No Eggs or Butter! How Do You Bake?

This question arises quite frequently when people discover we are plant based, “if you don’t eat eggs or butter, how can you possibly bake anything?”

For as much as I like to make treats, I was determined to find solutions.  It did take some trial and error but my treat eaters have been very happy with the results :)  As crazy as it sounds to most people, you can make A LOT of delicious recipes beyond treats, without using any of animal based ingredients. Whether you are plant based, vegan, allergic or just ran out of eggs, there are some staples that you can use for replacing eggs and butter when baking.  In fact, the recipe will be free of hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol, heart disease, autoimmune issues, excessive unhealthy fat, and the list goes on.  Replacing eggs or butter with whole food ingredients provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and other nutrients that benefit the body for activity, recovery and overall health.  I feel it is a good trade.  I have found that I use some of the listed options below more frequently than others as that just seems to work the best for that specific recipe or it just happens to be what I have on hand.

 

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My Go-To EGG Substitutions when baking:

Chia Seeds and Flaxseeds
Best for: cakes, muffins, quick breads, yeast breads, cookies, brownies
1 egg1 tablespoon ground chia seeds or flaxseed mixed 3 tablespoons water let sit at least 10 minutes.You also get binding properties with both of these seeds.

Banana (or Fruit Purees, even sweet potato and pumpkin)
Best for: cakes, muffins, quick breads
1 egg: 1/4 cup mashed banana or other pureed fruit
Remember that the riper the banana the more your recipe will taste like banana and add sweetness, so just be sure how ripe you want your banana to be.

Unsweetened Applesauce
Best for: cakes, muffins, quick breads
1 egg: 1/4 cup applesauce
check consistency before adding more and do not exceed 1 cup.  Applesauce binds with flours very well adding moisture to your recipe.

Nut Butters
Best for cookies, brownies. Just about any nut butter will work, but almond and cashew have been the most successful for me.  If you need a nut free, use sunflower seed butter.
Use equal parts called for in the recipe

Nothing
Sometimes if a recipe calls for an egg and the ingredients include a leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda, I will just add a little extra fluid like almond milk or water and go off the consistency of the mixture.

These are less used in my kitchen:

Apple Cider Vinegar & Baking Soda
Best when combined with baking soda, it causes dough to rise, making it a perfect egg leavening replacement.
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 teaspoon baking soda.

 

 

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My Go-To BUTTER Substitutions for baking:

Unsweetened Applesauce
1/3 of a cup of applesauce to replace every 1/2 cup of oil or margarine

Nut Butters
Best for cookies, muffins, pancakes
Use an equal amount of nut butter to replace the butter or oil in a recipe.  Just about any nut butter will work, but almond and cashew have been the most successful for me.  If you need a nut free, use sunflower seed butter.  Be sure the nut butters are smooth, not made with added sugar and oils and are room temperature

Mashed Avocado
Works best in chocolate based recipes, ice creams, smoothies
1 egg: 1/4 cup mashed avocado

 

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Here are a few other suggestions for substituting animal by products.  Sometimes the vegetables in the veggie burgers can add too much moisture so adding in a little rolled oats, arrowroot, potatoes/sweet potatoes, bread crumbs or flour can provide binding.  Be sure to add a little at a time until you get the consistency you want.  Nut Milks work very well, especially almond milk for replacing cow’s milk.  Cashew milk adds a little more creaminess to it, and coconut milk works great for when you want a creamier texture (like in ice creams).  Adding apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice to your milks will give it a buttermilk flavor and is great when making mashed potatoes, biscuits, pancakes or scones. When needing to use cream, coconut milk and cashews blended with water (equal parts) are great substitutions.  For refined sugars, I use dates for most of my recipes.  Sometimes honey and pure maple syrup.  Whatever you choose to do, know there are many options if you want to improve your health or if you ran out of an ingredient.

