If the contents of our refrigerators offer a snapshot glimpse of who we are, mine is no exception. One look inside and you might guess that I have simple tastes (at home at least!), I love routine, I value my health, and I’ve got a serious sweet tooth. And you would be 100 percent right!
After 25 years of veganism, I’ve definitely experienced moments of excitement when a new plant-based cheese or meat is launched, or an amazing new cookie or vegan chocolate makes its debut. But at this stage in the game, I know exactly what I like and tend to gravitate toward the same healthy foods, over and over again, all year round.
While I do try to rotate my fresh produce to reflect what’s in season, there are some staples I just can’t live without, whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall (looking at you, spinach!). I love shopping at farmers’ markets for the access to locally grown fruits and vegetables, and whenever possible, I buy organic.
Here are the 10 foods (and drinks!) you'll always find in my fridge.
- Harmless Harvest Coconut Water
There’s nothing as refreshing and revitalizing as a tall glass of coconut water after my yoga practice. It’s hydrating, helps replenish electrolytes, and has just the right amount of subtle sweetness. This brand of coconut water is the only one I’ve found that actually tastes like the fresh coconut water I practically live on when in Southeast Asia. It’s basically a liquid reminder of every tropical vacation I’ve ever had, with benefits.
- Fresh Pineapple
Fresh, sweet pineapple is so incredibly satisfying. I can’t imagine a day without it! I buy it pre-cut at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, and keep an ample supply on hand so I never run out. I enjoy a bowl of it in the morning after my cup of ceremonial cacao, snack on it in the afternoon, or throw it into my favorite Kale Colada Smoothie. If I can’t be on a tropical island eating pineapple freshly harvested straight from the tree, this is the next-best thing.
- Sprouted Nuts
One of the best tricks I learned for making foods more nutritious and easy to digest is sprouting. Besides seeds and legumes, nuts are incredible when sprouted and add flavor, texture, and extra nutrition to a variety of foods. I especially love sprouted almonds, walnuts, and cashews, which I buy readymade. When stored in glass jars in the fridge, they’re convenient for tossing into smoothies, blending with cold water for instant vegan milk, topping smoothie bowls or nice cream, or simply eating by the handful for a quick blast of afternoon fuel.
- Box of Organic Spinach
Spinach is one of the most versatile vegetables in my culinary repertoire, which is one reason I rely on it throughout the year to keep me nourished and to get my daily dose of greens. Full disclosure: I go through at least two large containers of organic spinach each week! It goes into my smoothies, soups, and atop roasted sweet potatoes. A squeeze of lemon to spinach helps facilitate iron absorption!
- Pot of Healthy Vegan Soup
From miso to pozole, homemade or storebought, light and brothy or thick and creamy, I adore soup and always have some on hand. A steaming bowlful makes a wonderfully easy-to-digest supper, and a small cup is the perfect heat-and-eat between-meals snack. As it simmers on the stovetop, I’ll add some fresh greens or chopped herbs, and voilà: dinner is served! During the winter, my soup of choice is this Indian Dal for its warming, nourishing properties.
- Medjool Dates
There are other dates that are less expensive than medjools, but none of them rival the decadent flavor and texture of these sumptuous morsels. They’re sweet, caramely, soft, gooey, and the perfect size to satisfy my sweet tooth in a single bite when the inevitable sugar craving hits. I also use them in place of refined sugar in everything from smoothies to homemade truffles to a steamy cup of chai. Healthy vegan tip: stuff with walnuts for an instant treat. Heavenly!
- Eden Foods Unsweetened Soy Milk
I cherish a cup of creamy, rich ceremonial hot cacao in the early morning, and I love it extra thick and foamy. After doing a foam test on all the vegan milks out there, I always go back to the OG: Eden Foods unsweetened soy milk, made simply with soybeans and water. When using my favorite frother, it forms peaks that look and act just like whipped cream, without the added sugar!
- Fuji Apples, Sumo Oranges, & Sweet Berries
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am crazy about sugar, but instead of reaching for candy (or one too many medjool dates), I honor my sweet tooth with fresh fruit. What I stock my fridge with depends on the season, but it might be Fuji apples and Sumo oranges every single day of the winter season, and baskets of fresh, antioxidant-rich strawberries in the spring. During summer, it’s all about watermelon, and in the fall, I splurge on big bunches of juicy muscat grapes. Divine!
- Organic Maple Syrup
I’ve experimented with pretty much every sweetener out there, including agave, rice syrup, sucanat, date sugar, date syrup, monk fruit, and stevia, but I always come back to maple syrup. I love it for its delicate flavor, and the fact that it’s minimally processed is an added bonus. And because it’s lower on the glycemic index than many other sweeteners, it doesn’t give me sugar highs and subsequent crashes that other sweeteners do. Maple syrup also contains minerals including potassium and iron, so it almost qualifies as a health food.
Celebrating special occasions with a festive ritual is one of life’s great joys, and sometimes that includes a glass of bubbly. I always have a bottle of champagne chilling and ready to pop in the fridge, so when a friend or neighbor stops by, I’m ready to roll. To keep it inclusive, I also have a bottle of Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider on hand in case the celebration involves non-drinkers or under-agers.
Keeping my fridge stocked with healthy food sets me up for success, laying the foundation for healthy eating at home. Then, when I dine out with friends or for VegNews (which I do frequently), I can splurge. It’s all about balance, right?
P.S. Stay tuned for a tour of my pantry for a full-spectrum dive into what a healthy vegan lifestyle can look like.