Healthy Ingredient Substitutes

Looking for substitute ingredients to prepare Vegan, or Vegetarian meals?  We have compiled a great list of ingredients you can use to prepare many dishes to make them Vegan/Vegetarian, or just healthier. Enjoy!

 

Milk: The best milk substitute for baking is soymilk with almond milk a close second. The reason they work so well is that they have fat, unlike rice milk. Rice milk is great when you are cooking, but using rice milk in baking will result in desserts that are dry and less than rich and satisfying.

1 cup soy or almond milk = 1 cup dairy milk

Buttermilk: Substitute an equal amount of soymilk mixed with lemon juice. Allow the mixture to thicken 5 minutes before using. Or substitute an equal amount of vegan sour cream substitute diluted half and half with water.

1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup soymilk with 2 Tblsp lemon juice allowed to sit 5 minutes

1 cup buttermilk = 1/2 cup vegan sour cream mixed with 1/2 cup water

Sour Cream: Use a vegan sour cream substitute. I’ve had good luck with Sour Supreme, when making things like vegan blueberry sour cream muffins.

1 cup sour cream = 1 cup vegan sour cream

1 Cup sour cream = 1 cup soy yogurt

Butter: Use a vegan butter substitute. My favorite is Earth Balance buttery spread. Because vegan butter substitutes tend to be less solid than dairy butter, make sure you freeze it before you use it in a vegan pie crust, and chill the crust 15 minutes before rolling it and again before baking it. That’s if you want a tender, flaky pie crust!

Also, unless you can find salt-free vegan butter, it’s a good idea to reduce the salt in the recipe by half, or even better, use sea salt. Vegetable oil can also replace butter or vegetable spread in most recipes. Use around 25% less oil – 3/4 cup oil to 1 cup butter or veggie spread.

1 cup butter = 1 cup vegan butter = 3/4 cup vegetable oil

Cream: Coconut cream (the thick portion skimmed off the top of whole fat coconut milk) and tofu are non-dairy alternatives. Coconut cream can be used as a straight substitute for dairy cream in your favorite whipped cream recipe.

Tofu offers versatility, based upon the type you purchase. Soft tofu will yield a light cream when pureed, while extra-firm tofu will produce your thickest option. For a truly creamy texture, always choose varieties that are labeled as ‘Silken.’ For pumpkin pies and cheesecakes, the non-silken tofu selections will give your dessert a more traditional texture.

Cheese: Replacing cream cheese and ricotta cheese in vegan baking.

Ricotta Cheese: Substitute an equal quantity of mashed soft or silken tofu blended with a dash of lemon juice.

Cream Cheese: Blend a dash of lemon juice with heavy coconut cream.

Replacing Eggs In Veg Desserts

What to Use In Place of Eggs

For those dessert recipes that traditionally call for the use of eggs as a binder, here are a few vegan-friendly substitutes for each egg:

1/4 cup applesauce, or

1 small ripe banana, mashed, or

2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch, or

Ener-G Egg Replacer (or another brand), or even

1/4 cup (2 ounces) soft tofu blended with the liquid ingredients of the recipe

Eggs have two functions in baking: Binding or thickening and leavening (leavening is what makes baked goods light and fluffy.) Identifying their function in a particular recipe will help you decide with how to replace them. Different egg replacers will work best in different recipes. Be prepared to do a little experimenting.

In cookies and muffins, no binding agent is generally needed. In quick breads and cakes both leavening and binding is needed. In custard pies, like pumpkin pie, eggs are mainly for thickening. You won’t be able to make really light types of desserts that call for a very large number of eggs, but you will be able to make just about anything else that uses up to 3-4 eggs.

Leavening: For cakes, cookies, muffins, quick breads, etc

Soymilk with lemon: 1 egg = 1/4 cup soymilk + 1 Tblsp lemon

Sour Supreme and baking soda: 1 egg = 1/4 cup Sour Supreme + 1/4 tsp baking soda

Optional: In cakes and quick breads, add 2 Tblsp of cornstarch to the dry ingredients for each egg being replaced. This will bind the ingredients and give a nice soft texture.

Thickening and Binding:

Finely ground flaxseeds whipped with water: 1 egg = 1 Tblsp ground flax seeds mixed with 1/4 cup water

The flaxseeds gel and bind with the other ingredients. Some people find that this works best with a little Ener G Egg replacer mixed in since flax seeds alone have no leavening effect.

Cornstarch and pureed soft tofu: 1 egg = 3 Tblsp pureed tofu + 2 tsp cornstarch (Good for quiches and custard pies.)

Optional: In cakes and quick breads, add 2 Tblsp of cornstarch to the dry ingredients for each egg being replaced. This will bind the ingredients and give a nice soft texture.

