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Vegan Substitutes… Enjoy Grandma’s Recipes With A Clear Conscience

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Vegan SubstitutesVegan substitutes let you “Go Vegan” and still enjoy the foods you grew up with.

Because let’s face it, no matter how much you love your new vegan foods.  Or how happy you are knowing you’re making the world a healthier less cruel place.

Once in a while you just gotta have that special something that grandma used to make.

Here’s how you can have that pudding, cornbread, cake or cheesy pizza and not sacrifice your values or your health.

Vegan Substitutes For Eggs

What you substitute for eggs depends on what you are using them for.  Sometimes eggs are used as a binder and otvegan-substitutes-eggs brandedher times they are used to add fluffiness to a recipe.  Here are five vegan substitutes for eggs that are commonly used for baking.

1/2 Banana = one egg
Banana is a strong binder that adds moisture and flavor.  That flavor part is important!  Do not use banana to replace the eggs in your recipes if you don’t want it’s flavor added to your finished dish.

1/4 Cup Apple Sauce = one egg
My go to ingredient for replacing eggs and or oil in recipes.  When heated apple sauce gives off a gas that adds height and fluffiness to your recipes.  The flavor is not as strong as with banana but is there so it’s not suitable for ALL things.  Use with caution in very lightly flavored dishes.

1 TBSP Ground Flax Meal + 3TBSP Water = one egg
Mix flax meal and water and let sit for about 5 minutes.  It makes a gooey paste that is GREAT at binding recipes together.  It will darken your recipes and can make things a little dense.  So don’t use if you need a light look or fluffy finished product.  For example see my yellow corn bread made with flax meal instead of eggs. (Here are our instructions with pictures on making a flax meal egg)

1 TSP Baking Powder + 1 1/2 TBSP Water + 1 1/2 TSP Oil = one egg
1 TBS Vinegar + 1 TSP Baking Soda = one egg

Both of these work well if you need a volume in your recipe.  If you don’t want flavor and need the dish to be REALLY FLUFFY use one of the above.  They do not add much in the way of binding.  But if you need some, go with the baking powder, water and oil.

3 TBSP Flax Seed Gel = one egg

This is listed last not because it is ineffective, far from it.  Flax seed gel may be the best all around egg alternative.  It glues recipes together like crazy without any of the discoloration or graininess of using flax meal.

However, making it is a bit of a process.  And on a site dedicated to EASY VEGAN RECIPES I hesitated to include it.  In the end, we decided it is an EASY process and once done the finished gel can be stored and used without hassle.

So, check out our vegan egg substitute page if you’d like to learn how to make flax seed gel vegan and have detailed instruction on all the other egg substitutes as well.

Vegan Substitutes For Milkvegan-substitutes-milk branded

When you add milk to a recipe you are mainly adding two things.  Oil and moisture.  Sometimes you need one or the other.  Sometimes you need both.  In any case, the following are easily swapped out for milk in almost all recipes.

Almond, Soy, Coconut, Hemp, (or other) Milk
Vegetable and nut milks give you all the benefits of cows milk without the drawbacks.  They add liquid and oil to your dish in about the same ratio as if you were using skim milk.  Substitute them one for one with the milk called for in your recipe.  Here’s how to make your own almond milk.

NOTE:  Some of these do also add flavor.  So be picky about which one you use for which dish.  Coconut milk, not surprisingly, will add slight coconut flavor and you may not want that in your gravy for example.

And the same goes for almond milk and the others.  I feel that almond milk has the mildest flavor of the bunch, especially if you make your own so there are no added flavors etc.

If buttermilk is what you’re looking for we’ll show you how to make vegan buttermilk right here.  You’ll be surprised at how easy it is.

Olive, Grape Seed, Coconut Oil
Often when milk is added to a dish the fat content is what’s important.  So for example when making mashed potatoes, whole milk gives the creamiest texture and best taste because of the high fat content.

Now, for our purposes, the only difference between fat and oil is the one is solid at room temperature and the other is not.  They both will add a lovely creamy texture to your dishes and vegetable oils are MUCH better for you.

DO NOT use oil as a one-for-one replacement for milk.  If you find that almond milk doesn’t have enough fat in it to give your dish the creamy texture you are looking for add a tablespoon of the vegetable oil of your choice.  You may have to experiment with different oils and volumes of oil to get the taste and texture you are used to.  It will depend on what kind of milk your grandma used in her original dish.

Vegan Substitutes For Butter

Butter (for on bread)vegan-substitutes-butter01 branded
An olive oil dipping sauce is far superior to butter for on bread.  It’s better for you and the sky’s the limit when it comes to how you flavor it.  Just be sure you get a dipping or dressing grade olive oil for this or the olive taste will be too strong.

Prepared spice mixes are available for this purpose but I encourage you to just open your spice cupboard and get creative.  Garlic powder, onion powder, basil, red pepper flakes, marjoram, rosemary etc… add a little of this and a little of that until you find the taste pleasing.

