Baked goods are something that we all love to eat, but for some it can be tricky when shifting to a plant-based diet to know what to substitute the usual butter, cream, eggs and other dairy products for. When swapping ingredients that you are used to it is important that flavour is not compromised and that the substitute offers additional nutritional benefits. Often, plant whole foods do taste better anyway – as nature intended! Below are some recommendations that serve as excellent choices when you next decide to get your bake on!
They are a natural source of sugar, adding sweetness to recipes where needed. The riper the banana, the higher the sugar content. With bananas you also get the added bonus of the vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and potassium. They also add a moistness to the end result whether it be a cake, muffin or bread.
- Sweet potato or squash
These are a perfect base for a brownie or cake recipe because they add moistness, density, a natural sweetness and antioxidants all in one! They need to be boiled so they are in a puree or mash form to use in baking.
- Oats and Nuts
These foods offer a great swap for traditional refined white flours. By blending the oats or nuts of your choice in a food processor you can create the same texture as flour but with the added benefit of fibre, healthy fats, protein and minerals.
Dried, ground chickpeas make an excellent swap for simple white flour as it contains fibre, folic acid, protein and other minerals which white flours has mostly been stripped of. Chickpeas have a nutty flavour so add depth to cakes but also it works well in bread making.
- Nut butter
Whichever nut you choose; peanut, almond, cashew or hazelnut you will be adding a creamy texture to you baked foods. They work best though in raw recipes as they retain their rich flavour and thick texture.
Avocados have become the go-to plant ingredient for so many dishes now replacing dairy products due to its creamy consistency and subtle flavour. Replace butter in a 1:1 ratio for avocado to use in cakes or as a frosting with added cacao powder. Avocados are a great source of fibre, healthy fats and vitamins A, K and E.
Dates make a brilliant natural sweetener, with nearly 50% of calories coming from sugar you don’t need to use many to taste the sweetness and shouldn’t need to add any other ‘free sugars’ including honey, maple syrup and agave nectar. They also contain a high amount of fibre and potassium. Dates work best in recipes that require a fudgy texture for example brownies or sticky toffee pudding.
Try this Vegan Refined Sugar-Free Granola which uses several of the ingredients mentioned here as well as no refined sugar making it a great breakfast food to start the day; full of protein and healthy fats.
1 cup of gluten-free oats
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp almond butter
1/3 cup golden flaxseeds
1 tbsp raw cacao
6 tbsp coconut oil, melted
Pinch of pink Himalayan salt
- Preheat the oven to 140oC.
- In a bowl blend the banana and dates into a paste.
- Add all the remaining ingredients into the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until all covered in the paste.
- Place on greaseproof paper on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, stirring the mixture once in between.
- Turn the oven off and leave the granola to crisp up in the residual heat of the oven.
- Once cooled, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
May also be interested to read:
- Why you should “activate” your nuts and seeds
- We Are Nuts About Nuts
- Flax Seed – versatile, inexpensive & full of healthy nutrients
- The 5 Health Benefits of an Avocado
- Nature's Pharmacy - A to Z of Raw Ingredients