Fat Free Egg Replacers: 1/4 cup applesauce, pureed banana, squash or pumpkin, will also work as egg replacers for binding. They are low in fat but will also add some flavor, which may or may not be desirable depending on the recipe.

1 egg = 1/4 cup puree

Ready Made Dessert Toppers: Look for Turtle Mountain’s Purely Decadent and Soy Delicious lines, available in most supermarkets in North America (even Walmart). Whole Soy Co. offers a deliciously creamy, low fat line of soy frozen yogurts. Soyatoo (in spray cans) is a soy based whipped cream substitute.

Good non-soy dessert toppers can be found at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other natural food retailers. Larry & Luna’s Coconut Bliss ice creams are rich, calorie laden and taste divine with fruit pie or crisp.

Flours

Wheat free and gluten free flours

Wheat flour contains gluten which is the protein that strengthens and binds dough in baking. Because of this, when baking with wheat free flours you may need to source alternative binding agents.

Wheat free recipes using flour substitutes usually have been carefully formulated to get the best possible result taking into account the problems associated with lack of wheat gluten, therefore substitution can be a risky experiment. If you try substitution, then be aware that you may get a failure, so don’t do it for the first time if cooking for an important occasion.

The flours listed below are alternatives to wheat flour. However it is important to be aware that there is no exact substitute for wheat flour, and recipes made with wheat free alternative flours will be different from those containing wheat.

It’s always best to store flours in airtight containers, in a dark cool place to avoid them turning rancid. The wheat-free.org kitchen actually stores its wheat/gluten free flours in bags in the freezer to maintain their freshness.

Amaranth flour

Amaranth flour is made from the seed of the Amaranth plant, which is a leafy vegetable. Amaranth seeds are very high in protein, which makes a nutritious flour for baking. Alternative names: African spinach, Chinese spinach, Indian spinach, elephants ear.

Arrowroot flour

Arrowroot flour is ground from the root of the plant, and is very useful for thickening recipes. It is tasteless, and the fine powder becomes clear when it is cooked, which makes it ideal for thickening clear sauces.

Barley flour

Barley only contains a small amount of gluten, so is rarely used to make bread, with the exception of unleavened bread. It has a slightly nutty flavour, and can be used to thicken or flavour soups or stews. Blended with other alternative flours it is also fairly versatile for cakes, biscuits, pastry, dumplings etc.

Brown rice flour

Brown rice flour is heavier than its relative, white rice flour. It is milled from unpolished brown rice so it has a higher nutritional value than white, and as it contains the bran of the brown rice it has a higher fibre content. This also means that it has a noticeable texture, a bit grainy.

It does have a slight nutty taste, which will sometimes come out in recipes depending on the other ingredients, and the texture will also contribute to a heavier product than recipes made with white rice flour. It is not often used completely on its own because of its heavier nature.

Bulk buying is not recommended as it is better used when fresh, store in an airtight container.

Buckwheat flour

Buckwheat flour is not, despite its name a form of wheat, buckwheat is actually related to rhubarb. The small seeds of the plant are ground to make flour.

It has a strong nutty taste so is not generally used on its own in a recipe, as the taste of the finished product can be very overpowering, and a little bitter. Alternative names: beech wheat, kasha, saracen corn.

Chia flour

Made from ground chia seeds. Highly nutritious, chia seeds have been labeled a “superfood” containing Omega 3, fibre, calcium and protein, all packed into tiny seeds.

Also known as “nature’s rocketfuel” as many sportspeople and superathletes such as the Tarahumara use it for enhanced energy levels during events.

If chia flour isn’t readily available then put chia seeds in a processor and whizz up some. If used in baking, liquid levels and baking time may need to be increased slightly.

Chick pea flour (also known as gram or garbanzo flour)

This is ground from chick peas and has a strong slightly nutty taste. It is not generally used on its own.

Cornflour

Cornflour is milled from corn into a fine, white powder, and is used for thickening recipes and sauces. It has a bland taste, and therefore is used in conjunction with other ingredients that will impart flavour to the recipe.

It also works very well when mixed with other flours, for example when making fine batters for tempura.

Some types of cornflour are milled from wheat but are labelled wheaten cornflour.

Sweeteners

Here a list of great white sugar substitutes. Some might be tempted to use popular chemical sugar substitutes such as….

Sucralose, the main ingredient in Splenda, is sugar bonded with chlorine – you know, the stuff that’s in bleach!  Horrible Stuff

Saccharin, a.k.a. Sweet ‘n Low, is made from coal tar – eeww! Cancer waiting to happen

Aspartame, mostly marketed as Nutrasweet, is without question one of the most dangerous substances that has ever been inflicted on the unsuspecting American public. Aspartame, when ingested, converts to formaldehyde, the chemical used for embalming corpses. Enough said. Don’t believe the hype

Stick to sweeteners produced by nature and your body will thank you for it.

