Table of Contents
Part 1 – Vegan Cooking Basics
Chapter 1 – Healthful Vegan Cooking
Chapter 2 – Simple Substitutions
Part 2 – Morning Meal Options
Chapter 3 – Fast and Easy Breakfasts
Chapter 4 – Weekend Breakfasts and Brunches
Chapter 5 – Sweet and Savory Baked Goods
Part 3 – Teasers and Toppers
Chapter 6 – Appealing Appetizers and Snacks
Chapter 7 – Tantalizing Toppers and Spreads
Chapter 8 – Salsas, Sauces, and Gravies
Chapter 9 – Cheese and Dairy Alternatives
Part 4 – Let’s Do Lunch
Chapter 10 – Soup’s On
Chapter 11 – Hearty Chilis, Chowders, and Stews
Chapter 12 – Dazzling Dressings and Mixed-Greens Salads
Chapter 13 – More Sensational Salads
Chapter 14 – Satisfying Sandwiches
Part 5 – What’s for Dinner?
Chapter 15 – Marvelous Main Dishes
Chapter 16 – Perfect Pasta and Polenta
Chapter 17 – Very Veggie Side Dishes
Chapter 18 – Lively Legumes
Chapter 19 – Great Grains
Part 6 – Sweet Endings
Chapter 20 – Cookies, Bars, and Brownies
Chapter 21 – No-Bake Treats
Chapter 22 – Decadent Desserts
Appendix A – Glossary
Appendix B – Resources
To those who are guided by the open heart and open mind of compassion.
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Eating is the most basic function of human existence—so much so that we almost forget that our lives depend on it. In America today, the overwhelming cause of death is what we eat. This is bad enough, but now we are exporting our diet to the rest of the world.
Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes rates are climbing while most people believe they eat a healthy diet. In reality, these so-called “healthy” diets contribute to their illness. The problem starts from the very top of the education system. Bad advice is as common as Mom, baseball, and apple pie. Government, doctors, and family all are loaded with old wives’ tales, false assumptions, and just plain bad advice. I must admit I spent the majority of my life in the camp of the clueless when it came to what was healthy to eat. When I look back, I must marvel at the fact that I survived the pain I inflicted on myself with my fork.
Most of us learn about our diet at our mother’s table. We have no doubt that our mother loves us and, therefore, what she serves us must be the best. Wrong! When mothers eat bad diets, they pass along the problem to their children, and they pass it along to their own children. We must break this chain of bad eating habits before we destroy the thing we love the most—our families.
I was raised in rural America eating what we grew on the farm, and for the most part, our diet was very healthy. As we became more affluent, my mother brought into our diet what was available at the local grocery store, as it was the growing rage and it meant a lot less toil for her. White bread, canned meat, cheese, and ice cream were some of the modern marvels we started eating. Little did she know that we were on a very slippery slope toward future health problems. Over time, I added additional bad habits of my own to her advice and soon was a wreck just waiting to happen.
Overweight and with high blood pressure and a cholesterol level of over 300 finally got my attention before it was too late to correct problem. I wish when I was trying to reform my eating habits I would have had a book like The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Cooking. The book you hold in your hands contains everything you need to make the transition from the standard American diet, which was killing me, to the vegan diet that saved my life. This book has the solution most Americans need right now, and it’s as important as health insurance because a vegan diet can prevent most health problems.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Cooking is easy to read, understand, and put into practice immediately. With this book, you can learn in weeks what it took me years to learn. Every family should read this book.
Howard F. Lyman, LL.D., is the president of Voice for a Viable Future, an educational nonprofit. He is a fourth-generation cattleman turned vegan and renowned public speaker. He has written two books, Mad Cowboy and No More Bull! His website is www.madcowboy.com.
Whether you’re new to the world of vegan cooking, or you’re a seasoned cook who wants to pick up some additional pointers and add some exciting new recipes to your repertoire, this book is for you. In the following chapters, we guide you through all the aspects of preparing your own vegan food and share with you all the tricks of the trade that will soon have you cooking like a pro. Are you ready to begin? Then put on your vegan chef’s hat and let’s get started!
How to Use This Book
The book is organized into six distinct parts, each devoted to a different aspect of vegan cooking:
Part 1, “Vegan Cooking Basics,” provides you with some essential information you need to have to get started. You learn about the health advantages of eating a balanced, plant-based diet and how to be sure your basic nutritional needs are being covered. We also walk you through the basics of substituting for animal ingredients and teach you how to veganize your favorite nonvegan recipes.
Part 2, “Morning Meal Options,” gives you loads of vegan breakfast ideas from the quick and easy to the more time-consuming. We begin with fast and easy breakfast ideas, and move into breakfast and brunch recipes that require a little more time to prepare. And finally, you learn how to prepare some favorite vegan sweet and savory baked goods perfect for breakfast and other meals.
Part 3, “Teasers and Toppers,” features recipes for appetizers, snacks, spreads, sauces, gravies, and dairy alternatives. We begin with appetizers and snacks and move on to versatile toppers and spreads. The next stop introduces you to a variety of exciting salsas, sauces, and gravies. Finally, you become proficient in mimicking a variety of dairy products like Parmesan, cheddar, pepper jack, and feta cheeses, in addition to a homemade nut milk, nondairy creamer, and tofu sour cream.
Part 4, “Let’s Do Lunch,” shows you how to make sensational vegan soups, chilis, chowders, and stews, as well as vegan versions of your favorite salad dressings, salads, and sandwiches. We begin with a variety of hot and cold soups and move on to learn how to prepare an assortment of classic salad dressings. Next comes a slew of classic and creative greens salads and slaws, followed by fruit-, veggie-, grain-, and pasta-based salads sure to impress at potlucks, picnics, and other gatherings. We finish by showing you how to prepare vegan versions of classic sandwiches.
Part 5, “What’s for Dinner?” covers recipes for satisfying main dishes; veggie, bean, and grain side dishes; and versatile pasta and polenta. We thoroughly explore the realm of vegetable-, legume-, and grain-based side dishes that are as nutritious as they are delicious.
Part 6, “Sweet Endings,” takes you to a very sweet place that focuses on cookies, bars, brownies, no-bake treats, and decadent desserts. You begin by learning how to make vegan versions of your favorite sweet baked goods, and you won’t even need to turn on your oven for the no-bake goodies in store for you. For a sweet grand finale to the recipes in the book, we end with a series of decadent desserts sure to “wow” your family and friends—vegan or not.
After Part 6, we include some appendixes helpful to you as you further explore your vegan culinary talents. Appendix A contains a list of defined terms that are used in the book, and Appendix B features lists of vegan resources, like books, websites, and contact information for various related organizations.
In every chapter you’ll find boxes that give you extra information, helpful tips, or just fun facts:
Soy What? boxes contain interesting or bet-you-didn’t-know information relating to the ingredients, recipes, or other issues discussed in the book.
These boxes feature definitions that teach you the meanings of some terms you might not be familiar with.
Thyme-ly Tip boxes offer timesaving hints and useful tips relating to the recipes or issues covered in the text.
Sour Grapes boxes alert you to potential problems or pitfalls.
We wish to express our heartfelt appreciation to everyone who helped make this book possible: to acquisitions editor Tom Stevens and senior development editor Christy Wagner; and to Howard Lyman for graciously agreeing to write the foreword. Howard has inspired countless people to go vegan through his tireless work as an activist, author, and documentary filmmaker. We would also like to thank our family and friends for their love and support, as well as vegan writers, cookbook authors, and activists everywhere who inspire us through their work and dedication to spreading the vegan message.
