Thinking about following a whole food plant-based lifestyle, but not sure where to start? One of the easiest ways to kickstart your plant-based life is to “veganize” some of your favorite Standard American fare with whole food plant-based ingredient substitutions.
Whether it’s swapping out milk for nondairy varieties like soy or almond milk, grabbing nutritional yeast instead of parmesan to top your whole grain pasta, blending frozen bananas to make ice cream, using chia ‘eggs’ when baking, or scrambling chickpeas for brunch, there are so many plant-based swaps to make the transition to plant-based eating that much easier (and delicious).
The Full Story
We get it — moving from the Standard American Diet to a whole food plant-based lifestyle is daunting. It can feel like you have relearn how to grocery shop, cook, and eat.
At MamaSezz, we’re here to make this transitional period a bit easier. We’ve found one of the best ways to kick off your whole food plant-based lifestyle is to adapt some of your favorite recipes by swapping out animal products for plant-based ingredients.
Sound like a plan? Ok, cool. Here are the 11 whole food plant-based ingredient swaps you need to know about STAT.
11 Whole Food Plant-Based Swaps
Milk is in so many recipes, even your morning cup of coffee, so it’s no surprise folks have such a hard time imaging life without it. But we’ve got good news - getting tasty and healthy non-dairy milk is easier than ever in today’s plant-friendly marketplace. You’ve got choices in spades: soy, almond, cashew, macadamia, oat, rice, flax, hemp, pea, coconut, the list goes on.
How can you narrow down the right non-dairy milk for your needs? Check out our complete guide to non-dairy milk here in the MamaSezz Heartbeet Journal. And when you head to the grocery store for non-dairy milk, always look for:
- Minimal ingredients (that you can pronounce)
- Non-GMO ingredients
- Organic varieties
- No fillers
2. Parmesan Cheese
Plant-based eaters have a secret cheesy weapon: nutritional yeast, or “nooch,” as you’ll hear it called on many a vegan forum.
An inactive yeast (so it won’t reproduce inside of you), nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy, and savory flavor and a light flakey texture, making it the perfect plant-based substitute for parmesan cheese.
Sprinkle nooch on your favorite vegan pasta and pizza recipes or use it to season salads, cashew “cheese” sauces, and best of all popcorn!
3. Cheese Sauce
Speaking of cheese...you can have your whole food plant-based mac and cheese and eat it, too!
Whip up a simple non-dairy cheese sauce using 1 cup soaked cashews blended with ½ cup water and 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast. (Feel free to squeeze in the juice of one lemon for an extra kick).
Or you can get the world’s best (in our humble opinion) non-dairy cheese sauce delivered to your door. How? Order our creamy dreamy Mama’s Mac Sauce.
Pair Mama’s Mac Sauce with your favorite whole grain noodles for a dairy-free (and perhaps more importantly) kid-friendly dinner. So much better for your tastebuds and your health than the boxed orange-y stuff.
Struggling to give up cheese, in general? Science tells us that cheese is addictive. For real! Read how you can quit cheese for good here.
4. Egg For Baking
Bust out your apron because plant-based baking isn’t just possible without eggs, it’s super simple -- and just as tasty!
Try these vegan egg replacements when baking:
- 1 egg = Mix 1 Tablespoon of ground flax seed or chia seed with 2 ½ Tablespoons of warm water. Let the mixture sit for 8 minutes. Once it has reached the consistency of an egg, add to your recipe.
- 1 egg = Add a ¼ cup of applesauce into your recipe.
- 1 egg = Mash 1 banana with a fork until smooth, and add to your recipe. Banana is a great egg replacer but note you will taste the banana. If neutral is what you’re after, go with the applesauce.
Get MamaSezz Chef Caroline’s full tips for baking without eggs here.
5. Scrambled Eggs
Is whole food plant-based brunch a thing? Heck to the yes it is! If scrambled eggs were your Saturday morning go-to, try vegan-friendly scrambled tofu or chickpea for a delicious and healthy alternative.
To make a quick and easy whole food plant-based breakfast scramble, press out the water and crumble extra firm tofu (or mash some chickpeas) and saute with your favorite veggies, turmeric, black pepper, and Tamari.
