Plant-Based Substitutions 101
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Learning how to “veganize” a favorite traditional recipe is easy and fun once you know how to swap out the meat and dairy. Sometimes replacements can't be made, but most of the time, I am pleasantly surprised because there are so many options. I've learned a few tricks over the years and received advice from the pros, so here's a few to get you started.
Replacing Oil and Butter: We don't use refined oils or vegan butters in our recipes because they are stripped of their nutrients and not considered by nutrition experts as health promoting. Plant fats in the form of a whole food, such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives are nutrient dense and a good source of vitamins and minerals. You can get all the fats your body needs through eating a whole-food, plant-based diet. Here are some substitutions for oils/butter in your recipes:
Vegetable broth: Choose a low sodium vegetable broth to sauté vegetables in place of oil. You can also use water if vegetable broth is not available.
Nut butters: 100% all natural nut butters in cookies are a great fat replacer.
Avocados: An avocado can be a butter replacement that will add natural fat and creaminess to just about anything.
Bananas: Bananas are a perfect replacement in cookies or quick breads, but it will make your recipe taste like bananas!
Prune puree: Try pitted prunes and a little bit of water in a food processor to create a thick puree. This is a great substitute for butter when baking.
Applesauce: Unlike bananas, applesauce is a good replacement in cookies and quick bread because it doesn’t add a strong flavor. You can also try various baby food fruits as a replacement for butter as well.
Replacing Meat: I recommend you stay away from “fake meat” products since they are highly processed, loaded with oils, and hard to digest. Here are some healthier meat substitutes.
Tofu or Tempeh: These are nice additions, but you'll need to cook them in order to create a chewier texture. Marinate tofu or tempeh in your favorite sauce and bake them at 400°F until golden brown and dry to the touch.
Butler Soy Curls®: Butler Soy Curls are made with only 100% non-GMO organic soybeans. They are sold dehydrated and require soaking before use. They're a chewy and fun addition to any dish. You can buy them directly from Butlerfoods.com or Amazon.
Beans: Lentils and beans come in many sizes, and you can buy them both dried and canned. You can add them to a dish whole or slightly mashed. They definitely add a thicker, heartier consistency. Make sure you buy beans with no salt added.
Mushrooms: There are many kinds of mushrooms that absorb flavor and add chewy texture to a dish. Shiitake Mushrooms are especially good as a meat substitute.
Green Jackfruit: Green jackfruit can be bought in a can or fresh (great to use for vegan "Pulled Pork BBQ" recipes). Some stores sell it pre-marinated and prepared, which you may find it in the vegan specialty food section. It can also be found at most Asian grocery stores.
Replacing Eggs: There are plenty of simple egg replacements that work beautifully when baking from traditional recipes such as cookies, cakes, and muffins. Here are a few of my favorite ones!
The more plant-based recipes you build, the more creative you will become. I love to watch celebrity chefs create traditional recipes and then “veganize” their creations in my own kitchen. You will be amazed at how easy it is when you begin to use a few simple plant-based substitutions. Bon appetite!