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No Dairy, Cheese, Milk, or Eggs?! A Success Journey towards Healthy Living

The following story was shared with us by Peter Rubi Community member, Chris B. She shares what “Healthier Lifestyle, Healthier You” means for her and her husband, along with some great egg replacement ideas!

“Three years ago, I found a post-it note on my desk with “Forks Over Knives - Netflix” written on it. It was in my handwriting, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember writing it! Intrigued, I watched the documentary. It was about plant-based eating which changed the course of my relationship with food and health. This is not a trendy diet but a way of eating with multiple studies supporting it. Count me in! My husband watched it with me and was on board as long as I continued to do the cooking. 

I began looking at websites and books that would help me transition from the Standard American Diet (abbreviated as SAD - how appropriate!) to a way of eating that would let me explore new recipes, but also allowed me to keep favorite dishes and tastes.

Experimentation in the kitchen produced both flops and winners that we happily eat regularly. My personal choice is to exclude all animals, animal products, and fat. That means no dairy, cheese, eggs, or oil - but we are still able to enjoy Italian dishes, creamy soups and dips, baked goods, and even ice cream just using better alternative ingredients! 

There are several brands of replacement dairy and egg products, but many have ingredients that are questionable. If I see a list of ingredients that only includes items I know and might have in my pantry, I feel comfortable buying it. If there are ingredients that I wouldn't keep in my pantry, it’s not going to be served to my family. Michael Pollan said it best in his book Food Rules: An Owners Manual: “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.” It’s simple to use substitutions that are easy to obtain and add nutrition to your recipe. 

Replacing eggs in baked goods is pretty easy. A large egg equals about ¼ cup, so that is the replacement guide. One of my favorites is one tablespoon of flax meal or chia seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water for one egg. After 5 minutes you have a texture very similar to an egg. As an added bonus, you get fiber and omega-3!

Other good options include: 

Banana, mashed - works good in most cakes, quick breads, pancakes, muffins. Also a good replacement for fat in a recipe. 

Applesauce - Cakes, Brownies, Quick Breads. Also good for fat replacement. 

Silken Tofu - Cakes, Moist Recipes. 

Aquafaba (liquid from canned chickpeas) - whisks up for meringues, mousse, and the like. 

Tofu steps in for scrambles and quiches, and I’ve made an omelet from chickpea flour. In these cases, seasoning is needed to make you feel like you have a reasonable alternative, and usually includes nutritional yeast and turmeric. 

There are numerous websites, YouTube videos, and books to help you transition to a healthier lifestyle. Some of my favorites include the short YouTube videos with Jane and Ann Esselstyn, who demonstrate easy beginner recipes. Also, the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen website has many recipes that are pretty tasty! 

I hope you enjoy the following recipe for Butternut Squash Snack Cake, perfect for this time of year. I made changes to the original recipe to eliminate oil and eggs and am pretty happy with the result.”

Butternut Squash Snack Cake 

½ Cup Mashed Banana

2 ¼ Cups Flour

1 cup packed Brown Sugar

1 ½ tsp Baking Powder

2 Tb Ground Flax Mixed with 6 TB warm water

1 tsp Baking Soda

2 tsp Vanilla

1 tsp Cinnamon

1 ¼ cup Butternut Squash Puree

1 cup Non-Dairy Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together mashed banana and brown sugar. Add flax mixture and vanilla and combine well. Fold in butternut squash puree. In a second bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into baking dish and smooth top. Bake 24-27 minutes until set and toothpick comes out clean. Cool before cutting. 

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