 

For more ideas, check the links below:
Guide to Plant Based Baking

Plant Based Baking Substitutions

PlantPlate

Lunch and Snack Ideas for Kids

Lunch packed, Pesto Wraps, cucumbers and fruit salad

During the school year and the summer break,  I rely on some of the favorites picked by the kids to keep well stocked, which means batch baking, dicing and slicing. I also like to try new recipes to change things up a bit. The list is ever evolving and changing, so be sure to check the Kids tab for new ideas!  Everything I have on my blog are recipes that are consumed and liked by my family, kid approved! What is wonderful about these choices is they work for lunches and/or snacks, and are not filled with corn starch, corn syrup, oil, refined sugar, white flour, bleached flour and the many non food ingredients found in most packaged items. I will say we do have our occasional packaged pretzels and Late July crackers in the pantry, there are far worse options than those. Sports are a large component of our family, so I keep these, along with lots of fresh fruits and veggies on hand for those grab-n-go moments. I have included a variety of options for those who do and don’t have food sensitivities.

kid snack summer

And remember, these aren’t just for kids :)

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One of the top requested from my girls are Zucchini Muffins. Love that these have some veggies in them and can be made without nuts and are dairy free, soy free and a gluten free option. And double up the recipe and store in the freezer for lasting snacking.

Kinda Like Muffins are another huge hit around here and with friends. Another snack that can be changed up to your liking, with or without chocolate, with or without nuts. Perfect size for grab-n-go time and store in the freezer for long lasting. My kids will eat them straight from the freezer, I have yet to try them like that but they say they are tasty that way.  The Blender Pancakes have been a great snack lately, I double the batch and then store the remaining pancakes in the fridge.  They hold well for quick grab and go, and the kids pack them as snacks for school too.

Pesto Roll Ups are another quick lunch fix. I make pesto once in while and we will use it for the wraps. These are filling, flavorful and easy to make. The PBJB Burrito is another “wrap” the kids make, even though we may have bread, they prefer a tortilla most of the time. They will also just do PBB, which is peanut butter and banana rolled up.  Sierra’s Potato Salad is another addition to the lunches.  As well as Quinoa Salad.  My kids will pack these nuggets in their lunch with ketchup, yes cold packed.  Made with chickpeas which are a great source of fiber, carbs, calcium, iron, protein and vitamin A, which make for a great snack or some fuel for a workout., Chick’,LESS Nuggets.

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Granola and granola bars are very convenient and come in many varieties in the store. What is not convenient is the ingredients. Avoid the unnecessary sugars and find something that is less processed.  Best to find other options, but if you are going to buy bars, I suggest, Lara Bars (read ingredients), Go Raw, Picky Bars and That’s It Bars.  Keep in mind when buying bars the less ingredients the better and where on the list the ingredient falls. They are intended to provide your body with fuel. Regardless of what you call them, it is wise to look at the ingredients to determine whether they are a nutritious choice or merely empty calories. Look for words (AND STAY AWAY FROM THEM) like brown rice syrup, agave, evaporated cane juice, cane sugar, corn syrup, soy oil, coconut sugar, raw sugar. These are glorified names for added sugars that are totally not necessary, buy organic if possible, as with anything, if you don’t recognize an ingredient don’t buy it.  Here are a couple I have made: Oatmeal Cookies , Dark Chocolate Granola Bars , Fallnola, Hangry Bars.

Whether you need something for school or sports, these Energy Bites and Raw Cookies and Hangry Bars are the bomb! They are a powerful package in a small bite and are such a better option than a sports bar. My husband packs these on his long bike rides and we keep them handy for our backpacking excursions as well.

The girls are always putting fresh fruit and vegetables in their lunch which are the largest portion of their lunch, whether it be a mini salad (fruit too), sliced apples, stone fruits, grapes, cuties, sugar snap peas, carrots, cucumbers and many other varieties.  Always have fruits and veggies packed in lunches.  Keep some of the favorites stocked, but also give them varieties to try because limiting to only their favorite will limit their body of vitamins and minerals.

An example of a hummus veggie wrap lunch

 

Cucumbers are a favorite around here, especially since we started growing our own. Kyla’s Cucumbers Snack and Mikes Mango Madness are popular with my kids and their friends. Even just sprinkling salt and pepper with the lemon is refreshing.

Hummus, it goes with so much, veggies, crackers, wraps or as a salad dressing with some balsamic stirred with it. There are many store bought brands and flavors. Downside, there is “stuff” in there that doesn’t need to be, like oil (soybean, canola, safflower). Hummus is fairly easy to make and you can find many recipes on the internet that do not use oil, citric acid, potassium sorbate, phosphoric, cultured dextrose or “natural flavors”. Here are some great hummus recipes to try.