Special Thanks to the Technical Reviewer
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Cooking was reviewed by an expert who double-checked the accuracy of what you’ll learn here, to help us ensure that this book gives you everything you need to know about making delicious vegan dishes at home. Special thanks are extended to Lisa Vislocky.
All terms mentioned in this book that are known to be or are suspected of being trademarks or service marks have been appropriately capitalized. Alpha Books and Penguin Group (USA) Inc. cannot attest to the accuracy of this information. Use of a term in this book should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.
Vegan Cooking Basics
Part 1 is your crash course in vegan cooking and eating. Here we show you how to cover your nutritional bases, explain what constitutes healthy vegan eating, and offer advice on meal planning. And because knowing how to substitute for animal-based ingredients in your favorite recipes is essential to successful vegan cooking, Part 1 gives you all the necessary information for doing without eggs, dairy, meat, gelatin, and honey.
Vegan cooking is easy and can be a lot of fun when you’re armed with the right information. So take a deep breath and get ready to dive right in!
Healthful Vegan Cooking
In This Chapter • The benefits of eating vegan
• Covering your nutritional bases
• A re-introduction to the food groups
• Planning good and good-for-you vegan meals
For those of you who might not be clear on what eating vegan entails, let’s begin with the basics of vegan food philosophy. If you’re eating vegan, you eat foods that come from plant-based sources like whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits, vegetables, and even the aquatically harvested sea vegetables. You avoid all animal-based foods and their rendered or processed byproducts, like meat, fish, fowl, eggs, all dairy products, and even honey and gelatin. It’s all pretty simple: if it comes from or was once a plant, it’s vegan, and if it once had a face, fins, wings, or feet, forget about it.
But don’t worry about being deprived of good foods. You’ll have plenty of delicious and satisfying plant-based options to fill your plate to overflowing. Although it may seem new to you at first, especially if you’ve been eating a diet based around meat, dairy, and eggs, you’ll soon be pleasantly surprised by all the delicious and easy vegan meals you can prepare. You can even convert many of your favorite dishes to vegan. Get ready to satisfy and nourish yourself to the fullest!
Eating Vegan for Your Health
In addition to the environmental and animal welfare concerns behind the decision to begin cooking and eating vegan, the desire to be healthier might also factor in. Indeed, there are numerous health advantages to including more or all vegan meals in your diet.
Watch any evening newscast and you’ll hear that scientists are discovering how many health issues and chronic diseases are diet-related, including obesity, diabetes, several forms of cancer, heart disease, hypertension, digestive disorders, and kidney and liver problems. The good news is that preparing and eating vegan meals can help you become leaner and lighter, reduce your chance of illness and disease, and as a result, help you live a longer, healthier life.
In comparison to animal-based foods, plant-based foods tend to be lower in fat, sodium, and calories, and they’re completely cholesterol free. And because most are rich in dietary fiber, they help regulate and shorten transit time of food through the intestine and to lower cholesterol levels. Also, the greater fiber content of vegan foods makes them more satiating, which causes you to eat less and can lead to weight loss.
The Cornell-Oxford-China Diet and Health Project, or the China Study as it’s more commonly known, is one of the most comprehensive and longest-running studies on the correlation between diet and disease. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University, and his son Thomas Campbell II published the findings of this health study in The China Study (BenBella Books, 2005). In it, they showed how changing to a vegan diet can drastically reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Doctors also sometimes recommend plant-based foods for patients who suffer from food sensitivities to dairy, eggs, fish, and shellfish. If you count yourself among these special-diet devotees, you’ll be thrilled by our tips for replacing animal-based products in Chapter 2, as well as the vast selections of recipes in the upcoming chapters.
We’ve also included alternate ingredient listings and variation suggestions for many recipes to accommodate for those who suffer from wheat, gluten, corn, and soy sensitivities.
Your Basic Nutritional Needs
To address any nutritional concerns you may have, as well as dispel a few myths commonly associated with a vegan diet, let’s look at the nutritional aspects of eating vegan.
Follow the Rainbow
Following the food rainbow can lead to a pot of gold in terms of health benefits. If you consciously make a point of eating a colorful assortment of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple fruits and vegetables, you’ll easily supply yourself with a full range of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and phytochemicals. These substances can promote health and longevity, combat free radicals that attack your body’s healthy cells, and help reduce your chances of developing cancer and other diseases.
Many of these vital nutrients are only naturally found in plant-based foods, and the ones present in animal-based foods are often the result of the animals eating plants or their feed being fortified with vitamins or minerals.
Phytochemicals (or phytonutrients) naturally occur in fruits, vegetables, and other edible plants and appear to have many beneficial health benefits for fighting and preventing illness and disease, lowering cholesterol levels, balancing hormones, and eliminating toxins.
Undoubtedly, when you tell others you’re eating vegan, you’ll hear “You can’t get enough calcium eating vegan,” or “You need dairy products for calcium.” Well, we’re here to tell you that this is totally untrue. What is true is that the calcium in dairy products is the result of cows and other livestock consuming calcium-rich plant foods like grasses, cereal grains, and other vegetation. By directly eating these types of foods yourself, you can cut out the middleman (or animal), so to speak.
A healthy, well-balanced vegan diet—rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains—can more than adequately supply all the calcium needed for optimal bone health. Also, the fact that you don’t consume animal protein also means your bones can actually end up being stronger than your dairy- and meat-consuming counterparts. Research has shown that vegans have higher rates of bone formation than people who consume meat and dairy, even if their calcium intake is lower.
In many other countries where people take in much lower amounts of calcium than we do, the levels within their bodies are higher, and osteoporosis (bone density loss) rates are lower, because they eat more plant-based foods on average than we do. This is due, in part, to the fact that the more acidic animal proteins our body takes in, in the form of meat and dairy products, the more it needs to compensate by releasing calcium from bones to balance out the pH level (the balance of acid and base substances) of our system.
To increase your calcium absorption capabilities, be sure you also get enough magnesium. These two minerals work best as a team in a ratio of 2:1, or 2 parts calcium to 1 part magnesium. You also need to have some vitamin D present in your system to hold on to calcium as well. Just 15 minutes of sunlight exposure per day stimulates the production of vitamin D by the body, and the sun is always your best source of vitamin D. Vegan dietary sources of vitamin D include fortified nondairy milks, cereals, and vegan margarine. For more information about meeting your nutritional needs as a vegan, see www.vrg.org/nutrition or www.pcrm.org.
Be aware of foods or supplements fortified with cholecalciferol, as it’s a form of vitamin D that’s only derived from animal sources. Choose supplemented vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) instead.
You can easily fulfill your calcium requirements by eating green leafy vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains like quinoa. Interestingly enough, your body can more easily absorb the calcium from many plant-based foods when compared to dairy calcium. These include watercress, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, rutabaga, kale, mustard greens, bok choy, broccoli, and turnip greens. Many foods are fortified with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, such as soy-based products, cereals and grain products, orange juices and other beverages, and many prepackaged items.
Be Aware of B12
As previously mentioned, vegan plant-based foods contain tons of vitamins, so you can easily fulfill these nutrient needs, especially if you eat a colorful assortment of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, one that can be a bit more evasive on a vegan diet: B12.
