Organized Vegan Kitchen: (Part One) Cupboards (Week 7)

I’ve found myself pleasantly surprised at how easy it has been to transition from vegetarian to vegan, with just a little effort. If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you probably know that going vegan has awakened a love of cooking and nutrition that I never had before. Now, I look forward to trying all sorts of exciting new recipes, and altering old favorites. But where do you start? Simple. An organized vegan kitchen.

The Organized Vegan Kitchen: (Part One) Cupboards~

After talking to others in different situations, I feel so fortunate that my husband is so completely supportive of my health decisions, interested, and even taking part in it himself. I won’t lay out all the details now, because I plan to write a blog post about his “mostly vegan” supporting role in one of the upcoming weeks, but basically, Abe suggested that our kitchen and home cooking be completely vegan. That way, I don’t have to worry about stocking any dairy products in our fridge or cupboards, and can experiment with all the plant-based recipes my little heart desires. Love that man <3

So, when I made the transition to vegan seven weeks ago (seven weeks already!) I took a big step to get my kitchen ready for the new lifestyle: clearing out all the non-vegan food items.

First, you may recall that I spent about a week transitioning, eating mostly vegan, but still using up the last of the dairy products. Fortunately, we have been using almond milk, coconut milk, vegan butter, and vegan sour cream for years, so we were mostly left with greek yogurt and cheese. After those items were used up, that took care of the fridge, but, left me with plenty of questionable items in the cupboards.

For about a week, I had been learning to cook with only plant ingredients, creating all sorts of delicious new recipes. This was more home cooking in one week than I had probably done in a few months! I quickly realized, not only were there tons of items in my cupboard with hidden dairy ingredients, but it was a disaster as far as organization was concerned, making cooking a little frustrating.

The remedy? Pinterest cupboard inspiration!

I had spent so much time reading new vegan recipes on Pinterest, that it was only inevitable I would come across all sorts of home improvement ideas and kitchen inspiration along the way.

Determined to start completely fresh, I literally pulled everything out of the cupboards and piled it on the counter. I thoroughly checked all ingredients. If there was even one questionable ingredient, it went in a box. Soups, breadcrumbs (why on earth did I have three unopened containers of breadcrumbs, all containing milk ingredients!?), chili, vegetarian gravy granules, seasoning packets, all of it went in the box. Abe was given the opportunity to eat any of the items in the box, which surprisingly, he chose not to. The next day I took some to the local food bank, and posted the rest for free on Facebook, which ended up going to a friend’s kids. No waste!

I felt good knowing that, even though those items were no longer in line with my dietary morals, they would still be put to good use.

Back to the kitchen.

I didn’t have a clear plan in place, but there were a few key places that I needed help with. Because of all this cooking, I needed some ways to keep leftovers fresh. Because of all the fresh fruits and veggies on hand at all times, I needed  a way to help ensure we use them all up before they spoil. And also, I needed to have easy access to all food and baking items used most, so as to not have to pull out a chair every time I went for an item off the top shelf.

Let’s begin with Cupboard One.

I started with mason jars.

Lots of mason jars.

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The top shelf contains items that’ll be used occasionally for recipes from scratch: two kinds of whole wheat flour, organic apple cider vinegar, pure maple syrup, baking soda, that sort of thing. The little basket on the top shelf is full of all things muffin and cookie: recycled paper muffin liners, cookie cutouts, and some little vegan sprinkles :)

The middle shelf is only used for storage containers: small, medium, and large mason jars, along with small tins for packing peanut butter, nuts, seeds, or vitamins, in lunches. This makes packing leftovers a snap, and makes packing lunches take no time at all!

The bottom shelf hold more mason jars, filled with all sorts of baking essentials: polenta, oat bran, nutritional yeast, corn meal, egg replacement, shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, all sorts of things regularly called for in vegan recipes. These things used to be on the top shelf, but makes baking much more enjoyable when they are at eye level. To simplify the clutter of stacking boxes and bags, some air tight, some not, some messy, all different sizes, I opted for mason jars with simple labels. To be sure I still have an easy reminder of the ingredients without the boxes, I cut out the nutritional labels and taped them to the backs of the jars. Even though most of the ingredients are super simple, explaining that the 100% all-natural oat bran contains, well, 100% all natural oat bran ;)

The bottom shelf is also home to a basket with various sized mason jar lids, to keep them from falling everywhere, and a stack of plates (not pictured).

Inside the doors, I was able to fit not one, not two, but three spice racks. Two can be seen in the photo above; one more is on the opposite door. More than enough room to hold all my spices and seasonings.

Cupboard One? Complete.

Moving on to Cupboard Two. 

This cupboard holds more staples for baking and cooking: oats, more oats, brown rice, wild rice, a few different types of couscous, lentils, quinoa, cocoa powder, all that good stuff. The middle row on the right holds my very favorite breakfast staple: Garden of Life raw protein meal powder (vanilla & cocoa) for making awesome nutrient-rich smoothies, and raw protein powder (plain) for adding to baked goods and fruit smoothies. Also home to a few boxed goods, falafel mix, vegan “sloppy joe” mix that I haven’t tried yet (hiding in the back).

This is also the snack cupboard, with a few favorites such as rice cakes, pretzel bites, a jar of mini vegan cookies, sugar free chai tea concentrate, along with our new bulk cans of freeze dried veggies!

Inside this door was able to fit one last spice rack, this one large enough to hold a few random bags of rices and brown rice pasta, saving cupboard space for the jars and boxes.

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Lastly, moving on to Cupboard Three. 

