Stocking the pantry
Nutrition at a glance
Eating for Nutrition
Quick and Easy
Stocking the pantry
Once you set yourself up at home you'll find cooking and eating vegan is super easy. You can follow recipes or just forage in your kitchen and throw things together. Most of the stuff you need for amazing and healthy vegan food stores well and can always be on hand. Here is our starter list:
Fruit ~ have a selection of whatever is in season on hand. Buy bananas and if you're not going to get through them, freeze them! They freeze either whole with or without the skin, or chopped up. If your apples and pears are going soft, stew them and keep them in the fridge as a topping for your breakfast. Have frozen blueberries on hand (these are a powerhouse fruit and if possible should be eaten every day as well as your other fruit).
Vegetables ~ okay we can't say enough about greens (your mother was right!) Whatever else you buy, just add some more of the green leaves. Kale has amazing nutritional properties (amongst the most nutrient-dense food on the planet!) Plus leafy greens of any other kind ~ baby spinach, bok choi, silverbeat, collard, rocket, cabbage, lettuce. Tip: beetroot and carrot greens are amazing for you. Throw them into a blender with herbs and pesto ingrendients for a delicious dip! However you use them, make sure you're eating greens every day. Plus always have a selection of your fave veges on hand plus some new ones to try ~ variety is the key! We always have kumara or potatoes on hand (one of nature's most perfectly nutritionally proportioned foods), garlic, ginger, tomatoes and if in season, avocados.
Spices ~ sea salt, black pepper, cumin, turmeric, chilli flakes, oregano, cinnamon, cardamom, garam masala, onion powder, ginger, paprika, smoked paprika. These are our basics. You can add whatever your favourite spices are.
Condiments and sauces ~ tamari soy sauce (gluten free), coconut aminos, hoisin sauce, bbq and tomato sauce, liquid smoke, nutritional yeast, tomato paste
Oils ~ olive oil, coconut oil, rice bran or canola oil, sesame oil
Tins ~ tomatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, lentils, coconut milk, coconut cream
Beans and Legumes dried ~puy lentils, brown lentils, red lentils, dried beans, split peas
Flour ~ plain flour, wholemeal flour, buckwheat, spelt, chickpea, coconut
Grains ~ pasta (best wholemeal or pulse pasta (made with peas, beans or edamame for example), brown rice, quinoa, bulgur wheat, pearl barley, millet ... the list goes on ... grains are super filling, nutrient-packed, and easy to prepare!
Nuts and seeds ~ walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, raw peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, buckwheat groats, shredded coconut
Sweet and baking ~ dates, figs, vegan hunny, maple syrup, rice malt syrup, golden syrup, vanilla essense, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder
Replacement foods ~ vegan butter, vegan cheeses, coconut yoghurt, egg replacer, vegan sour cream, vegan mayonnaise, mock meats or frozen vegan foods.
Good meal base ~ tofu, tempeh
Non dairy milk ~ oat, soy, coconut, almond, cashew, hemp ... the list goes on
Other faves ~ tahini, almond butter, olives, capers, mustard, tamarind, vegemite, peanut butter, dark chocolate, vegan ice cream
Nutrition: at a glance
Happy Days! Not only can you get all the nutrients you need directly from plants ~ the same place that cows, silver-backed gorillas, monkeys, elephants and all other herbivores get them, but NOT filtering them through the body of a dead animal is SO much better for you AND the animals!
You can see from the charts that there is really no problem with getting your protein or iron on a vegan diet. Plus you avoid the dangers of animal protein. Most meat eaters get too MUCH protein, some from vegetables and some from the animal protein they consume. Animal protein is too acidic for us so our bodies rebalance by flooding the body with phosphate. Phosphate is stored in the bones and gets released to deal with animal protein along with calcium (which is then excreted).
No wonder meat eating societies have the highest rates of osteoporosis! 
Fibre and Cholesterol
There is NO fibre in ANY animal product!
We need fibre to help us evacuate waste from the body. It is also crucial in regulating our blood sugar levels. Another crucial job is that cholesterol binds to fibre and gets excreted. If we don't have fibre the cholesterol will go back into the blood stream.
Whilst our bodies make cholesterol, there is NO dietary cholesterol in ANYTHING except animal products.
Do not be afraid - these are your friends! Not the carbs in processed food, white bread and biscuits, but the energy carbs of all fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Ideally we should be eating food that is 80% carbs, 10% fat and 10% protein, which is actually the profile of the humble kumara!
Track your nutrition daily with this free website/app. It's an invaluable tool that will really help you learn about what's in your food and whether you are getting your daily requirements.
Our vision is for a nation where Whole Food Plant-Based nutrition is commonly recognised and understood by all New Zealanders as the most effective way to eat for optimal health and wellbeing.
The vast majority of premature deaths can be prevented through simple changes in diet and lifestyle.
This guy is an absolute wealth of information!
Some quick tips to help you plan your meals.
Food with one ingredient is best. So while there is lots of fun choice of processed vegan meals and mock meats, vegan cheeses, mayo and chocolate, keep in mind that 'real food' with no ingredient list, is healthiest.
VARIETY! If you eat a wide range from the pictures above you'll ensure you'll get all the nutrients you need. Bowl foods are great for packing in lots of different things. If your meal is a rainbow of colour you are on the right track!
Some foods love to pair with other foods to help with absorption of nutrients. Some examples of matches are beans and grain (no wonder this is a staple around the world), turmeric and black pepper, spinach and lemon juice.
Dr Michael Greger has a great app called Daily Dozen, where you check off your daily intake of essentials. Worth downloading, but this chart is a quick cheat sheet:
Eating for Nutrition
We're looking at breakfast by itself as it's such an important meal and shouldn't be missed!
Some quick tips:
Oats ~ fantastic energy source packed with protein, fibre and iron. Use wholegrain as they are less processed and retain their nutritional structure. Soak overnight or cook as porridge. Don't waste an opportunity to add nutritional superstars: cinnamon (in moderation), blueberries, pumpkin seeds, fresh fruit, walnuts, linseed. A note on the last 2 ~ both are excellent sources of essential Omega 3 fats (no you DO NOT need fish oil!)
Breakfast Smoothies ~ another great way to pack in your nutrients! Google 'vegan breakfast smoothies' for some fun inspiration of what you can add.
Cooked breakfast ~ some favourites are avocado and tomato on wholegrain toast, scrambled tofu, mushrooms and tempeh bacon with spinach and hash browns....
If you search 'vegan breakfast' on Pinterest you will be spoiled for choice (which is generally the case with all the options of a vegan diet!).
Tips to make life easier:
> Cook more than you need and save dinner leftovers in the fridge to go into wraps for the next day, kids' school lunches, or dinner next day.
> When cooking up beans from scratch they take a while so do a large amount. Then bag them in portion sizes and freeze them. That way you should always have home-cooked beans on hand.
> Have a cooking binge. Some ideas to get out the way in one go:
Roast all the veges you can fit, with lots of variety. These are great to keep in the fridge to add to stuff through the week.
Make up a couple of salads, like a lentil and mushroom mix, or a rice salad, or a hearty brocolli and chickpea salad - whatever - and keep them in the fridge to grab through the week.
Whizz up hummus to keep on hand > it is so quick and easy, nutritious and delicious!
Pinterest and google are a goldmine of info if you search 'quick and easy vegan'!
The Vegan Society of New Zealand has links to dozens of simple breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas.
Check them out here:
A sample 7 day menu is here:
Join the NZ 21 day challenge for more food ideas and tips: