As you know, vegan cooking is cooking that is done without meat, fish, eggs, or byproducts of any of these things. In order to support a vegan lifestyle, extra care needs to be taken to make sure that none of these ingredients makes it into the food.
We take certain things for granted, such as using eggs while baking. Well, eggs are not allowed during a vegan diet. And even though the vegan lifestyle is increasing in popularity, packaged vegan food are often hard to come by. To solve this problem, many vegans opt to do their own cooking.
This chapter will focus on several different kinds of ingredients. First, we’ll learn how to replace milk and eggs with things that are vegan friendly. We’ll also cover information on other ingredients that are used as well as animal byproducts to watch out for.
REPLACING EGGS IN RECIPES
As much as we’d like to avoid using eggs in our vegan recipes, it can be a challenge. In fact, this is one of the most difficult ingredients to replace. However, there are many options to choose from that will get the job done.
WHAT DO EGGS DO IN THE RECIPE?
In certain recipes, eggs are almost essential. They bind ingredients together. They can be used to make baked goods rise and they also help make them light and fluffy. Another thing eggs do is to help the product form some structure and also provide extra moisture. They are especially useful while baking but are essential to certain savory dishes as well.
EGG REPLACEMENT OPTIONS
Here is a list of some of the best egg replacement options out there. You can replace the eggs in any recipe using these options.
Use Pureed Bananas
Pureed bananas are another effective egg substitute. Just place a rip banana in the blender and pulse until completely smooth and there are no lumps. A half of a regular sized banana is the equivalent of one egg.
The positive aspect of using bananas is that they are readily available. However, bananas have a distinct taste that won’t work out in every recipe. For example, if you were trying to make peanut butter cookies, the banana flavor would alter the taste.
It is best to purchase the flaxseeds whole and store them in the refrigerator. When it’s time to use them, measure out 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds for every egg that you need to replace. Then, pulverize it in a blender or coffee grinder.
Transfer the flaxseeds to a bowl and add three tablespoons of water for each egg you need to replace. Add the water slowly while whisking vigorously. Whisk until the mixture takes on a gel-like quality.
Since flaxseeds are nutty tasting, this egg replacement works best when making things like whole grain breads, muffins, and pancakes. You may want to experiment to get a feel for the types of recipes you like this to be in.
Egg Replacement Product
There are several egg replacement products out on the market that are designed to be vegan friendly. Look at the packaging to make sure that it’s vegan safe and that it doesn’t contain any meat byproducts.
These egg replacement powders get mixed reviews. Some like them a lot, others don’t. They’re definitely convenient and good to have on hand. Once you get used to cooking vegan, you’ll start to learn which foods taste best with it in it.
Since there are several brands on the market, it may take a while to find one that you’re happiest with. When using, just follow the package instructions. They usually come in powder form. If you can’t get it at the health food store, you can easily get it online.
Try Tofu as an Egg Replacement
Tofu is also another option you can try if you need to find a replacement product. You can try any form of tofu but this may take some experimentation. Silken tofu seems to yield the best results. You can also use unflavored soy yogurt in the same proportion with similar results.
The nice thing about tofu is that it blends well with most flavors. Flax seeds, for example, have that distinct nutty flavor. Tofu doesn’t have a lot of flavor on its own, especially when paired with stronger ingredients. Another advantage is that it is widely available in most areas, even in the regular supermarkets.
To use, just take the tofu and blend it until smooth in the blender. Food processor also may work but it’s important to make sure that there are no lumps and the texture is as smooth as possible. To replace one large egg, use ¼ cup of the blended mixture.
You’ll need to do some experimenting to see which recipes work best with tofu as an egg substitute. It all depends on the kinds of recipes you try and your personal preferences.
Using Flour and Other Leavening Agents
You can also use pastes made from different kinds of flours and leavening agents to replace the eggs. The benefit is that most homes have these ingredients on hand. They also don’t have flavor of their own like bananas and flaxseeds do. They can blend into the batter fairly well.
It may take some experimentation to get the proportions right. Here are some options:
1 tablespoon flour of any kind (try wheat flour, oat flour, or soy flour) and 1 tablespoon water for each egg.
1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon flour, 2 tablespoons water for each egg.
2 tablespoons corn starch and 2 tablespoons water blended together also replaces one egg.
Finding the Right Egg Substitute
Again, as you try these different combinations, you’ll get a feel for which egg substitutes work best for which recipes. As a suggestion you may want to start with one of your favorite foods and try different egg substitutes until the flavor and texture you desire are reached.
For example, if you want to make a batch of blueberry muffins, you can substitute the eggs for any one of these substitution options. Make a note of how it tastes. Next time you make it, try another egg substitute. After trying several, think about which one was your favorite and stick with that. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to tell at a glance which egg replacement products work best for certain kinds of recipes.
REPLACING MILK IN RECIPES
For a vegan, milk from any animal (sheep, cow, goat, etc) is also forbidden. It is also a very common ingredient when baking and cooking. It is also much easier to replace than eggs.
