How to make any recipe vegan
Wanna know what to use as a substitute for eggs, milk, cream, cheese, mayonnaise, or meat? Here’s my go-to options:
The best thing I have found that does not change the taste of the food you’re baking or cooking is: ground flax seeds! Buy flax seeds in bulk from any grocery store and using a coffee or herb grinder, grind a cup or two at a time. Pour the ground flax into a jar or container with a tight lid, and store in the fridge. It will last several weeks and save you the hassle of grinding flax for each recipe.
1 tablespoon of ground flax + 3 tablespoons room temperature water = 1 egg
In a small bowl, combine the flax and water, and whisk. Let sit for a minute or so, whisk again, let sit, whisk. You’ll only need to do this whisking/sitting routine 3-4 times and then the flax will start to thicken. It’s the perfect substitute for eggs in any baking (cakes, brownies, etc.) recipe I have found.
Whenever a recipe calls for cream, I do this:
1 cup of raw cashews + 3/4 cup hot (or boiling) water
Pour the cashews into a high-powered blender. Top with the hot water, then blend on high for about a minute. The boiling or very hot water allows the cashews to soften quicker and saves the soaking time that most people add when blending cashews.
If you don’t need all of this for the recipe (if the recipe only calls for 1/2 cup of cream for example), just pour it into a jar or container and place in the fridge. It’ll last about 3 days, and you can make the recipes below with it (adjust the quantities based on how much cream is leftover).
I make this – or some version of this – pretty much every other day. I buy my cashews in bulk from Amazon. You can get them in any grocery store’s bulk bin or in their packaged nut aisle (buying bulk is cheaper though)!
Take the recipe above for the vegan cream, and into the blender, add: 1/2 white onion (roughly chopped), 2 medium carrots (roughly chopped), 3-4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Blend on high for a minute or two, then enjoy either as melted cheese, or if you need it a little less melted (like for grilled cheese), it’s best in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight) to thicken.
Have you never heard of nutritional yeast? I hadn’t either, and the name is simply horrific…however, the taste is wonderful. You can buy it in bulk at most grocery stores, or buy online from Amazon and I’m sure a ton of other places. It’s delicious and you will find a ton of dishes to add it to.
I have heard from a few vegan cooks who prefer oat milk over almond milk for baking; it’s apparently less watery. Almond milk is my go-to and I’ve never had a problem with it. I buy the unsweetened, unflavored options. Normally, the store brand offers this. If not, there’s many big brands to choose from.
For baking, I use the Earth Balance brand. It comes in sticks, and the taste is fine for baking or cooking. For topping bread, I use the Miyoko’s brand. The Miyoko’s brand is more expensive and worth every single penny. I promise. I had heard about Miyoko’s for almost a year before I bought it. Oh my gosh, vegan butter will never be the same. I throw little fits when Whole Foods sells out of it. I have heard Sprouts sells it, too. Central Market/HEB still, unfortunately, does not. 🙁
I think of it like this: I have cheaper olive oils that I use for cooking, and then I have fancy olive oils for combining with herbs and spices for dipping bread. Get the fancy butter, you will be so glad you did! (Also, I don’t get any money or creds from Miyoko’s. I just love their products. AND their ingredients are REAL).
You can make your own vegan mayo but I get kinda lazy with making all my staples, and I love these 2 brands: Veganaise and Just Mayo. I get nothing for telling you this, promise. From what I understand, Just Mayo is a smaller company AND the big dogs (not Veganaise – I’m talking “real” mayo companies and the egg industry) were super shitty to them when they first came out. By super shitty, I mean putting a hit on the CEO’s head.
I am not kidding. Google it.
That’s why I buy Just Mayo more than Veganaise. I love them both. They have real ingredients, and the texture is great.
Extra firm tofu, of course, would be option #1. Drain the water from the package, wrap the tofu in dishtowels, put a ton of heavy books on top, and let the water drain out for 10 (if you’re inpatient like me) or preferably 20 minutes. Chop the tofu into 1″ squares or slice it into thin strips, depending on your needs. Cook with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I like to add garlic powder and nutritional yeast as well.
In stews and for taco meat, lentils work wonderfully well. For both options, rinse the lentils before cooking them. For stews, just add the rinsed lentils to your pot. 1 cup will get you quite a stew! For taco meat, cook them covered (1 cup lentils to 1.5 cups water) for about 20 minutes on low (bring to a boil first). Make sure all the water is out (you might need to drain them too). Then add: chili powder, cumin, and oregano. I use 1 teaspoon of each. Then add salt and garlic powder (I use 1/2 teaspoon of each).