Hey, Eat Live Run readers!
My name is Angela and I’m delighted to be writing a guest post for Jenna today. I write a blog called Oh She Glows featuring healthy vegan recipes. I’ve been following Jenna’s wild adventures on Eat Live Run for over 3 years now and I was excited when Jenna told me about her and Adam’s desire to eat a more plant-based diet. I thought that it would be fun to show you some of my favourite vegan baking and cooking tricks that I’ve learned in my own kitchen.
When I first dabbled with a vegetarian and then vegan diet, I focused too much on the things that I couldn’t have. I filled my grocery cart with fake meats and other processed products like soy cheese because that’s what I thought I was supposed to eat. Eating so many processed foods left me feeling lethargic and weighed down- the opposite of how I expected to feel! I honestly felt like giving up at one point because I just didn’t know what to eat.
For a vegan lifestyle to be sustainable long-term, I realized that I had to teach myself how to cook and bake using whole foods like vegetables, fruit, beans, legumes, natural sweeteners, and whole grains. Once I did this, my cravings for my old diet went away and I started to crave all the new foods I was eating. Essentially, I created new habits to replace old ones.
My vegan baking and cooking journey was a huge learning curve (and still is each day), but there is never a dull moment!
I now focus on all of the foods that I can experiment with…and boy, are there a lot. A vegan diet can receive a bad reputation for being restrictive, but I have much more variety in my diet now as opposed to when I was eating meat and dairy. For me, it’s about being open to trying new foods and being (almost) fearless in the kitchen.
No matter what type of diet you chose to enjoy, it’s easy to incorporate some vegan recipes or baking methods in your own kitchen. And who knows, you might just discover a new favourite dish!
Here are 5 tricks I love about vegan baking and cooking…
1. Avocado Cream
Did you know that you can make a delicious cream sauce using avocado? I sure didn’t, until recently. Simply purée avocado flesh, add your desired sweet or savoury ingredients, and you will have yourself a cream sauce that no one will believe is vegan.
My favourite savoury dish using this method is this 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta:
2. Flax Eggs
I love to use flax eggs to replace traditional eggs in certain recipes. Flax eggs bind ingredients and also help the baked good rise. They also have a delicious nutty flavour perfect for wholesome treats.
To replace 1 egg, simply whisk 1 tbsp of ground flax with 3 tbsp of water and let it gel for 5 minutes. Flax eggs work best in non-delicate baked goods, such as sweet breads, muffins, or hearty cookies. I haven’t had much success using flax eggs with delicate cupcakes, cakes, or crispy cookies, so use at your own risk!
3. Vegan Cheese Sauces
I love making vegan cheese sauces using Nutritional Yeast, cashews, and seasonings. I’m always amazed at how good they taste! Nutritional Yeast can be found in most health and bulk food stores and it lends a modest cheesy flavour to your savoury dishes.
To make this cheese sauce, process the following ingredients in a food processor until smooth:
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 2-3 garlic cloves, to taste
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp onion powder (optional)
- 1.5 tsp kosher salt , or to taste
- Freshly Ground black pepper & your desired dried or fresh herbs
Lately, I love to pour this sauce over BBQ’d grilled vegetables…it’s light enough for the summer while still tasting quite decadent.
4. Sneaky Protein
We all know that protein is important in our diet, but what I didn’t know is just how easy it is to ‘sneak in’ protein into my vegan meals. I now buy high-protein grains and flours, such as Quinoa and Kamut pasta. I also love to add lentils to my pasta sauce for an additional 25 grams of protein per serving. As a time saver, I often cook bulk batches of beans and lentils on Sunday and then freeze them for easy throw together meals during the week.
One recipe that is always a hit with my guests is my High Protein Garlic Mashed Potatoes. I process about 3 cups of navy beans into my mashed potatoes and no one is the wiser. Each serving of mashed potatoes packs about 11 grams of protein.
5. Raw cookie dough <—Adam’s favorite thing on the PLANET
I think the best part of vegan baking is that you get to eat any raw cookie dough you want! Lately, I’ve been making Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ‘Blizzards’ when it’s hot outside…I think they are even better than the real thing!
I hope you’ve enjoyed some of my most-loved vegan baking and cooking tricks. I’d love to hear your baking and cooking secrets too…vegan or otherwise. Maybe you make a mean oil-free applesauce cake, a fluffy gluten-free bread, or fool-proof black bean brownies? What’s your secret?