Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle can seem unbelievably daunting at first. Considering how many day-to-day items contain animal products, even in small amounts (refined sugar, really?), it can be easy to get discouraged. However, not all changes have to be mind-blowing. On the Great Ideas website, Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien assists with a list of vegan entrees, snacks, and desserts that are already available in the grocery freezer aisle, helping to keep starvation – and boredom – at bay while you are figuring out new ways to eat. There are many foods that may seem lost forever that can actually be altered with just a few tweaks to bring them to the vegan side. Here are tips on how to turn favorite dishes into vegan masterpieces.
Cheese tends to be one of the more difficult ingredients to leave behind. Whether using it as an ingredient in lasagna, lining a burrito, or simply using it as a garnish, cheese seems to pop up in tons of recipes. Depending on how it is being used, there are a few different options. In a recipe such as lasagna where ricotta cheese is often a staple, a tasty vegan ricotta cheese can be made by using a base of firm tofu and adding in lemon juice, minced garlic, sea salt, olive oil, cracked pepper, and chopped basil leaves. To save on time, check out the dairy aisle for a vegan ricotta cheese that is ready to go.
As for shredded cheese, there are now plenty of ready-made options that are soy based and rice based. Nut based cheeses are also becoming more available. These particular products are made by soaking nuts such as almonds or cashews, straining and mashing them, then adding nutritional yeast or another salty source.
Surprisingly enough, it isn’t too difficult to find vegan substitutions for recipes calling for eggs. Since eggs are primarily used to bind together the other ingredients, numerous foods can be used for this purpose. In place of one egg, soft tofu can do the trick as can soymilk. A tablespoon of ground flaxseed paired with three tablespoons of water can also work. For sweeter recipes, a small banana or a couple tablespoons of applesauce or apricot provide the binding power while adding a pleasant hint of flavor. Another egg substitute that can work is a tablespoon of squash puree, but this one can have a distinct effect on the finished taste of certain recipes so it is a good idea to test it when making a small batch first before committing to it on a large scale.
This is one of the easier substitutes to find, although for die-hard milk drinkers, it can be the most difficult to switch. Soy milk is available in sweetened, unsweetened, and flavored, often including vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Almond milk is also easy to find and comes with the same options. Be sure to choose the milk that will best enhance the recipe being made. Nowadays, coconut milk is also adorning the shelves with its own array of flavors. The best way to choose between the numerous options is to try each in small doses until becoming acclimated to the various flavors. It is not uncommon to find one particular brand or drink base that really speaks to an individual’s particular taste.
Choosing veganism does not mean beloved meals of the past can’t find their way into the present. With a little research and a few alterations, those meals can still be served as flavorfully as before but with a better fit into the vegan lifestyle.