Dairy Product Alternatives for Vegetarians

Vegetarians shouldn’t have an empty dairy cooler, they can stock it full with dairy product alternatives that can work marvelously in many recipes. With all those wonderful non-animal milks, cheese stand-ins and butter substitutes, vegans still can indulge themselves in every food texture and taste possible. Dairy alternatives can be derived from soy, nuts, grains and combination of them. Non-animal milks can be used in most contemporary recipes, because they have some similarities. Grilling, spreading, basting and baking are all entirely possible with your new diet.

Milk alternatives

These days, cooking and baking without animal’s milk couldn’t get easier. When entering a grocery store, it’s very likely that you’ll find products derived from soymilk. In fact, it is also quite rare to find only plain soymilk, you may easily find flavors like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, eggnog and others. Soymilk is also sold in all sizes, from small bottles to large jugs. Because of allergy concerns, those who want to avoid soy can also buy almond milk, hemp milk, rice milk and others. When converting a contemporary recipe to a vegan-friendly one, you can replace cow milk with the same amount of plant-based milks.

Making vegan milk is easy, for example, to make nut milk, mix 3 cups of powdered nuts with 5 cups of water, stir for two minutes. Use fine mesh strainer to strain it and you’ll have tasty, homemade nut milk! Just choose a nut that you like most, like cashew or almond to get milk that is tasty to you. You can also mix different type of nuts to get a unique, delicate taste.

Some baking recipes require buttermilk made from cow’s milk, because it can form bubble when mixed with baking soda and also can act as a good leavening substance. Luckily, you can make plant-based buttermilk; mix one cup of soy milk with 1.5 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. After 5 minute, the soy milk will curdle and you’ll get 1 cup of soy buttermilk. ¼ teaspoon of baking soda can work well with a cup of soy buttermilk, so you may also need to modify the amount of baking soda. Soy buttermilk is nice for biscuits, muffins, scones and breads.

Cheese alternatives

For new vegetarians, cheese is among the hardest foods to let go. The texture and flavor are quite difficult to mimic, but there are alternatives you can use. Rice-, nut- and soy-based cheese can be found on many vegan stores and some grocery stores are also selling them. These cheese products can also duplicate popular cheese variants such as mozzarella and cheddar. Some cheeses made from nuts are highly favored due to its rich and unique taste. However, you still need to scrutinize those vegan cheeses carefully, some brands may have casein added, although it is lactose free, it still isn’t vegan. These products use some ingredients to achieve savory and rich flavors, such as miso and nutritional yeast. Mochi can also be used add gooey texture.

Nutritional yeast

It is a wonderful addition to vegan recipes and also a great condiment for many dishes. Nutritional yeast is essentially inactive dry yeast that contains B vitamins and protein. They are sold as flakes and have savory cheese-like taste, which can be sprinkled on soups, salads and pasta like Parmesan. It is also an important ingredient for converting dishes like Mac and Cheese.

Miso

Miso is another good cheese alternative for vegans. It is a fermented soybean paste which can add delicious cheese-like taste to marinades, salad dressings and soups. Miso is rich in digestive enzyme and protein; and can replace soy sauce and Worchestershire sauce. When you consider its medicinal property, miso is more powerful compared to other soy products. You need to be careful when eating at a sushi restaurant, as they may use dried fish flakes (bonito) in miso soups. You can make miso soups by adding some whisked miso paste into standard vegetable soup. However, miso can taste slightly bitter when boiled too long, so you need to add miso immediately after the vegetable soup is cooked.

Mochi

Gooey and creamy natures of cheese are something that vegetarians often miss. Unfortunately, finding fresh vegan foods with sticky consistency is not easy. Enter mochi, a food that is made from pounded glutinous rice and formed into cakes. Mochi are often available on the refrigerator of many natural food stores. Chop mochi, add some powdered sugar and salt. The combination between sweetness and saltiness can bring savory taste. Sprinkle it on any food, like pizza, pasta and salad. The mochi will slowly melt like cheese on hot foods.

However, if you want a more accurate cheese-like taste, you can try this recipe.

Simmer 8 ounces of diced mochi on a small saucepan with some water, not too much that it loses the sticky texture. Stir the mochi until it melts. For Italian food, add some soy sauce, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Add freshly ground black pepper, thyme and sage for Thanksgiving cream.

Butter alternatives

Shortening and butter is frequently used in baking recipes to add flavor and fat. These ingredients can also form air pockets within dough to create flaky and light texture on pastries. You can also get golden brown crusts by adding butter; it can also give a rich and moist mouth feel. Because dairy products are now off your menu, you need to seek for alternatives to create tasty baked goods from entirely plant-based ingredients. Although traditional shortening is made from plant and can replace butter in many baking recipes, it is really unhealthy due to the high amount of hydrogenated fats.

Vegans can replace butter by using plant-based oils, such as unrefined coconut oil or canola. Vegan margarine can also produce similar results to dairy butter. Unrefined coconut oil can also replicate butter and its saturated fats are less harmful to health. To properly use unrefined coconut oil, you need to freeze a bowl of this oil until it’s completely hardened. When you want to use it, use warm water to loosen the frozen oil from the bowl. You can use cheese grater to create coconut oil flakes. Add the flakes to the flour, if for example, you want to make pie crust to create little pebbles.

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