Wednesday, April 13, 2011

FAQs: Part 5--Eggs? Cornbread and PB&J Muffins

(If any of you have tried my vegan goodies--eaten or baked your own--post a comment with a review. I'm always looking to better the recipes.  I'm a big girl and can handle your honesty!)

A friend of mine walked up to me the other day at the grocery store.  She didn't say hello or how are you, she just said, "what about eggs?"  I responded with, "what about 'em?"

There is a lot of controversy about the healthfulness (or lack there of) of eggs.  I'm not going to lecture on this one.  As a matter of fact, if I still raised chickens I would probably still be eating eggs.  I can't argue with people who are convinced that eggs are the "good" cholesterol, or that just egg whites are a good alternative to whole eggs.  I don't know the science of it.  I know that I've read about eggs being linked to high cholesterol and to gestational diabetes in pregnant women.  I know doctors that warn against the evils of eggs.  But I also know it's hard to cut that habit of a good omelet on a Saturday morning. 

For the record, I don't eat eggs or cook with them at home.  But I do eat breads, pastas, etc. that may be made with eggs when I'm out at restaurants.  I don't know which ones have eggs and which ones don't.  I do purchase egg-free bread here and I use a few different egg substitutes when cooking.

But still many people are convinced that you just can't cook without eggs.  Eggs are a binding agent used to hold stuff together.  You need them for baked goods and such, right?

Well, no, you actually don't.  In many recipes, eggs can just be eliminated.  Your meatloaf or meatballs will hold together if you shape them properly without eggs.  But if you are cooking something that requires leavening or binding, here are a few suggestions for egg replacers.  I have been scratching out a list on an old receipt on my desk as I find these.  I can't tell you where I got each of them, but I'm sure I stole them from websites and recipe books that deserve proper credit.  I apologize to those authors. You can also Google "vegan egg replacer" or "vegan egg substitute" and find more suggestions if you want.

A note on FLAX: I buy whole flax seed and then grind 1-2 tablespoons at a time (in the coffee grinder) as I need it.  But be careful because once it is ground, it tends to go bad quickly. (Keep it in the freezer and sprinkle it on your cereal or oatmeal or in casseroles as a little health kick.)  When using it as an egg replacer, let the flax sit in the water or milk and thicken slightly while you prep your other ingredients. The cornbread recipe listed here says to simmer the flax.  I don't know the science behind it, but it works and makes a great cornbread that doesn't just crumble.  I've noticed that recipes using flax tend to stick to the pan a little, though, so be sure to spray your pan or muffin tins well.  Using the ground flax is my favorite egg replacer in muffins, oat bread (and other quick breads) and coffee cakes (which I make often for family and daycare kids).

For cookies, brownies, bean burgers, vegan meatloaf and other dishes where eggs are used as a binding agent, try one of the following:
1 c. soy milk
1 small banana 
2 T. applesauce
Half a cube of silken tofu, blended smooth
1 T. of flax seed meal and three tablespoons of water or vegan milk of your choice
For bread or cake recipes where eggs are used as leavening agents that help foods rise and maintain a airy texture, you can try one of these:
2 t. baking powder + 1/2 c. soy yogurt
2 oz. Ener-G egg substitute (I haven't tried it--have you? Let me know.)
1 t. yeast in a quarter cup hot water
2 T. cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. cold water = 1 egg
2 T. arrowroot flour = 1 egg
2 T. potato starch = 1 egg
1 heaping T. soy powder + 2 T. water = 1 egg
1 T. soy milk powder + 1 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water = 1 egg.
1 banana = 1 egg in cakes

What I use most often is simply 2 T. cornstarch + 1 T. Water = 1 egg.  I've used it in muffins, cookies and black bean burgers. Holds well.

6 T. water
1 c. all-purpose flour (I've used whole-wheat in these--I like, hubby hates the texture)
1 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 t. table salt
1 c. soy milk
1/4 c. canola oil
Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray 8-inch-square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the ground flax seed, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the ground flax seed in the water for 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well-combined. Add the ground flax seed mixture, soy milk, and canola oil to the flour mixture and mix just until smooth (do not over mix). Turn into prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Our family calls these PB Surprise Muffins—I make them with different flavors of jelly and you never what you’re going to get.  It’s a surprise!

1 T. ground flax seeds
3 T. milk (soy or rice or almond)
Let ground seeds sit in milk while you prep other ingredients

1 ½ c. whole-wheat flour
1 c. quick-cooking oats
3/4 c. sugar OR 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 T. baking powder
½ t. salt

Mix dry ingredients together and then cut in
¾ c. Peanut Butter (we like chunky)

To the flax seeds, stir in
1 c. milk (soy or rice or almond)
1 t. vanilla
Finally, mix the wet ingredients with dry ingredients just until moistened.

Spoon a couple tablespoons of batter into bottom of muffin tins (papered or sprayed with Pam).  Spoon 1/2-1 teaspoon of your favorite jelly into each and then top with another couple tablespoons of batter so that the jelly is in the middle.

Cook about 18-20 minutes at 400°F.  If you just make Peanut Butter muffins (no jelly inside), cook for 20-25 minutes. Mini PB muffins cook about 12 minutes. 

I have also added a chocolate kiss in the middle as the surprise, or made with mini chocolate chips.

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