Most plant based newbies are surprised to learn that cooking can be done without eggs. Those little yellow eyed globs of cholesterol create heavenly baked goods and confections. When we bake, it’s the egg that binds, creates cohesiveness and gives oomph to a recipe. What shall we do without them? Try the following and be pleasantly surprised. Your arteries will shout, “Thank you!”
- Flaxseeds: 1 T flaxseeds plus 3 T water. Grind the seeds in coffee grinder or buy ground flaxseeds. (Store in frig. Highly perishable.) When beaten with warm water, the flaxseeds become gel-like. Flaxseeds work best and very well in pancakes and whole grain items. Flax give us all important omega-3 fatty acids. Just 2 T/day of ground flax provides the necessary omega-3.
- ¼ cp silken tofu blended = 1 egg. Beat in blender till creamy. Mix wet ingredients into tofu to get it to blend just right. Works best in dense cakes & brownies. (If recipe calls for 3 eggs, use only 2 tofu eggs.) In cookie recipes, may make cookies more cake-like and fluffy, so add 1 tsp starch (arrowroot or cornstarch) to recipe. Not too terrific in pancakes! Use Extra Firm Silken Tofu.
- 1 ½ T Ener-G + 2 T very warm water mixed well = 1 egg. Works best in cookies or things that are supposed to be a little crispy. Resembles egg whites when beaten.Ener-G Egg Replacer (can be purchased at health food store):
- ½ banana mashed very well = 1 egg. This works wonders as an egg replacer in baking. They hold air bubbles well, make recipes nice and moist, and give added flavor. Works best in quick breads, muffins, cakes, pancakes. Make sure you use ripe bananas that are just starting to turn brown.
- ¼ cp soy yogurt = 1 egg. This works a lot like beaten tofu, making recipes moist and tasty. Works best in breads, muffins and cakes.
- Applesauce: 3T = 1 egg.
- Chia Seeds: Are a lot like flaxseeds, but they even have a more 'gel'-like texture, and they have no added taste.
- Cornstarch: 2 T can be added to dry ingredients to replace one egg when making heavier cakes, like quick breads and pound cake.
Give up the cows! Instead try using low fat soy, rice, oat, hemp or almond milks. These non-dairy milks are now fortified with Vitamin D and Calcium. See which suits your fancy. If a recipe calls for buttermilk, add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to your milk substitute, and let it sit for a couple minutes, and walla, you have the perfect buttermilk without the fat and cholesterol. If you can’t find low fat soy, mix soy milk and water in half and half proportions to reduce fat content. Also, non-dairy milks come in plain and vanilla flavors. Often, I use the vanilla flavored milks in desserts, pancakes and smoothies.
For butter lovers, this is a tough one. However, butter is so much easier to give up when you understand its high saturated fat content, and dastardly contribution to heart disease. But remember each of the following contains fat, too, so go easy when you spread!
Instead try the following non-dairy butter substitutes:
Earth Balance vegan non-dairy margarine
Smart Balance makes a vegan spread (not in all super markets)
soy lecithin spread
nut butters (made from almonds, cashews, soy or other nuts)
There are varying opinions about using oil. Some, like Dr. John McDougall and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn suggest avoiding oils altogether. Others allow a few spritzes here and there. Macrobiotic cook, Christina Pirello, uses oil but limits its use to oils that are expelled or cold pressed. The best of the worst are extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil and canola oil.
Personally, I cook without oil, using only the barest spritzes when absolutely necessary. Sautéing can be done using water, wine, veggie broth, and Braggs liquid aminos. Veggies sauté just as well without the oil and taste better, too. Your arteries will thank you. Note: There is NO nutritional value in oils – just fat!! And you know where the fat goes, don’t you?
REPLACING WHITE FLOUR
Colorful flours should replace the refined, white flours too often used in the western diet. Many non-wheat flours can be combined in recipes for those who are gluten intolerant.
- Spelt – makes recipes heavier; good used in baking bread and overall baking. Increase baking powder.
- Millet – dry and coarse.
- Kamut – good for bread and baking; best if used half and half with other flours.
- Soy – has strong flavor
- Chickpea – also strong flavor.
- Barley – for pancakes and cookies.
- Buckwheat – great in pancakes but use half and half with other flours.
- Oat – for breads and cookies.
- Brown rice flour
- Whole Wheat & Whole Wheat Pastry Flour - good old standbys. Great for baking!
When I morphed to a plant based lifestyle, cheese was the hardest delicacy to delete from my eating repertoire. I loved my cheeses – Brie, Manchego, Provolone, Gouda, Havarti, and, even, Low Fat Laughing Cow.
I’m happy to say that I found gold in soy/tofu substitutes. The health food stores and even some grocery stores stock a Monterey Jack vegan cheese made by 'Follow Your Heart' that’s wonderful, and titled 'Vegan Gourmet'. It’s a soft cheese that mashes nicely, and can be mixed in your processor. (Be sure substitute is free of casein, an animal protein.) I like to add some finely chopped scallions, minced garlic, and fresh herbs to give it zip and zest. I served it at one dinner party, along with the old faithfuls. Guests raved about this new, unknown cheese. Reluctantly, I revealed my secret, much to the surprise of our guests. Keep in mind that even these substitutes are high in fat, so use them only on special occasions.
Other good brands are 'Daiya' and 'Galaxy Vegan'.
Listed are alternatives to the typical white sugar that most are used to consuming. And stay clear of Splenda and Aspartame- not good for you! According to Dr. Michael Greger, M.D. & Ph.D. (the nutrition expert), the jury is still out on Stevia. More research is needed to assess if this substitute is Ok, bad or indifferent. Will keep you informed.
VIP: When using liquid sweetener, cut back a wee bit on other liquids in the recipe. I’ve learned that the hard way.
- Maple syrup----------------------- > DO NOT RAISE BLOOD
- Agave nectar----------------> SUGAR LEVELS LIKE
- Honey-----------------------> REFINED SUGAR
- Organic Cane sugar
- Date sugar The only 2 that have nutritional value
- Barley malt are date sugar and molasses!
- Fruit juice concentrates
- Brown Rice Syrup
Stevia – available in health food stores; a little goes a long way. (Jury is still out on it!)
NOTE: Agave Nectar is sweeter than other sugars. So use half of what’s called for in a recipe. If recipe asks for 4 T of honey or maple syrup, substitute with agave by using only 2 T; no more than 3/day! And remember, sugar is sugar, no matter how you name it. It can say 'organic', 'vegan', 'unrefined', 'pure', 'heavenly', and whatever descriptors marketers use to entice us to buy, but it's still sugar!
Information on substitutions and ingredient usage from the following:
”Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
“The McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook” by Dr. John Mcdougall and Mary McDougall
“Vegan with a Vengeance” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
“Cooking the Whole Foods Way” by Christina Pirello