I’m a home baker; here are my tips for vegan baking!

I’m a home baker; here are my tips for vegan baking!

A plant-based vanilla cupcake on a plate.

When I first went vegan, I spent a lot of time experimenting with new savoury recipes. The curries, chilis, pastas, sandwiches, salads, and other dishes I already loved tasted amazing with plant-based swaps! But there was one area that I was a little more hesitant: baking.

I have a major sweet tooth and have always loved baking. I even became known as the “cookie person” when I got together with loved ones for the holidays.

Fortunately, there are plenty of great vegan treat brands and “accidentally vegan” store-bought goods, from Maynards Fuzzy Peaches to Oreos; but for me, there is nothing quite like biting into a warm cookie fresh out of the oven. So I set out to hone my plant-based baking skills.

It didn’t take long! As it turns out, it’s very easy to make delicious plant-based treats. It might even be easier than baking with animal products—say goodbye to fiddling with eggshells in your batter! It wasn’t long before I was turning out quick desserts that were wowing even my non-vegan friends.

Here are some of my favourite ways to make non-vegan recipes plant-based.

The best non-dairy milk for baking

According to my research, the best non-dairy milk for baking is soy milk, followed by almond milk. If you bake a lot of treats with thin batters, like cakes, you might want to consider those as your top option.

A batch of chocolate chip cookies close up.

However, I mostly bake cookies with a thicker dough that only call for a couple tablespoons of milk. For recipes where your non-dairy milk is not going to be the star of the show, I’ve found it makes no difference to use whichever milk you prefer for your everyday use like sauces, coffee, or tea. When a recipe calls for dairy milk, I normally substitute 1:1 for an equal amount of oat milk.

The best plant-based butter for baking

There are so many great plant-based brands that make dairy-free butter. Here is the best side-by-side comparison I’ve found of the various vegan butters for baking cookies.

My personal favourite cost-effective butter substitution is Becel Vegan Margarine, which I’ve found works well in cookies, squares, and even buttercream.

A batch of vegan brownies cut into squares in a pan.

If you’re in a pinch, a neutral oil like vegetable oil or canola oil works just fine in cake recipes.

Applesauce can also be substituted for butter if you’re oil-free.

The best plant-based egg substitutes for baking

Replacing egg with flax egg

A flax egg is my go-to egg swap in cookie recipes. If a recipe calls for only one or two eggs, a flax egg works flawlessly. Watch the video below for instructions on making a flax egg or see the recipe here.

One thing to be cautious of is using flax eggs in recipes with 3-4 eggs or more. In egg-heavy recipes without other binding ingredients, the flax egg loses some of its power as a binding agent and can leave you with a dessert that doesn’t set properly. A store-bought substitute can work best in these cases.

Using Just Egg in baking

Store-bought egg substitutes like Just Egg are designed to mimic the fluffiness and binding properties that you would see from using an animal egg in baking.

A bottle of Just Egg vegan egg replacement on a muffin tin.

Bonus: When you’re done with your sweet recipe, they also work great in savoury dishes like plant-based omelettes.

Replacing egg with pumpkin or banana in baking

One egg can be replaced by ¼ cup pumpkin puree or mashed ripe banana (equal to about ½ a medium banana).

A bunch of overripe bananas on the counter.

Pumpkin and banana make baked goods dense and moist, making them perfect for breads and muffins. This replacement works especially well for recipes that naturally incorporate these flavours, like:

  • pumpkin cookies
  • pumpkin spice muffins
  • pumpkin cake
  • banana muffins
  • banana pancakes
  • banana bread

Replacing egg with tofu in baking

Silken tofu is an effective egg substitute in a wide range of recipes, including cakes, cookies, squares, and breads. Each egg can be replaced with ¼ cup pureed silken tofu.

Silken tofu can be used as an egg sustitute.

What to use instead of egg in meringue

For recipes that call for egg whites to be whipped into a meringue, aquafaba is a naturally effective plant-based substitute.

Aquafaba meringues from chickpea liquid.

Aquafaba refers to the liquid left over from cooked chickpeas. If you’re making a recipe with chickpeas like this scrumptious chickpea salad sandwich, chickpea tagine, or hummus, simply save the liquid from your canned chickpeas or the leftover cooking liquid from cooking dried and soaked chickpeas. The word can also refer to the meringue-like foam made by whipping this liquid.