B12 deficiencies, although rare, can lead to anemia, fatigue, or permanent brain or nerve damage. The recommended dietary allowance for adults is 2.4 micrograms per day, with increased amounts recommended for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, as well as the elderly.
B12 is made from fermenting bacteria and can be found in water and soil, which disperses it onto plants, but thorough washing removes most or all of it. It’s also found in the gastrointestinal tract of host animals (us included), which is why meat-eaters usually get plenty of B12. However, this vitamin is not contained in the flesh of animals until it comes into contact with gastrointestinal fluids during the slaughtering process.
Fortunately, humans need only a very small amount of B12 (which is measured in micrograms), and the human body can amply store a 3- to 5-year supply in the liver. For an easy way to fulfill your B12 needs, you can take a vitamin supplement that meets the daily recommended value, or you can seek out B12 fortified foods like the following: • Fortified orange and other fruit juices
• Enriched cereals and whole-grain products
• Fortified soy milk and other nondairy milks, and products made from them
• Fermented soy-based products (tempeh, miso, tamari, or shoyu)
• Nutritional yeast flakes sprinkled on or added to foods
Red Star Vegetarian Formula Nutrition Yeast has a nutty, almost cheeselike flavor, which is why it’s used commonly as imitation cheese flavoring for foods and in nondairy cheese products. Red Star is available in both flake and powder forms. Flakes are recommended in this book, but you can substitute the powdered by using ⅓ of the amount called for.
Powerful Plant Protein
Proteins are found in all living things, including plants and animals. The building blocks of protein are known as amino acids, most of which our body makes naturally. The ones we cannot produce ourselves are called essential amino acids (EAAs), and we must obtain those through dietary sources.
You can easily meet your vegan protein needs by eating plenty of whole-grain products, beans, soy-based products, nuts and seeds, and leafy and dark green vegetables. And here’s something to chew on: tofu, broccoli, and asparagus come in at more than 40 percent protein as a percentage of calories, which is higher than the amount found in eggs and ground beef (each 33 percent), and delicate watercress measures at a whopping 83 percent protein. These sources are all completely cholesterol free to boot.
Essential amino acids (EAAs) are the necessary protein-building blocks we must get through dietary sources to aid in the synthesis of body proteins when combined with the other amino acids our bodies are able to produce. Histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalnine, threonine, trytophan, and valine are the EAAs.
You don’t have to consciously combine vegan foods (commonly referred to as protein combining) to be sure you take in all the EAAs in exactly the amounts your body needs to produce proteins. Just eat a wide variety of these plant-based protein sources on a regular basis, and your body will do the matching up for you.
Crazy About Carbs
Even though the low-carb diet craze had many believing otherwise, carbohydrates—which are found in the sugars and starches of plant-based foods—are your friends. You need them to provide fuel and energy needs for all the parts of your body, especially your brain, which can only use glucose for energy. Also, the fiber that many carbohydrate-rich grains and fruits contain helps in the digestion and elimination process.
Many vegan foods are excellent sources of carbohydrates, most notably whole grains, rice, cereals, canned and dried beans, and fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables of all colors, shapes, and sizes. Just be sure to eat more complex carbohydrates and foods in their natural state. Those that have been overly processed and refined have been transformed into simple carbohydrates that can cause blood sugar levels to spike (rise quickly). This can trigger an increase in insulin production that will lead to your feeling hungry again sooner than you should.
Making Friends with Fats
Overall, plant-based foods tend to be lower in fat, especially saturated fats, than animal-based foods. Several plant-based foods contain healthy types of fats you need, known as essential fatty acids (EFAs), or omega-3 and -6.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are fats the body is incapable of producing but that are required for health. Consequently, they’re also necessary in the diet. The most important functions of the EFAs are to support normal growth and development (especially of the eyes and brain), serve as precursors of vital antiinflammatory compounds, and potentially prevent heart disease.
Most people associate fish and seafood with EFAs, but they can also be found in some leafy greens, and most readily in nuts and seeds like walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds (which contains them all), as well as the oils made from these ingredients. Many people feel that the omega oils are best enjoyed cold- or expeller-pressed or unrefined to preserve their beneficial nutrients, as heating some polyunsaturated oils to high temperatures can denature the oil and form harmful free radicals that cause cell damage. When choosing oils for cooking, seek out those that have the highest levels of monounsaturated fats like olive oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, and peanut oil.
Vegetable-based margarines, which are often used in baked goods and as spreads, have been getting a lot of bad press lately. Many of the vegetable-based oils used to make these products are hydrogenated to make them solid or partially solid. These types of fats are commonly referred to as trans fats and have been associated with heart disease. Even though these cheaply made oils were popping up in prepackaged fried foods and baked goods of all sorts, the government has started cracking down on their use. We only recommend using nonhydrogenated vegan margarines in our recipes and discuss these options further in Chapter 2.
Most vegan foods also contain tremendous amounts of beneficial dietary fiber, something that’s completely lacking in animal-based foods. Also, in several studies, increased fiber consumption has been reported to decrease the risk of certain cancers (like colorectal cancer) and lower cholesterol levels. So be sure to consume 25 to 35 grams fiber per day to optimize these health benefits.
Fibers are the structural components of plants. Two types of fiber are characterized by their solubility in water: insoluble and soluble. Many plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables contain both types of fiber.
Insoluble fiber can be found in the skins of many fruits and vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, green beans, corn, and wheat and wheat-based products. These foods help regulate your bowel movements and shorten the transit time of undigested food through the intestine.
Soluble fiber is found in oats, barley, brown rice, flaxseeds, carrots, apples, and oranges. When they combine with water in the digestive tract, they gel, bind nutrients (including cholesterol), and escort them out of the body. In addition, because of the slow rate of digestion, fiber in general helps regulate blood sugar levels so you don’t experience peaks and valleys in your energy levels throughout the day.
Eating fiber-rich foods also gives you a sense of fullness, so you eat less, which lowers your daily caloric intake, which helps you lose weight.
For every 14 grams of fiber you take in, your daily caloric intake is cut by 10 percent. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says you should consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber, but 40 grams is the ideal amount and easily attainable when eating as a vegan.
So have we convinced you enough that with just a little effort on your part, plant-based vegan foods can easily supply you with all your basic nutritional needs? Just be sure to drink plenty of fluids, eat a colorful variety of plant-based foods, make wise food choices, and try to reduce the amount of excess fat, sugar, salt, and empty calories where you can. For those who are still in doubt or who rely a little too much on packaged food items, feel free to take the occasional multivitamin and mineral supplement.
When it comes to eating properly, portion size is important—and also one topic many people are confused about. Some of the confusion stems from misleading information and food manufacturers’ packaging. Those of us over the age of 40 were taught in grade school that there were four basic food groups: • Meats
• Dairy products
• Fruits and veggies
This message came to us through educational films and colorful posters displayed on classroom walls. Many people don’t realize it, but those were actually advertisements created and funded by meat and dairy special interests and, not surprising, were slanted toward promoting their products.
In 1992, the basic four food groups were kicked to the curb and replaced by a pyramid shape the USDA hoped would better illustrate our dietary needs and proper portion sizes. While the “base” of the pyramids was based on grains, it still was heavily weighted toward the promotion of meat and dairy.
The pyramid was updated in 2005 by flipping it on its side, reformatting the information a bit, and adding stairs to the design as a reminder to exercise. However, the latest pyramid recommendations don’t work for vegans, even with some manipulating, and many people find the new design confusing.
