FOOD SWAPS

The Hamilton Spectator - - Go Arts & Life - NICOLE PIN Nicole Pin is a regis­tered di­eti­tian in Burling­ton whose prac­tice em­braces the prin­ci­ples of mind­ful and in­tu­itive eat­ing to achieve sus­tain­able life­style change with clients. For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.en­joyy­our­foodrd.com. Have ques­tions?

Over the past sev­eral years, I’ve be­come in­creas­ingly ad­ven­tur­ous when it comes to bak­ing: test­ing the del­i­cate bal­ance of recipe for­mu­la­tion to see just how much sugar I can re­duce with­out the cookie crum­bling, what I can add to make some­thing dairy free, egg free or sim­ply more nu­tri­tious.

Ad­just­ing bak­ing recipes is chal­leng­ing, as ev­ery in­gre­di­ent plays a role in the fi­nal prod­uct — from con­sis­tency and tex­ture to taste and colour. Eggs, for ex­am­ple, can pro­vide struc­ture, leav­en­ing, rich­ness, colour and flavour to a baked item.

So how do you find a re­place­ment that can pro­vide those same prop­er­ties, with­out adding any ad­verse ef­fect to the fi­nal prod­uct? Trial and er­ror. While there are sev­eral avid blog­gers and bak­ers on­line who have done the kitchen ex­per­i­ments al­ready and a quick Google search will turn up thou­sands of gluten-free,

egg-free or ve­gan choco­late chip cookie recipes, some­times it’s just not the same as us­ing your own trusted and true recipe.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned from my own kitchen ex­per­i­ments:

“Flax Eggs”: For ev­ery egg, whisk 1 tbsp ground flax with 3 tbsp wa­ter. Let sit 5 min­utes and use as di­rected in recipe. Flax, when whisked with wa­ter, be­comes thick and gelati­nous, sim­i­lar to an egg. Al­ter­na­tively, you can use chia seeds in the same ra­tio as flax and make “chia

eggs.” Flax eggs work well in pan­cake, waf­fle, muf­fin, cookie or snack cake recipes.

Milk: Dairy-based milk is an easy 1:1 swap with any plant­based milk in vir­tu­ally all bak­ing recipes. Some plant-based milks can con­tain other al­ler­gens, such as nuts or soy, so dou­ble check al­ler­gies if you’re bak­ing for a large crowd. Pick an unsweet­ened and un­flavoured va­ri­ety to avoid added sugar or chang­ing the taste of a recipe. Plant milks can also re­place but­ter­milk: sim­ply mix 1 tbsp le­mon juice for ev­ery 1 cup milk. Some of the most pop­u­lar plant milks in­clude co­conut, soy and al­mond. Heavy cream, evap­o­rated

milk and but­ter: These are all re­ally easy 1:1 bak­ing swaps. Co­conut cream for heavy cream, canned co­conut milk for evap­o­rated milk and dairy-free mar­garine or co­conut oil for but­ter.

Gluten-Free Bak­ing: Gluten­free flour blends can be chal­leng­ing, as they don’t have the same den­sity, bind­ing and tex­ture-form­ing prop­er­ties as wheat flour. Gluten-free flours re­act dif­fer­ently in pretty much ev­ery recipe, but I sug­gest mak­ing a batch of your own gluten-free all-pur­pose blend or buy­ing a com­mer­cial blend to start, and ad­just­ing recipes as needed. Ba­sic gluten-free flour blend: 4 cups rice flour (brown or white rice), 1 1/3 cups po­tato starch, 2/3 cups tapi­oca starch. Blend to­gether and store in a plas­tic con­tainer. For ex­tra bind­ing, add a pinch of xan­than gum (amount will vary de­pend­ing on the recipe).

You can also try us­ing oat flour in place of reg­u­lar flour. Sim­ply pulse gluten-free oats in a blender or food pro­ces­sor un­til a flour forms. Try us­ing half oat flour and half all-pur­pose gluten-free flour in pan­cakes, muf­fin or cookie recipes.

Sugar: In most recipes, you can re­duce sugar by 1/3 with­out any sus­pi­cions. If the recipe calls for vanilla ex­tract, cin­na­mon or nut­meg, in­crease the quan­ti­ties slightly to en­hance nat­u­ral sweet­ness. An­other op­tion is to re­duce sugar by 3/4 or even re­move it al­to­gether and sub­sti­tute mashed ba­nana (2 large ba­nanas per 1 cup sugar) or ap­ple­sauce (1:1 ra­tio).

If you add mashed ba­nana or ap­ple­sauce, re­duce the liq­uid in a recipe by 2 to 4 tbsp. Dried fruit can also work well in place of sugar: 2/3 cup of dates chopped finely in a food pro­ces­sor can re­place 1 cup sugar in a square or brownie.

GETTY IM­AGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

A 1:1 swap of dairy milk with any plant milk, such as al­mond milk or co­conut milk, is just fine for most bak­ing.

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