Thursday, November 4, 2010

Veggie Might: Easy Veganization

Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about all things Vegetarian.

“So, are you a vegan now?” my bff, ACS, asked on my recent trip to NC. “You always post vegan recipes on the blog.”

“No,” I said, “I bake and mostly cook vegan, but I still eat eggs and some dairy.”

My diet is about 90% vegan, with the occasional spinach feta omelet and cheese pizza making their way in. I primarily share vegan recipes with the CHG audience because they most closely represent my diet and I love to show how accessible vegan cooking can be.

A common misconception about vegan cooking is that it requires lots of specialized ingredients, and that it’s boring and bland. Not true! So many of my favorite, everyday recipes are easy and made from vegetables and pantry staples found in the average American kitchen.

A common misconception about vegetarian and vegan cooking is that it’s heavy on the meat substitutes and tofu to replace the protein in meat. Also not true! I eat tofu about once a week and meat substitutes about twice a year—on the 4th of July and Thanksgiving when I have veggie hot dogs and fake turkey respectively.

Many of your favorite recipes are probably already vegan; they’re just not called vegan because they’re “normal” food: spaghetti with marinara sauce, guacamole and salsa, stir-fry veggies, beans and rice... It’s also easy to make everyday vegetarian recipes vegan.

Here are 3 quick tips:

1) Leave out the cheese.
Cheese is often sprinkled on a dish for extra flavor but not crucial to its success. Just leave out the cheese to make your dish instantly vegan. Unless you’re making a cheese sandwich.
Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca
Camp Stove Veggie Chili

2) Replace butter with oil or nonhydrogenated shortening/margarine.
Saute vegetables in olive oil or nonhydrogenated margarine instead of butter. Substitute nonhydrogenated shortening or margarine for butter in your baked goods. You’ll save on the trans- and saturated fats, as well.
Pindi Chana
Poached Radishes with Tarragon

3) Use plant milks.
“Plant milk” sounds bizarre, I know, but there are so many choices now: soy, rice, almond, coconut, hemp...the list goes on. Try them until you find one you like; then swap out cow’s milk for your plant-based favorite. (Look for unsweetened varieties if you’re counting calories.)
Whole Wheat Scones with Corn, Tomatoes, and Basil
Vegan Rice Pudding

Advanced veganization:

4) Ditch the eggs.
Baked goods don’t need eggs to be delicious. Sometimes, especially in cookies, eggs can merely be eliminated. Other times, you’ll want to substitute tofu, flax seeds, or powdered egg replacers. The Post Punk Kitchen offers a primo primer in vegan baking, so you never have to be afraid to try going eggless.
Vegan Pumpkin Pie
Vegan Ginger Cookies

These tricks can apply to any number of recipes in your arsenal, especially if you’re planning a dinner party and are unsure of the dietary needs of your guests. Since plant oils contain no saturated fats, these tips can also help you get a handle on your blood pressure and cholesterol, if you need assistance in those areas.

Before you know it, you’ll be veganizing wildly and deliciously, and no one will be the wiser—unless you write about it in your blog.


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