The New Four Food Groups
Fortunately, in 1991, the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) developed a strictly plant-based set of dietary guidelines they aptly named the New Four Food Groups. It is easy to follow and was specifically developed with vegans in mind. PCRM freely distributes copies of the Four Food Groups, and many of their brochures include easily recognizable food icons.
The New Four Food Groups consist of the following categories and serving suggestions:
Whole grains Breads and breadlike products, hot and cold cereals, pasta, rice, and other grains. Need 5 or more servings daily. One serving can be ½ cup cooked cereal, pasta, or grains; 1 cup cold cereal; or 1 slice of bread.
Legumes Peas, lentils, beans, soy-based products, nuts, and seeds. Need 2 or more servings daily. One serving can be 1 tablespoon nut butter, 1 ounce vegan meatless alternative product, ¼ cup nuts or seeds, ½ cup cooked legumes, 4 ounces tofu or tempeh, or 1 cup soy milk.
Fruits Whole fruits, fruit juices, frozen fruits, and dried fruits. Need 3 or more servings daily. One serving can be ¼ cup dried fruit, ½ cup frozen or cooked fruit, ½ cup fruit juice, or 1 whole piece of fruit.
Vegetables Cruciferous, dark green leafy vegetables, dark yellow and orange vegetables, nightshades like potatoes and tomatoes, and other vegetables. Need 3 or more servings daily. One serving can be ½ cup cooked or frozen vegetables or 1 cup raw vegetables.
Remember, these are the minimum daily requirements, so feel free to increase your number of servings in one or more categories as your appetite desires. If you didn’t get to eat as well as you should one day, you can make up for it on the following day.
Also, you don’t need to keep a food journal to be sure you fill all your quotas. Just be conscious of the ingredients you’re using while preparing meals or when eating out. It can be very easy to consume several servings from each category at just one sitting or meal. For instance, by eating a bowl of soup or a large salad made with several types of vegetables, you can easily get in your 3 or more servings, or even 1 serving of whole grains, legumes, and fruit by having a simple PB&B (peanut butter and banana) sandwich.
To learn more about PCRM and the New Four Food Groups for adults, as well as recommendations specifically for children, visit www.pcrm.org. This site also provides health and nutrition advice on a wide range of subjects, including cancer prevention, heart disease, and diabetes, plus recipes, vegetarian starter kits, and resource information.
Planning Healthful Meals
Now that you have the basic nutritional facts about vegan ingredients and understand how many and what size servings you need to strive for on a daily basis, we can now get into planning healthy vegan meals, whether you cook them all yourself or occasionally eat out. Doing a bit of planning when it comes to preparing vegan meals has several advantages, from ensuring a variety of tastes and textures in your ingredient selections to making shopping for these items a whole lot easier.
Some people are creatures of habit and like to eat the same thing day after day, such as a bowl of cereal for breakfast and a salad for lunch. This is probably fine for during the week to make things less hectic, but hopefully you’ll change things up a bit on the weekend. If you don’t, this pattern of eating can lead to falling into a dietary rut and becoming bored with your meals. Mealtime is much more exciting for you and your taste buds, as well as more nutritionally beneficial, if you eat a variety of foods.
Playing the Numbers
Even though most of us are still in the habit of only eating three large meals a day, nutritionists now recommend eating five to seven smaller meals and healthy snacks throughout the day. Eating smaller-size meals every few hours rather than three large plates or bowlfuls has several health advantages, including helping keep your blood sugar levels more even throughout the day.
If you often find yourself feeling cranky, edgy, or yelling at others during the afternoon hours between 3 to 5 o’clock, eat a healthful snack. You’re on edge because you’re hungry and eagerly awaiting dinner.
For those trying to lose weight, eating more often can actually speed up your metabolism and aid in weight loss. Yes, that’s right, it’s a dieter’s dream, eating more often and losing weight, and smaller portions are also more easily digested. But keep in mind that many of these extra meals are meant to be just nibbles and not an excuse for full-blown grazing on a bag of chips. Think small and be selective, make wise choices, and avoid grabbing for foods that contain tons of sugar, salt, and empty calories.
Start your day with a sensible breakfast, choosing foods that come from two or more of the new four food groups: • Hot or cold cereal with some fresh fruit and soy milk
• Pancakes topped with fruit and syrup and a glass of fruit or vegetable juice
• A tofu scramble with veggies and slices of whole-grain toast or a muffin
A few hours later, around mid-morning, have a snack: • A handful of nuts or seeds
• Some hummus or other dip with baby carrots or other cut fresh veggies
Have lunch a few hours after that: • A salad with plenty of leafy greens and fresh veggies with maybe some garbanzo beans and a light dressing
• A veggie wrap with a small side salad
• A bowl of soup with a sandwich made on whole-grain bread with vegetarian deli-style slices (like Tofurky) and vegan cheese with lettuce, tomato, and sprouts
Mid-afternoon, have another snack: • A piece of fruit or cut veggies
• A glass of juice or soy milk and an energy bar
• Whole-grain crackers with nut butter or vegan cheese
Be an educated vegan consumer by diligently reading package ingredient lists. Hidden animal-derived ingredients can pop up in the most unusual places. Check this list of animal-derived ingredients before your next shopping trip: www. caringconsumer.com⁄resources_ ingredients_list.asp.
Follow this up with a dinner: • A plate of pasta with marinara sauce and a side salad or cooked vegetables
• A veggie stir-fry over grains or noodles with a bowl of miso soup or baked tofu or tempeh
• A plate of beans, grains, and greens with a piece of cornbread
A couple hours after dinner, you can have another snack if you like: • Popcorn or tortilla chips and salsa
• Whole-grain crackers with vegan cheese or a spread
If you didn’t go overboard or if you want a special treat, have dessert: • A scoop of nondairy ice cream topped with fruit or nuts
• A few vegan cookies or a vegan brownie
• A piece of vegan cake or pie
These are all just suggestions, so get creative and enjoy eating an assortment of healthy foods that appeal to you. In Parts 2 through 6 of this book, you learn to make, bake, and cook a wide variety of vegan recipes that will help in planning your meals. In Chapter 2, we share substitution ideas for replacing animal-based ingredients with vegan ones to make your meal preparations easier.
The Least You Need to Know • Eating vegan doesn’t have to leave you feeling deprived. There are lots of options available!
• Be aware of your vitamin B12 consumption and regularly eat fortified foods and/ or take a supplement.
• Eat a wide variety of whole grains, fruits, legumes, and vegetables for maximum health benefits—and to lose weight!
• Use the new four food groups to guide your daily and weekly meal decisions.
In This Chapter • Substituting for meat, dairy, cheese, and eggs
• A look at vegan-suitable sweeteners
• Tips for veganizing your favorite recipes
Get ready to experience all the wonderful possibilities for replacing animal-based ingredients with plant-based ones. You could call this learning the art of substitution, because with a little sleight of hand, ingenuity, and creativity, you can easily replace just about any ingredient to make it vegan friendly.
In some instances—and with certain ingredients like soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and various prepackaged vegan alternatives—you and your guests may find it hard to believe that the dish is truly vegan. Other times, your substitutions might result in something that looks and tastes dramatically different from the original version but is still wonderfully delicious on its own merit.
