Thursday, September 15, 2011

Simple Vegan Baking Substitutions & Easy Banana Bread Recipe

Eggs are often used in baking because they act as the glue that binds ingredients together.
It is possible to eliminate the eggs and get the same effect.

Here’s the best egg substitution I know:
1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with three tablespoons of water = 1 egg

There are also boxed egg-replacer products you can buy at health-food stores, Whole Foods, etc. Personally, I find these expensive and not as healthy as the flaxseed/water mixture.

A note on flaxseed: Flaxseeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, high in fiber, and full of antioxidants.
It's important to use ground flaxseeds, as whole ones cannot be digested and you'll miss out on the nutrients. Many stores sell already-ground flaxseeds, but it is best to buy whole ones (available in bags or bulk) and grind them yourself in a blender or coffee grinder. They will retain more of their nutrients this way and are less likely to spoil. Store whole flaxseeds in a cool, dark place and ground flax in your refrigerator or freezer. If you decide to purchase already-ground flaxseeds, look for bags that are opaque and refrigerated in the store. They will be fresher.
Flaxseeds come in golden or brown, but there is no nutritional difference between the two.
Chia seeds are also nutritional powerhouses, but tend to be more expensive and harder to find than flaxseeds. Hemp seeds are a great source of Omega-3s, as well.

Omitting oil in your baking is easy, too! Simply substitute the same amount of applesauce in your recipes. For example, ¼ cup oil can be replaced with ¼ applesauce (I prefer the organic, unsweetened kind).

You need not saute with oil, either. Oils are very calorically-dense and lack nutritional value. I now saute with water or occasionally with vegetable broth. These work great!

Whenever a recipe calls for white sugar, I suggest substituting date sugar (made from ground-up dates and the only sugar with any nutritional value), maple or turbinado sugar, which are less processed than white sugar. Chemicals and sometimes bone char from animals are used to bleach white sugar (organic white sugar is processed differently). 

For liquid sweeteners, I recommend maple syrup, barley malt, or brown rice syrup. Agave syrup is another option, but I find that a little goes a long way when I utilize that -- it is so sweet.

Here's a quick recipe that works for breakfast and doubles as dessert:

1 cup 100% pure maple syrup
½ cup Earth Balance "butter" spread (you can find this non-dairy spread in health-food markets and some major grocery chains)
Egg substitute for two eggs (2 tablespoons ground flaxseed and 6 tablespoons water, whisked in a separate bowl and then added to the bread mixture)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 ripe bananas, smashed
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (you can substitute whole wheat flour here, but pastry flour has a lighter texture and taste)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Chopped nuts and/or raisins and/or dark chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
2. Mix ingredients in a bowl in the order given.
3. Pour into a greased loaf pan.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

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