6 Must-Have Kitchen Ingredients

It’s safe to say that Chef Chloe Coscarelli killed it in 2015. Her first restaurant byChloe, became a massive success overnight, convincing New Yorkers that vegan food can be worth writing home about (and Instagramming). At this point we pretty much will take any advice she’ll give us, especially if it’s food-related.

Grocery shopping can be an overwhelming experience, especially as a potatohead with a passion for all things edible. You head there with the intention of doing a quick refrigerator restock and suddenly your shopping cart is filled to the brim with the latest bread craze and twelve new smoothie ingredients. Let Chef Chloe lighten your load as she tell us which essential ingredients you should always have in your kitchen…

1. Nondairy milk

Soy, almond, and rice milk are all fabulous delicious alternatives to dairy milk. They are lower in fat and can be used interchangeably in any recipe calling for milk, from milkshakes to cream soups. You can find them in refrigerated cartons or non-refrigerated boxed packages.

2. Cashews

Ever dreamed of eating creamy Fettuccine Alfredo without getting a pasta hangover after? Here’s how! Blend raw cashews with water to create a smooth rich cream sauce that can be flavored with just about anything. Turn it savory by adding garlic and onions or make it sweet with an infusion of vanilla and agave. The world is your vegan oyster when you’ve got cashews in your pantry! Cashews are lower in fat than other nuts and rich in magnesium which helps promote healthy bones and joints.

3. Dark Chocolate

Calling all chocoholics: Dark chocolate is vegan! Instead of munching on milk chocolate candy, try pure dark chocolate for a decadent snack that happens to be good for your heart and rich in antioxidants. It’s also great for baking anything from chocolate chip cookies to chocolate fudge frosting. Just be sure to check the label for no milk solids or whey, and you’re on your way to chocolate heaven! And it can always be lightened up with a splash of nondairy milk.

4. Vinegar

Who knew?! I know it sounds strange, but vinegar is a great egg replacer for baking cakes. When combined with baking soda, vinegar binds the cake and there is no need for eggs. This trick makes for the most delicious moist cake, and I promise you won’t taste the vinegar. Because if you could there is no way I would have won first place in Cupcake Wars! Vinegar can curb appetite and control insulin resistance and high blood sugar.

5. Mushrooms

Crimini, Shiitake, Portobello, and Oyster mushrooms all have a juicy hearty texture that is perfect for replacing meat. Ground into veggie burgers or charred on the grill, mushrooms are a succulent substitution for meat in any form. Mushrooms are high in phytochemicals which help fight disease. They are also high in selenium and copper.

6. Nutritional Yeast

Ditch the cheese, which is high in fat and calories, and try using nutritional yeast, which is high in protein and B vitamins. Nutritional yeast has a natural cheesy flavor and yellow color, which makes for a decadent and nutritious bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese.

Want more chef-inspired shopping lists? Check out what Adam Eskin of Dig Inn has on his shopping list or peruse what ingredients these chefs say makes everything better.