Vegan alternatives to meat don’t come with hidden strings attached like animal-based protein foods do, and they supply you with the lean, low-fat, cholesterol-free protein many doctors and dieticians recommend for fending off heart disease. Eating these meat alternatives also helps you avoid possible exposure to growth hormones, E. coli, salmonella, and other food-borne illnesses.
So many plant-based options are available for replacing meat in your vegan cooking. Basically, you can take one of two approaches: either utilize a few basic ingredients to make them yourself, or purchase prepackaged meatless alternatives to use in recipes and meal preparations. Whichever way you want to go is up to you, but to help you decide, we offer a brief rundown of a few of our favorite meat replacers and mimickers.
The Incredible, Edible Soybean
The soybean is a wonder food. It has so many uses—and is good for you! Soybeans can be ground up and used to make soy milk and many dairy replacement products, meatless loaves, and veggie burgers. But like a chameleon, these golden beans can also be transformed into tofu, tempeh, and a wide range of prepackaged meatless items.
Tofu is one of the most versatile ingredients in a vegan’s food arsenal. It can be used to replicate chicken, fish, and even ground beef in savory dishes; replace eggs in both cooking and baking; and replace dairy products in dressings, sauces, baked goods, and desserts. Tofu was once hard to find outside of Asian specialty markets, but its popularity has grown considerably over the last few decades and today you can find blocks of tofu in assorted sizes, flavors, varieties, and levels of firmness, either covered with water in packages or vacuumed packed, in most grocery and natural foods stores.
Tofu, or bean curd, is made in a manner similar to making cheese. A coagulant is added to soy milk; the curds and whey are separated; and the solids are shaped in molds, cut into blocks, and packaged for sale. At this point, the tofu still has soft texture so it’s labeled soft, silken, or silken-style tofu. Soft tofu works well in puréed or blended preparations for making sauces, dressings, and desserts. For nonblended applications, if the tofu is packed in water, discard the water and then crumble it for use in tofu scrambles, mock egg salad, and vegan cheeses.
Many tofu manufacturers place heavy weights on the blocks of soft tofu to press out excess moisture to give them a firmer texture, and they’re then labeled accordingly as firm or extra firm. These firmer blocks of tofu are better suited for savory preparations. They usually come packed in water, so gently squeeze out any excess water and then cut the block into cubes, strips, triangles, or cutlets as desired. Keep in mind that plain tofu is rather bland and that it has a spongelike quality, so if you squeeze out the excess moisture, it can then soak up more marinade or sauce, which will intensify its flavor.
The way you cut and season tofu can help it mimic meat in both appearance and flavor. You can add some nutritional yeast, seasonings, and tamari to give the tofu a chickenlike flavor, or cover it with breadcrumbs to make mock fried chicken or nuggets. Seasoning it with a little kelp powder imparts a fishlike flavor. Thin strips of tofu marinated in tamari and maple syrup taste a little like pork or bacon. Crumbled tofu works well as a replacement for ground beef in chili, marinara sauce, and meatless burgers and loaves. Freezing and then thawing a block of tofu gives it a firm and chewy texture, rather than a tender one, which is desirable for some recipes.
Tofu is typically packaged covered in water, which should be discarded prior to use. If you don’t need the full block of tofu for a recipe, place the remainder in an airtight container, cover with fresh water, and store in the refrigerator. If you change the water daily, the tofu will stay fresh for up to five days.
Tantalized by Tempeh
As we said earlier, tofu is made like cheese. Well, the Indonesians came up with the idea of injecting a soybean mixture with a special beneficial mold and fermenting it, so you might say that the resulting tempeh is the blue cheese version of tofu. This fermentation procedure gives tempeh a rich, earthy flavor similar to mushrooms or beef, and it also concentrates the protein content and makes it more easily digestible than tofu for most people.
Tempeh has a marbled appearance and is sold as a solid, cakelike slab. Tempeh can be made with just soybeans alone or in combination with other ingredients like sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, lentils, barley, millet, oats, quinoa, and rice. For the most flavorful tempeh, choose a multigrain or flavored variety. Steaming tempeh causes it to swell a bit, which increases not only its volume, but its ability to absorb marinades and sauces. Most tempeh is sold pre-steamed and ready for use.
Tempeh has a firmer texture than tofu and retains its shape better in recipes. You can thinly slice it; cut it into cubes, strips, or cutlets; or crumble it. Tempeh has a somewhat beeflike flavor, so try it crumbled or cut into strips to replace beef in stir-fries or sauces, or to make meatless burgers or sausages. Tempeh tastes especially delicious when combined with tamari, toasted sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, peanut butter, or ketchup. Also try it flavored with dried herbs like rosemary, basil, and oregano, or spicy curry powder, chili powder, or cayenne.
Textured vegetable protein (TVP) is a processed soy-based product made from defatted soy flour that’s cooked under pressure and extruded through a machine. It’s available in a dry form as granules, flakes, and chunks and needs to be rehydrated in hot liquid prior to use. The granules and flakes work well as a replacement for ground beef in chili, burgers, and tacos, and the strips can be used in stir-fries, casseroles, and stews.
Ingenious monks are responsible for coming up with the idea of using water to rinse the starch out of wheat flour, leaving behind just the gluten, and then flavoring the gluten to make a tasty meat replacement. This traditional way of making seitan (also referred to as gluten or wheat meat) can take hours of rinsing and kneading, and many people still make it this way. Others use vital wheat gluten (also called instant gluten flour), which skips the rinsing step, requires minimal kneading, and enables you to make homemade seitan in less time.
Either way you approach making homemade seitan, how you cook it and the ingredients you combine and season it with greatly determine its final flavor and texture. Simmering it in a flavorful broth causes the raw, spongelike gluten dough to swell, become firm, and acquire a slightly chewy texture. Depending on what you add to the broth, you can give it a beef, chicken, pork, Asian, or Italian flavor. Commonly used flavoring ingredients include tamari, nutritional yeast flakes, tomato-based products, bay leaves, garlic, ginger, and fresh and dried herbs and spices.
If you want to try seitan without having to do so much work, you can buy pre-made seitan in most grocery and natural foods stores. It comes in various package sizes, shapes, flavors, and even covered in sauces, with the most popular varieties being chicken-style and teriyaki.
You can roll the seitan dough into logs and cut it into small chunks or large cutlets prior to simmering it. Afterward, you can thinly or thickly slice, cube, shred, or crumble it for use in soups, stews, stir-fries, or casseroles, or top slices with sauces or gravy, as well as use them on sandwiches. Besides simmering, you can also combine the seitan dough with other ingredients and bake it in a loaf pan as a roast, or cut it as desired, cover it with a sauce or gravy, and bake it as a casserole. (We use this last method to make a vegan version of barbecued short ribs in Chapter 15.) Seitan is also used as an ingredient in many meatless roasts, burgers, sausages, deli-style slices, and even imitation turkey roasts.
Other Plant-Based Options
Soybeans aren’t the only protein-rich legumes you can use to bulk up recipes or replace meat. Black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, red and brown lentils, peas, and even peanuts can be used to make veggie burgers and loaves, flavorful patties and sausages, and burrito and taco fillings. They can also add a chewy heartiness to sauces, chili, stews, and casseroles.
You can use finely ground, chopped, or whole nuts or seeds like walnuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds in these same applications, for added texture and protein.