To replace milk in recipes, just substitute any of these vegan alternatives. For example, if the recipe calls for one cup of milk, use one cup of soy milk instead. Here are some alternative milk options:
Soy milk Soy milk comes in a variety of flavors and is readily available. Flavors include vanilla, unsweetened, chocolate, and even egg nog. Some brands are thicker and creamier than others. You may need to do some experimenting before you find the brands you like the best. Unless it has a distinct flavoring, soy milk is fairly neutral and blends well in recipes. Soy milk is also rich in protein.
Nut milks Nut milk beverages such as almond milk and hazelnut milk are also options. Unlike soy milk, these nut milks have a distinct flavor and may not work well in every recipe. There are sweetened and unsweetened varieties as well.
Rice milk Rice milk also offers a great option to replace milk in recipes. It is also very mild tasting and blends well in recipes. However, it is important to note that rice milk typically doesn’t contain a lot of protein so you may need to compensate for that during the day.
As you become familiar with the different flavors of these milk replacement products, you’ll start to get a feel for which recipes will taste best with them.
REPLACING BUTTERMILK IN RECIPES
Buttermilk is also an important ingredient used in several different recipes. For a vegan, using traditional buttermilk is impossible since it is an animal product. Buttermilk is simply regular milk that has been cultured, which means that it has some good bacteria in it much like yogurt.
Luckily, you can easily make your own. The process is as follows. It makes one cup of vegan-friendly “buttermilk”.
1. Measure one cup of soy milk in a glass pyrex measuring cup.
2. Measure out the same amount in soy milk.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice and mix.
4. Let it sit for about fifteen minutes before using it.
Soy milk works the best. Rice milk and nut milks don’t work as well. The chemistry of soy milk is better suited. REPLACING BUTTER AND LARD IN RECIPES
Butter is another important ingredient that a lot of recipes call for. There are several different things you can do in order to substitute it:
Vegetable oil If the recipe calls for melted, or even solid, butter you can consider using vegetable oil instead. This, however, may alter the texture of the recipe a little so you will probably need to experiment.
Shortening If you really need a solid fat to use in recipes you can use veganfriendly shortening. This is a manufactured product and filled with transfats, however. So, using it in moderation is best. Shortening isn’t good for you at all! You can also find butter-flavored shortening where a butter flavor is required.
Margarine This is another option that can replace butter or other solid fats, especially if you want something with a buttery flavor. However, margarine is also high in transfatty acids. Watch for transfat-free products, but even those may contain trace amounts of transfats.
Reducing fat You can also reduce fat with fruit purees. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, you can try using ½ cup apple sauce and ½ cup vegan margarine or shortening. Other fruit purees you can use include plum puree and banana puree. You may be able to find fruit puree fat replacement products in the store. Just make sure they are
Your Guide to Vegan Cooking – Page 11
vegan friendly and that you follow the instructions for making a proper substitution. You may also want to try replacing all the fat in the recipe with fruit. However, this may alter the texture too much.
Always make sure that the butter replacement products are used in moderation. A diet that is high in fat and transfats is not a healthy diet. If you absolutely need them, just use them once in a while.
COMMON INGREDIENTS USED IN VEGAN COOKING
Vegan cooking is certainly an art. As illustrated in the previous section, ingredients such as milk, buttermilk, eggs, and butter are almost essential for certain recipes. But, as we explored, the substitutions are more than adequate. With that said, there are a lot of ingredients that a lot of vegan chefs find essential. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common.
Soy is probably the most versatile plant out there, especially when it comes to creating healthy and protein rich vegan meals. Here is a list of some of the soy products that are out there:
Soy milk This is readily available and can be found in several different flavors, such as vanilla and chocolate.
Tofu Tofu comes in different levels of firmness such as extra firm, or soft.
Tempeh Tempeh is a fermented product with a hearty, meaty texture that can be used in stir fries and other meals.
Ground Meat replacement This soy food is a staple to some, because you can make meals such as Spaghetti Bolognese and vegan chili.
Soy yogurt Contains the active cultures just like regular yogurt and comes in a variety of flavors.
Miso Miso is a fermented salty paste that is made from soy and is used as a popular, enzyme rich soup base.
Tamari and Soy Sauce Both condiments are made from soy.
Edemame These are the fresh soy beans and are excellent by themselves or in stir fries.
Soy cheese Soy cheese even melts and has a similar texture as real cheese.
Soy sausage, hot dogs, and hamburger patties Vegans can enjoy breakfast sausage, hot dogs, and even hamburger patties.
Soy “chicken” They come in a variety of forms such as patties, nuggets, etc.
Soy protein powder Soy protein offers a great way to increase your daily protein intake. You can put a scoop in your morning smoothie, or add it to recipes such as pancakes and breads.
Soy flour This is also a valuable product, particularly for baking.
There are a variety of soy products out there and this wasn’t necessarily a complete list. It just illustrates the versatility of the food product. Look for soy products that are used from non-genetically modified soy beans.
