Ingredient swaps to make Vegan Thanksgiving Sides

Even with so many available side dishes at Thanksgiving, the chances of most of them being vegan are not very likely, unless your host is also expecting vegan guests.  With a few tweaks here and there though, a lot of side dishes can become vegan-friendly with just a few simple changes, and no loss of great taste.  Chances are, non-vegan dinner guests may not even be the wiser.

Butter replacement

To make mashed potatoes “vegan-friendly”, simply swap out the milk for Soy, Rice or Almond milk, and swap out the butter with a vegan-friendly butter replacement such as Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread, which I use all the time and it’s absolutely fabulous!

Recipes requiring eggs

~Applesauce – Use 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of one egg in most baking recipes.  Some sources say to mix it with 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.  If all you have is sweetened applesauce, then simply reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe.  Applesauce is also a popular healthy replacement for oil in many baked goods.

~Banana – Use 1/4 cup of mashed banana (about half a banana) instead of one egg when baking.  Note that this may impart a mild banana flavor to whatever you are cooking, which could be a good thing.

~Flaxseeds – Believe it or not, heart-healthy flax seeds can be used as an egg substitute!  Simply mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons of water until fully absorbed and viscous.  Use in place of one egg.  (You can use pre-ground flaxseeds or grind them yourself in a spice or coffee grinder)

Egg Whites – Egg whites can actually be substituted with the liquid from canned chickpeas or garbanzo beans.  Just replace 1 oz liquid, per 1 egg white.  Whip hard for 5 minutes, then slowly add any other ingredients while whipping a few more minutes!  Leave out the salt, unless the can is salt free.  The liquid holds a firm foam very well, even for meringue cookies!

Substituting for Yogurt, Sour Cream, and Cream Cheese – Soy-based, coconut-based, and pea-based “yogurt,” “sour cream,” and “cream cheese” products are available.  These generally work very well in recipes.

Substituting for Cheese – Dairy-free cheeses are a bit of a challenge.  In some cases, soy cheese will not appear melted, but will in fact be melted inside.  There are now milk-free and soy-free cheeses available from several brands.  They are available in shreds, blocks and slices.  These milk-free and soy-free cheeses also melt much better than milk-free cheeses of the past.

Replace Milk with any of these

Soy Milk – Soy milk can easily be substituted for cow’s milk in all baking needs, over cereal, for pancakes and waffles, in smoothies, or straight from the glass.  The unsweetened varieties work equally well in savory dishes.  Soy milk does have a more pronounced flavor, so it may not be the top choice for delicate desserts and sauces.

Rice Milk – With its natural sweetness, rice milk is perfect in desserts and baked goods.  Its delicate texture also works well in curries as well as lighter cream soups and sauces.  Rice milk is best avoided in the broader savory foods arena.

Oat milk – Oat milk has been successfully trialed as a substitute for cow’s milk in both sweet and savory dishes.  In addition to drinking it straight from the glass, oat milk is recommended for your morning cereal; smoothies; baked goods; curries; lighter cream soups and sauces; and mashed potatoes.

Substituting for Light Cream, Sweet Cream, or Heavy Cream

Substitutes for light cream: light (or “lite”) canned coconut milk, soy creamer, coconut-based creamers, almond-based creamers.  Full fat coconut milk can be substituted for heavy cream.  A coconut milk substitute will impart a coconut flavor to a recipe, so it will work for some recipes, but not all.

Mayonnaise Swaps – There are a few vegan mayonnaise products on the market.  You can use vegan mayonnaise exactly the way you’d use the non-vegan mayonnaise.  Vegan cookbooks often contain a recipe for vegan mayonnaise as well.

Yogurt. – Several companies make soy or coconut yogurt that will substitute well in your recipes.  You can find them in fruit flavors and also plain for cooking and baking.

Whipping Cream – Whipping Cream For cooking: Whipping cream is generally around 30% pure fat.

For 1 cup use 3/4 c soymilk and 1/3 c vegan melted margarine.

Blend a ripe avocado with a little soy milk and oil to thin or mix tofu with 25% or more oil.

Whipped Cream topping, there are vegan versions in the store but you can use frozen vanilla soy delicious or similar dessert.

These are just a few of the many “swaps” you can make in your dish to make it more Vegetarian/Vegan friendly.  In the majority of cases, these would be a healthier alternative also.  It’s a good idea to “taste test” these swaps in advance, prior to a family dinner, just to ensure the taste meets your expectations.  Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy holiday!  Cheers!