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The 20 Best Healthy, Plant-Based Ingredients I Can’t Live Without

Cooking essentials

These are the most important and healthy plant-based ingredients I need in my fridge or pantry, no matter what. If you have these, I feel like you’re pretty much set for any meal.

This list might be especially great to share with any flirts that you know to get them started with plant-based cooking. Whether for flavor, nutrients, or versatility, these all play essential roles in healthy vegan eating in my house. Give them a try!

1.  Earth Balance butter

It’s creamy and works just like dairy butter. If this one doesn’t do it for you, there are a ton of vegan butter brands out there and options that work as stand-ins for almost any recipe.

2.  Umeboshi vinegar

This isn’t your salad dressing vinegar. Umeboshi is saltier than it is sour. It brings umami to dishes and a flavor you’ll crave.

3.  Flax oil

The nutrient-rich oil from flax seeds, you’ll want to drizzle flax oil on salads, stir fries, and more to get your omega fatty acid boost for brain, skin, and joints. Just don’t use it in a pan! It’s not for cooking.

4.  Sunflower seeds

A power-packed little seed, sunflowers are great stand-ins for peanuts and are so full of flavor and nutrition. You know what to do with these–eat them straight out of the bag! Or put them in literally everything.

5.  Shoyu

All soy sauce is not created equal. Shoyu is the traditional fermented brew and oh-so delicious. Compare it to the other kind and you’ll see why!

6.  Good quality sea salt

Leave the refined stuff on the store shelf and stick with evaporated ocean water.

7.  Olive oil

Every kitchen needs high-quality extra virgin olive oil! Enjoy it on salads, soups, or dip your favorite bread in for a simple, delicious treat.

8.  Brown rice syrup

Use this in place of honey for recipes or stir a bit into your tea to sweeten. Even try drizzling it on yogurt. So yum!

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9.  Apples

An apple a day may not keep the doctor away but it’s worth trying, especially when there are so many delicious varieties out there. Be sure to buy organic whenever possible.

10.  Walnuts

Delicious brain food, these nuts are so good plain but toast them and them to salad for an out-of-this-world treat.

11.  Mochi

Rice that puffs up into chewy bits of deliciousness—mochi is the treat you didn’t know you needed.

12.  Nori

Seaweed or burrito wrapper? You decide. Fill these up with yummy ingredients for a quick and healthy snack or eat them plain for a salty, crunchy treat.

13.  Cast iron pan

Cooking in iron boosts your iron! It’s true. Plus, it’s a nonstick, easy-to-clean kitchen must.

14.  Brown rice

Whole-grain brown rice goes with everything!

Steamed Kale Drizzled With Umeboshi Plum Vinaigrette

15.  Kale

A hardy, filling green loaded with nutrients, what’s not to love about kale? (Try my favorite steamed kale recipe here.)

16.  Scallions

Elevate the flavor of your favorite dishes with fresh scallions atop. Yummy.

17.  Lemon

Start your day with fresh lemon water, brighten your meals, and give dressings a little zing with lemons.

18.  Onions

Bring the flavor to any dish with onions.

19.  Kuzu

Calming with kuzu starch is a great trick in my medicine cabinet and I also use it to thicken up dishes, too.

20.  Umeboshi plums

Like the umeboshi vinegar, umeboshi plums are salty and full of flavor. They’re great to eat plain or add to soups, stews, and and sauteed greens.

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