But, soy foods have their critics. Some only like to use them in their “traditional” forms such as tofu, tempeh, miso, edemame, and tamari. Opponents of processed soy products are leery of the fact that they are designed to taste like meat or milk products which to them, defeats the purpose of being vegan. Plus, these foods tend to be highly processed which doesn’t necessarily make them healthier. Whether or not you decide to use them is a decision that you should make after you weigh the pros and cons.
There are so many different kinds of whole grains out there, it is worthwhile to experiment. Grains are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other important nutrients. They even have protein, especially quinoa – an ancient grain that is especially protein rich. Here are some whole grain products to try:
These can be ground into flour or used whole. They should form the backbone of a healthy vegan diet.
NUTS AND SEEDS
These are another essential part of a healthy vegan diet. They are rich in vitamins and minerals as well as important nutrients like healthy fats. Here’s a list of some nuts and seeds to try:
You can include them in recipes and also eat them by themselves as a snack.
Legumes are an essential protein source to a vegan, especially when paired with whole grains. They need to be combined in this way in order to form a complete protein. When this is one of your main protein sources, it is important to remember to combine it.
Here are some examples. This list is by no means exhaustive:
Chick peas (garbanzo beans)
Black eyed peas
You can find legumes in dried form, ground into flour, and canned. The dried form needs to be soaked overnight in order to soften it. The canned form is easy to use and great to have on hand. The flour is also a popular ingredient in baked foods and savory cooking.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Important for good health, fruits and vegetables add color and variety to your meals. As a vegan, your entire diet will be plant based so you need to get your vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from things like fruits and vegetables.
Look for organic produce whenever possible which makes them even healthier. Organic food is also better for the environment. Seasonal, local produce is also best because it helps support your local economy and tastes a lot fresher.
CANNED AND PACKAGED FOODS
As the vegan diet increases in popularity, so does the availability of packaged, vegan friendly foods. What follows is a list of some of the things you can find.
Breakfast foods and cereals
The great thing is that you don’t even need to go to a health food store to find a lot of these products. Yes, health food stores have a lot of vegan options, but you can even find vegan products in your regular supermarket.
Here is a great resource that will give you a list of all the vegan foods you can find at the supermarket:
Print it out so that you can find the things that you need when you go to the store. We’ll examine some of these items in greater detail as we talk about how to stock a complete vegan pantry.
HIDDEN INGREDIENTS TO WATCH OUT FOR
As mentioned in a previous section, there are often hidden ingredients in foods that are animal byproducts. A true vegan will take the extra step needed to investigate what these ingredients are and avoid them.
If it is a packaged food and it is listed as being vegan friendly, you can be fairly confident that the food doesn’t have these ingredients in it. But, it is still a good idea to check.
What follows is a list of the ingredients to watch out for. There are two types of ingredients – those that are clearly from animal products, and those that may be from animal products or may be from plant derived products.
In the second category, the only way to really find out is by contacting the manufacturer of the food product. And if they don’t know, consider not buying their product just to be safe.
HIDDEN INGREDIENTS FROM ANIMALS
These ingredients are fairly common in foods so unless a product is labeled as vegan, you should really check the ingredients list to make sure they aren’t included.
Albumin – comes from egg whites
Milk products – includes whey protein powder, lactase, lactose, and things like milk and dried milk
Calcium Caseinate – a fairly common additive
Calcium Stearate – also another additive
Suet – a type of animal fat
Tallow – animal fat product is made from suet
Bee products – This includes royal jelly, propolis, honey, and bee pollen
Carmine – a food additive that comes from insects
Lard – a type of animal fat
Casein – this is the protein that is in cheese
Gelatin – from animals, a popular product found especially in jellies and desserts
Other common hidden ingredients from animals include:
Most of the above ingredients are typically used as additives in food. They have different purposes, depending on the food that it will go on.
INGREDIENTS THAT MAY BE FROM ANIMALS
The following ingredients serve different functions in the food that they are in. Some are considered additives. Others emulsify foods and supply extra fats. However, just because it sounds like an animal ingredient, doesn’t mean it is. They could be synthetically manufactured or come from plants. You’ll need to check.
The ingredients include:
Anything listed as “natural flavoring”
Sodium stearoyl lactylate
Yes, some of those ingredients are hard to say – some of them don’t even sound like food! They all have different purposes in the foods that we eat on a daily basis, even foods that we don’t think to consider. The point is that if you want to live a truly vegan lifestyle, it is worth the extra step to follow up and determine if your favorite foods use the animal versions of these ingredients.
However, it is important to understand that the ingredients mentioned in this section can be found in almost everything. If you try to focus too much on it, it may get too overwhelming. It is important to find a good balance between wanted to be a strict vegan and living a fulfilling life. If things go too far, it could affect your health in a negative way from the stress.
Being a vegan is definitely a lifestyle commitment. Learning about the foods you need to eat, how to make vegan friendly substitutions while baking and cooking, and all about the ingredients you may want to avoid are all necessary part of embracing the vegan lifestyle.