We’ve addressed meat a few times in my Kitchen Basics posts. In Eating Well on a Budget and Eating Vegetarian I talked about how we enjoy meat, but it’s expensive. Our grocery budget is tight, so we don’t eat a lot of it. We’re fine with that. We get plenty of protein from other sources. But, as we’ve been going along on this journey, I’ve realized how often we’re not just eating vegetarian, but vegan. And I’m seeing how organically it happens.
If I were to tell Tim that we were going to eat exclusively vegan or vegetarian, there would be a revolt (ok, from both of us). We love cheese and milk and eggs. But, we will happily and regularly eat vegan food and won’t feel like anything is missing. Take this Vegan Tofu Fried Quinoa for example. The tofu is scrambled and mimics the eggs in a typical fried rice dish. The quinoa replaces rice for a bit more protein. There are tons of veggies. Et voîla, a fabulous meal, sans animal products. Easy.
These days it really is simple. There’s so much more awareness about dietary restrictions, resulting in a wide array of alternatives to animal products. I know that there are soy cheeses, but tofu can also be used, like in the Eggplant and Summer Squash Tacos that I made the other week. Instead of feta, extra firm tofu can be crumbled. Same thing goes for one of my new favorite ways to enjoy cantaloupe in this Melon and Feta Salad. On the other end of the tofu spectrum, silken tofu can be used in place of yogurt in dips, for topping tacos and burritos, and as a side for Stone Fruit Chips.
Here are some other substitutions that we enjoy:
Olive Oil, Canola Oil, or Coconut Oil in Place of Butter or Bacon Grease
We’ve always got olive oil on hand, which is usually what I use for sautéeing or drizzling on a salad. But, when it comes to baking it’s a science. So, if the recipe calls for cold butter, room temperature oil will give you a different result. But, for example, coconut oil has a higher melting point than olive oil does, so it can be a good substitution. There are also vegan butter substitutes that can be found at your local market if you want to take some of the guesswork out of substituting.
Maple Syrup Instead of Honey
This one’s easy, since they’re both a liquid at room temperature. For my taste, 1/4 C of honey can be replaced with 1/4 C of maple syrup, like it is in this Vegan Fruit Crisp.
Coconut, Almond, Soy, or Hemp Milk instead of Cow’s Milk
We have friends who are dairy-free, so I’ve experimented a bit with baking with alternative milks. So far I’ve just tried coconut and almond milk and have had good results. I’ve used them in soups and have had them in smoothies too, and all have been fabulous.
Flax Seeds instead of Eggs
I read on the Joy the Baker website that you can use 1 T of ground flaxseed mixed with 3 T water to replace one large egg. Let it sit for 30 minutes, or until it’s thickened. Add a pinch of baking powder to the recipe just before adding the flaxseed and water mixture. I’ve done this once when baking, although I can’t remember what I used it in. I do remember that it turned out great. I’ve also suggested it as an option for making a vegan version of my Whole Wheat Parsnip Cookies.
All Vegan Dinner Meal Plan
Here are some of my favorite vegan meals. Some are vegan as they are, some require a bit of tweaking (see the recipes for details).
Sautéed Snap Peas and Summer Squash with Mint Pesto and Brown Rice
Pan Seared Tofu topped with Bean and Veggie Melange
A great resource for paring vegetarian and vegan foods is The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. Abundant Harvest Organics also has a vegan recipe section, so all of the vegan recipes (or recipes that can easily be converted) can be found in one place.