If you have a favorite recipe, and it’s not vegan, chances are you can turn it vegan quite easily!
I grew up in a kitchen that produced an abundance of comfort food: mashed potatoes and gravy, stroganoff, chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, potato salad, lasagna, macaroni and cheese, cakes, pies, fudge… the list goes on. Instead of going without these foods when I changed my diet, I veganized them. It’s easy to do by just following a few basic guidelines.
Here’s some good tips on replacing some of the typical “vegetarian” foods, such as dairy and eggs. You really won’t even miss ‘em.
Eggs are pretty commonly found in most baking recipes and family function favorites. Yet, contrary to popular belief, they are replaceable—and definitely not missed.
There are many foods that act as pretty darn good egg substitutes, some of the more common ones include:
When I first went vegan, I used mostly the commercial egg replacer that I have listed below. Nowadays, I really prefer to use “flaxeggs” whenever I can get away with it. A simple replacement per egg is 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 2 tablespoons water. Let stand until nice and goopey.
If you can’t find flaxseed meal in your grocery store- then whole flaxseeds can be quickly ground up in a coffee grinder and stored in a glass jar or other sealing container.
Commercial Egg Replacer
When I opt for the egg replacer powder, I always go with Ener-G. It works great in various baked goods, especially cookies.
Here’s the formula I use to make it into the perfect fake egg:
1.5 teaspoons egg replacer powder mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water. It is imperative to mix these two ingredients into a small glass, or similar dish, and stir vigorously with a
fork until frothy.
Silken Tofu- works great as “Egg” in dishes like cheesecakes, brownies, flan etc… but can turn cookies and similar items “cakey”. For every egg needed substitute ¼ cup blended silken tofu. When using in recipes, blend into the other wet ingredients before adding to the dry infgredients.
Extra Firm Tofu- This stuff is great for making “eggy” dihes like scrambled tofu and vegan omelets… simply drain very well and sauté up with a little cooking oil, turmeric, nutritional yeast, spices, garlic, onions and peppers to make a quick breakfast scramble. Check out google for some other creative ways to make tofu omelets, tofu quiche… the options are really quite endless.
Bananas or Applesauce
1/3 cup mashed banana or about ¼ cup applesauce per egg. These both work well in recipes where the slightest flavor of fruit can be tolerated, such as sweet muffins, quickbreads, and some types of cookies and brownies. Neither applesauce or bananas act as anything but a binder, so be sure to use along with baking powder/soda when needing a rise in your baked goods.
You can substitute vinegar in many, if not most, cookie and cake recipes. A good guideline is about 1 tablespoon vinegar per egg… best added at the end of mixing up your batter. Again, I have only had success with this when using in conjunction with baking soda/powder.
The best substitute for butter (so far), in my opinion, is Earth Balance vegan margarine. It works great for baking, sautéing, spreading directly on bread… you name it. Other vegan margarines work well in baking too.
This stuff is always a great choice for baking and adding flavor to savory meals… use the equivalent amounts when baking/cooking as you would butter. You may even find that you need less because of olive oil’s deliciously complex flavor. I love cookies made with olive oil!
You can definitely cut calories by subbing applesauce, bananas, etc into baked goods. A good general guideline is to sub out butter pretty evenly with the same amount of fruit. If a recipe calls for 1 cup butter, try one cup smashed banana instead. Almost always, the texture will be chewier.
This stuff is pretty darn incredible, and works pretty identically to hydrogenated shortening when used solid at room temp. I always have a jar of this stuff around… and an extra one to use as my moisturizer.
Of course, there are plenty of recipes that call for milk: whole, buttermilk, skim, evaporated, cream etc. The good news is that there is a perfect non-dairy substitute for most any milk you need.
Soymilk is the most common, but is quickly getting replaced in the mainstream by almond milk. Yay! I love almond milk, and should honestly buy stock in Almond Breeze for as much as we purchase on a weekly basis. Almond Breeze Original tastes identical to how I remember whole cow’s milk tasting. There is also hemp milk, which can be used like regular milk; rice milk, which is more similar to skim milk; coconut milk, which is very close to whole milk with a tropical undertone; and many more. Good news is that they all work just as good as the milk taken from cows for human consumption.
Most of the times, when a recipe calls for milk, it really just needs some sort of slightly fatty liquid to make it work well. You can get a variety of sauces from “Alfredo” to “caramel” sauce with almond milk or other non-dairy milks.
Heavy whipping cream can easily be subbed out with a nice thick scoop of coconut cream, cup for cup.
Buttermilk can easily be obtained by adding a tablespoon or so of lemon juice to 8 oz of almond or soy milk. Let rest about 5 minutes until curdled, and voila! buttermilk.
Evaporated milk can also be made by bringing 2 ½ cups of non-dairy milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the volume is reduced to 1 cup. Cool and refrigerate until needed.
When I first went vegan, finding a good vegan cheese was not an option… but times they are a changin’. First, there’s Daiya… it’s stretch, melty, salty and all together glorious compared to most of the vegan cheese options I have tasted (and believe me, I’ve tasted many). For a pizza topping, a melty cheesy quesadilla binder, or just an add in to salads, Daiya is my go to cheese. It’s available in Cheddar and Mozzarella in all Whole Foods location nationwide.
Another big one that’s been getting a lot of hype is stretchable Teese. I haven’t yet tried the stuff, but I have seen many talented vegan chefs put this stuff to very good use. I say, if you see some in your grocer’s cheesy section, pick some up! It’s supposed to melt and cook just like Daiya… but with a slightly different flavor and texture.
Seriously, check out your local market to see if they carry a vegan cheese variety of some sort… chances are, they will. Even my teeny tiny hometown is now stocking a vegan sliceable cheddar… in almost every grocery store!
I predict in the near future we will have a few more vegan cheeses to celebrate on top of our pizza bagels! rejoice!
And, I cannot forget to mention my all time favorite cheese substitute for everyday use: nutritional yeast. This stuff can be found in the bulk food section of many health foods stores (as well as Whole Foods) and is like a magical yellow powder that sprinkles a nice cheesy taste on whatever you add it to.