Rather not meal prep? We’ve got your back with our ready-made and protein-packed Turmeric Chickpea Scramble. Add some sliced avocado and enjoy with coffee or tea for a healthy and hearty kickstart to your day, no cholesterol in sight.
6. Sour Cream
You can still get your dollop on with plants! Making vegan sour cream is a cinch.
Blend together 1 cup soaked raw cashews, 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk, ¼ cup lemon juice, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast until creamy and smooth then pop in the fridge for at least an hour to thicken. Dollop on your favorite vegan chili, pair with veggie tacos, or use as a base for a crowd-pleasing dip!
You are not destined to suffer through dry sandwiches just because you’re forgoing animal products. There are plenty of ways to replace your mayo, without the cholesterol.
Some of our favorites vegan mayo substitutes? Blended avocado is a quick and easy choice. And of course, the MVP of non-dairy sauces, Mama’s Mac Sauce, transforms any veggie sandwich from ordinary to gourmet.
A whole food plant-based lifestyle does not mean denying your sweet tooth. It’s just a matter of swapping refined sugars for whole food natural sugars. Read more on why you want to shy away from refined sugars in the MamaSezz Heart Beet Journal.
To keep your sweets whole food plant-based you can:
- Try unsweetened apple sauce, homemade or store-bought.
- Make date syrup by blending soaked dates with water until you’ve reached a smooth, syrupy consistency. Dates (like many dried fruits) are loaded with both fiber and natural sugar (fructose) and have a rich, molasses-like taste that will give your dessert a unique flavor.
- Mash bananas and use when baking whole food sweet treats. These potassium-packed fruits act both as binders AND sweeteners!
9. Baking Chocolate
Another big concern for those with a taste for the sweeter things in life is chocolate! The good news is you don’t need to bid adieu to your favorite dessert when you make the switch to plants. Go for unsweetened dark chocolate morsels over sweetened milk chocolate variations and grab raw cacao powder to add to smoothies, baked goods, or even nondairy ice cream.
10. Ice Cream
What we’re about to tell you is going to change your plant-based dessert game forever - you don’t need dairy to make creamy ice cream. Thanks to the magic of a frozen banana, you can enjoy non-dairy “nice” cream as often as you like from the comfort of your whole food plant-based kitchen. And you don’t need any added sugars, to boot.
Blend frozen bananas with fruit, cocoa powder, or peanut butter for a quick and easy sweet treat. Check out some of our favorite nice cream recipes on the MamaSezz website.
11. Butter in Baking
Finding a replacement for butter sounds tricky, especially when you’re following a whole food plant-based lifestyle and common vegan subs like margarine and coconut oil are off the table. But it’s easier than you think. Pureed pumpkin, avocado, or sweet potato all work splendidly as a swap for butter in nearly any baked goods recipe. Even better, unlike butter, these plant-based ingredient substitutions are filled to the brim with nutrients and fiber to give your baked goods a healthy boost.
The transition to a whole food plant-based diet doesn’t have to be overwhelming (or bland). Making these small swaps can change your life, health, environmental impact, and so much more.
- Swap out milk for non-dairy versions like soy, almond, flax, and more.
- Use nutritional yeast in place of parmesan cheese on anything from your favorite whole grain pasta recipes to pizza to popcorn.
- Make a non-dairy “cheese” sauce from blended cashews, water, and nutritional yeast (or get our creamy ready-made Mama’s Mac Sauce delivered, ready to heat and eat).
- Substitute eggs when baking with chia seed “eggs,” mashed banana, or unsweetened applesauce.
- Whip up scrambled tofu or chickpeas in place of eggs.
- Soak and blend cashews with non-dairy milk, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and nutritional yeast for a quick vegan sour cream.
- Blend avocado or spread Mama’s Mac Sauce on your sandwich instead of mayo.
- Sweeten baked goods with date syrup or unsweetened applesauce.
- Replace milk chocolate with unsweetened dark chocolate morsels or raw cacao powder.
- Make non-dairy ice cream by blending frozen bananas with fruit, cocoa powder, or peanut butter.
- Pureed pumpkin, avocado, or sweet potato for a healthy replacement for butter.