The Grocery Staples This L.A.-Based Vegan Chef Always Has in Her Cart

Welcome to our series #CartedByT30, where experts, influencers, and anyone who just really knows how to nail down a grocery list show us exactly what goes in their carts. Tune in to our Instagram to see their weekly haul from their favorite grocery store, farmer's market, or online food retailer and to find out how much it really costs to eat healthily. 

Mimi Williams Headshot

Photo:

Courtesy of Mimi Williams

As a vegan executive chef and restaurant consultant, Mimi Willams is used to challenging her diners’ perceptions of what plant-based cooking can be by turning basic ingredients into elaborate and exquisite meals. She relies heavily on fresh and seasonal produce as well as a bevy of nutritional plant-based protein to build out her menus when she's consulting for one of L.A.'s favorite brunch institutions, Bardonna, or at Counterpart Vegan, another local hotspot that Williams owned, which recently closed its doors due to COVID-19. 

When it comes to her home cooking style, Williams likes to keep things simple and delicious with her tried-and-true healthy grocery staples. Keep scrolling to see what this vegan chef shops for on a weekly basis. 

My Food Philosophy

My food philosophy centers around made-from-scratch dishes made with fresh plant-based ingredients. I wholeheartedly believe that vegan food can be simple, delicious, and accessible to everyone. As a vegan chef and restaurant owner, in my downtime, I love whipping up meals loaded with vitamins and nutrients for my daughter and me.

Mimi Williams Cooking

Photo:

Courtesy of Mimi Williams

Veganism is a style of cooking that can be limitless! There’s an opportunity to manipulate plant matter into anything, from fresh milk and cheese to “meaty” Bolognese and tiramisu. Plant-based ingredients are not a replacement or substitute for meat and dairy. They’re on a completely different platform, providing new and nutritious ways to experience food outside of what the general expectation is.

I love shopping at Whole Foods 365 for affordable fresh produce, a variety of nuts, dried fruits, and seeds as well as a wide array of vegan proteins like tempeh. When shopping, I look for ingredients that are low in sugar and sodium and high in fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients. I often take inspiration from what’s in season, which really sparks my creativity into transforming vegetables and fruits into dishes you wouldn’t believe are vegan.

Blueberries

Blueberries are a must-have in my home. They add a wonderfully natural and nutritious sweetness to smoothies, over oatmeal, and even just on their own. Blueberries are like sugar-free candy, which isn’t too far from the truth, as they’re low on the glycemic index for natural sugar but still bursting with a honeyed flavor.

Beets

Mimi Williams Grocery Shopping

Photo:

Courtesy of Mimi Williams

Beets are my favorite vegetable for cooking vegan food, as they provide a vibrant natural color and can be used to enhance texture and add richness and nutrition to flavorful sauces for pastas.  At Counterpart Vegan, I make a beet pappardelle that is rich in flavor, color, and nutrition! I use beet in the pasta itself, in the sauce, and in toasted toppings for a little crunch.

Kale

Kale is so versatile. You can braise it for a hearty and healthy addition to a grain bowl, pop leaves into the oven for kale chips, blend it into a smoothie, or sneak it into a breakfast burrito. I also love kale on its own in a big salad with lemon juice and olive oil!

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is one of my favorite snacks when I’m craving something sweet. My daughter enjoys prunes. (A little secret: I tell them they’re dried plums so she’s less hesitant to try them.) Prunes are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin A, which are all great for staying heart-healthy, strong bones, and glowing skin. They’re also a filling treat to satisfy sweet-tooth cravings for both kids and adults.

Seeds

I love a good crunch, and seeds and nuts are great for nutritious snacking. Pepitas are low in calories and loaded with iron and potassium. They’re also great to toss into salads and over soups.

Tempeh

Tempeh is fermented soybean curd. It’s full of protein and so versatile. You can use it as a meat alternative for almost any of your favorite proteins, and there are so many ways to cook it. You can smoke it, brine it, bake it, steam it, and fry it!

Hemp Milk

Plant-based milk is a staple in my pantry. I use it when baking sweets, cooking savory sauces and soups, and whipping up smoothies. It’s important to read the label for dairy-free milks and watch out for high amounts of sodium and sugar. I love nut-free milks like hemp and pea protein.

Sweet Potatoes

Mimi Williams Grocery Shopping

Photo:

Courtesy of Mimi Williams

There is so much you can do with sweet potatoes, from baking them into a pie or making a potato hash alongside a tofu scramble for breakfast. Sweet potatoes are great for boosting your immunity, maintaining gut health, and adding natural sweetness to any meal. I make a fabulous face mask at home by mixing mashed sweet potatoes with coconut or rose water and lemon juice. The vitamin A and antioxidants naturally brighten skin. It’s my version of a “fridge facial.”

Oat Bran

Oat bran is higher in fiber and protein than traditional oatmeal and is easy to cook for a warm and comforting breakfast. It’s a great way to kick-start your metabolism in the morning and is great for weight loss, as oat bran is packed with protein and fiber to keep you full and energized.

Brussels Sprouts

These are what I like to call “misunderstood” vegetables. There is so much complexity to these veggies, and there is so much you can do with them! They are my daughter’s favorite vegetable. I steam them, bake them, and sauté them.

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