Mushrooms work well as a meat replacement, and they contain significant amounts of protein. They have a chewy texture; a rich, earthy, and somewhat beefy flavor; and can be made even more flavorful if marinated in tamari, balsamic vinegar, or wine with fresh or dried herbs and garlic. They can be finely ground, coarsely chopped, or sliced and added to recipes as a replacement for beef or pork in chili, sausages, and savory dishes. Large portobello mushroom caps can be eaten as meatless burgers or steaks.
Pre-Made Meatless Alternatives
In addition to the various ingredients you can use to make homemade meat replacements, several pre-made meatless products are available for you to use. Practically any type of meat or meat product you once enjoyed is now made in a meatless form. Check the refrigerated and freezer sections of your local grocery and natural foods stores to see what looks good. Asian specialty markets also sell many meat alternatives that are strikingly reminiscent in flavor and appearance to beef, pork, chicken, and even fish and seafood (even imitation shrimp with pink stripes).
Do a bit of browsing during your next shopping trip, and you’re sure to find several of the following: • Veggie burgers and hot dogs (even foot-long styles)
• Meatless sausage logs, patties, links, flavored large sausages, soyrizo, and brats
• Vegetarian bacon strips and Canadian bacon slices
• Vegetarian deli-style slices, such as ham, turkey, beef, bologna, salami, and pepperoni
• Meatless chunks, strips, meatballs, and crumbles
• Chicken-free patties and nuggets
The meatless alternatives market is a booming industry, as sales have increased tremendously and so has selection. Sample different products and brands to see which ones you like best, and compare sodium, fat, and ingredient contents as well as nutrition labels to assist you in the selection process.
Many of these products go far beyond anything you could whip up in your kitchen in terms of flavor, texture, and appearance.
Move Over, Milk
As we mentioned in Chapter 1, there’s no need for you to drink cow’s milk or any other animal-based milk to supply your body with calcium, because you can get plenty by eating plant-based foods. You also don’t need cow’s milk for use in your vegan cooking and baking recipes because, measure for measure, most nondairy milks substitute wonderfully in most instances. A few of the nondairy options you’re sure to encounter include soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk, oat milk, multigrain milk, and nut milks like almond or hazelnut.
Most of these nondairy milks are available in a wide selection of various-size containers and as low-fat, plain, flavored, sweetened, and unsweetened varieties. Many are also fortified with vitamins, minerals, and calcium. Look for them in the refrigerated case or in aseptic containers on shelves in most grocery and natural foods stores.
You can also find vegan liquid nondairy creamers, plain and flavored soy-based yogurts in 6-ounce and 1-quart sizes (a rice yogurt recently hit the market, too), flavored soy yogurt-smoothie beverages, and tofu sour cream. Enjoy these on their own or use as substitutes in dips, dressings, soups, sauces, baked goods, and desserts to your heart’s content. You’ll also find recipes in Chapter 9 for making your own homemade nut milk, nondairy creamer, and herb-flavored sour cream.
For those who like flavored nondairy milks, check the shelves of your local stores, where you’re likely to find several varieties such as vanilla, chocolate, chocolate-banana, carob, banana, strawberry, strawberry-banana, chai, spiced, coffee, and horchata, and holiday flavors like pumpkin spice, eggless nog, and peppermint chocolate. Drink them by the glass; add them to coffee, tea, or hot chocolate; or use them in smoothies or alcoholic beverages as well as in your favorite recipes. Vegan liquid nondairy creamers also come in vanilla, hazelnut, and mocha flavors.
Better Than Butter
Cow’s milk is also used to make butter, and so many Americans use copious amounts of it to cook or flavor their food and to make baked goods and desserts. Fortunately, you have several butter-replacement options in your vegan cooking and baking. Margarine is the logical choice for a spread, making frosting, and making cookies, but be sure to check the ingredients list carefully, as many whipped tubs and sticks contain whey and other dairy-based products.
When selecting margarine, sidestep those that contain unhealthy hydrogenated fats, also known as trans fats. Our favorite nonhydrogenated vegan margarines are Soy Garden, Earth Balance, and Spectrum Spreads. They work perfectly for all our vegan cooking and baking needs.
Many grandmothers and mothers swear by using lard or solid vegetable-based shortenings in their piecrusts for flakiness, but well-chilled margarine works well, as do palm-based shortenings that come in sticks and tubs. Many vegan bakers swear by these products for making piecrusts, pastries, cookies, cakes, and frostings. They can also be used for frying foods.
You can also use vegetable-based oils like olive, safflower, sunflower, and corn oil to flavor your cooked dishes, drizzle over breads and vegetables, and use for baking. Whenever possible, buy cold expeller-pressed oils, preferably organic, as they’re less refined and have a better flavor. Coconut oil can also be used to flavor foods, in baked goods, to make delicious tasting frosting and confections, and even to moisturize your hair and skin.
If you want to reduce the amount of fat in your meals, you can sauté or steam-fry ingredients with a little water, vegetable broth, or juice in place of all or part of the suggested oil.
Cheese is often the one obstacle that keeps vegetarians from permanently going vegan. Fortunately, there’s a vast array of vegan alternatives to dairy-based cheeses these days. Are you hankering for a hunk, need a slice to top your sandwich, or something to sprinkle on your soup or pasta? Then check the refrigerated case in your local grocery and natural foods store, and you’re sure to find packages of vegan cheese blocks and pre-cut slices. The most commonly available brands are Vegan Rella, Soymage Vegan, Tofutti, and the highly acclaimed Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cheese Alternative.
Many people prefer the vegan cheese blocks, which can be sliced or shredded as needed for a topper for crackers or used in burritos, tacos, casseroles, salads, nachos, and even pizza. Although many vegan brands don’t melt or get gooey, Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cheese Alternative actually does, and it comes in mozzarella, cheddar, nacho, and Monterey Jack flavors.
a hot vegan cheese sauce. This especially works well for topping pizza, pasta, and nachos. In Chapter 9, we give you a recipe for Vegan Cheese Sauce Mix. By combining this dry mix with water or nondairy milk, you can whip up hot vegan cheese sauce in minutes.
In Chapter 9, we give you recipes for making your homemade vegan cheeses. These flavored cheeses have a relatively soft texture and can be easily spread, sliced, crumbled, or gently shredded for use in your favorite recipes and on sandwiches.
Nutritional yeast flakes are an easy way to give your food a cheesy flavor, and they’re a key ingredient for making vegan cheeses and cheese sauces, including many of the recipes in Chapter 9. If you’re looking for an alternative to Parmesan cheese for recipes and as a topping, you can use these cheesy-tasting flakes, purchase soy-based Parmesan cheese or a raw version called Parma, or try our Raw Parmesan Cheese (recipe in Chapœr 9).
You can also use crumbled tofu combined with seasonings as replacements for ricotta, feta, and cottage cheese. Several brands of tofu cream cheese are available in both plain and flavored varieties. You can use these as spreads for bagels or sandwiches or to make dips, frostings, pastries and confections, and even vegan cheesecake.
Eggless and No Regrets
Eggs are high in fat and cholesterol, but you have several options to replace them in your vegan meal preparations—all of which are low fat and cholesterol free. The key to selecting which one to use and how to go about doing it often depends on the function eggs are performing in a recipe. Eggs are typically used to add moisture to recipes or to act as a binder, thickener, or leavening agent.
