Today I want to talk about my favorite vegan products and substitutes. Why? Because when you’re vegan, people have an insatiable desire to ask you, “But...what do you eat?” So, now I have an insatiable desire to reassure everyone that I eat SO SO MUCH FOOD.
I am someone who craves variety in my diet. When I hear stories of people who eat the same meals day in and day out, I am stricken with horror. Apparently, there are actual people who enjoy eating the same bowl of cereal for breakfast every damn morning and get the same sandwich or salad toppings every day for lunch. These “people,” btw, are usually middle-aged men living in the Midwest or bookish Northeastern women. When I hear these stories, I have just one thought: surely, these people will die of boredom, right?
Because I love variety, I’d like to share with you some of the many fun, delicious vegan foods and products that I love cooking with and eating.
Today, in Part I, I’ll be talking about my favorite vegan baking substitutes and egg replacers in particular. This topic has been written about A LOT on the interwebs, so I’m just giving you my experience with using these items. If you need more detailed information or nutrition facts, Google away, my friends!
1. Chickpea flour
So I know I said this post is about baking substitutes, but if you want to make a mean omelette but don’t want to eat a chicken’s eggs, you can use chickpea flour to make an amazing omelette. It’s really quite mindblowing how good the texture and taste is. The key is to mix your chickpea flour with the liquid and let it rest for a short period of time to thicken up. I like to chop and sauté my veggies for the omelette filling in the meantime. And slice up that avocado. Because an omelette without avocado is a bit sad.
Now back to baking, as promised by the title of this blog post. Chickpea flour, once it's mixed with water, acts as a binder and leavener just like eggs, making it the perfect addition to your vegan pantry. And, just like eggs, chickpea flour is packed with protein. Win-win.
To replace one egg, simply mix 4 tablespoons of chickpea flour with 4 tablespoons of water until you have a thick and creamy mixture. Add it to your most baking recipes, as you would an ordinary egg. When I want an extra thick egg substitute, I mix the chickpea flour with almond milk instead of water. Clever, I know.
I'm staying on the chickpea train because I like to be hella organized. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard of aquafaba. Aquafaba exploded onto the culinary scene in 2016, with food writers and Buzzfeed readers alike gawking at this new invention.
Aquafaba is simply the briny, goopy liquid you’ll find in a can of chickpeas. Sounds gross, I know, but it works wonders.
Aquafaba is perhaps best known for its use in making light, fluffy meringues, but you can use it in other baked goods, as well as pancakes, waffles, and homemade mayo.
According to the guy who turned viscous bean liquid into a trend, here are the ratios for replacing eggs with aquafaba: 1 tablespoon of goop for one yolk, 2 tablespoons of goop for one egg white, and 3 tablespoons of goop for one whole egg.
3. Flaxseed meal
Flaxseeds are seeds of the flax plant, a fiber crop that is used to make linen fabrics. They’re an excellent source of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber. Because ground up flaxseeds are easier to digest than the whole seed, I typically buy flaxseed meal. But if you’re not lazy, you should buy whole flaxseeds and grind them up in your coffee grinder.
I try to eat flaxseed meal at least once a day to up my intake of those fatty acids. Also it helps to get things moving down there, if you know what I mean. In case you don’t know what I mean, flaxseed helps you poo. Hope that was helpful.
I bake with “flax eggs” quite often, as you can see from my recipes. I’ve used flax eggs in loaf breads, muffins, pancakes, brownies, baked donuts, and cookies with great results. I wouldn’t try using it in light cake or pastry recipes, however.
For a tried and true flax egg recipe that will replace one regular egg, simply mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxmeal with 2 ½ tablespoons of water. Stir to combine and let sit for 15 minutes until thickened.
And for everyday consumption, I sprinkle flaxseed meal on salads, sandwiches, oatmeal, cereal, avocado toast, peanut butter toast, etc. It adds a nice texture without any added flavor, plus all those nutrients!
If a recipe uses eggs simply to add moisture (and not as a leavening agent, i.e., the recipe calls for baking soda and baking powder in addition to eggs), you can replace the eggs with silken soft tofu. Use ¼ cup of tofu for 1 egg, but be sure to purée the tofu in a food processor or blender so that you don’t end up with gross chunks. Tofu works great in dense desserts like brownies, custard-like pies, or in raw cheesecakes.
Stepping back from baking again, I love using tofu to make “scrambled eggs” and quiches. And just like regular eggs, you’ll get a protein boost, since just half a cup of tofu has 10 grams of protein.
I love using bananas as an egg replacer because they are sweet and delicious. Also, it means you can use less sugar, if that’s your thing. For one egg, use half a mashed banana or approximately ¼ cup of puréed banana.
Like tofu, you’ll want to thoroughly mash your bananas or purée them so you don’t end up with them chunks. Also like tofu, bananas won’t add any leavening properties, so you’ll want to add a bit of baking soda to make sure your baked goods rise, approximately ½ teaspoon. Finally, you should know that adding bananas will make your baked goods denser than normal, which can be good for items like loaf breads, brownies, and pancakes, but not so good for cakes.
Aside from these five replacers, I’ve also seen mashed avocado, chia seeds, applesauce, and sweet potato purée used as egg substitutes. Have you tried any of those? Let me know in the comments!
With lots of sugary love,