 

Some of my favorite recipe makers have put together some suggestions:

Veggies Don’t Bite – Easy School Lunches

Dreena Burton – Tips For Lunches

Fully Raw – Lunchbox Ideas

Making sure you provide plenty of FRESH options will not only provide balanced nutrition for you and your children, but it will introduce making better choices.  The more that is accessible, the easier it will be. And sometimes the most simplest of items are all that is needed.

 

 

Use It Year Round

As in many areas of the world, the sun is out many months of the year. Here in California, the sun comes out to play even when we should be getting rain. We are in the midst of the longer sunny days and being prepared for the heat that is to come is helpful.  Even if you are an active family outside year round, in the pool, on the trails, on bikes and playing more than during the winter, it is extremely important to keep your largest organism protected.  And to keep in mind, anything you put on your skin is absorbed, therefore what you choose to put on your skin is even more important. Either way, sun protection is important for all seasons and all areas we live in to help prevent the sun’s UV rays from soaking into the skin for too long of time. We also want to be sure we get adequate Vitamin D and the sun is how our bodies produce it.  But how do we choose a sunscreen with all the debate over certain ingredients and chemicals in sunscreens that may be more harmful than good?  Bottom line we need to protect ourselves from too much over exposure and learning how to protect ourselves is the first step.

Left the house to a soccer game without sunscreen... USE SUNSCREEN

Left the house to a soccer game without sunscreen… USE SUNSCREEN

 

Whether it be apparel, food consumption, hats and shade, being mindful of how long we expose ourselves to the sun’s UV rays is crucial, and remember, sunscreen is not a shield in a tube, safe sun habits and sunscreen combined will be beneficial.

Quick tips for sun protection:

 

Check UV index : important information to plan your protection in the sun

Wear clothes : hats, shorts, rash guards, swim cover

Find shade or make it : Go under a tree, bring a canopy/umbrella/EZ up.  Water, snow and sand reflect the suns UV rays. Also be aware of overcast skies.

Plan around the sun : early morning and late afternoon are best, avoid excessive exposure during 10am-4pm.  If you are out during those hourse, be sure you have shade available during that time

Sunglasses are essential: they protect your eyes from UV radiation

Sunscreen: Look for broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) coverage and an SPF of at least 15 and no more than 50 and re-apply every couple hours or sooner if you are sweating or swimming. *See below for safer options

 

sunscreen isle

 

It is suggested to us that it is beneficial to be in the sun unprotected for a short period of time for our body to produce Vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced naturally every time we step out in the sun and it is essential for your body to thrive.  The problem is that the unprotected exposure is suggested to be 5-10 minutes (according to the WHOWorld Health Organization) a few times a week, at most 30-60 minutes per week to get adequate levels of Vitamin D.   If you think about how often you are in your car with the sun beaming on you just from driving, going on a walk on a work break, shopping the farmers market, out on a run or hiking, kids at school playing outside, sports play or if you are doing errands, the in and out of everyday life. All of that time, even though it may seem like nothing much, adds up, before you know it your unprotected exposure has gone over the WHO recommended time. Even though we are not basking in the sun during times like those, we should still be diligently aware of what is happening to our skin.  In order for the body to produce Vitamin D, you should not be wearing sunscreen as the titanium dioxide in most sunscreens will block the skin from absorbing the Vitamin D from the sun.  But everyone is told to wear sunscreen and protect your skin, yes wear the sunscreen but keep in mind the body needs the ‘beneficial time’ recommended for sun exposure. So when exposed to the sun without sunscreen, be aware of time and what part of the day.  When applying sunscreen, apply at least 20 minutes before you head outside and be sure you apply enough to cover your exposed body.  A good rule of thumb, 1 teaspoon per body part/area.

According to Dr. Lucinda Messer, there are risks from too much and not enough sun and we tend to expose ourselves for longer periods of time without protection. Dr. Messer states that, “once your skin begins to turn pink, not red or burned, but the subtle pinkish hue means YOU HAVE EXCEEDED YOUR SUN EXPOSURE time and to protect your skin, that is when you should apply the sunscreen.  This change in skin color indicates your body has absorbed the Vitamin D it needs.  Those with darker pigmentation will be in the sun longer than those with fair skin to absorb Vitamin D.”  The problem with putting on sunscreen before you step out into the sun, is it blocks the skin from producing Vitamin D. Also, once sunscreen is on, people’s mindset is that they are now protected from the sun and tend to stay in the sun longer, you must reapply the sunscreen… better yet get out of the sun and use protective apparel and shade.

