I am not vegan. I am vegetarian. There is a difference, one that most carnivores don’t get. Especially since I have my own rules of vegetarianism:
- I don’t eat it if it had a face. (Someone who calls themselves a vegetarian but eats fish is a pescetarian.)
- I love eggs. I eat them all the time and any way you want to give them to me (except raw).
- I don’t eat much dairy due to its effects on the immune system. I do drink whey shakes, put Greek Yogurt in my Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes and splurge with a little cheese now and again. I would say I’m 85% dairy free.
The problem is many clean eating focused recipes (like the ones from Tosca Reno and Clean Eating Magazine) often contain meat, fish and/or dairy. Even Tosca’s Eat Clean Diet Vegetarian Cookbook has a whole chapter of seafood. So what’s an ovo occasionally lacto vegetarian to do?
Do a VEGAN RECIPE REVAMP!
I recently found this great new book called The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. The Guide not only has amazing meal recipes (like the Denver Quiche) but also DIY versions of subs to your favorite animal derived ingredients (like the Walnut “Parmesan” sprinkles). I’ve also been learning the ins and outs of how to sub out animal based ingredients for vegan ones. The book is full of amazing tips to help you make any recipe vegan. For example, did you know:
- 2 ½ tbsp of milled flax seed and 3 tbsp warm water make a great substitute for one beaten egg when baking?
- Portabello mushroom caps can stand in for a hamburger patty or chopped to take the place of steak?
- Soymilk is better for baking than almond because of its creamier consistency?
I’ve been experimenting with this new found knowledge on a regular basis. I made my own vegan bacon bits to add to eggs and I made the Homemade Sorta Yogurt to sub for Greek Yogurt in Clean Eating Magazine’s Quick Beef Stroganoff (found in their Quick and Easy Meals special edition). I’ll admit the Beef Stroganoff was an easy recipe to start with since the Greek Yogurt and beef were the main subs (I used seitan in place of the beef). It tasted good, but not great. But I’m not sure if that was the recipe or the veganizing since it didn’t have a lot of spices in the original recipe – not even salt or pepper.
My second revamp was Slow Cooker Chicken Barley Stew. Again, the only subs were seitan for chicken and vegetable broth for chicken broth. But I had no idea if seitan would stand up in the slow cooker. Surprisingly, it did quite well. The stew was again okay. It didn’t make Brian go WOW but we both ate it. I want to try more chili recipes, substituting the beef with seitan or tempeh. I think the key going forward will be replacing the savory flavor or the fat that one might get from the meat product. I may try the barley stew again, adding a nice dose of nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast can provide that “umami” flavor plus it is often fortified with a healthy dose of vitamin B, a plus for anyone on a vegan diet.
Speaking of cheese – you need to accept vegan cheese is NOT going to taste like real cheese. It can taste good but it is very different in both flavor and texture. I made the No Cook Cheesy Sauce from the Guide for our Super Bowl Nachos. When I did a quick taste test out of the blender I was a little worried. However when blended with refried beans, onions, jalapenos and served on blue corn chips it turned out okay. My favorite cheese is from La Dolce Vegan! called Cheryl’s Faux Cheese. It shreds well for pizza and tastes great on a black bean burger.
The next challenge – baking. I am not a good baker anyway. Baking is precise, I like to freestyle a bit when I cook. Vegan baking is a whole new adventure. Be on the look out for a baked goods recipe revamp next month!
What’s your favorite vegan substitute – homemade or store bought product?