A Chef's Must-Have Pantry Items For A Plant-Based Kitchen

mbg Contributor By Leah Vanderveldt
mbg Contributor
Leah Vanderveldt is an author living in Brooklyn, New York. She received her bachelor’s in communications and media from Fordham University, and is certified in culinary nutrition from the Natural Gourmet Institute. She is the author of two cookbooks: The New Nourishing and The New Porridge.
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Chef and cookbook author Anna Jones has worked with some of the biggest names in food, from Jamie Oliver to Yotam Ottolenghi. After working as a professional chef for eight years, Anna decided to become a vegetarian.

While it was difficult "coming out" to her chef friends as a vegetarian, Anna loved the difference she felt physically and mentally from her new way of eating.

She found inspiration both professionally and at home and realized cooking vegetables was as exciting — if not more so — than cooking the meaty mains she was used to.

I try to eat a wide variety of foods — it's like placing a bet on every single horse.

In her new book A Modern Way To Eat, Anna shares over 200 of her vegetarian recipe ideas. She also let mindbodygreen in on her favorite pantry items to make whipping up a quick and delicious vegetarian meal easier.

1. Spices

"I try to keep every kind of spice I possibly can around, that way I have the flexibility to cook any type of cuisine I feel like. I store them all in little glass jars so I can easily see what I have."

2. Citrus

"I see lemon as a third seasoning — I probably use it more than pepper. I have an old fashioned wash basin filled will lemons and limes on my kitchen table and add citrus to almost every meal. It’s an essential flavor component for me, whether it's the juice at the end for sharpness or the zest to add a zingy kind of flavoring."

3. Beans

"Sometimes, when I'm organized, I'll cook a big batch of beans and freeze individual-sized portions so I know they're homemade and as nutritious as possible — and failing that, I use canned."

4. Canned tomatoes

"For a quick tomato sauce for pasta with basil and garlic or an egg dish."

5. Corn tortillas

"It’s hard to get good Mexican food in the UK, so I order real corn tortillas in bulk and keep them in my freezer.

I love cooking Mexican food when I have friends around — I'll make piles of roasted seasonal vegetables, guacamole and salsa for sharing. Mexican food really lends itself to plant-based eating because it allows for layering flavors, which is what makes food interesting. It's so colorful and vibrant too."

6. Grains

"I keep the bottom shelf in my kitchen stocked with jars of different grains like quinoa, bulgur wheat, rice and barley, and eat them throughout the week.

My approach to nutrition, as part of a plant-based diet, is to try to eat a wide variety of foods — it's like placing a bet on every single horse."

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