9 Most Important Vegan Pantry Staples for Athletes
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If you are an athlete following a vegan diet plan, it is important to know what vegan pantry staples to keep on hand to fuel your workouts. Stocking your pantry with the 9 items below can help ensure you have the right food available to support your training and performance needs.
What Exactly is a Vegan Diet?
Before diving into what items to stock in your pantry, let’s take a look at what following a vegan diet involves. An individual who adopts a vegan diet does not consume any animal-based or animal-derived products. This includes meat, chicken, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, butter, and honey.
Athletes following a vegan diet get all of their nutrition from plant-based sources. This includes grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. It is important for athletes eating a vegan diet to carefully plan their meals to ensure all their nutrient needs are met from plant-based sources.
Here are 9 vegan pantry staples athletes should keep on hand to help meet their sports nutrition needs.
Top Vegan Pantry Staples for Athletes
Quinoa is a type of seed that is packed full of nutritional benefits. Not only does quinoa contain dietary fiber, B vitamins, and minerals, it is also a good source of protein. Quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
Since quinoa is a seed, it is gluten-free and can be used as a replacement for wheat in the diet. Uncooked quinoa is incredibly shelf-stable, typically with a “best by” date ~2 years from production.
If you are interested in preparing a new vegan quinoa recipe, try making Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Corn. This recipe is from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and makes for a delicious entrée or side dish. You can easily make this recipe ahead of time to pack and take with you for lunch.
Oatmeal is another great item to keep on hand, as it makes for a quick, easy, and nutritious breakfast. It is a source of soluble fiber and also contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Oatmeal comes in several varieties, including old-fashioned oats (rolled oats), steel cut oats, quick-cook oats, and instant oatmeal. Although oats by themselves are vegan, be mindful that ingredients added into packaged oatmeal may not be fully plant-based. It is always best to read the ingredient label to ensure the product you are buying only contains plant products
Old-fashioned oats are perfect for making your favorite overnight oats recipe. When prepared with a plant-based milk and yogurt – overnight oats can make for a power-packed start to the day.
#3 Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes should be a top pantry staple for vegan athletes. Beans and legumes provide many nutrients, including: protein, fiber, folate, potassium, iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and antioxidants. You can easily add beans and legumes into vegan soups, chilis, and salads to increase the nutrient content of the meal.
Try a variety of bean and legume choices, including: black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, soybeans, and cannellini beans. Check the ingredient label of canned beans and legumes. Some canned beans and legumes include animal products, such as bacon and ham, in the preparation.
For a delicious soup packed with protein, fiber, and anti-inflammatory spices, try making this Split Pea and Farro Soup recipe from Dr. Sui-Nui Escobar, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
#4 Nut Butters
Keeping nut butters available in your pantry can come to the rescue for a quick meal or snack on the go. Nut butters contain healthy fats and protein, making them great for a sandwich or a topping on celery, apple slices, or whole grain crackers. Nut butters can also add extra nutrition and flavor when mixed into oatmeal or blended into a smoothie.
If you have a nut allergy, consider trying SunButter® products, which are prepared with sunflower seeds and are allergen free.
When purchasing nut butters, make sure to read the ingredient label to check for animal products. Some nut butters mix in honey for a sweet flavor, so you will want to ensure the variety you buy only contains plant products.
#5 Seeds: Chia and Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds and chia seeds are nutrient dense seeds that provide fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The seeds are versatile and can easily be added into your morning oatmeal, smoothies, and yogurt.
Flaxseeds are typically consumed ground, as it is easier for the body to digest and absorb the nutrients in the ground form. Ground flaxseeds can be added into baked goods such as breads, muffins, and pancake mix.
Chia seeds have a remarkable ability to absorb water. Chia seeds can be used as a vegan egg substitute and also are an ideal ingredient for pudding. Katie Dodd, MS, RDN, CSG, LD, FAND shares a High Calorie Vegan Breakfast Chia Pudding Parfait on her website that is definitely worth trying out.
#6 Chickpea Pasta
If you are a pasta lover, make sure you stock your pantry with chickpea pasta. This plant-based pasta is packed with protein and fiber. A serving of chickpea pasta typically contains around 20 grams of protein. Topping chickpea pasta with marinara sauce and a variety of vegetables can make for a nutrient-dense meal.
When you purchase chickpea pasta, review the ingredient label to ensure you are buying a vegan product. Be aware that some plant-based pastas contain milk and eggs, so checking the label is important. Banza® and Barilla® both have a variety of vegan chickpea pastas available.
#7 Vegan Bars
Buy some of your favorite vegan bars to keep stocked in the pantry. Bars are great to have ready for breakfast on-the-go, an afternoon snack, or to throw into your gym bag for a pre-workout snack. When you purchase vegan bars, look for products that are made with whole grains, contain a good source of plant-protein, and have limited added ingredients.
#8 Breakfast Cereal
It is good to keep whole grain breakfast cereal available, not only for breakfast, but also to eat dry as a snack. Look for breakfast cereals made with whole grains, that provide a good source of dietary fiber, and that contain limited added sweeteners.
Nature’s Path®, Barbara’s®, and Kashi® all have excellent vegan cereal options available. Read the ingredient list for any cereal you purchase to ensure no animal products, such as honey or milk, are contained in the cereal.
#9 Vegan Protein Pancake Mix
One final vegan pantry staple to keep on hand is protein pancake mix. Being able to whip up a quick batch of vegan pancakes makes for a nutritious breakfast, especially when topped with fresh fruit. Orgain® makes an excellent plant-based protein pancake and waffle mix that is vegan. The mix is made with pea protein and provides 10 grams of protein per serving. Starting the day with vegan protein pancakes is a delicious way to add protein to your morning meal.
Pantry Organization and Storage
Now that you have an idea of what items to stock in your pantry, it is important that you have a plan in place for how to store your food. You should store dry goods, such as quinoa, rice, oatmeal, and cereal, in air-tight containers that will keep the items dry and free of moisture. Make sure to label the food storage containers with the food item it contains and the expiration or best-by date.
When selecting reusable storage containers, purchase items that are BPA-free and that can be easily cleaned between use. Check-out this 28-piece pantry organization set*, with BPA-free airtight containers that can help you store your vegan pantry staples.
Ready to Shop for Vegan Pantry Staples!
Now that you have a list of the 9 most important vegan pantry staples for athletes you are ready to shop. Stocking your pantry with these items will help ensure you are ready with the food you need to support your activity.
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