The Fridge and The Freezer....
Since I have a page devoted to flavor, and a page devoted to non-perishables I thought it only appropriate that I give a few helpful tips for good refrigerated items to keep on hand. It’s a shorter list, the bulk of which obviously being produce, but sometimes it’s nice to have a starting off point.
I like a wide variety of nut, seed and grain milks, I don’t like to stick to just one, and so I like to change it up.
Almond Milk (365, Almond Breeze, Almond Dream)
Soy Milk (Silk, Earth Balance, 365, Soy Dream, West Soy)
Horchata (Rice Dream)
Hemp Milk (Tempt, Hemp Dream, Hemp Bliss)
Rice Milk (Rice Dream is the most popular, but try to find a brand made with whole grain or brown rice rather then white)
Hazelnut Milk (Pacific)
Oat Milk (Pacific)
Coconut Milk (Silk, So Delicious Coconut Milk, Coconut Dream)
There are also great holiday flavors of non-dairy milk that are usually avalible through November-January.
Silk - Pumpkin Flavor, Mint Chocolate, and Eggnog
Earth Balance - Eggnog
So Delicious Coconut Milk - Eggnog and Mint Chocolate
West Soy - Chocolate Peppermint Stick
Non-dairy butter and shortening I prefer the brand Earth Balance, but if you have another favorite that’s good too. EB Makes Buttery Sticks and Shortening that can easily be used in baking. Their Buttery Spreads also come in tubs in a few different flavors. They are also now making a delicious coconut spread that I think tastes even more buttery then the original
Non-dairy yogurt Is good to have on hand in a pinch, especially if doing some baking or looking for a quick breakfast. I would have to say that Amande is my hands down favorite brand of non-dairy yogurt. For me they mimic the taste and (more importantly the texture) of real yogurt perfectly without leaving any sort of aftertaste. I also love that it’s made using almonds rather then soy. However Wildwood’s Vanilla Soygurt comes in as a very close second. There are several other soy based yogurts as well but I tend not to like them due to them all tasting very soy-like. The Wildwood Vanilla has a much milder aftertaste, which is why I like it. So Delicious also makes a coconut milk yogurt which I personally didn’t care for mainly for the strong coconut taste, and Ricera makes a rice milk yogurt which I also didn’t like, again due to taste. The texture I thought was pretty close.
Miso, In my opinion is indispensable. I use it often, and like to keep at least two varieties in the fridge. Usually Mellow White and Red. There is also Sweet White, Barley, and Chickpea Miso for those with soy allergies
Salsa’s. I like a variety, from mild to spicy, from plain to pineapple, to black bean. They’re all great and they all have their place. No favorite brand, i buy different ones every time. It’s definitely a good idea to keep a jar on hand, for those snack cravings! Or to use as a condiment.
Humus - For those occasions where you’re too lazy or don’t have the time or the ingredients to make your own it’s nice to have a container of good quality humus lying around for snacking. Be careful to read the ingredients list though, as I’ve found a lot of commercially prepared Humus contains nefarious ingredients, even some of those companies you may think are reputable. My favorite brand is Cedars.Original or roasted red pepper are my favorites.
Tofu - I don't eat much tofu, but when I do I always, always buy organic. I generally buy Nasoya, but I also buy Whole Foods 365 brand, Mori-Nu, or Wildwood on occasion. When I'm using it for a meal I prefer the firm, or extra firm variety. Though I do use soft silken in dressings, spreads, sauces, and desserts from time to time
Non-dairy sour cream is good to have if you’re a sour cream fiend like me. I like Toffuti brand, or Wayfare which is a good soy and gluten-free option.
Non-dairy Cheese - Is another one of those products that I don’t eat very often. However when I do get a craving for ‘cheese’ I tend to buy Daiya. It’s by far my favorite so far. I think it has the best flavor and the best texture, and it melts though it doesn’t melt exactly like dairy cheese. Not sure if we’ll ever get one that does. Daiya comes in Cheddar, Mozzarella, and Pepper Jack flavor, and I tend to purchase cheddar more often then the others. Other brands of non-dairy cheese available are Sheese (Which I haven’t tried yet but am dying to - Ditto for Dr. Cow), Ste Martean, Teese, Tree Nut Cheese by Dr. Cow, Rice Vegan & Vegan Gourmet. Now you have to again be very careful when buying cheese labeled ‘Non-dairy’ or simply ‘soy-cheese’ because a lot of soy cheese’s contain casein which is a milk protein you can read more about in my post "The Dangers of Dairy" as well as other milk ingredients. This may seem odd until you realize that regular every day cow’s milk cheese is typically NOT vegetarian as rennet from the stomach of veal calves is used in making regular cow’s milk cheese. Also people who are lactose intolerant can’t have lactose, but there’s nothing against them having casein. (Supposedly) So if you see another brand not listed here that you’re interested in trying Read the ingredients! Also good to know is that both Toffutti and Vegan Gourmet make non-dairy cream cheese.
