You want to include more vegan and gluten-free foods in your life. Good for you! Even if you're not a vegan and even if you don't need to eat a gluten-free diet, there are many virtues to enjoying more wheat-less, plant-based foods. For one, expanding your diet to include a more diverse range of foods has been shown to improve your health, and even protect against chronic disease.
Also, eating less meat is more sustainable for the environment, and better for your body. This isn't to say that meat is bad for you — on the contrary, it can be a part of a healthy diet — simply that we do not need to eat as much of it as many of us do. Eating red meat once a week, for instance, is plenty.
And as for wheat, much like meat, a little whole wheat is not bad for you (especially when you enjoy it in the form of whole sprouted grains, like Ezekiel bread) but we often eat way too much of it, consuming it in multiple daily meals. Too much wheat can cause inflammation, fatigue, skin problems and even depression — especially if you have an unchecked intolerance.
So, no harm can be done by switching it up a little, right? And what better way to include more plant-based and wheat-free food in your life than with some delicious — but still healthy — baked goods!
Unfortunately, as any one who has made a batch of dry AF vegan, gluten-free muffins can tell you, this sort of baking comes with it's own set of challenges. But all of these challenges can be easily overcome with a little know-how — and we've got that for you right here.
Read on. Here's what you need to know about gluten-free and vegan baking so you can enjoy more of these nutritious and tasty treats in your life.
1. Master the Egg Drop
The ubiquitous egg in almost all baking recipes can be easily swapped out for a vegan alternatives. The trick is to make the switch without compromising the texture and emulsification and structure. How, you ask?
Here are some egg alternatives:
Aquafaba (the liquid in the can of chickpeas). When baked, the bean-taste disappears. All you need to do is whip the liquid a bit so it thickens to the consistency of an egg, and substitute 3 tablespoons of aquafaba for one whole eggs, or 2 tablespoons for 1 egg white. Easy peasy.
Ground Flaxseeds & Water. Use 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed and 3 tablespoons water to replace one egg. Just be aware that the flaxseeds will lend your baked goods a nutty taste, so is ideal for banana breads, muffins and pancakes.
Baking Soda & Vinegar. Use 1 teaspoon baking soda and one tablespoon vinegar to replace one egg.
Unflavoured Tofu: 1/4 cup of tofu can be used instead of 1 egg to make brownies, cakes and breads dense. However, it's not so adept at making baked goods light and fluffy.
Banana: Obviously using 1/2 a large banana in lieu of 1 egg will leave your baked goods tasting of this fruit, but if that's alright with you, then give this egg replacement a try!
Find the Right Fats
No butter? No problem! Try a hydrogenated oil free margarine like Earth Balance. You can also use a 1:1 swap with coconut oil, or use 1/4 + 2 tablespoons of olive oil to replace every cup of butter.
It may seem obvious to swap dairy milk for a nut milk, but opt for an unsweetened milk alternative, like soy, nut or coconut milk. This will give you the replacement you need, without the added sugar. Also, keep in mind that consistency is key. Soy milk has a consistency that's on par with dairy milk, while almond milk tends to be thinner and coconut milk is thick.
Gluten, Be Gone
Next up, let's talk about saying buh-bye to gluten. Thanks to the influx of gluten-free flours out there, making the switch is pretty easy. You can actually just go out to your grocery store or health food store and by gluten-free flour by the bag. This is great, but just keep in mind that this is still processed food, and just because it's gluten-free doesn't mean it is healthy. Refined, processed foods are still foods that have been stripped of their nutrients, and often, been laden with other additives. Look for a clean ingredient list, featuring words you recognize and can pronounce.
Bob's Red Mill has a decent brand of gluten-free flour for baking, but it does contain xanthan gum, which can cause bloating and stomach upset. It may not, but if you want to avoid any unsettling stomach issues just cause you wanted a cookie, then consider making your own gluten free flour mix. We love this super simple recipe:
Easy Gluten-Free Flour Mix
Makes 6 cups
4 cups brown rice flour
1 and ⅓ cups potato starch (psst. not flour — starch!)
⅔ cups tapioca starch
Mix it all together and use as a 1:1 substitute for wheat flour.
Another Alternative: The Nuts
Almond flour is a great alternative to wheat. You can use a 1:1 swap ratio with white flour. This said, it will require about three times as much binding agent, so be sure to up your egg replacement if you plan to use this flour.
Coconut flour is delicious, heart healthy and a solid source of fibre, but notoriously tricky to use for baking. It soaks up a helluva lot of moisture so you will need to add that moisture back to your recipe. An easy way to compensate is to add 2 tablespoons extra liquid (e.g. aquafaba) for every 2 tablespoons of coconut flour.
Other coconut flour tips:
- Swap only around 20% of coconut oil for required flour amount. Use almond flour or a gluten-free mix for the rest.
- Fluff it up with a fork before you measure. Coconut oil tends to get clumpy.
So, you ready to start baking? Awesome. Start with this amazing gluten-free and vegan gingerbread cookie recipe! Then, grab our new nutrition guide and meal plan and get ready to infuse your whole diet with more mouthwatering and healthy meals and snacks.
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