Making the lifestyle decision to go vegan can be a big step. It means reading labels more closely, learning new cooking skills, and thinking creatively about your dishes. But there are many products out there aimed at making the transition to veganism much easier. Here are my top ten products for any new vegan to take advantage of! 

1. Veggie Spiralizers

Do you have a bunch of cucumbers, squash, or carrots that you have absolutely NO CLUE what to do with? Why not try to make zoodles? These devices, most of which you can buy online for less than $20, transform your favorite veggies into piles of veggie noodles. Toss into a stir fry or a salad for a fresh, low-carb twist! Here's a recipe for zoodles, tossed with yummy tempeh and Cleveland Kitchen's dressing. 

2. Raw Cashews

Raw cashews are one ingredient everyone needs to have in their pantry. And I'm not talking about a can of Planter's snacking cashews either. Raw cashews are plain, unsalted, and a common component of many vegan cream sauces. I use cashews to make my eggplant parm "chz" and sweet potato mac & trees sauce. To use in a dish, soak in hot water for an hour and pour into a high-powered blender. If you want to extend the shelf-life of your cashews, place them in a sealed container in the fridge. 

3. Nutritional Yeast

Making a tofu scramble? Add nutritional yeast. Need a popcorn boost? Add nutritional yeast. Boyfriend broke up with you? Add nutritional yeast. 

Nutritional yeast (aka "nooch") is a type of brewer's yeast. It's full of fortified B12 (a critical micronutrient mostly from animal-based foods) and savory flavor. I buy mine in 2lb bulk bags, but you can also buy a small container at your local grocery store just to try it out. 

4. Pinterest

Where in the world would I be without Pinterest? It's full of recipe ideas and creative cooking tips for vegan goodies. 

5. Alternative Meat Products

Vegan cooking requires a LOT of preparation. Slicing veggies, making sauces... it makes me tired just thinking about it! Wouldn't it just be easier to pop dinner in the oven and enjoy? That's why I like working with alternative meat products. 

Some of my favorite brands include Alpha Foods & Meatless Farm. Alpha Foods has an entire line of plant-based meat alternatives from burgers to chik'n- and even pizza! You can also find their plant-based burritos and tamales in the freezer aisle at your local grocery store. Simply pop them into the oven or the microwave for a delicious dinner in a pinch. 

Meatless Farm offers meatless mince, meatballs, sausage, and burgers that I use to make these sweet potato nachos. My favorite products are their sausages- they're a delicious addition to my breakfast sandwiches! 

6. Banza Chickpea Pasta

Banza is actually NOT one of our sponsored brands (but hey, send me an email if you're reading this and want to collab), but I just wanted to add them because their pasta is SO GOOD. For years, I've struggled to find an alternative pasta product that doesn't turn out gunky after its cooked. I made Banza for the first time after using Trader Joe's Red Lentil pasta for years and my life is forever changed. Banza pasta wasn't metallic, nor did the flavor overpower the sauce. 

7. Right Rice 

Any vegan knows that getting protein into your diet is critical. But did you know there is a super simple swap you can make to boost your protein: Right Rice! Right Rice can be made in less than fifteen minutes and comes in fun flavors like garlic herb, Cajun spice, and harvest pilaf. Every serving has 40% less carbs than traditional rice with 8g of protein. I love to make Right Rice as a dinner side or tossed in a taco salad with mushrooms, peppers, and onions. 

8. Grocery Coupon Apps

I spend a lot of money on fresh produce every week, so I'm always looking for find good deals. I downloaded the apps for the two grocery stores I visit most (Hannafords and Shaws) so I can compare prices and find weekly sales. Many grocery chains offer coupons based on your buying preferences, so check them out and see how you can save! 

9. The HappyCow App

How do you prepare to go out to a restaurant when everything may or may not be vegan? The answer is simple: HappyCow! HappyCow is a digital mapping tool (also in app-form) that allows you to check out local restaurants near you! You can set filters for vegan or vegetarian options and read reviews from REAL customers. Many pages also link to their menu so you can check out what to order before you leave the house. 

10. Non-Dairy Ice Creams 

I was definitely concerned that when I went vegan, I would miss our on all the awesome ice cream flavors out there. But with so many alternative milks, I've found plenty of options! You can check out some of my favorites here.