I've been cooking mostly healthy vegan and "raw" for 2.5 to 3 years at home and for over a year professionally in a raw vegan kitchen* and I've learned a bout how keeping your pantry stocked for making any dish you crave along the way. This is a great guide for anyone just trying to incorporate more home cooking into their life, too. Print and use it as a shopping list next time you're out. I like to buy herbs in bulk from places like Whole Foods and Native Sun (local) but Mountain Rose Herbs has excellent selection and quality herbs and spices as well.
* Make sure all the nuts and seeds you use are raw, untoasted, and unprocessed. We like to soak them for at least a couple hours to remove the enzyme inhibitors, start the germination process and make them easier to blend and work with but it's not necessary,
Nuts: Buy 'em in bulk by the pound at Whole Foods if you have one near your or order in bulk to save money. I don't keep all of the nuts below in my fridge myself, I just buy in bulk as needed and store them in glass jars in my fridge until they're needed. You can freeze them to keep them safe as well.
* Almonds, * Brazil nuts, * Cashews, * Shredded Coconut, * Pecans, * Sunflowers Seeds, * Walnuts, * Pine Nuts
Seeds: Again, easy to buy these by-the-pound in bulk as needed from a health food store near you. I'll comparison shop online and see what websites offer the best deals on delivering bulk nuts, seeds, and spices. I want to work with people to provide national discount bulk nuts, seed, herb and spice shipment options- you game for that? E-mail me! I can't prove we should do it without proving the need.
* Chia, * Buckwheat groats, * Hemp Seeds/Nuts, * Pumpkin Seeds, * Quinoa, * Sesame Seeds, * Sunflower Seeds, * Wild Rice
Dried Fruit: Many delicious raw deserts will call for dried fruit- and they're wonderful to snack on when you're traveling. You can also buy and order these in bulk.
*Cacao powder and nibs, * carob powder, * cranberries, * dates, * mangoes, * raisins, * sun-dried tomatoes
Oils: You can also buy oils in bulk (bring your own glass jars) at some health food stores. These add creaminess and flavor to a lot of healthy recipes. Sesame is a must for a lot of Asian dishes. Store your cold-pressed oils in the fridge to keep them from spoiling.
* Coconut oil, * olive oil (extra-virgin, cold-pressed if possible), * Sesame oil
Sea Vegetables (optional): We rarely use these in our kitchen but sea veggies are full of minerals and iodine and if you enjoy sea food (like I did!) they're delicious. Bonus points for being crazy low-calorie and thyroid/metabolism regulating. These veggies are bought dried, soaking them in water reconstitutes them. I love kelp noodles for pad thai and asian noodle dishes, nori for wraps, and we use irish moss as a thickener.
* Kelp noodles, * nori sheets (can be raw or toasted- toasted is much easier to find), * wakame, * irish moss
Sweeteners: I prefer stevia (preferably green powdered but use the white powder as well), it's zero calorie and doesn't register in your body as sugar at all. It should be the only sugar alternative versus the unhealthy aspartame filled Sweet N Low style varieties. The syrups below are natural and lower-glycemic, but the best sugar for us is straight from ripe fruit.
* Agave Syrup, * Brown Rice Syrup, * Maple Syrup (B grade), * Stevia Powder (pref. green unprocessed powder. You'll likely have to order it online.)
Spices: This is what really transforms a raw, vegan, or healthful dish into a dish resembling flavors you remember from your favorite foods. I assure you, you can make any dish you crave "more healthy" and still flavorful if you're using the right spices. These are my go-tos.
Middle Eastern/Mediterranean: Sala, Cumin, Paprika, Curry Powder
Mexican: Chili Powder, Chipotle Powder, Cayenne
Italian: Oregano, Rosemary, Ground Black Pepper, Sage, Basil, Thyme
Savory: Onion Powder, Ground Black Pepper, Himalayan pink sea salt
Deserts: Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Vanilla (powder, alcohol-free extract, and beans), Ginger & Stevia Powder, Cocao and/or Carob Powder
Herbs: Fresh herbs aren't necessary but they can really make a difference in a dish. These are my go-to favorites. Use these as a guide for planting some herb seeds perhaps? I love picking herbs right from the garden and adding them to dishes.
Italian: Flat Leaf Parsley, Basil, Sage, Oregano
Middle Eastern: Curly Parsley, Spearmint, Cilantro/Culantro
Mexican: Cilantro, Oregano
Other Favorites: Chives, Green Onion
Condiments: These keep indefinitely in your fridge. I personally will cut the amount of salt in a recipe when I make it these days but it's nice to have nama shoyu or Bragg Liquid Aminos on-hand for flavor. Nama Shoyu is simply a raw, unpasturized soy sauce and Bragg Liquid Aminos is gluten-free, salty and similar to soy sauce but with a slightly different flavor. Try both and see what works for you. Miso is a fermented, cultured, salty food that adds soupy or "asian" flavor to a lot of dishes. Nutritional yeast is cheesy, delicious and full of B Vitamins.
* Apple cider vinegar, * bragg liquid aminos, * miso (unpasturized, preferably white), * nama shoyu, * nutritional yeast.
*I Used Ani's Raw Food Essentials and my experience working as a raw vegan chef as my guide. Great book!
* The raw vegan kitchen I work in part time, by the way is Shakti Life Kitchen. We deliver our food to almost every health food store in town, we're not a restaurant. Check out the deli of Native Sun and Grassroots to try the amazingly delicious food! You can also order dishes for delivery to your door. They're only local, sorry the tease! Just answering a frequently asked question. I can't share recipes from the kitchen, either but they do have a lot of delicious ones on their website. Nope, not paid to share any of this.
* Final Note, again, I'm not a stickler for being fully raw or organic. I just like to share ideas and information that help people live healthier. I had good results and want others to as well.
The Raw Vegan 101 Series:
Part 1) What is it and Why is it Good for You? + Another Raw Info Post
Part 2) My Raw Routines and Tips to Stick to It
Part 3) Essential Raw Vegan Tools, Books, and Resources
Part 4) Pantry Staples for Creating any Dish you Crave Rawfully (You are Here)
Part 5) Adding More Raw Healthfulness to Your Diet On-The-Cheap (April 22)
Extra) Straightening Out Misconceptions and My True Mission
Got any pantry staples/tips to share? I didn't include it but I do eat popcorn when I'm busy, not ideal but high in fiber, at least. Would a discount bulk nut/spice/health food staple service be something you'd use? Let me know, you gotta speak up if you want it.