My New Favorite Vegan Cookbook- Naturally Gourmet

A few months ago, one of my husband’s relatives gave us a vegan cookbook- Naturally Gourmet by Karen Houghton.  The recipes are all pretty simple and easy and, so far, all of the dishes have been VERY tasty!  I actually made every single dish at our recent Christmas dinner from recipes in this book:

  • Lentil Roast
  • Zucchini Casserole
  • Whipped Potatoes
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Pear Pie

I’m a pretty big fan of pumpkin pie, so I’ve been extremely interested in finding a good vegan pumpkin pie.  This cookbook just happens to have the best vegan pumpkin pie recipe that I have EVER tasted!

Other recipes I’ve made and really liked:

  • Brazilian Salad
  • Lentil Soup
  • Eggplant & Garbanzo Ratatouille
  • Indian Lentils and Rice
  • Mushroom Gravy- my husband really loves this one!
  • Vegetable Pot Pie
  • Pesto Pizza
  • Apple Walnut Muffins- YUM!

As you can see, the recipes don’t have fancy names.  They usually don’t have fancy ingredients either, which I like.  My ONLY complaint would be that sometimes they call for processed products (such as Better Than Sour Cream).  However, a lot of the recipes don’t, and often you can make your own substitutions. Oh, and here’s the really great part- EVERY recipe in the book is accompanied by a full-page beautiful color picture of the finished product.  As a visual learner, I really respond to this type of cookbook, and so do my digestive juices  🙂  I also love that the cooking directions are simple and to-the-point.  Read-with-a-dictionary words can be fun, but not when I’m a hurry to get some dinner on the table.

Here’s something you can try at home right now- a mushroom gravy recipe that I adapted from the one in Naturally Gourmet.

Vegan Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1 T La Chikky Seasoning (or similar MSG-free vegetarian chicken or beef seasoning)

    I really love this stuff

  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3-4 fresh mushrooms

Blend water and cashews until creamy.  Add cornstarch, vegetarian chicken seasoning and salt.  Blend well.  Add mushrooms and blend briefly.  Cook gravy in a kettle until thickened, stirring frequently.  Serves 6.

Many of the recipes in Naturally Gourmet use their version of this basic gravy recipe.  I changed it just a tad based on the ingredients I preferred or usually had on hand.  It is delicious over mashed potatoes, in a vegetarian pot pie, or over toast!  If you like it, I would highly recommend this cookbook, especially if you’re new to vegan cooking.  It’s my current go-to when I’m looking for weekday recipes to try.

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How to Replace Eggs When Baking

courtesy of karmafreecooking.files.wordpress.com

Apparently I have become somewhat known at work for my healthy diet (or attempts at least).  Today someone let me know that there were some vegan muffins in the office.  “What does vegan mean?” they asked me, and when I told them that it meant no meat, dairy, or eggs, they wanted to know what is used in place of egg as a binder when baking.

What do you use anyway?  Well, there are actually quite a few options out there.  Some popular ones are applesauce, other fruits like mashed banana, and tofu (it won’t fluff, but it does have the right texture and can take on any taste).  You can also use flaxseeds and water.  I have never personally tried the flaxseed one, but it looks interesting and I really should.

One thing to consider when deciding on an egg replacement for a recipe that calls for eggs is what the egg was needed for anyway.  Is it binding, fluffiness, taste?

What eggs do:

Provide fluffiness in cakes

Moisten and bind in muffins and cookies

Provide consistency and flavor in quiches, omelets, fritata, etc.

In a savory recipe, things like mashed potatoes, oats, tomato paste, breadcrumbs, cornmeal and flour will help to bind and thicken your dish.  Below are some egg replacement “recipes” that you can experiment with.

General egg replacers:

  • 1 T whole flaxseeds (or 2 1/2 T ground) + 3 T water = 1 Egg  (let it gel before using or trying simmering the mixture to thicken)
  • 1 T plain agar + 1 T water = 1 Egg white  (whip, chill, and whip again)
  • 2 T water + 1 T oil + 2 tsp baking powder = 1 Egg

For desserts and sweets (add an extra 1/2 tsp. baking powder when using fruit substitutes because they will produce a heavier product):

  • 1/4 Cup mashed banana, applesauce, pureed pumpkin, prunes = 1 Egg

For relatively flat baking products, like pancakes (just to replace the moisture):

  • 1-2 T water = 1 Egg

When egg is the main ingredient (as in a quiche):

  • 1/4 Cup pureed soft tofu = 1 Egg

When you need a binder for a savory dish:

  • 2-3 T tomato paste, potato starch, arrowroot powder, mashed potatoes, or whole wheat flour = 1 Egg

E-mail me your favorite whole food vegan recipes that use egg replacer and I’ll add them to this page!