Stunning plant-based blog, The First Mess, is a seasonal foodie’s dream. Veggie visionary, Laura Wright, dreams up delicious recipes that are just as satisfying in real life as they are in all her gorgeous food photography.
Fans of this top blogger are still swooning over her cookbook and, to celebrate it’s launch a few years ago, we decided Laura was a perfect candidate for our favorite kitchen feature. We found ourselves thinking about the kitchen as we look to the new spring season and wanted to bring it back! A glimpse inside Laura’s fridge reveals an array of worldly plant-based proteins, from Canadian-farmed chickpeas to French lentils, and an impressive tub of almond butter…
Always in my fridge:
7 staples always on hand:
Light miso; gluten-free tamari soy sauce; good quality canned tomatoes (I like the fire-roasted ones from Muir Glen); whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and millet; cooked beans and lentils; virgin olive oil; and fully stocked and often-rotated spice drawer.
Canadian-farmed chickpeas and French lentils from GRAIN, hemp seeds, almond and other nut/seed butters, tempeh and plant-based protein powder in my smoothies when I’m in a pinch.
I love cabbage and find it to be quite underrated. It’s economical and almost always available locally. I shred it up for bright slaws with fennel, kale and radishes, or I’ll sauté it with lots of garlic and a finishing splash of apple cider vinegar. I also roast nice meaty wedges of it with a maple-mustard lacquer that crisps up in the oven.
I make this amazing popcorn with a cheesy-savory “magic dust” topping from my cookbook. But I also buy salty snacks frequently. It’s a serious vice that I refuse to go without.
Sweets and other indulgences:
I pick up a salted almond dark-chocolate bar here and there.
The big container of roasted almond butter at Costco for $9.99. I know purists will say, “Just make it yourself!,” but this is cheaper, easier and just as tasty. We go through a jar a week.
Ingredient that makes everything better:
Must-have pantry staples:
Canned tomatoes, good quality oils (olive, coconut, avocado), a selection of whole grains, dried and canned beans/lentils, pure maple syrup, almond flour, brown rice flour, spelt flour, raw nuts and seeds, almond butter, tahini, peanut butter, spices and a variety of vinegars.
Dairy or non-dairy faves:
Homemade almond or cashew milk. If I’m pressed for time, I’ll buy So Delicious brand almond or coconut milk. I also make a vegan pine-nut “parmesan” sprinkle that nails my cheese cravings most of the time.
Favorite places to shop:
My dad owns a local produce store, so I get first dibs on all the good stuff. In the warm months, I grow as much of my own vegetables and herbs as I can. I’m also an unabashed Costco lover and a huge fan of bulk stores for grains, flours and whatnot. I source spices and some of the more weird and wonderful health items (pine pollen, tocotrienols etc.) online.
Best label-reading tip:
Kind of a silly answer, but avoid foods that require label-reading expertise! Whole foods or products that are made entirely from whole foods, are the way to go. I know that this isn’t doable for everyone, but it’s something to strive toward.
Craziest thing I buy:
The Gut Shots by Farmhouse Culture. They’re essentially the liquid left behind from the sauerkraut/kimchi-making process. I’m not one for the traditional alcohol shots, so slamming back these salty probiotic shots is weirdly invigorating for me. I also have this fun copper tray on my counter with a bunch of supplies for my elixir/superfood drinks: mushroom powders, raw cacao, ashwagandha, tocotrienols, mesquite powder, pearl, vanilla powder, MCT oil…
The frozen packages of young Thai coconut meat. They’re pricy, but they make the best vegan yogurt with a little probiotic powder and time spent in a warm place. Heaven on earth with fresh fruit and crunchy granola. I also grab a kombucha pretty much every time I’m at the grocery/health food store.
For last-minute entertaining:
Wine! So much wine. And I always keep some kind of delicious allergen-free cracker around. I can usually fix up a plant-based pâté out of whatever vegetables and pantry stock I have on hand. Roasted mushroom is a favorite, and I make a particularly pretty one with broccoli, leeks, and whole grain mustard. So I’ll whip that up with lots of olive oil and serve it with the crackers, some crudités and the all-important wine.
This story originally ran on TCM in 2017