Here are some basic suggestions for replacing 1 egg in vegan recipes: • 2 teaspoons baking powder whisked with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons water
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch, arrowroot, soy flour, or other flour whisked with 1 tablespoon water or other liquid
• 1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked vigorously with 2 tablespoons water (double package instructions)
• 1 tablespoon finely ground flaxseeds stirred or blended in a blender with 3 tablespoons water; allow to rest for 5 minutes or longer
• 2 tablespoons tahini or nut butter, such as peanut butter or almond butter
• ¼ cup applesauce or mashed or puréed bananas, plus add ½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder to recipe
• ¼ cup silken, firm, or extra-firm tofu blended until smooth with other wet ingredients in recipe
Ener-G Egg Replacer is made with potato starch, tapioca flour, and leavening agents and can be substituted for eggs in many of your vegan baked goods. Look for boxes in most grocery and natural foods stores.
Replacing eggs is most challenging in baked goods and desserts. When it appears as though adding an egg or two was just needed for moisture and not for leavening, you can simply omit it with few ill effects, especially when making pancakes, cookies, and quick breads. If you’re worried about the recipe being heavy or dry, add a tablespoon or two of water, nondairy milk, or fruit juice or purée, and add ½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder for each egg that was needed. Leavening action is most needed when making vegan cakes, and to give them some lift, you can use one of these substitution suggestions like Ener-G Egg Replacer, blended tofu, or fruit purée, and also add an additional ½ teaspoon baking powder.
When substituting for eggs in savory recipes in which eggs were being used as a binder or thickener, try adding 2 to 4 tablespoons flour, cornstarch, arrowroot, oats, breadcrumbs, ground nuts, tahini, peanut butter, tomato paste, or mashed potatoes or other vegetables as needed to achieve your desired results. If eggs were needed just for moisture, you can omit them and add a little additional water, vegetable juice, broth, purée, oil, or other liquid that’s also used in the recipe. As we discussed earlier in this chapter, you can use crumbled tofu to make tofu scrambles, or blend it with other ingredients as the base for eggless quiches, as well as a binder in savory dishes.
Another commonly used binder and thickener that’s off-limits in vegan food preparation is animal-based gelatin. These innocent-looking ground powders; translucent sheets; and fine, stringlike shreds are obtained by boiling miscellaneous pieces and parts of animals in water until their natural collagen is released. Gelatin is commonly used to thicken candies, jellies and jams, sauces, marshmallows and other confections, desserts, and baked goods, and also to clarify soups, stocks, and even wine and other alcoholic beverages.
Many people are fond of the fruit-flavored jiggly desserts made from boxes filled with powdered gelatin, and if you miss these convenience items, check your local grocery and natural foods stores for vegetable-based plain and flavored gelatins made from starches, soy, and seaweed. Yes, we said seaweed. Agar-agar, also known simply as agar or kanten (also the name of a jelled dessert made with it; recipe in Chapter 22), is derived from seaweed and is odorless and tasteless. It’s sold in sticks, flakes, and powders in most stores, and it’s readily available and quite inexpensive in Asian specialty markets. Depending on which form and how much is used, it will slightly thicken or firmly gel the liquid or food it’s used in.
When thickening vegetable broth, gravy, sauce, pudding, or other such mixtures, use a starch or flour. For every 1 cup mixture you need to thicken, first dissolve 1 tablespoon starch or flour in 2 tablespoons cold water or other liquid. Whisk this mixture slowly into the other, and cook while whisking constantly for several minutes until desired thickness is achieved.
You can also use cornstarch, arrowroot, kudzu, tapioca flour, Ener-G Egg Replacer, or agar-agar combined with a little water or other liquid to gel and thicken your sauces, puddings, pie fillings, desserts, and nondairy cheese (see recipes in Chapter 9). Most of these ingredients need to be cooked or soaked to activate their gelling capabilities, while others can be simply mixed in and set aside or chilled.
Using flour and cornstarch results in a slightly cloudy, dull, creamy-looking mixture, while tapioca flour and arrowroot gives them a shiny gloss. Combining flaxseeds and water (see reference for replacing eggs earlier in this chapter) also makes a gummy, gel-like substance that can be used in similar food preparations.
How Sweet It Is
As far as sweeteners go, sugar is the one that many of us turn to most often. We sprinkle it on fruit, cereal, and toast; use it to lightly sweeten beverages, dressings, and sauces; and of course, rely on it to generously sweeten baked goods and desserts.
Sweet-tasting sugar comes in light- and dark-colored granules as well as in light and fluffy powdered form. Two of the most common forms of granulated sugar are made from sugar cane and sugar beets (commonly known as beet sugar). These two types of sugar are processed in similar ways, although sugar cane is more refined, often utilizing nonvegan bone char in the filtering process, and they do have slightly different tastes.
Unfortunately for those concerned about using all-vegan ingredients, the three largest U.S. sugar manufacturers all bleach their cane sugar to filter out impurities and to change its color from golden brown to bright white. Even brown and powdered sugar varieties go through this process. More than 50 percent of the time, this bleaching process is done using animal-based charcoal, referred to as bone char, thus making this type of sugar nonvegan.
Beet sugar is made from sugar beets—a light-colored, high-sugar-content variety of beets—and is processed much like cane sugar. Unlike cane sugar, it is never bleached with bone char. You can generally use beet sugar measure for measure to replace cane sugar. In most stores, you can find white, brown, and powdered beet sugars.
Finding vegan sugar is easier than you might think, though. Look for products such as unbleached cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, evaporated cane sugar, natural cane sugar, organic cane sugar (also light and dark brown sugar), turbinado sugar, raw sugar, demerara sugar, beet sugar, Sucanat, Muscavado, and dark brown molasses sugar. You can use these products measure for measure to replace their bleached counterparts. Florida Crystals, Wholesome Sweeteners, Billington’s, Hain Pure Foods, and Rapadura manufacture many of these vegan sugar varieties. When in doubt as to whether a product is vegan, feel free to contact the company and ask.
In most grocery and natural foods stores, you can find maple sugar (made from dehydrated maple syrup) and date sugar (made from dried dates). These can both be used to sweeten your coffee or in your baking. Note that using either one of these may also effect your final product’s texture and level of sweetness, but feel free to experiment with them, especially in muffins and cookies.
Sugars aren’t the only way to sweeten your beverages, foods, and baked goods; many liquid sweeteners can do the job as well. Honey, corn syrup, and maple syrup come to mind almost immediately. Although many people think of honey as a terrific pure and natural sweetener, the fact that it comes from bees, who work hard to collect nectar and regurgitate it as food for their colony, makes it a nonvegan product.
Infant botulism is a serious form of food poisoning that can cause nerve damage and even death. Botulism spores can be found in honey, which is why it’s recommended that you never feed uncooked honey to infants younger than 1 year old.
Agave nectar and maple syrup are our two favorite liquid sweeteners, and both work well as replacements for honey. Agave nectar comes from the agave cactus, which is the same cactus used to make tequila. It has a mild flavor, comes in light- and amber-colored varieties, with most brands being minimally processed and considered suitable for use in raw food recipes as well as in cooked foods and baked goods. Golden maple syrup is terrific on pancakes and waffles, of course, but it’s also delicious on sweet potatoes, winter squashes, and carrots and in muffins, scones, cookies, breads, and even frosting.
Other vegan liquid sweeteners include brown rice syrup, flavored brown rice syrup, frozen or bottled fruit juice concentrates, jarred apple juice concentrate, concentrated fruit juice syrup, molasses, sorghum syrup, and barley malt syrup. Use them to sweeten oatmeal or other hot cereals; in making granola, baked goods, and sweet and savory sauces; and to sweeten and flavor fruits, vegetables, and even beans.
