Vegan Grocery Shopping List: Ten Must-Have Items.

"What is Sucanat Anyways??" Perusing my recipes, you may be confused by a few ingredients...Or simply curious about my fave kitchen staples. So here you go...

Grocery shopping like a vegan chef (even if you're not vegan) is about to get a lot easier as I reveal my top ten vegan food items to add to your shopping list. Many of these ingredients are common in my recipes.

Bonus: I've even added recipe links, where you can find these items and a list of bonus products I can't live without.

Click ahead for the list....

Vegan Grocery Shopping List: Top Ten Things

1. Veganaise.
Veganaise is a vegan 'mayonnaise'. Although I personally have always hated mayo, but LOVE veganaise. I could eat it with a spoon. It is slightly sweeter than a traditional mayo and has a nice acidic bite to the flavor. There are several brands out there, but Follow Your Heart Veganaise is the best. It comes in Grape seed Oil, Organic Canola, Cold-Pressed Canola and regular Canola. The regular is the least expensive. They all generally have the same taste. I prefer the gold capped organic veganaise.
Use: Sandwiches, sweet potato mash, as a 'mayo' substitute in any recipe, on top of soups (think butternut squash with a dollop of veganaise.)
Recipe: Vegan Cole Slaw, Meyer Lemon Island "Custard" Parfaits
Where:Whole Foods or a similar grocery store.

2. Vital Wheat Gluten.
VWG is an ingredient that I commonly add to breads and cookie recipes. It adds protein and acts as a binding ingredient. It's a vegan baker's best secret. It is a great egg substitute if you are bored with fruit purees and applesauce. It is also the same ingredient that seitan or "wheat meat" is made from. I like Arrowhead Mills brand, but any high quality brand will do.
Use: Breads, Cakes, Cookies, Homemade seitan
Recipe: Lemon-Poppyseed Chamomile Tea Bread
Where: Most grocery stores with a good baking section, Whole Foods

3. Agave Syrup.
Agave syrup is a plant-derived sweetener-from the agave plant. Most commonly, Blue Agave. It has the consistency of maple syrup and is just about as sweet. A little goes a long way. For those vegans who don't eat honey, this is the perfect sugar substitute. It has a pur-er sweet flavor than maple syrup- and thus can be used in a wider variety of recipes.
Use: Cookies, soups, smoothies, hot beverages, breads, just about anywhere!
Recipes: Strawberry-Upside-Down Cake, Poor Man's Fire Chai
Where: Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, most grocery stores.

4. Sucanat.
Or as I spell it Succanut. Woops. It's freeze dried sugar bliss. This is a great dry sugar sweetener that is a tad healthier than traditional sugar. Why? "Unlike refined and processed white sugar, Sucanat retains its molasses content; it is essentially pure dried sugar cane juice."
It's very similar to brown sugar and light brown in color.
Use: Anywhere dry sugar is used. Baking, beverages.
Recipe: Almond Butter "Nut-Tea" Cookies
Where: Almost any grocery store should have this.

5. Acai Juice
I often add acai juice to smoothies. I also love drinking a 6 ounce swig of it first thing in the morning. Acai juice in incredibly high in antioxidants, more than Pomegranate juice. My favorite brand is Samzabon.
About Acai from Sambazon: "Açaí pulp contains:
A remarkable concentration of antioxidants, to help combat premature aging, with 10-30 times the anthocyanins (purple colored antioxidants) of red wine.
A synergy of monounsaturated (healthy) fats, dietary fiber and phytosterols, to help promote cardiovascular system and digestive tract health.
An almost perfect essential amino acid complex in conjunction with valuable trace minerals, vital to proper muscle contraction and regeneration."
Use: Smoothies, juice.
Recipe: Soy milk, frozen berries, banana, Acai juice and ice. Yum.
Where: Whole Foods, many corner 'beverage' stores. In the fridge section.

