Health-ifying Vegan Recipes Part I
I teach all people how to eat healthier, but I especially like to show vegetarians and vegans how to health-ify recipes they find in cookbooks or online. Just because you are vegan does NOT make you in good health. Care must be taken to have a nutritious diet and nourish yourself properly. Take this Meatout Monday recipe for Raspberry Almond Torte. At first glace it looks like a delicious, healthy dessert recipe, but we could take it a step further. If vegans are going to be the healthiest they can be and set examples for the world we have to trade out some common not-so-great ingredients with their better counterparts. See the little changes I make in the recipe and then see why I make these changes below.
(Taken from Meatout Mondays)
1½ cups almond meal*
1/3 cup rice flour Use Brown Rice Flour
1½ tsp. fresh lemon zest Make sure to use organic lemons
¼ tsp. sea salt (+ 2 pinches for topping)
1/3 cup unrefined sugar (+ 3 Tbs. for topping) Use Coconut Palm/other
1 Tbs. cornstarch (+ ½ Tbs. for topping) Switch to Arrowroot
2 Tbs. soymilk Switch to Almond milk
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract Switch to Vanilla Flavoring
½ tsp. pure almond extract
1½ Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice (for topping)
1½ cups frozen raspberries (for topping)
*You can buy almond meal or make your own by pulsing whole almonds in a food processor until very crumbly (avoid overprocessing as they turn to a paste).
- In a small bowl, mix ½ Tbs. cornstarch and lemon juice.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, make the topping by combining the cornstarch/lemon mixture, raspberries, sugar, and salt; cook until mixture slowly bubbles and thickens, stirring frequently; once thickened, turn off heat.
- In a bowl, combine almond meal, flour, lemon zest, salt, and sugar.
- In another bowl, combine cornstarch with soymilk until smooth; add maple syrup and extracts; stir well; add wet mixture to dry and stir to combine well.
- Lightly oil a round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper (to prevent sticking).
- Transfer mixture to pan and evenly distribute; pour raspberry mixture over top.
- Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes, then transfer (still in pan) to cooling rack. Serves 6.
Why make these changes?
Organic is the only way to go really. But, especially citrus fruits used for the zest need to be organic because tons of pesticides have accumulated in the peel.
Sugar, whether it’s evaporated cane juice, brown, powered, or white, is unhealthy and is robbing your body of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Not only that but it’s highly addictive and can cause weight gain if eaten daily because it’s stored as fat in the body. It lowers immunity and causes cravings since your body starts a mad search for those missing nutrients. While it’s hard to give up completely (it’s in everything these days!), you can choose not to cook or bake with it. Coconut palm is a step up, but the best sweeteners are brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and agave. Or you can use Stevia, but personally I hate the taste. There are plenty of cookbooks and recipes that use these sweeteners instead of sugar and still taste great!
Cornstarch is highly processed with chemicals and is most likely made with GMO corn. It has negligible nutritional value, so why not go with a healthy alternative. Those would be arrowroot, kuzu, tapioca flour, or even just plain unbleached flour.
Soymilk is tasty, but it’s often made from GMO soybeans (unless it says specifically on the carton that it isn’t). If you are already vegan you probably get plenty of soy in your diet, so don’t overdue it and make the switch to almond, rice, or hemp. I’m not trying to start a soy debate to which there is SO much conflicting statements. I don’t think it’s inherently bad (if it’s not GMO), I just think it’s best to lower our intake of processed soy (especially soy protein isolates) in general. Unless you are buying “Unsweetened” soy milk, all brands are laced with copious amounts of sugar. Same goes with almond milk but buy Almond Breeze Unsweetened (plain or vanilla) and you won’t be disappointed!
Vanilla Extract contains alcohol. Vanilla flavoring does not and it tastes richer.
Keep an eye out for a bigger list of better ingredients to use on Monday. If you can make these small changes you will notice a difference in your health and nourish yourself in the best possible way!