Vegan Alternatives for Eggs and Dairy

Egg saladFor whatever reason you became vegetarian, the same reasons point to veganism. To live cruelty free, for the planet, for food injustice issues or for your own health, a vegan lifestyle is the logical step. Gone are the days in New Zealand when margarine was illegal and only powdered soya milk was available. It has never been easier to go vegan. Start with looking at your existing recipes and food preferences. It is not difficult to adapt almost any recipe by trying some of the suggestions below.

Butter

  • Margarine: replace weight for weight
  • Oil: replace half a cup of butter with one third a cup of oil. Canola or extra light virgin olive oils work well.
  • Oil free butter replacements: applesauce or prune puree.

For prune puree, stew 1/2 cup of pitted prunes with 1/4 cup of water then blend until smooth. Use 1/3 cup of puree for half a cup of butter. If you don’t have to be 100% oil free, you can add a tablespoon of oil or margarine to these oil free alternatives for improved mouth feel.

IMG_0332Chocolate

  • There are several brands of vegan chocolate available. Whittakers, Richfields and Trade Aid dark varieties are vegan- just check the ingredient list to ensure there are no milk solids or butter fat.
  • Most dark varieities of chocolate chips or drops are vegan. These can be used in baking or to sprinkle on vegan ice cream.
  • Check out the shopping page for chocolatiers who produce vegan chocolate in Christchurch.

Cream

  • Pouring cream: replace with coconut cream or Vitasoy Creamy Original
  • Thick cream: use one of the cream recipes in the dessert page on this website.

Eggs

Replacing eggs is the most challenging aspects of vegan baking. Eggs have four uses in baked goods: liquid, leavening, lightness, and binding.

  • Liquid is easily replaced  using two tablespoons of water, milk (try soy), juice, or vegetable stock for each egg. Eggless cake batters are thicker than eggy ones so add extra liquid cautiously.  Eggless cakes are also moist so generously oil the cake tin.
  • Leavening is when carbon dioxide is released in a batter or dough to add lightness to a mixture. Yeast does this in bread, and an alkaline reaction does it in cakes and quickbreads where alkaline baking powder and soda react with moisture or other more acidic ingredients. Beating eggs incorporates air into them contributing to leavening.  When not using eggs the acid-alkaline reaction must be increased. Either replace each egg with an extra half teaspoon of baking powder, or replace the milk or water with a more acidic liquid such as yoghurt (soy) or adding two teaspoons of lemon juice for every cup of milk. Dilute any acidic liquid added to half strength with water to prevent a gluey batter.
  • Lightness can be achieved by gentle handling as well as proper leavening. Thoroughly beat the fat and the sweetener together to incorporate air. Handle the finished batter gently to keep it from deflating when transferring the pan to the oven.
  • Binding makes recipes stick together. Binders are particularly useful in cakes, pancakes, fritters, and biscuit batters.  Eggless cakes can be crumbly and biscuits spread out and loose their shape.  Grease and flour oven trays to help biscuits stay together.  Adding a mashed banana to baked goods binds them, as long as the banana flavour blends in.

Egg substitutes

  • Baking powder: 1 egg: ½ teaspoon of baking powder mixed with two tablespoons of water. This works especially well for in cakes and biscuit recipes with only one egg.
  • Flaxseed: 1 egg: beat 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water until gelatinous. Only use this for one egg recipes as it can leave an aftertaste if the quantities are doubled.
  • Tofu: 1 egg:1/4 cup blended silken tofu. Whip in a blender until smooth and creamy. You may need to add the other wet ingredients in your recipe to this mixture to get it to blend properly. Works best in dense cakes and in smaller quantites for lighter cakes and fluffy things (if the recipe calls for 3 eggs only use 2 “tofu” eggs”). In biscuit recipes, it may make the finished product more cake like than desired, so add 1 teaspoon of arrowroot or cornflour to the recipe. Not recommended for pancakes.
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer : 1 egg: 1 1/2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons water mixed well. Use in all baking that requires two or less eggs. It seems to work best in biscuits, or things that are supposed to be a little crispy.
  • Make your own Egg replacer: Mix together ½ cup of arrowroot and ½ cup soy flour. Store in a tightly covered jar.  Two tablespoons equal one egg and will bind most standard cakes and quick breads. The soy flour adds to the nutritive value.
  • Bananas : 1 egg = ½ ripened banana blended until smooth or mashed well. Bananas hold the air bubbles well, make things nice and moist, and impart a nice flavor. It will leave a light banana taste in your baking. Baked goods using banana brown very nicely. Works best in quick breads, muffins, cakes, pancakes.
  • Soy yogurt : 1 egg: 1/4 cup soy yogurt. Soy yogurt works like tofu as an egg replacer. Works best in quick breads, muffins, cakes
  • Replacing eggs in savoury dishes: Mashed potato or avocado, sour cream, tahini, and nut butters all act to bind food. Wholegrains and nuts make a crumbly mixture so a soft and sticky binder is needed. Breadcrumbs or oats bind bean burgers, while nut butters bind grain burgers.  A good egg replacer to bind ingredients in loaves is: for each egg, boil one tablespoon of oats in 5 tablespoons of water and use immediately.

Ice cream

  • Store bought vegan brands include Lite Licks or So Good. Each are available in a variety of flavours in 1 litre tubs.
  • Most ice cream shops have a few non dairy varieties. Usually these are the sorbet or gelato varieties.
  • For a quick and easy home made dairy free ice cream, check out the desserts page on this website.

Milk

  • Use soy, rice, oat or almond milk. Remember that different varieties vary in taste and sweetness so taste first to find a flavor that you like and will not dominate in a recipe. If you find the milk gives too beany a taste in savoury dishes, try half and half with vegetable stock or add a teaspoon of good quality vegetable stock powder to lessen the effect.
  • For butter milk, add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to your milk and let it sit for a couple of minutes.

Almond Milk (GF)

Yoghurt

Replace with soy yoghurt. The two brands in New Zealand are Kingsland (fruit flavoured varieties) or Bean Me Up (plain) These can be bought from most supermarkets or you can make your own. Click here for a downloadable pdf of an easy step guide to making soy yoghurt.

To make your own you will need: An easy-Yo maker, ie, Easy-Yo thermos flask and 1 litre container, 3 tablespoons of a vegan yoghurt starter (just buy  a plain commercial soya yoghurt to act as the starter) and1 litre So-Good Essential Soy milk (this is the only type that does it, other brands will fail)

  1. Mix 3 tablespoons of the starter soya yoghurt with 1 litre of room temperature So-Good Essential in the 1 litre Easy-Yo container.
  2. Pour boiling water in the Easy-Yo flask up to the line and place the container of milk inside. Put the lid on.
  3. Incubate at least 12 hours.
  4. Store yogurt in the fridge.
  5. Remember to leave at least 3 tablespoons to start the next batch. But if the culture dies then start over with more bought vegan yoghurt.