Cooking vegetarian or vegan can be a daunting task. It can be hard to find the right recipe for what you need and many recipes out there have tons of man-made ingredients or things you’ve never heard of before, never mind being able to find them in your grocery store. Plus once you do find it half the time you go into price shock and as a student in my third year of post-secondary education I’m usually pretty broke. These substitutes are all natural and affordable ways to eat healthier!
EGGS – Xantham Gum or Chia Seeds
Instead of buying over priced egg replacements, Xantham Gum is a cost effective substitute. It can be used as a thickener in things like salad dressings or as a binding agent. The greatest part is a little bit goes a long way! One egg can be replace by whisking 1/4 tsp. of Xantham gum into 1/4 cup of hot water. Xantham Gum is commonly used with gluten-free flours to replace the binding associated with gluten, just add 1/4 tsp into your dry ingredients with the flour. Xantham Gum can be easily found, I purchased mine at the bulk barn but Bob’s Red Mill also has Xantham Gum and is carried at the Superstore and other President’s Choice locations.
A tablespoon of chia seeds mixed with a 1/4 cup of water will replace one egg in a recipe. whisk the water and seeds together and let sit for a minute or two. You’ll notice the mixture becomes somewhat gelatinous. You can also use chia seeds to replace oil. you can replace about 25% of the oil in a recipe without noticeably altering the flavour.
BUTTER – Vegan Margarine, Oil or Applesauce
If you don’t happen to have any vegan margarine on hand (my favourite brands are Earth Balance and Becel) you can always use oil, but I find that using too much oil can affect the batter. If the recipe calls for a large amount of butter or both butter and oil I usually use roughly half oil and half unsweetened applesauce. This will give the same thickness as butter with the properties that you want from the oil. If you don’t have applesauce on hand use about 1/2 cup of oil and add the approximate equivalent in liquid. If you really want the apple flavour to come through like in my Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies ft. Cocoa Chips you can use all applesauce. If a recipe calls for you to cream butter with sugar, cream the sugar with the oil and/or applesauce; it’s that simple!
MILK – Soy/Almond Milk or Juice
Milk in a recipe can easily be replaced with soy or almond milk, you could also use rice milk but personally I’m not a big fan. If you want to add an extra flavour to your recipe you can use juice as well like I do in my Chocolate Orange Cupcakes and COW Breakfast Cookies.
CHEESE – Nutritional Yeast Flakes or Powder (NYF)
Nutritonal Yeast flakes is a form of deactivated yeast that is free of dairy, gluten and sugar. It is known for having a cheese, nutty and creamy taste. NTF is a complete protein as well as a great source for other B-complex vitamins. You can also find NYF that has been fortified with B12. This product is so versatile it can be used in small quantities to add flavour to soups and gravies or in larger quantities to make a delicious cheese sauce great for mac and cheese. Some movie theaters even carry it as a popcorn condiment to create cheesy popcorn.