Here is a little breakdown of what all the UV and SPF stuff means and what we should look for when selecting sunscreens.

UV stands for Ultraviolet Radiation. It is a form of electromagnetic radiation that comes from the sun (also man made sources like tanning beds and welding torches) UV rays have more energy than visible light but less than x-rays. UV rays do not have enough energy to penetrate into the body, the skin is what is effected. Peak hours 10am-4pm are when UV rays are at their highest (most damaging kind) so be sure to protect your skin. There are factors that depend on the strength of the UV rays.

UVA penetrates beneath the top layer of your skin. About 95% of it reaches the earth from the sun. Though they are thought to play a role in some skin cancers because the radiation strikes the DNA inside the skin cells and damages it. The most damage from UVA rays tends to be long term. Think sagging, sun spots, leathery skin, eye damage and wrinkles as UVA rays cause skin cells to age. Although these rays are less likely to give you a sunburn, they can cut through clouds and bust through your car windows, therefore giving you your daily dose of exposure.

UVB impact the top layer of your skin and makes up about 5% of what reaches the earth due to it being the shorter UV ray from the sun. UVB rays are stronger and are the rays that cause sunburns due to the direct damage to the DNA in skin cells and contribute to most skin cancers. These rays are more intense during the hours of 10am and 4pm, especially during the summer season.

UVC is the strongest but because they are absorbed and react with ozone high in our atmosphere and do not reach the ground, they do not pose a risk. They can be found in man made sources such as welding torches and sunbeds. UVC rays are not present in sunlight therefore typically not a risk factor for skin cancers.

SPF is a measure of a sunscreens ability to protect you from UVB rays that damage the skin (sunburn). Broad Spectrum in sunscreens is meant to protect the skin from both UVA (damages skin cells) and UVB rays.

Now that we have learned the breakdown of what all those 3 letters mean on all the packaging, now we need to know what to look for in a sunscreen that will be effective with out extra damage.  I have found some links that I feel provide guidance and education regarding what sunscreens to consider and education regarding sunscreen usage.  I have never purchased the ‘aerosol’ sunscreen as that has never made sense to me and I heave read how toxic it is to inhale the spray.  Not only are there harmful effects on humans, but the oceans and environment is effected by a vast majority of sunscreens used by humans.

Most conventional bought sunscreens contain these ingredients and should be avoided: parabens, oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, benzphenone, retinol (retinyl palmitate/vitaminA palmitate), ethoxycinnamate and many other potentially harmful chemicals.  Rather look for non-toxic mineral based active ingredients like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide.  The EWG (Environmental Working Group) provides research and a product guide to help find better skin care options.

Here are safe brands to consider: I recommend using the EWG guide as well.

All Terrain
dermae
Badger
Block Island
Think Sport
DeVita

 

Sources:

Cancer.org
EPA.gov
Kris Carr
EWG

Tacos with Sweet Potato Wedges

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Our family tends to eat our fair share of beans and legumes, rice, millet or quinoa and veggies all mixed together in some form.  I love that they offer versatility, are filling yet satisfying and full of yummy goodness our active bodies thrive on. These ingredients haven’t failed me and adding different mixes of spices to them gives them a variety in taste.  Sometimes potatoes are added as well. Whether we packed them in a tortilla, fill a taco or toss in a bowl, some of our favorite meals are created with these staples.

 

I took a typical taco dish I make and added sweet potato wedges and different toppings to create a newish dinner for taco Tuesday.  Now, I didn’t want to bake the sweet potatoes in the oven because that would take too long and I didn’t have any prepped to use.  So the quickest way is to steam/pan cook them on the stove.  I tried the microwave first to get them a little cooked, then into the pan on the stove.  They were fine, but you just want to be sure they aren’t over cooked from the microwave.  So the better results were the way I listed in the recipe below.

The results were well received by the family with happy full bellies.  There isn’t much added to this dish, but the flavors balanced well with each other. Besides the chopping, which is usually involved in most meals (must keep on top of prepping ahead more) this meal was easy and fairly quick to make.

