A Quick Foray into Vegan Baking

Long-time readers of the blog will remember that every now and then I get on a “plant-based kick.” As I continue to read more and more about the health, ecological, and economical benefits of removing animal-based products from one’s diet, I keep getting the urge to do so. But one of the things that would be quite difficult for me to give up would be baking and making desserts. So, I am “testing the waters” so to speak.

While I know deep down, that still wanting to bake and enjoy desserts the way I always have would be a very selfish reason to not go fully vegetarian or vegan, but dessert (both making and eating) is something I genuinely enjoy doing. So I think the little experiments I am going to conduct over the next weeks will give me the answers I am seeking while also removing some of the doubt in my mind. What are the questions to the answers I mentioned above? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. I guess “Are vegan desserts really that good?” and “How expensive will it be to still bake some things regularly?”

What Brought This On?

Last Friday I decided to make dinner for my family. After visiting some vegan and vegetarian blogs, I stumbled on a recipe from Rainbow Plant Life. It was for mushroom stroganoff. Stroganoff is one of my favorite dishes and it was great to find a vegan alternative that still had all the taste of the meat kind.

After visiting a few more recipes on Nisha’s site (the creator of Rainbow Plant Life), I decided to enter my email and acknowledge that I will be spammed with content regularly. This isn’t the only blog I signed up for over the last year, so really, what’s one more, right?

However, since I started getting her emails, I have noticed that I wasn’t deleting them. I am always interested in what Nisha has to say and what the recipe is that she’s highlighting. Since I signed up for her emails, I received her e-book cookbook with quite a few recipes in it. One of them was for a simple vegan dessert. And, believe it or not, I only needed to purchase one ingredient for it in order for the dish to remain completely vegan (which was important to me on Friday).

Making the Dessert

So off to the local health food market in my town where I purchased vegan and fair trade chocolate chips for the low, low price of $5.99 for a 10-ounce bag! (Obviously that “low, low price” business is sarcasm. It seems that purchasing vegan chocolate will be more expensive, but I probably won’t use this only store as my reference point.)

When I got home, I went to work on making the No-Bake Vegan Cookie Dough Bars. They were easy and it was definitely out of my comfort zone. First off I used the food processor to combine everything and then spread the “batter” into the pan and allowed it to chill for a few hours. Sadly, while these treats did taste good, they didn’t look like the ones in her pictures on Rainbow Plant Life. But I guess, in the end, all that matters is taste, right?

The Plant-Based Meal

Even though this post discussed specifically the cookie dough bars I made, my family was treated to an entirely animal-free meal for dinner and dessert. The mushroom stroganoff was a big hit. It had all the texture and creaminess one would expect from a meat-containing recipe. In actuality, it’s rather easy to go vegan or plant-based. Simple swaps are readily available in grocery stores today. It’s just learning how each product behaves so you know what it can mimic. For example, in the mushroom stroganoff, you use coconut milk instead of sour cream to give the sauce the desired creaminess and color. Upping the amount of mushrooms significantly reduces the need for beef, and to be honest, no one in my family seemed to miss the beef. Instead of the traditional egg noodles, I opted for fettucine made by De Cecco. All of their pasta is vegan, which is great since I’ve been a fan of theirs for a long time.

Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures, which is often the case when I am making something for dinner. It’s a step I often don’t have time to do and frankly I forget about it since I am trying to get food on the table. But, what I do have is a picture of all the mushrooms that ended up in the stroganoff. I used a combination of button, cremini, portabella, oyster, and shiitake. Each mushroom has their own flavor and added something to the dish.

It’s fun to experiment with the different textures that mushrooms can bring the a meal. I hope to do more of it in the future.

So far, my little foray into full plant-based cooking has been fun and exciting, and of course, tasty. I guess this means there’s really no excuse for me to not include more vegan options in my diet.

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