Tips for a Shared Kitchen #4 – Replacing Cow’s Milk

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Hello everyone!

I wanted to share how I convert some recipes to be plant-based. A lot of my recipes come from whatever sounds good to me, or from family recipes that I’ve converted some way to make them plant-based/vegan. There are so many vegan recipes out there that use different methods that you don’t know which ones to make. Or for me and my soy allergy, a lot of the recipes I found 3 years ago used highly processed/soy ingredients and I’m wasn’t sure where to go from there. Then with family recipes that I love, I wanted to keep it as close to the original as I can.

Although I’m not great at substituting everything, there are a lot of things I have learned. One thing I’m still trying to get right is replacements when baking, mainly eggs. I’ve tried things that work and then in other things they don’t work so well. One example was when I was trying to make the brownie recipe that I posted a few days ago, the story is here. So I’ll have to get back with you on what egg replacements work best with what recipes…whenever I figure it out.

I’ll be doing this in sections. So this first one will be talking about replacing cow’s milk, the different alternatives, and why some might work better than others.

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REPLACING Cow’s MILK:

With most recipes you can replace cows milk for any plant-based milk and the outcome and taste will be similar. And usually, unless milk is the main ingredient, it has a slightly different taste but doesn’t take away from the original dish. But at times there is a difference depending on the protein content and fat content of the plant-based milk. So I wanted to break down the different plant-based milks from what I understand, to help you decide which one to use to replace in your recipes. I hope it’s helpful!

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Mexican Spice Brownies

Hello all! I have had a dilemma recently – I have been craving brownies and that craving didn’t go away for weeks! Those googy, warm, chocolaty squares! Well… once we had a few cloudy cool days here I decided to heat up our oven! By the time I was able to make the brownies I had found a really simple brownie recipe and I was going to test out “aquafaba” and just replace the eggs with that.

Well… it ended up being an oil gooey mess that took about 4 rounds of cleaning to clean out the pan, even though I greased it before! We tasted it and other than it being oily, it tasted like brownies, but nothing else resembled them. So some had put it on top of ice cream and ate it like that, but I was not satisfied and feeling frustrated.

They tried to help, “Why don’t you use bananas?” “What about pumpkin?” “Flax eggs always work.” I know I can use those things to replace eggs, but I don’t want my brownies to taste like bananas or pumpkin. And by then I was determined not to use an egg substitute at all, so the flax eggs were out of the question. By then it was too late! I just wanted a warm gooey large squares of heavy rich chocolaty goodness, and what was suppose to work didn’t, and I was brownie-less. All I could think of was “first world problems”. The longer I stewed the more picky I got. And then simple brownies wasn’t good enough, I wanted Mexican spices with it too.

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So in my next attempt a few days later, these happened! This was originally the “Vegan Brownie Recipe” from All Recipes, which just skipped over the egg replacements ! : ) I edited it to make it richer with the coffee to bring out more of the chocolate flavor and added the Mexican spices.

It was what I wanted. It was rich, chocolaty, not too sweet but definitely sweet enough, soft, and just enough spice to warm your throat! YES!

I hope y’all enjoy it as much as I did!

Mexican Spice Brownies

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Hash Brown Casserole

Hello everyone!

Guess what? I have another potato recipe for you! I really do think my love for potatoes is unhealthy. Like this recipe. I can’t say this is the healthiest, but it is slightly healthier than it’s dairy-twin depending on how you make it. I love hash browns, and I love hash brown casserole. Since it’s cooled down I’ve really been wanting to make breakfast food. In the summer for breakfast I just want fruit, yogurt, smoothies, juice – something light and cold, most days. Right as the days started to get cooler I started thinking about cooking breakfast again. Of course it’s usually for dinner since our schedules in the morning are mixed up and they are always busy even on the weekend, but it’s still “breakfast” food nonetheless. This was one the first things I made!

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Hash Brown Casserole

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Pumpkin Penne with Spinach & Almond Ricotta

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I kept thinking about a creamy pumpkin pasta dish with sage, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Did I want stuffed shells? A pumpkin fettucchine? And then I decided to keep it simple but filling. Not to mention this pasta recipe is low-fat and full of protein and vitamin A.

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I just kept throwing in what sounded good together. So the cannellini beans were thrown in as well as the cinnamon on top. If you haven’t tried dusting your pasta with cinnamon, I strongly recommend it! Not just with this recipe to go with the pumpkin, but I’ve also done it to a white sauce, and my tomato sauces before. If you’re feeling daring one night, try it!

Pumpkin Penne with Spinach & Almond Ricotta

  • Servings: 6-8 servings
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Low Fat Almond Ricotta

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This is something I’ll whip together if I have the ingredients to add to something to make it creamy, but still low-fat. Dairy based ricotta is low fat anyway, so if you are replacing it in any of your favorite recipes, this Almond Ricotta will give you the same low-fat but creamy feel, texture, and taste.

I’ve made a few different version with pine nuts, and cashews instead of almonds. They worked out fine as well, but since there are times when I’m trying to watch the amount of fat, even plant-based fat, I’ll make sure I’ll use the almonds. But for some reason you are allergic to almonds you can always use pine nuts or cashews, since cashews are really a seed. : O

Since almonds are a harder nut, I will soak these but I’ll try to get either the blanched, skinless, slivered almond or the sliced almonds so it doesn’t take as much soaking time and it’s easier to blend.