My daughter and I often set up several little bowls and mix different spices in each as a kind of “dipping sauce buffet”  When she was little this made her feel like a real chef!

NOTE:  The longer your spices set in the oil the more pleasing they’ll be.  So always mix this up at least 5 minutes before you need to serve it.  The day before works well too.  Just sayin.

If you just really want a buttery type spread there are some non-dairy spreads available on the market today.  Be sure to look for one that contains absolutely NO HYDROGENATED ANYTHING!  As that stuff is terrible for you.

Our favorite is Earth Balance. You can find this at most natural food stores and many grocery chains across the country.

Butter (for in recipes)
As mentioned in the “milk substitutes” section fats, like butter, add a creamy texture to your dishes.  Any vegetable oil will do the same thing.  So drizzle on some olive oil.  Use some of your dipping sauces for an added punch of flavor.

But think about this before you do.  We often add butter to things like vegetables simply because our parents always did.  They did it because their parents always did and so on.  It goes back to a time when calories were scarce and making the most of what you had was life or death.

That’s no longer the case.  At least not here in America.  So I encourage you to at least TRY your dishes without the added fat.  You may be surprised at how GOOD your vegetables taste plain or with just a splash of soy sauce.

Finding alternatives to fat for flavor is healthier for you,less fattening and fun.  Just a thought.

Vegan Substitutes For Cheese

Vegan Cheesevegan-substitutes-cheese branded
Ok, this is a toughie because there are so many different kinds of cheese and it’s used in so many different ways.  But here are some good vegan substitutes to get you going.

Daiya makes some lovely non-dairy cheeses that actually MELT and do not taste like cardboard.  They come in slices, shredded and wedges.  So you should be able to find one that works for what you need it for.

Cream Cheese
Tofutti makes a really nice vegan cream cheese.  It comes in several flavors including…

  • Plain
  • Garlic & Herb
  • Herbs & Chive
  • French Onion

As with all cream cheese it’s very easy to get plain and flavor it yourself with your favorite spices or  fruits (fresh or jam)

You can also make your own DELICIOUS vegan cream cheese out of cashews!   Our favorite is Cashew Cream Cheese With Chive.  Give it a try.

Hard Cheese
If you like to sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of things give Nutritional Yeast a try.  It’s good for you and has a sharp taste like parmesan or romano.  My daughter and I go back and forth but the words we usually use to describe it’s taste are cheesy, nutty or savory.

Try it on baked potatoes, popcorn or noodles.  You can also stir it into soups, sauces or mashed potatoes to add complex flavors you would usually use hard cheeses for.

Vegan Substitutes For Sour Cream

Sour Cream
You can swap out regular sour cream for one of the many commercially available vegan substitutes for sour cream.  Our favorite is made by Tofutti.

Or you can make your own easily enough with one of these two recipes

Homemade Cashew Based Vegan Sour Cream

Homemade Tofu Based Vegan Sour Cream

Alternately you can use commercially prepared soy yogurt in place of sour cream in any recipe.  Just replace them one for one and go on with life.  This works particularly well  if you are making a dip that calls for sour cream as the base.

Misc Vegan Substitutes

Gelatinvegan-substitutes-jello branded
If you just love Jello then you’ll be happy to know there is an easy vegan alternative…  Agar-Agar.  Simple to use, just substitute agar-agar powder one for one with the gelatin in your recipes.    If all you’ve ever used is premeasured box mixes, use 2 cups of liquid to 2 tsp of agar-agar powder.

Great puddings can be made easily with Chia Seeds!  When they soak in liquid chia seeds become thick and creamy like pudding.  Think of tapioca and you’ll be on the right track.

A standard ratio is 1 Cup liquid such as almond milk to 1/4 Cup chia seeds but we find that this leaves the seeds a tad too cruncy in the center for our taste.  Instead, we prefer to use 3 Cups liquid to 1/2 Cup chia seeds.  This sets up just as firmly and lets the seeds soak all the way thru.

Add sweeteners and fruit as desired.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Stir for occasionally for 5-10 minutes or until seeds remain in suspension.  Then let sit in the fridge until desired consistency is reached.  Usually an hour will do.  But overnight is a sure thing.

If you’re in a hurry, grind your chia seeds into a powder using the grinding attachment of your NutraBullet or a coffee mill before adding them to your liquid.  This gives a slightly different texture but it sets up FAST.  Like 5 min or so fast.

Final Thoughts

As you can see vegan substitutes don’t have to be exotic, hard to come by or difficult to use.  Many of them are already sitting in your cupboard just waiting for you to use.

The best way to learn how to make vegan friendly versions of your favorite home cooked foods is to just dive in there and give them a try.  If your first attempt is less than you’d hoped for, do not despair.  Just roll up your sleeves and give it another go.  Using the info you gained from your first dish as a guide.

With a little practice you’ll be making dishes just like your Mom or Grandma used to and no one will guess you’ve got vegan substitutions in them.

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