Tempeh - A product made from fermented soybeans that has a meaty texture and a nutty taste. Like tofu i don't buy it often, only when i need it for a specific recipe.
Seitan - Is a ‘Wheat Meat’ made from the gluten of wheat. It has a chewy ‘meaty’ texture and can be used in the same ways you’d use tofu, or tempeh. Like tofu and tempeh it’s not something I eat often. Upton’s Naturals makes it as does West Soy and a few other companies.
Mock Meat - There are a lot of companies now that make various ‘meat’ products. You can find at least one or two different brands in most chain grocery stores now. Either in the frozen foods section or the area where tofu, tempeh, and seitan are sold. Like with tofu and the others mock meats are not something I indulge in often, but every once and a while it’s nice to have. They’re also a great transition food for those just switching to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. My favorite companies for Veggie Burgers are Boca, and Amy’s. Both make some really great, and tasty products. Field Roast is my hands down favorite for sausages (Their Apple Sage is hands down the best, and their Chipotle is great too if a little spicy) they also now make a Hot Dog just called Frankfurters which are outstanding, and this coming from someone who never liked regular meat hot dogs to begin with. I’m told they also make great ‘lunchmeat’ though I haven’t had the opportunity to try it. Gardein is my other favorite, they make everything from chick’n breasts, to stuffed ‘turkey’ to nuggets, chick’n strips, beefless tips, and pulled ‘pork’ great company who’s products have good flavor and fantastic texture. I also quite like Yves chorizo sausage though that’s the only thing from that brand I’ve tried. Other popular brands are Gardenburger, Lightlife, Match (which I hear is amazing and would like to try it soon) Morningstar Farms, Sunshine Burgers, Upton’s Naturals, Yves, and Tofurkey. The world of ‘mock meat’ has come a long way and you can get virtually everything now.
Whatever’s fresh and looks delicious. I try to buy in season but don’t always succeed in this. My shopping list varries from week to week but I try to always have a really good selection of the following....
Carrots, Celery, Bell Peppers, Romaine and iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, green onions. yellow and red onions (although I keep these on my counter top) Fresh garlic and ginger, fresh parsley, cilantro and basil, Spinach
Swiss Chard,Kale, Collard Greens, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Potatoes (Red, Yukon Gold, and/or Sweet Potatoes) Mushrooms (Shitake, Cremini, Portobello) Radish, Green Beans, Zucchini, Butternut Squash, Cucumber, Avocado.
Apples (Granny Smith and Pink Lady), oranges (Navel and Clementine), blueberries, strawberries, bananas, mangoes, grapes (Green, Red, Champagne), cherries (Dark red, black), peaches (White, Yellow), Nectarines, plums, pears, lemons, limes, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, grapefruit, pineapple, kiwi.
I try to stock my freezer with all the foods I have in abundance during certain months that I can’t possibly eat before they spoil. Or, good quality organic foods that might be out of season, or are easily kept for long periods frozen, that I can use in those impromptu recipes or for baking.
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, Strawberries, mangoes, Pineapple, Kiwi, cranberries, cherries, bananas, mullberries, Acai berry puree.
Edamame, Chopped Spinach, chopped collards, chopped kale, Broccoli, green peas, corn, Pumpkin (Fresh that I cut and boil myself before freezing) Chipotle Peppers
Non-Dairy Ice Cream - If you’re looking for a good ice cream substitute there are plenty out there. I used to be an ice cream junky but ever since going vegan I haven’t had much desire for it, even though the non-dairy alternatives are delicious. These days I generally prefer sorbet if I’m going to have a frozen desert. However my favorite non-dairy ice creams so far are Coconut Bliss, and Tempt. I haven’t tried them all of course but of the ones I’ve tried those are it. Other brands are Almond Dream, Rice Dream, Rice Divine, Cashew Creamery, Purely Decadent, So Delicious, Soy Dream and Toffutti makes frozen deserts such as Toffutti Cuties which is a delicious non-dairy ice cream sandwich. Tempt also makes some very good non-dairy ice cream bars that are to die for!
Sorbet - My Favorite is Ciao Bella
I also store tofu in the freezer because I think it improves the texture immensely. Of course you can also store tempeh, seitan and other 'mock meat's in the freezer.
And lastly of course the freezer is great for storing your extra baking and leftovers. Sometimes you just feel in a baking kind of mood, but you don’t want to eat 2 dozen cookies or muffins. All you need to do is stick them into a sealable container and pop them in the freezer that way you can have them all month just pulling out one or two when you want it. This is particularly great when you want a quick breakfast on the go, or a snack to bring to work. Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at judging how much food my husband and I eat, and so I don’t have leftovers very often, or if I do they’re usually consumed before the week is out. But if you haven’t gotten to that point or you just have extra you know you won’t finish before it spoils the freezer is a great place for it. Pop it into a container and pull it out again for a quick easy dinner on a busy night.