Each week, when someone finds out that I eat plant-based, they say, “You don’t eat meat, dairy, or most processed foods?! What in the world do you eat?” I try to explain to them that I eat more variety NOW than I ever did before, but they still seem to think I’m deprived and going to starve myself. Pictures are worth a thousand words, they say. These pictures of my cupboards are my 1,000+ unspoken words. Every day, we choose health or sickness with our forks. I choose health.
My Plant-Based Pantry
My canned cabinet is about 2′ deep, stacked 2-3 cans high of every kind of bean you can imagine, plus a few other items, like roasted red peppers, mushrooms, sauerkraut, fire roasted tomatoes, pumpkin, cream corn, mandarin oranges, … Please note that I always drain and thoroughly rinse all my beans before using. I replace the flavor with my own seasonings. And I cook my own dried beans often in my crock pot and eat throughout the week.
Love making my own legumes in a crock pot with lots of fresh spices like basil, rosemary, thyme, etc. that I grow in a couple of large pots on my dining room table in front of a window. Nothing better than clipping my own fresh spices and adding them to my recipes!
Grains, grains, and more whole grains! Did you know that on a plant-based diet, 70+% of your plate should be whole grains? Yep! This group includes brown rice, millet, oats, barley, bulgur, quinoa, spelt, corn, and all products made from whole grains including bread, cereals, pastas, and more. Whole grains are filling but have very little fat. In countries where whole grains are staples, such as rural Asia, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, are much less common than in the States and Europe. As you can see, we eat a wide variety!
Don’t judge me! It looks messy, but I know where everything is. Notice we eat lots of Asian noodles–rice stick noodles, Udon, etc.–with seaweed, rice wrap paper, and a number of tasty Asian sauces. I thank my Japanese family members for introducing me to these amazingly healthy flavors and tastes nearly 25 years ago!
We hit ALDI’S discount grocery for fresh produce about every-other week. Having 2 refrigerators (one out in the garage) helps us store lots of veggies and bags of apples, oranges, pears, mangoes, etc.
Veggies Galore! These foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals, are very low in fat, and like all plant foods, have no cholesterol at all. These are just the ones I happened to have on hand. We eat a HUGE variety from week-to-week, depending on what’s available at the grocery store. One note, ALDI’S doesn’t have a big variety of veggies, but they do have plenty of the basics. For more variety, I make a weekly run to our local grocery store, Ingles, and get things like leeks, broccoli slaw, Napa cabbage, Bok Choy, chard, turnip greens, collards, sprouts, artichokes, radishes, etc.
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I always keep lots of dried spices on hand to add tons of flavor to all my recipes. The 2nd picture is of spices I buy from a local shop that gets theirs from the PA Amish country. They’re fresh and cheap! The wooden storage rack is actually a washcloth rack turned on its side, that I found at a nearby thrift store for only $2! The spice containers fit in it perfectly! My fresh spices on the dining room table-basil, thyme, rosemary, mint- are some favorites too!
If you are new to the plant-based lifestyle, these articles will also be very helpful:
- Plant-Based Guide for Beginners
- What is a Plant-Based Whole Food
- Jeff Novick’s 10 Simple Recipes in Less than 20-Minutes
- What’s in My Plant-Based Medicine Cabinet? I Mean Pantry!
- Beginners Guide to Plant-Based Grocery Shopping
- Guide to Dining Out on a Plant-Based Diet
Even if I knew my life would not be extended by one day, I would still make these healthy lifestyle changes, because now I know what feeling truly good at this stage in my life feels like. I don’t want to just live longer, but to live better.
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