If you want to use a liquid sweetener in place of granulated sugar, you can often use less liquid sweetener, as their sweetness level is more concentrated. To replace 1 cup sugar, start by adding only ½ cup liquid sweetener, working up to 1 cup as desired. Also reduce the other liquid ingredients in the recipe by ¼ cup for each 1 cup liquid sweetener you’ve added.
You can apply many of our substitution recommendations to make your favorite nonvegan recipes vegan—or “veganize” them, as we call it. Look over your recipes, and you might be able to see how easily they can be veganized by just swapping one ingredient for another. Try doing a switcheroo with olive oil or nonhydrogenated margarine for butter, and soy milk or rice milk for cow’s milk in making a creamy sauce or luscious dessert. Or see how well tofu, seitan, or beans would work in making a soup, stew, or sandwich filling.
Other times you might be a little stumped, in which case you can try experimenting with different options. We suggest making a smaller-size batch of a recipe (to avoid wasting ingredients and money) until you get the new veganized version of the recipe tweaked just right to your liking.
When you first attempt to veganize recipes, start with something easy or recipes that already contain many vegan ingredients and only require changing one or two ingredients at the most. Remember, you have to crawl before you can walk, and the same can be said for vegan cooking. You need to know how to cook a tofu scramble before you can tackle a vegan spanakopita or lasagna roll-up. Then when you’ve had success with easy recipes, you can move on to more complex recipes that might entail making several changes or vegan substitutions.
Not sure how to replace beef or chicken broth? It’s simple! For beef broth, use an equal amount of vegetable broth and add some tamari and tomato paste (or ketchup) to darken its color and deepen its flavor. For a mock chicken-flavored broth, use a tiny amount of tamari and replace the tomato paste with nutritional yeast flakes and a little dried thyme and sage (or poultry seasoning).
Also, keep in mind that you might not be able to veganize some recipes, such as soufflés, meringues, and angel food cakes, because these items rely heavily on eggs and egg whites. You’ll have to settle for tofu-based quiches (see recipe in Chapter 4) and vegan whipped toppings and cakes. Peruse Chapter 21 and 22 to find several recipe ideas to fill this void. And check out the other chapters in Parts 2 through 6 for inspirational vegan recipes to get you started on your path to cooking, baking, and enjoying vegan meals, and to give you even more ideas for veganizing recipes that you grew up eating or previously enjoyed preparing.
Better Vegan Baking
As a vegan baker, you’ll be using leaveners and yeast to help your baked goods rise to great heights, and flours, starches, flaxseeds, agar-agar, and fruit purées to bind and thicken your creations. Vegan baking success and failure is intricately based on chemical reactions, which is why you need to be more precise, especially when it comes to measuring both wet and dry ingredients like leaveners and flours. Remember that the wet-to-dry ingredient ratio has tremendous impact on whether your baked goods come out dry and crumbly or moist and well formed.
With most recipes, you have some leeway for substituting one fruit or spice for another, as well as adding extra or different flavoring extracts to suit your tastes. Once you’ve had consistent success with a particular recipe, you can freely experiment with different flavor combinations. Just keep the wet-to-dry ingredient ratio the same or as close to the same as possible.
You can cut the fat content of your vegan baked goods by replacing some of the oil with other ingredients, like mashed or blended fruit purées. Often, from one quarter to one third of the oil or margarine called for can be replaced without altering the final product too significantly. Some of our favorite oil replacers include applesauce, mashed bananas, and canned sweet potato or pumpkin purée.
You can also blend dried fruit with water or fruit juices until it forms a smooth purée. Try this with whole pitted dates, figs, apricots, or raisins; prunes work especially well with chocolate-flavored baked goods. It helps to first soak the dried fruit for 20 to 30 minutes in liquid for easier blending. These fruit purées give your vegan baked goods extra moisture and sweetness. Fruit juices and fruit-juice concentrates can also be used in place of water to make your baked goods sweeter without adding extra sugars or liquid sweeteners.
And now, as you are about to venture forth into the recipe chapters, we offer you one final bit of advice: have patience, and remember, as with learning anything new, that practice makes perfect!
The Least You Need to Know • With a little know-how, you can easily find vegan substitutions for the animal ingredients in many recipes.
• Soy-based products make it easy to substitute for meat, dairy, and eggs.
• Agave nectar is a great vegan substitute for honey.
Morning Meal Options
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that’s true for vegans, too. The chapters in Part 2 show you how to prepare a wide assortment of breakfast favorites. It starts with a selection of vegan morning meal ideas that can all be prepared quickly or ahead of time, so you’ll have no excuse for going without breakfast because you’re running late or overslept.
We also offer a delicious assortment of vegan breakfast recipes to make on the weekends when you have more time, as well as a few elaborate dishes you can serve up for brunch or special occasions. Enjoy the sweet and savory baked goods in Part 2 at breakfast, brunch, or any other time of day.
Fast and Easy Breakfasts
In This Chapter • Rolling your own breakfast burritos
• Fruit- and fiber-filled breakfast cereals
• Soy-based protein in your skillet or on a bagel
Many consider breakfast the most important meal of the day, but many vegans might feel that the quick vegan breakfast options available are limited. To help you in your morning-sustenance mission, we’ve created a varied assortment of quick and easy, filling, and delicious vegan breakfast recipes—all of which can be prepared in less than 15 minutes.
Better Vegan Breakfasts
Many people can’t even comprehend breakfast without including eggs or dairy in the preparation. However, with a little culinary creativity and substitution know-how, you can re-create and reinvent many of your old favorite breakfast offerings, often making them tastier and healthier using more nutritious ingredients.
Fortunately, many versatile soy-based ingredients and substitutes are available to help vegans in their meal preparations, especially at breakfast time. In this chapter, you learn how to use soy yogurt in a fruit-based breakfast burrito, add meatless crumbles to a potato and veggie hash, and top your favorite bagels or English muffins with slices of vegan cheese or a fruit and nut-enhanced tofu cream cheese spread.
Even though vegans leave behind egg-based dishes, you can still enjoy a mock scramble, thanks to tofu. This chapter gives you the lowdown on seasoning and cooking up a simple tofu scramble, including tips for creating a savory, Mexican-inspired breakfast burrito similar to the ones offered in restaurants.
Hopefully, these recipes and the others found in this chapter will inspire you to make the time and effort for a fast and easy vegan breakfast!
Purple People Pleaser Smoothie
This delicious smoothie, made with a blend of antioxidant-rich blue and red fruits along with some soy milk for a creamy texture, is guaranteed to give you energy and a healthy glow.
1½ cups fresh or frozen
mixed berries such as blueberries,
1 cup soy milk or other nondairy
milk of choice
½ cup fresh or frozen
½ cup pomegranate juice or
1 TB. ground flaxseeds
½ cup ice cubes (optional)
Yield: 2 smoothies
Prep time: 2 minutes Serving size: 1 smoothie
1. Place berries, soy milk, cherries, pomegranate juice, and flaxseeds in a blender and blend for 1 minute or until completely smooth.
2. If you’re using fresh fruit and would like a frozen smoothie, add ice cubes and blend for 1 minute or until completely smooth.
3. Divide mixture between 2 tall glasses and serve.
Variation: Add some soy yogurt, protein powder, or a little sugar or other sweetener, if desired.