This cupboard is far less interesting, containing all canned goods: beans, beans, beans, more beans, black beans, red beans, white beans, brown beans, refried black beans, diced tomatoes, mandarin oranges, pineapple, corn, pumpkin. The cans share space with a few staples like peanut butter, almond butter, stevia, sesame seeds, canned coconut milk, agave nectar.

Note: Cupboard Three is also home to a few left over items that we’ve decided to buy in jars instead of cans: olives, artichoke hearts; a few items we’ve decided to make our own instead: tomato sauce, pizza sauce; and a few items  we’ve decided to only get fresh: green beans, soups. I’m sure we’ll use up the canned counterparts eventually, without letting them go to waste.

That about sums up the food cupboards! No need to peek inside my dishes cupboard, or my tea cupboard, which are both in desperate need of some organization… one step at a time :)

Looking forward to at least two upcoming posts about the Organized Vegan Kitchen: The Fridge & Counter (keeping things within sight) and Ready To Go (always ready for packing busy day lunches).

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* * *

New recipes added this week:

Oatmeal “On The Go”
Vegan Pizza Bowl

* * *

Highlighted food and fitness day from this week:

Sunday’s Meal Plan:

Breakfast~
Raw Protein Vegan Meal Powder (1/2 Vanilla 1/2 Cocoa) with Frozen Banana and Psyllium Husks. Orange on the side.

Snack~
Adam’s Chunky Peanut Butter (no salt added)
Lundberg organic Brown Rice Cake
Banana x2

Lunch~
Nearly Raw Fruit & Veggie Smoothie: POM Juice, Frozen Mixed Berries, Fresh Orange, Fresh Kale, Frozen Banana, Raw Plain Protein Powder, and Psyllium Husks.

Snack~
Apple

Dinner~
Homemade Steamed Sautéed Veggies: Spiralized Zucchini, Mushrooms, Eggplant with Sweet & Sour Sauce.

Snack~
Coconut Almond Mini Bar

Water~
(15) 8 oz servings

Sunday’s Fitness Plan:

50-minutes Elliptical
30-minutes Strength Training

How Did Nutrients Look?

I got a whopping 93 grams of protein today.
Awesome fiber, came in at 103 grams.
Maxed out Vitamin A (299%), Vitamin C (792%), & Iron (459%).
Came in just shy of what is recommended for Calcium.
Rocked Potassium, with 6558 mg (almost double!).
Great Sodium, kept it down at 1053 mg.
Carbohydrates & Sugars were a little high, but fruit carbs are good!
Cholesterol, as usual, was 0.

Calories In = 1781
Calories Out = 684
Net Calories = 1097

* * *

Monday’s Meal Plan:

Breakfast~
Raw Protein Vegan Meal Powder (Vanilla) with Frozen Banana and Psyllium Husks. Starbucks Grande Soy Sugar Free Vanilla Latte, no whip.

Snack~
Adam’s Chunky Peanut Butter (no salt added)
Lundberg organic Brown Rice Cake
Banana

Lunch~
Tofu “Scramble” with Fresh Broccoli, Zucchini, Kale, Mustard, and Unsweetened Almond Milk. Served on two “Fiber & Flax” white corn tortillas, and topped with some Daiya “Cheddar” Shreds.

Snack~
Apple

Dinner~
Raw Sugar Snap Peas
Gardein Mandarin Orange “Chick’n”
1/2 Nearly Raw Fruit & Veggie Smoothie: Odwalla Organic Carrot Apple Mango Juice, Frozen Mixed Berries, Fresh Orange, Fresh Kale, Frozen Banana, and Psyllium Husks.

Snack~
Coconut Almond Mini Bar

Water~
(16) 8 oz servings

Monday’s Fitness Plan:

50-minutes Water Aerobics
30-minutes Photo Shoot
50-minutes Zumba

How Did Nutrients Look?

I got a whopping 111 grams of protein today.
Good on fiber, came in at 60 grams.
Maxed out Vitamin A (471%), Vitamin C (793%), & Iron (536%).
Rocked Calcium, with 175%.
Just over what is recommended for Potassium, at 3794 mg.
Great Sodium, kept it down at 1450 mg.
Carbohydrates & Sugars were a liiiiittle over, but fruit carbs are good!
Cholesterol, as usual, was 0.

Calories In = 1997
Calories Out = 732
Net Calories = 1265

* * *

Wednesday’s Meal Plan:

Breakfast~
Raw Protein Vegan Meal Powder (Vanilla) with Frozen Banana and Psyllium Husks. Orange on the side.

Snack~
Adam’s Chunky Peanut Butter (no salt added)
Lundberg organic Brown Rice Cake
Banana

Lunch~
Fresh Butternut Squash, my favorite!
Frozen Brussels Sprouts

Dinner~
Homemade Vegan Pizza! Spelt Flour Dough from our local health food store, Lifesource, topped with Fresh Tomato, Zucchini, Artichoke Hearts, Kale, Mushrooms, Broccoli, Canned Mandarin Oranges (in juice), Gardein “Chick’n” Strips, a sprinkle of Galaxy “Parmesan”, and loaded with Greek Seasoning. I wish I was eating it right now…

Water~
(17) 8 oz servings

Wednesday’s Fitness Plan:

50-minutes Water Aerobics

How Did Nutrients Look?

I got just on the low side of great, 80 grams of protein.
Good on fiber, came in at 52 grams.
Maxed out Vitamin A (157%), Vitamin C (744%), & Iron (452%).
Came in just shy of what is recommended for Calcium.
Just over what is recommended for Potassium, with 3250 mg.
Best Sodium ever, kept it down at 799 mg.
Carbohydrates & Sugars were barely over, but fruit carbs are good!
Cholesterol, as usual, was 0.

Calories In = 1463
Calories Out = 196
Net Calories = 1267

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