Almond Ricotta

  • Servings: Makes about 1-1 1/2 cups
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Soy, Nut, & Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce

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I wanted to share with you a recipe I’ll use to make 1 1/2 – 2 cups of cheese sauce for casseroles or anything that calls for 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese to be melted and blended with other things. I have yet to use this with soups however. I used this with my Chickpea Noodle Casserole as the topping. Of course you can always use the shredded vegan cheeses that are out there, and they do pack more of a sharper punch than this does once it’s mixed in with other things, but if you are trying to stay clear from processed foods, then try this out!

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Soy, Nut & Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce

  • Servings: 1 1/2 - 2 cups
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Tips for a Shared Kitchen #3 – Saving at the Grocery Store

Hello everyone!

One thing that I’ve been asked by friends repeatedly is how to save money at the grocery store when buying for two different types of diets. If you are new to a plant-based diet changing your pantry and fridge can seem a little daunting and expensive. It can be even more of a challenge when part of your family has a different diet.

That’s part of the reason I made this blog. Using recipes that you only have to change one or two things for a whole meal, it saves money. Although there are the nights where it’s completely different and we just do our own thing.

Once you start using and buying plant based products you see it as a whole new way of cooking, eating, and it’s a whole new way of shopping also. Here are a few things I’ve learned about how to manage my pantry and fridge and what I do that has helped me not have an expensive grocery bill.

BUy Only What You Need:

tips-3-grocery-bill-1-buy-only-what-you-needI talked about this in the last “Tips for a Shared Kitchen” when dealing with how to organize your pantry, and here I go again! Only get what you know you need. Since produce from the store can go bad quickly, only get what you know you will use in the next few days. Even if sometimes buying a large quantity is a better deal, if you’re just going to throw it away since it went bad by the end of the week, and you were only able to use a portion of it, did you really save? Some things might be worth it. For instance, you’re going to be juicing and drinking smoothies for the next few days – get the huge box of fresh spinach, buy the bag of lemons! But for produce don’t just buy it for the sake of it being “a better deal”. Don’t waste food.

When you first start out it’s hard to tell how much you will eat, how much you will use, etc. So even more so buy what you know for a fact you’ll use. Go to the store a few times a week if you have to. It makes your grocery visits shorter and it never fails, even if I plan out what I’m going to use for a week, I always end up needing to run into the store for something anyway.

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Condensed Soups – Cream of “Whatever” Soup Substitute

Hello!

Have you ever had a recipe that you wanted to make plant based and then you saw it called for a can of condensed cream of… whatever soup? There are a few family recipes that I’ve wanted to make vegan-friendly and found they used cream of celery, cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, or cream of tomato condensed soup. I wanted to find out how I can make it myself and have it be dairy-free and for cream of chicken, animal-free.

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I found this post from A Frugal Simple Life last year when I wanted to make ‘chicken’ and dumplings… which hopefully I’ll be making soon again and posting it. ANYWAY – here it has a base for all “cream of whatever” soup and then tells you what to do differently for each one. Since I’ve used this a lot I wanted to post it on here and show you what I do to “veganize” it. And I’m sure I’ll be referencing back to this post a few more times with soups and casseroles soon to come with the cooler weather.

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I’ve made the cream of mushroom and the cream of celery using these recipes to add to casseroles and it turned out great!

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Condensed Cream of Tomato Soup Substitute

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Potato Love – 8 Different Baked Potatoes

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If you haven’t heard, I love potatoes! I wanted to show you some of the ways I’ve made baked potatoes as a side, some as a dessert, and then others as a main course. It’s a great and easy way to make dinner for our “shared” family.

It seems like potatoes get a bad rep for being “unhealthy” or something that will make you gain weight. You can definitely make them unhealthy for sure, but potatoes do have health benefits. They are a vegetable you know. To make it so you don’t feel bad about indulging on potatoes, take a look at these facts:

  • A potato is about 80% water, and 20% solids.
  • An 8 oz. baked or boiled potato has only 100 calories.
  • 1 potato with the skin has 18% of our daily value of potassium.
  • 1 potato with the skin has 45% of our daily value of vitamin C, which is more than a tomato
  • And 1 potato contains 6% of our daily value of iron.

Sweet potatoes many know are healthy for us and is less starchy since it’s a squash and not really a potato, and contains a whopping 377% of our daily value of vitamin A. Not to mention the 52% DV of vitamin C, and 50% DV of manganese. Who can argue with those facts?!

So next time you dive into a potato or sweet potato, remember it is a vegetable and it is healthy. Of course it depends on what you put on it, because there are a LOT of unhealthy things you can use… some of which are below. :  )

Basic Baked Potato

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Who doesn’t love a good old fashion basic baked potato??

Baked Russet Potato ~ Butter or Earth Balance ~ Cheese or Vegan Cheese (I use Daiya) ~ Bacon or Coconut Bacon ~ Chives ~ Salt & Pepper ~  Sour Cream or Vegan Sour Cream (optional)

Basic Baked Sweet Potato

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This is a “basic” sweet potato for me. This was how I always had it as a kid. It’s more of a dessert than anything else. 

Baked Sweet Potato ~ Butter / Earth Balance ~ Cinnamon ~ Brown Sugar

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