BASIC SKILLS SERIES: VEGAN BASICS
Basic Skills Series: Vegan Basics
By: Super Dabbler Abby Branderhorst
Even though I am not a vegan, I took this class as a way to expand my repertoire of cooking skills! I have taken a few classes from the Whole Foods Cooking Classroom before, and this class became one of my new favorites because it wasn't just a demo-style class; we were able to cook some of the dishes with a partner after the instructor demonstrated it for us first.
Sarah (our awesome instructor!!) first asked if any of us were vegans. Only a few people were surprised, so I felt I was in good company with others who are trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle. We first went through vegan substitutions that we could use for recipes both over the course of the evening, as well as at home. It was really interesting to learn how easy it is to substitute items to make a dish vegan!
For example, one egg in a recipe can be replaced with 3 tablespoons of flax meal and 1 tablespoon of water. After mixing the flax meal with water, you let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes in order to create a gelatinous substance, which acts as an emulsifier in a dish just as an egg would! If we didn't have flax meal at home on hand, we learned that it's very simple to make! Since flax meal is produced from finely ground flax seed, we could easily grind flax seed in a food processor at home, thereby allowing us to substitute this alternative binding ingredient in recipes that call for eggs.
Sarah then demonstrated our first recipe for us to make, which was a meatless meatloaf made with a mixture of rice and lentils as a base. After sauteing the onion and mixing the rest of the ingredients together, we were able to put our first dish in the oven, which would cook for one hour. Sarah then brought up a fantastic point that because a lot of meals require some extra prep work, if we are short on time at home we could purchase precooked lentils to cut down on our preparation time! The next dish we tackled was cornbread, and we were able to learn new substitutions to vegan-ize it!
For butter, it's a simple conversion with oil, and instead of honey, we used maple syrup. One last ingredient we substituted was buttermilk. Sarah taught us to mix a nut milk with lemon juice, to create that sour buttermilk taste. This was another fantastic take-home point as I would much rather keep a nut milk on hand in my refrigerator as opposed to buttermilk. After placing this dish in the oven, Sarah demonstrated how to vegan-ize nacho cheese and mac n cheese. Yum, yum, yum! The dishes tasted so great that it was hard to believe that the products didn't actually have dairy in them!
Our last test of the night was using what we learned about the substitutions and conversions to create our own chocolate chip cookies! It still amazes me that the cookies tasted the same as traditional cookies with eggs, but it's the perfect reminder that so many dishes can be vegan-ized and still taste great! I'm so glad that I experimented in this class, and even though I don't plan to become a vegan, I will continue to use what I learned in future dishes that I make!
Check out the variety of Whole Foods culinary events offered through Dabble here!