6. Coconut Water-fresh!
OK, this is tricky. Even here in NYC land of all things culinary, I have a hard time getting fresh young coconuts. But trust me, they are out there. You just need to find them! Fresh coconut water is nature's hydration perfection. Read more about CW here.
Use: Straight from the coconut, in raw soups and smoothies.
Recipe: Straight from the Coconut.
Where: Whole Foods (sometimes), natural stores, farmers markets with international produce selections.

7. Cayenne.
I love adding a few sprinkles of cayenne in recipes to add a little heat. It is also great added to fresh-pressed juices for an extra kick of spiciness. Not so hard to find, but a staple for a vegan kitchen for sure.
Use: Soups, breads, salsa, dips, veggie dishes, pasta.
Recipes: Poor Man's Fire Chai, Triple "S" Risotto
Where: Any grocery store should have this.

8. Soy milk.
Soy milk is a must have in a vegan kitchen. And there are a few rules to note about using it in recipes. If a recipe calls for soy milk, it most likely means "plain" flavor. Never add a vanilla soy milk to a recipe unless it is specifically called for. For savory dishes, you can even use unsweetened soy milk for an extra muted flavor. I love Trader Joe's, WestSoy, Silk and EdenSoy and Soy Dream brands. Very important: Make sure that you are drinking a well-fortified soy milk brand if you are vegan. Vitamin b12, vitamin D and calcium should be in your soy beverage!
Use: Anywhere milk is used. Takes a bit more energy to froth, but its possible!
Recipe: Most of my baking recipes use soy milk.
Where: Anywhere! Yay.

9. Meat Substitutes.
Seitan is delicious and an excellent substitute for meat. It is termed the "wheat meat" for its wheat gluten source of protein. Another favorite is tempeh. Tempeh is fermented soybeans. Also great is the traditional tofu ingredient. Bland in flavor, but incredibly pliable for recipes. And then there are the 'veggie burgers' out there. I love Boca burger and their Chik'n line of products. Boca Spicy Chik'n patties are a favorite in my house. Also great are Trader Joe's Soy Nuggets and Vegetable Masala burgers. Another top notch veggie burger is by the brand WildWood. Trader Joe's line of Chicken-less products is fabulous. Many choices, many to explore.
Use: Anywhere you want a little protein and flavor.
Recipes: 2 minute Maple Tree Tempeh, Seitan vs. Tofu
Where: Boca and Gardenburger brands are pretty common, but for a wide selection of brands head to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's or a local natural foods store.

10. Almond Butter.
More expensive than peanut butter, but you get what you pay for! Almond butter is a more sophisticated nut butter. It is extremely high in vitamin E. Which is a great thing for vegans. Be sure to compare brands, as some can cost up to $15 per jar. Trader Joe's has a fabulous selection of almond butters, at a reasonable price.
Use: Cookies, sandwiches, muffins or breads
Recipe: Almond Butter "Nut-Tea" Cookies
Where: Most grocery stores. More expensive at high end natural food stores. Trader Joe's has a reasonably priced option and carries both raw and roasted, chunky and creamy versions.

Bonus items I love: BioKPlus probiotic dairy-free yogurt, Synergy Kombucha beverage, POM juice, Smart Balance Buttery Spread (my sub for butter), Harissa from Le Pain Quotidien, Annie's Goddess Dressing, SoyDelicious Soy Cream, STOGO vegan Ice Cream here in NYC, Tofutti products, Tofu-based Cream Cheese, Veggie Vegan Cheese singles (Rice Pepper Jack is my fave), Soy Pitas from Trader Joe's, Coconut Water Paks (ZICO, Vita CoCo and O.N.E are the best.) Goji Berries (frozen and dried), and Sprouted-Grain bread(Complete protein California-style is my favorite).

So that's my list for now....I know there are plenty more ingredients that I use and should discuss. You can always email me at if you have any questions about the ingredients in my recipes.

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