To make aquafaba, whip the liquid saved from cooked or canned chickpeas for 3-6 minutes. Check out this step-by-step guide on making aquafaba.

The bottom line

There are so many easy plant-based substitutions for baking, and even more unique recipes to explore that are plant-based by default—like these tender and fragrant plant-based cranberry lemon yogurt muffins! Plant-based baking is a wonderful (and delicious) way to get creative in the kitchen.

What did you think of these plant-based substitutions for baking? Do you have a favourite that we missed? Find PlantUniversity’s posts at @vancouverhumane on Tiktok or Instagram and let us know your thoughts!

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Plant-Based Eating in the Classroom

Plant-Based Eating in the Classroom

Featured author: Emma Levez Larocque, Plant-Based RHN

It is said that we tend to be as healthy as those we spend the most time with. This is one reason why encouraging the consumption—and enjoyment—of nutritious plant-based foods in the classroom can be such a powerful influence.

As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Community Educator I have delivered a number of plant-based workshops in schools, in partnership with teachers, and sometimes parent helpers. Though there are almost always students who vehemently declare at the beginning of the class that they “hate all vegetables,” when they are invited to help make the food, and see how tasty and vibrant it looks, they can rarely resist taking a bite. Even the most reluctant veggie eaters are often won over by simple, colourful plant-based dishes that they have had a hand in making.

Helping students make connections between what they’re eating, their own health, planetary health, and compassion for non-human animals can arm them with wisdom that will last long past their school days.

Inviting a qualified guest into the classroom is one way to bring this type of information to students. However, there are lots of ways to work plant-based learning into classroom curriculum or the school day on a regular basis too.

3 ways to bring plant-based learning into the classroom

1) Incorporate regular food preparation and cooking in the classroom

Most kids love to eat, and many love to cook or help prepare food—especially if it involves getting their hands dirty! Exposing children to healthy, tasty food can have a huge impact, particularly when it is done consistently and over time. Keeping the recipes simple and low tech makes it easy to implement these types of lessons more often. Massaged Kale Salad is a recipe that I have made with many groups of children, and they love it because they get to crush the avocado into the kale and get their (clean!) hands dirty. Because they have made the salad, they are usually eager to eat it too.

Power balls, no-bake cookies and fruit/veg “face pizzas” on pitas or tortillas are other things that don’t take a lot of equipment and are very hands-on for students. When cooking and food prep is part of your classroom routine students have opportunities to try new foods, develop and practice important life skills, and it can help encourage the regular consumption of plant-based foods.

2) Use activities that make eating plants visual and fun

An example of this is teaching kids about “eating the rainbow,” a very visual concept that often resonates with young people. Colours in foods often correspond with the nutrients they contain, and this is one reason why eating vibrant, colourful foods is so good for us! Counting the number of colourful foods they have eaten in a day can become a fun game for students.  In addition, using the rainbow framework can be helpful in discussing how colourful foods can be beneficial for different aspects of our health (e.g., orange foods are good for our eyes and help protect us from getting sick, etc). There is a free infographic download from Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine on the Nutrition Rainbow that may be helpful here.

3) Talk to students about where their food comes from

As a society we have become disconnected from our food and farms. However, that is beginning to change as mainstream society acknowledges the impacts our food choices have on planetary health and the wellbeing of non-human animals.

Eating more plant-based foods is a positive, pro-active thing we can all do to tread more lightly on the earth and understanding this can be very empowering for students. Discussion content will necessarily depend on the age of the students involved.

For younger students a great place to start may be an activity that compares various environmental impacts—like water use or pollution—of animal foods versus plant foods. This information from The Vegetarian Resource Group could help teachers interested in creating such an activity. PETA’s Share the World kit may also be helpful for elementary school teachers looking to bring education about the importance of compassion and empathy into their classroom.

Conversations with older students may be inspired and informed by documentaries like Seaspiracy, Game Changers or David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet.

As major organizations like the United Nations are recognizing the merit of a global dietary shift toward more plant-based foods, schools and universities around the country and continent are beginning to embrace their important role in educating students about the connections between food and health, environment, and compassion.

Are you a teacher, educator or parent who has helped to introduce plant-based learning into your school? How are you doing it? Let us know in the comments below. Or, if you’re interested in helping to implement more plant-based learning into your classroom/school and need support, we’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to subscribe to Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity Platform to stay updated on new free resources and tips uploaded to the site.

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