Photo credit: massdistraction
I should be clear: I am not a vegan. I have plenty of vegan friends, and I enjoy vegan cuisine on a regular, if not daily basis…but I am not a vegan. Or a vegetarian. I enjoy meats occasionally (there, I said it). A few times a month, I will eat chicken breast without hormones, or have a few slices of uncured turkey bacon with breakfast. I enjoy a good STEAK (and maybe some dairy from time to time). It’s not excessive, but it’s there. Although I have contemplated going entirely vegan one day…today is not that day! So, let me get to my point: vegan baking.
Living in LA, I have friends from all walks of life: cancer survivors, artists of all kinds, yoga teachers, photographers, mothers, fathers, and people of all ages. Film people, music people. People that have many, and I do mean MANY dietary preferences and restrictions. So, as you can imagine, bringing my mother’s triple-layer, dairy-rich dessert bars to a party is not the best choice for everyone (oh, but they are delicious…). So, I started a rule for myself to follow. As someone who enjoys a cookie or a cake for special occasions, I decided that on said special occasions, I would only bake with vegan ingredients. You never know who will be at a party or event you’re attending, and I really hate excluding people from glorious confections.
Vegan baking is actually really easy, too, and I DARE you to miss the eggs, butter and whatever else you may be using in your baked goods. I have found that often times, the frostings, the toppings, the cakey parts – they are even better than what I was doing before I decided to be an all-vegan baker. I love a challenge, and I enjoy knowing that what I am making is…well, maybe not GOOD for me (let’s be honest, if you’re gonna eat the whole damn pan of vegan brownies, you’re still not doing your ass any favors)…but better for me than the buttery, dairy-rich alternatives (butter…drool).
Here are some simple vegan conversions you can use the next time you need to make muffins for your co-workers, cookies for your kids, or cake for your friend’s baby shower. Stay tuned for some fun vegan recipes coming up!
Eggs. 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons of water. Mix the flax seed into the water with a fork vigorously for a few seconds until it reaches an egg-like consistency.
Butter. For a lot of recipes, you can use canola oil as a sub, or if you like that BUTTERY taste, try Earth Balance. It’s my go to for cookies, and 100% vegan.
Chocolate Chips. Look on the back of packages for an ingredient list, and to ensure your products are dairy-free (and hopefully free of any weird chemicals or preservatives). A number of options are safe to use in vegan baking! Just remember, labels, labels, labels! This goes for peanut butter chips, mint chips, and kind of chip that you’re putting in your bars or cookies. Most are vegan, but not always.
Sour cream or yogurt. Use a coconut, soy or almond based yogurt. If you specifically need “sour cream,” use the “Greek” version of those yogurts listed above. Use regular, unsweetened flavors, unless otherwise specified in the recipe.
Milk. Just use your favorite non-dairy milk! Rice, almond, coconut, cashew – the sky’s the limit!
It’s really pretty simple, ya know? Just remember to check your labels and avoid all animal products when you’re baking (unless you like to snack on ham while you’re letting your bundt cake set. In which case: enjoy!) Read your labels, but the basics are above. Now try it, I dare ya! Don’t tell your guests and see if they notice the difference!