Wednesday, April 25, 2012

9 vegan substitutes

One of the most common questions I am asked as a vegan baker is, "and this is vegan?", which always makes me smile because I try very hard to change the way people think vegan food should taste. Vegan food is not all dry and cardboard-textured and it never has to be. Likewise, there is no need to eat super-processed food if you have a craving for something cheesy or meat-like. There are many things that can be done right at home.
Here's a quick list of my favorite substitutions:

1. Because Coconut Milk is so rich and fatty, it makes an excellent substitution for heavy cream. The most basic components for a pastry cook, ganache, caramel, or whipped cream are all improved with coconut milk.

2. Also creamy and fatty, Cashews can be ground and used for many types of non-dairy custards and cheeses. Follow these links to find recipes for hard cheese, ricotta cheese and nacho cheese. And check next week when I attempt a cashew pastry cream.

3. The great nutty and cheese flavor of Nutritional Yeast makes it a good substitute for
soft cheeses, creamy Alfredo-like sauces, or vegetable gravy. Also a very good source of B12 so vegans, sprinkle that on everything!

4. It would be hard (not impossible) to be a vegan without Tofu as I so easily substitutes for such a variety of foods. Depending on the type, tofu can be the invisible firming base in chocolate mousse, the spongy egg in frittata, the meaty substance of a TLT (tofu, lettuce, and tomato), and so so much more. I love you, tofu.

5. Flax seeds makes a wonderful egg replacement when baking. For each egg blend 1 tablespoon flax seed with 3 tablespoons water until the mixture is thick with an egg-y consistency. Also a great way to sneak a little health into some chocolate chip pecan cookies.

6. How many types of Non-dairy milk are there? Soy, hemp, oat, hazelnut, almond, rice, I forgetting any? No matter the allergies, preferences, or dietary limitations, there is a milk out for everyone. I found a quick, simplified overview of different non-dairy milks and their uses here.

7. Try Texture Vegetable Protein in lieu of ground beef. It tastes so much better (says my meat-eating friends). My favorite way to use TVP is for tacos. Check back later this week when I have my full taco recipe up.

8. For a soy-free, high protein meat substitute try Seitan. There are all kinds of ways to prepare this mock-meat. In fact I found an online cookbook dedicating to the making of and cooking with seitan. Next Thanksgiving I'm making this.

9. Made from fermented brown rice, Brown Rice Syrup is a healthful alternative for sugar and honey. It can be replaced for both sweet and savory but must be adjusted in the recipe as it is about two thirds as sweet as white sugar and one third as sweet as honey.

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