa to salads, also make one pot with vegetables out of it or cook it and serve as a side dish instead of rice. It is also a great option to use as a filling for sweet potatoes, pumpkin or other vegetables.
Legumes are one of the main vegan protein sources. Moreover, they are high in fiber content and also have high amounts of Iron, Manganese, Folate, Thiamine, etc. (read more on Healthline). Legumes also contribute to a healthy gut flora because they are natural prebiotics, which means that they feed the good gut bacteria and help them thrive to support our immune system (Read more about food prebiotics here). I tolerate legumes well and I love them. They are very versatile and can be a part of the main course, bread spreads, dips, salads, and even desserts! The most important is not to forget to soak them overnight before cooking, which helps us digest them much better! My personal choice is dried legumes, not canned. Because the quality of the cans can not be trusted everywhere and heavy metals from these cans can pass into the food inside them. I do prefer to stay away from cans as much as possible.
Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
Chickpeas are great to have in your gluten-free vegan staple foods and pantry list because they are very neutral in taste and they fit great in curry dishes, in any kind of sauce, stew or soup.
Red Kidney beans are my first choice when it comes to anything with Mexican style like tacos, chilis, salads with avocado and tomatoes, etc. Kidney beans are easy to find in any grocery store, whereas black beans, for example, we only can get in the organic store.
White Cannellini Beans
I love large white beans in soups, sauces and dips. They are very meaty, fibrous and satisfying. They pair really great with garlic and creamy sauces. Check out my recipe with white bean sauce and celery root mash.
Red, yellow or brown lentils are another great legume choice, easy to find and stock up on them in a store. They are great cold and warm. You can basically just throw some brown lentils in a green salad to make it more filling and nutritious! Check out my Eggplant Lentil Stew recipe.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are important components of the vegan diet. They are also great protein and healthy fats. They are nutrient-dense, which means we don’t need to consume too much of them to get the optimal number of nutrients. Nuts and seeds generally are great for Zinc, Calcium, Iron and Omega-3. (read more about nuts and seeds here).
I primarily use almonds for making my own homemade almond milk. They are naturally sweet, that is why it tastes great just on its own and no sweetener is necessary.
Cashews are always in my pantry because of their soft texture and a unique taste, I use them for dips, sauces, whole in stir-fries and my son loves to eat them as a snack. For example, here you can find a quick and simple cashew-cream recipe, which is a healthy alternative to sour cream.
I always use pine nuts in my pesto. They are incredibly flavourful and easy to add to salads and pestos. They make a simple green salad stand out and also they are incredibly nutritious.
Walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and also great for salads, rice dishes and as a snack. My absolute favorite snack is a middle eastern delight- eating walnuts together with dates. This combination is not only healthy but tastes better than chocolate candies! I tend to buy walnuts whole in the skin and crack them myself. That way they stay extra fresh, clean and delicious.
Chia is not only a great source of omega 3, but also perfect food for making puddings, porridge, smoothies. The swelling properties of chia seeds are great for pancakes and granola.
Flax seeds are my trusted source of daily omega 3. As Dr. Michael Gregor recommends, I consume daily 2 tbsp. of ground flax seeds with my breakfast. That is why I buy whole flax seeds in bulk and ground them in batches.
Psyllium husk is a great source of fiber. It is recommended to take psyllium with water for optimal digestion and when a lack of bawl movements takes place. At the same time, psyllium is a great sticking agent (alternative to eggs in cooking) Check out how I made a vegan egg out of psyllium husks here.
Pumpkin seeds are high mainly in Zinc. It is known that there can be zinc deficiencies on a vegan diet, that is why it is very handy to have some pumpkin seeds in your kitchen! Throw them in a salad, sprinkle over a soup (like this squash-tomato soup) or add to your smoothie to stay with your Zinc levels on tack!
Spices are incredibly beneficial for human health. They have high amounts of antioxidants and help eliminate toxins and free radicals out of our bodies. Every spice has its own properties, check them out here. I cannot imagine cooking any dish without spices. It is like painting only black & white paintings for me. Spices are incredibly important in cooking to bring out the right flavors. I have many different spices in my pantry, but below you can find the essential ones, which are used the most in my everyday cooking.
- Curry Powder
- Salt & Pepper
- Cumin seeds
- Fresh Ginger root (or dried)
- Sweet smoked paprika
- Dried herbs (Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Oregano)
- Ceylon Cinnamon
- Concentrated Vegetable Stock
I have included vinegars, sauces and oils in this list too, even though they are technically not whole foods because along with spices, these are essential pantry items to make the food taste next level like in a restaurant. Yes, nutrition is in the first place in my meals, but no one said that the food should be average! Absolutely not! With a little note of one vinegar, paste or oil you can alleviate your dishes.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is known for its healing properties. It helps to regulate your stomach acid levels, fights bacteria and fungus and also brings tartness and sweetness to the meals. I consume apple cider vinegar every single day as a part of salad dressings, or in stews and soups to add an extra flavour.
I use balsamic vinegar in my Italian style dishes and salads. I do keep it in my pantry for the occasional guests or family visits. Because I know that not everybody likes tahini-apple cider vinegar salad dressings, so I can easily switch it to the balsamic and everyone will be happy!
I use tahini paste a lot in my dishes. Tahini is great in dips, in salad -dressings. I also can just dilute it with water to make some tahini sauce for falafel or add it to s smoothie for the Calcium boost!
Almond butter is a great healthier peanut butter alternative, you can see the comparison in nutrition here. I eat it as a spread on pancakes, I add it to my morning oats and even dilute with some water and add to a vegan pizza as a melted cheese alternative!
I use organic high-quality dijon mustard in my cooking a lot! If you want to read more about dijon what kind of dijon mustard I use for my recipes, check out this post.
It is a great wheat-free soy sauce, which I always add to my stir-fries, any Asian and not only Asian-style dishes. It pairs great with tofu, veggies, mushrooms, and rice! There are another wheat-free and soy-free sauce, which is called coconut aminos. I have never tried it because it is hard to find around my area.
Miso Paste is another healthy addition to my diet. Fermented soy or rice paste has probiotics and that is why it is so healthy to consume. I use it in my Asian and European meals, including miso soup, curry dishes, like this Russian Cabbage Rolls recipe. It is pretty salty by nature but hasn’t got any salt, which is a healthier option to use instead of sodium.
Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil
I minimize the number of oils I use, if possible I stick to water, vegetable broth or avocado in my dishes. But sometimes I want to cook crispy foods! Like these vegan celery schnitzels, where frying with oil is a key! I recommend to consume oil in moderation and keep it for occasional meals.
Full Fat Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is fatty! That is why it is perfect for dairy-free ice creams, curries, and soups. I also use coconut milk in moderation due to the saturated fat in it, but at the same time coconut is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and a splash of coconut milk into the curry or soups would open up the flavor and make them even more hearty! I tend to but really small packages of that (100-200 ml.) and use it in the meal at once or keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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