Friday, 7 October 2011


"Many people have eaten my cooking and gone on to live normal lives."  Anonymous.

 (As always, scroll down to the WHAT YOU CAN DO section if you are in a hurry.  However, do not simply skim the recipes this time, as there were some tricky substitutions.)

So, today I decided to use up an icky banana (you know, the over-ripe, makes-you-want-to-gag-from-the-smell-but-perfect-for-baking kind of banana).  Cold fall day, great day for baking banana bread.  Thought it would also make a great blog entry, as it seems that I really am going to write that cookbook.  So, here we go! 

Recap:  My system for veganizing recipes can be summed up by LARI (List, Analyze, Replace or Ignore).  Here's a great banana bread recipe from one of my favourite non-vegan cookbooks, called Best Recipes Under the Sun, by Marion Kane:

Amazing Banana Bread

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 ripe bananas
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 chup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly butter 9 x 5 inch/2 L loaf pan
beat together oil, bananas, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in bowl.
Sift flour, baking soda, spices into separate bowl.  Stir into banana mixture.  Stir in walnuts, chocolate chips an coconut.  Pout into pan.  Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Now for LARI:

I knew right off the bat that I didn't have any vegan chocolate chips (becoming increasingly hard to find vegan chocolate - even most dark chocolate has milk ingredients these days).  I also didn't have any walnuts.  As yummy as they would be, the purpose they serve in this recipe is to add flavour and texture - a nice but unnecessary addition, so I choose to ignore them. 

Vegetable oil is vegan, so no need to tamper with it.  I only had one icky banana, so I knew I would have to adjust the recipe a bit, as the banana not only adds flavour and moisture, but also serves as a bit of a binder in baked goods. Still, bananas are vegan, so no need to replace it. 

Sugar adds sweetness - but I find that most recipes call for too much sugar, and I only have brown sugar in the house, so I will be replacing the granulated sugar with a lesser amount of brown sugar.

The eggs serve as binders, and given the fact that I have reduced the banana (also a binder), I do need to make sure that I use some sort of additional binder in this recipe.  My binder of choice for muffins and breads is ground flax seeds

(There are a few things that vegans have to be careful about in terms of nutrition, and Omega-3-Fatty-Acids are one of them.  There is an excellent treatment of Fatty Acid requirements, and vegetarian and vegan challenges in Becoming Vegan, by Brenda Davis, R.D. & Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D.  If you are interested you should really read this book - it is amazing.  Short-story-long, I try to eat 2 tbsp of ground flax seeds every day, so that my body has enough of the 'ingredients' it needs to convert other fatty acids into Omega-3-fatty-acid.)

You can buy flax seeds, keep them in the freezer, and then grind them in a coffee grinder.  I usually do a bunch at a time, and then freeze the ground flax seeds as well.  Here you can see what unground flax seeds look like.

This is what they look like ground up.

1 Tbsp of ground flax seeds + 2 1/2 Tbsp of water = 1 egg in baking. 

Mix the flax seeds and water together, and let it sit.  It will become gelatinous and thick (can take up to 20 minutes - just stir every now and then.)

This is what they look like once they get nice and thick. 

I rarely use vanilla, not because it's non-vegan, but just because I don't like to use alcohol in my cooking, and most vanilla is actually vanilla flavoured rum (or some other type of alcohol).  This is a personal choice, and there is nothing wrong with either keeping the vanilla when veganizing recipes, or ignoring it if you choose.  In this case, I ignored it and added other flavourings.

All-purpose flour and baking soda are already vegan, so I could keep them.  However, as I only keep brown flour in the house (again, simply a personal choice) for this recipe I substituted brown flour for the white.

Coconut is vegan, so I kept it.  So, here's the veganized version as I made it (NOTE - YOU NEED TO READ THIS THROUGH BEFORE YOU TRY IT.)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a loaf pan.

Mix 2 Tbsp of flax seeds with 5 Tbsp of water and let sit, stirring occasionally, until thick and gelatinous.

1 1/4 cup brown flour
1 tsp baking soda (sifted into flour)
1/2 cup shredded coconut.
Spices to taste (I added ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon)

Mix above together in a bowl and set aside.

1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar

Mix together.  Go to fridge to get the icky banana.  See how beautiful the fridge looks and realize that your boyfriend has cleaned it out.  Spend 15 minutes trying to find the banana in the fridge, then freezer, using incrementally nastier words for people who don't put things back where they found them.  Realize that your boyfriend has probably thrown out the icky banana, in spite of the fact that you told him very clearly that you would be making banana bread with it.  Spend 20 minutes inventing new swear words and having a temper tantrum.  Try to find a substitute to save the food that has already been mixed, and to save the efforts towards your blog entry.  Find a jar of apple sauce.  Realize that apple sauce also has binding qualities. 

Measure out 1/2 cup of apple sauce, keeping jar handy so that you can adjust moisture level if needed as you are now completely F***ING WINGING IT.

Mix apple sauce in with wet ingredients. (Realize that the moisture level is fine with 1/2 cup apple sauce, so put the jar away in the fridge.)

Take a few spoonfuls of wet ingredients and mix in with flax seeds until smooth.  Repeat.  Now mix flax seeds into wet ingredients (now they won't lump up and will be evenly distributed).  Mix dry ingredients into wet.  Stir.  Pour into pan.  Realize that the batter does not have the same volume or density as the original recipe, so put timer on for 30 minutes, check it, and eventually settle on baking it for 35 minutes (or until done). 

Decide to thank boyfriend for cleaning out fridge, and try not to start fight when he gets home.


  1. Check to make sure that you have all the ingredients you need before you start
  2. Get to know the 'science' of baking and cooking, so that you can adjust and substitute
  3. Try to veganize one of your muffin or bread recipes.

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