Sometimes we just get a craving for a delicious dish we loved when we could eat dairy, eggs or meat. The good news is there are some amazing plant-based substitutes that can help recreate those meals.
Whether you have always been someone who didn’t or can’t eat dairy or animal products or are new at trying, it is challenging to find certain aspects of those ingredients into plant based foods.
Plant based recipes have come a long way even in the last few years with very creative ideas and techniques to use ingredients like aquafaba, cauliflower, nutritional yeast, canned jackfruit, and chia.
These food items are incredible in flavour and/or texture in what they can help you create in the kitchen.
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The liquid from canned chickpeas that we always used to throw away. In the last few years it has been realized that it can be useful as a vegan egg substitute in baking, in making a vegan mayonnaise, aioli; a French mayonnaise made with garlic, meringues; and a dessert normally made with egg whites.
Although there isn’t much nutritional value attached to aquafaba, the zero waste aspect of it is fantastic, making impossible incredible dishes possible from what we considered waste before.
For aquafaba egg replacement: Use a full 3 tablespoons of aquafaba per 1 large egg. Use 2 tablespoons of aquafaba per 1 large egg white
A large fruit grown in Southeast Asia and eaten traditionally as a fruit. It has been discovered by the vegan community as a great faux meat substitute. Fresh can be used, but honestly the canned brined jackfruit is the easiest to quickly throw together for an excellent pulled pork or chicken rendition that will even surprise your meat loving friends and family. Definitely make sure you pick up the canned jackfruit in brine not syrup as there is a canned sweet version too. Jackfruit is rich in dietary fibre, vitamin A, C and the complex B vitamins however unlike other meat substitutes it isn’t very high in protein. Add beans, lentils, tofu or nuts as part of the meal when serving jackfruit to have a well rounded meal.
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Nuts, Mushrooms & Tofu
These are tradition ways of creating a meat-like texture to dishes and have been used for years but for a great reason: all the three these ingredients are fairly accessible to find in grocery stores. Nuts, and tofu are great sources of protein and healthy fats while mushrooms are considered highly nutritionally dense.
Another mainstay in the plant based repertoire of ingredients for years.
Nutritional yeast helps impart a cheese like flavour to everything from popcorn topping to making faux cheese, or cheese sauce. It is a pasteurized inactive yeast from the species known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae and it naturally contains many B vitamins. When nutritional yeast is fortified, it can be high in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin B6 and 12.
A relatively new addition to the vegetarian/vegan diet. It comes from the Salvia Hispanica L plant, and has been a crop grown in Mexico and Guatemala for thousands of years. Rich is omega 3 fatty acids, fibre, protein, calcium, and zinc, this little tiny seed is quite nutritious. Chia, like flax, can be soaked in liquid and can be used as an egg replacement or as a pudding. They can also be sprouted as a micro green and topped on salads, or sandwiches. Mostly it is used to create successful incredible pudding textures for vegan desserts or used as a thickener.
For Chia egg replacement: This may be used to replace whole eggs in baking. For 1 whole egg, mix 1 tablespoon of whole chia seeds or 2 teaspoons ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a raw scrambled egg.
Everyone is very familiar with this vegetable but in the last couple of years it has become a superfood for few different reasons. It is like the tofu of vegetables. It is highly nutritious but also very adaptable to create interesting new dishes such as a gluten free pizza crust, rice substitute, a vegan bolognese, or even a vegan béchamel sauce. It is a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, an excellent source of Vitamin C, fibre, and contains no fat.
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Publisher’s Note: Carol Dudar is a Toronto based recipe developer and food stylist.