Healthier Sugar Substitutes

Sucanat

Sucanat and refined white sugar start as the same product, sugar cane, which is high in many vitamins and minerals. The refining process removes all measurable traces of those vitamins and minerals from white sugar, leaving us with a nutritionally devoid product whose sole purpose is to be sweet.

Sucanat, on the other hand, is not refined. Sugar cane juice is dried until it crystallizes. Sucanat retains the vitamins and minerals of the original sugar cane, and is in a far more natural form than refined sugar.

Sucanat looks and smells a bit like brown sugar. To the taste, though, it’s a great substitute for refined white sugar. It is sweeter than refined white sugar, though, so cut the amount down by about one-third in your recipes. So if a recipe calls for a cup of sugar, only use two-thirds cup of sucanat.

We usually cut the sugar in recipes way down, though, because most recipes ask for way too much sugar.

Honey

Honey can also be used in some situations as a natural sugar substitute.

Sweetening tea is one place where honey shines. You get the sweetness you’re looking for in your tea along with the honey flavor.

Going along with our theme of using as natural organic food as possible, we use raw organic honey. Raw honey is naturally solid and translucent. You should not be able to see through it, but light will come through it. Clear honey is not raw!

Raw organic honey will generally have bits of the comb on the top of it. If you don’t like those bits, just dig below them to get to the pure honey for your tea, and save the bits of comb for baking.

When using raw honey as a substitute for sugar in a recipe, cut the amount down by one-half. So if a recipe calls for a cup of sugar, only use half a cup of raw honey.

Maple Syrup 

Maple syrup is a another great natural sugar substitute in something like oatmeal. We use organic maple syrup, of course, for the best flavor. It’s best to drizzle the syrup on the oatmeal, rather than to just dump in a bunch, to retain the essential flavor of the maple syrup. When you stir it in, you also lose some of the punch of maple syrup flavor, but it’s still sweet, so try it both ways and see what you like best. You can also use maple syrup as a substitute for sugar in baking, at a one to one ratio.

Fruit

Fresh fruit can also be a great sweetener. Those bananas that are too ripe to eat straight can be sliced into oatmeal. They’ll mash down and mix with the oatmeal to give it a sweet banana taste. If you cook the bananas with the oatmeal, the oatmeal turns out extra creamy and just as sweet.

You can use fresh bananas as a substitute for sugar in some baking, too, at a one to one ratio. If your bananas are not very ripe, add in some maple syrup to add a bit more sweet taste.

Brown Rice Syrup

Is made with brown rice that’s cooked with cultures and enzymes to break down the starches.  The resulting liquid is then drained off and cooked further to it’s desired, syrupy consistency. Half as sweet as white sugar, it has a mild flavor. It’s very good for cooking and baking. Be sure to read labels because some brands include barley malt and corn syrup.  Brown rice syrup can be substituted on a 1:1 ratio for other liquid sweeteners in baking.

Muscavado

Different from the brown sugar (white sugar processed with molasses) that we are used to, is an unrefined brown sugar that is available in both light and dark varieties.  It’s flavor is similar to brown sugar, due to retaining it’s dark sugarcane juice.  Just like brown sugar, it is moist and can be used as a substitute for brown sugar in recipes.

Stevia

Stevia (Meethi patti), a South American herb known to lower elevated blood pressure (hypertension), is a digestive aid which reduces gas and stomach acidity, and prevents obesity. It has low calories and is also known to guard against gum and tooth decay. Stevia, in fact, is the only sweetener that I would recommend for diabetics. It is easily available in India under different brand names. One such is So Sweet and another is Dr Shugar. These are available as powders which can be added to your food and beverages to sweeten them. Do note that some forms of Stevia cannot be cooked, so only add them after you’re done with your cooking.

Rapadura

This is the most raw form of sugar available and is considered acceptable by many raw food chefs. It looks and tastes much like Sucanat. Rapadura can be substituted 1:1 for sugar in baking, but it’s much better used in raw desserts. Be prepared – the taste and texture will be different, but most people prefer this!

Date Sugar

A great natural sugar substitute made from ground up dehydrated dates, so it still contains all the minerals and fiber of the fruit. This form of sugar is also commonly used in raw food preparation. It is not good in drinks because it doesn’t dissolve well, but it works very well in baked goods.

Yacon Syrup

Made from the roots of the Yacon plant, which grows only in the Andes, this rich, thick syrup is very sweet and has no glycemic index. This is a terrific natural sugar substitute – I use it in many of my vegan recipes and it’s great with unsweetened or raw almond milk on cereal and oatmeal.