 

cooking sweet potato tacos

 

Makes: 8 – 10 tacos

Ingredients:

2 medium size sweet potatoes sliced into wedges, about 1/2 inch thick (I am guessing, I just sliced them to what I felt would be manageable to eat)
1 can of black beans
1 cup of corn, if frozen rinse well
1 small red onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili powder (depending on your preference)
handful cilantro, chopped well
2-3 green onions fully chopped
juice from 1 lime
1 avocado
corn tortilas

 

seet potato taco

 

Directions:

Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges if not done already

Add about 3/4 cup of water to a large saute pan over medium high heat and then add the sweet potatoes.  Cover and simmer for about 8 minutes or until they are cooked through but not too soft they start to fall apart.  Remove from pan and set aside.

I used the same pan, but use separate one if you prefer.  Next you will need to add the onion and garlic with 2 tablespoons of water and cover on low heat for about 10 minutes.

Now add the sweet potato, corn, beans, and spices.  Continue to cook over medium low heat and stir gently until heated through. Add about a table spoon of lime juice and continue to stir.  Cook them for about 5 minutes.

While that is cooking, take the avocado and mash it in a bowl with the remaining lime juice, salt/pepper, splash of franks hot sauce if you’d like.

Mix together the cilantro and green onions in a separate bowl

You can add diced tomatoes as well

Heat your tortillas and fill’er up.  I spread the avocado on the tortilla then added the taco mixture and sprinkled the cilantro/green onion on top.  If you like avocado, top the taco off with more!

Enjoy!

 

Specialty Sandwich

specialty sandwich

The girls do not eat sandwiches often but they came up with their own creation to take to school for lunch. One day they asked Jon and I if we wanted a specialty sandwich for lunch, Jon said “sure”, I was a little hesitant because I like to know what is in my food :)  but I went with the flow and was surprisingly served with a very tasty sandwich.   I was quite impressed they used the resources they had and have now made this their specialty sandwich when they feel like eating one. I just need to make sure we have certain ingredients stocked so they can work their creations in the kitchen.

Specialty sandwich consists of: sliced bread of choice, mustard of choice, sliced onion, pickle, cucumber, tomato and leafy greens.  Add on : mashed avocado with some lemon, lime and pepper and a splash of Franks Hot Sauce mixed in and spread on sandwich.

I decided one day to bake sliced tempeh to try on their specialty sandwich.  It was quite easy and a great addition to the sandwich.  However, I do recommend prepping it the night before and then baking it once it has marinated overnight or let it marinate all day and bake it in the evening so it is ready for the next day.

 

bbq tempeh

 

Ingredients:

Make your own BBQ sauce or use your favorite
1/4-1/3 cup BBQ sauce
1 package (8oz) tempeh sliced thin but not too thin that it crumbles
2-3 tablespoons vegetable broth

Directions:

Slice the tempeh if not done already

Saute the tempeh with the vegetable broth over med-high heat for about 3 minutes each side

Turn off the heat on the stove and begin to brush the tempeh with the BBQ sauce on both sides.  I spread some of the BBQ sauce in a dish and then place the brushed tempeh in the dish with remaining sauce and let it marinate overnight (or all day)

After marinating is done heat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the strips on the baking sheet and then bake for 8 minutes on EACH side, be sure not to burn them so keep close eye and flip when needed.  Remove when done and let cool.  Enjoy in a sandwich or burrito!

 

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Anything Is Possible

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

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As I have mentioned before, I like making treats and who doesn’t like eating them…?   I enjoy sharing most of them with friends, so my family is always asking if there will be any left for us HaHa!  There usually is, sometimes they get to taste test as I go.  Although this time, the kids were not around, but they will have a nice surprise when they return from their vacation.

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Mango Fresca

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mango salsa salad

Not sure this recipe is a specific ‘type’ of dish, call it what you want, dip, salsa, salad, either way, you will enjoy the mild sweet heat in this dish.  Depending on how you want to eat it, by chopping up some greens and mix in as a salad, spread it on romaine leaves or scooping it with chips, these are all tasty options and you can’t go wrong with any of them.  This Mango Fresca is a great dish to take to a gathering, as a side to your meal or as your meal.  It is flavorful and filling and you can fancy it up with some chopped avocado.

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