Embracing a Dairy-Free & Plant-Based Lifestyle - Some Simple Hacks that Help!

Let's face it — change can be daunting. Making the decision to go plant-based, whether full or part-time, can initially feel like the safe and comfortable food zone you've always known has just become a little smaller — switching to a plant-rich diet actually opens up "a whole new world — a new fantastic point of view!" 🙂

I'm feeling inspired. Let me at these hacks!

We have put together a whole range of easy substitutes for you to try in the kitchen. From eggs, cream, butter, cheese, milk and even meats — lets make this a little easier for you all!

Eggs

Choosing a replacement for eggs really depends on what you're cooking. If you're looking to make an egg-heavy dish, such as a breakfast scramble, quiche, or sandwich filling, then tofu is your absolute friend.

We would say use the firm tofu for savoury dishes, though a silken tofu (the softer variety) is better suited to a quiche or frittata, plus it can also be used as the base for this quick and easy vegan mayo

For baking, the egg component acts as a binder, for which there are many vegan alternatives. From baking powder, banana, dairy-free yoghurt, chia seeds, flaxseed, or our go-to — apple sauce — there are so many options. 

If you're big on baking — especially when it comes to sweet treats — then you may want to experiment in the kitchen with aquafaba. This wonder ingredient is likely hiding amongst your pantry shelves already. Aquafaba is chickpea brine. Next time you drain a tin of chickpeas, drain the liquid straight into a bowl because it's quite literally magic. It whips just like egg whites — so perfectly, in fact, that it works for meringue and macarons.

Cream

Whether you want a thickened cream for mousse, a dollop for pancakes, or a sour cream that can be used for classic Mexican dishes, soups, and even creamy pasta dishes, it's never been easier to substitute creams. Barnabys Dairy-Free is a relatively new, Australian-owned company who specialise in coconut creams & cheeses. Speciality stores also stock various ranges of soy, rice or oat creams.

Butter

Lucky for us we can enjoy all of the creamy, salty goodness that dairy-free spread has to offer in any food market, as its incredibly popular now and has been for decades. 

Nuttelex is king! Widely available at supermarkets nationwide, you can choose from a standard vegetable-based spread, coconut, olive, reduced fat, low cholesterol, and low saturated fat varieties. They even have a specific kind for cooking and baking. They've covered all bases! For other subs already on hand in the pantry, both olive and coconut oil make great replacements. If you just want something smooth and creamy in place of butters altogether, smash some avocado with a sprinkle of salt!

In fact, you don't need to stick to traditional butters at all when it comes to spreading or baking. Nut loving folk — explore the world of endless nut butters. While peanut butter might be the most obvious option, in the spread aisle at your local you'll find almond, cashew, hazelnut, macadamia, and various mixed nut butters for not only variety, but for added health benefits (nuts can be great sources of fibre, protein, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, and healthy fats).

Cheese

Let me just put this out there — no one is giving up cheese!

vegan cheese, feta, dairy-free, lactose-free

There are so many incredible plant-based cheeses available once you step outside of the dairy bubble. Want something shredded and melty for your nachos? Try Barnabys Dairy-Free Cheddar shreds. Need the ultimate comforting toastie, full of stretchy melt and flavour with a bit of bite? There are plenty of options available. 🙂

The demand for alternative cheeses has seen the quality of readily available options soar to new heights. In fact, these days plant-based cheeses are in their own artisanal category, with many people choosing them over traditional cheeses, purely because of their tempting, aromatic tastes and flavours. 

When looking at dairy-free cheeses and substitutes, there is one highly revered ingredient that has sustained the dairy-free community since long before the cheese section became what it is today — nutritional yeast. Affectionately referred to as simply 'nooch', this is not to be mistaken with a standard baker's yeast. It comes in the form of yellow flakes, and has a deliciously savoury, cheesy, 'umami' flavour that makes it the perfect seasoning to add to your soups, pastas, or as a pizza topping. You can even sprinkle it on your popcorn for a traditionally cheesy twist. Be sure to look out for fortified nooch, as it can be a source of vitamin B12, too.

Milk

Non-dairy milks are everywhere nowadays. At any given store, you can choose milks made from soy, oats, almonds, rice, macadamias, cashews, coconuts, hemp, or hazelnuts. In savoury dishes, we would recommend soy, oat, almond or rice, as the natural sweetness in the nuttier milks may affect the flavours. For sweet dishes, go to town!

When talking hot beverages, I can't recommend oat milk highly enough. It generally doesn't split in tea and coffee, and offers a creamy and neutral taste, allowing the full flavours of your brew to shine through.

Aside from plain varieties, there are a range of flavoured milks available, too. Grab and go iced coffees and chocolate milks are at most supermarkets and convenience stores, so you need not miss out on your convenience grabs — especially those that keep you caffeinated.

Meat

With the global surge of plant-based eating, there has been a boom in the amount of alternative meat products available. But did you know you can also replicate the taste and texture of some of your meat dishes with certain fruit and veg?

The rise of jackfruit is testament to how well it can substitute the texture of not only pulled pork, but chicken. 

Textured vegetable protein (TVP) is available at supermarkets and perfectly replicates mince. I like to throw mine in stews and sauces for texture, added protein, and sometimes just to add some extra bulk and make meals stretch a bit further.

Banana blossom may technically be a flower, but its chunky, flaky texture makes it an ideal fish substitute. Banana blossom can be found in tins at supermarkets, including many Asian groceries. Battered up with some nori, dill and tartar sauce, you'll be enjoying the familiar taste of the sea brought to life with plants!

Mushrooms, tofu, coconut, and rice paper can all be used to your meaty advantage. Used strategically, they can be transformed into bacon, fish and steaks!

Feeling hungry?

Pick out a new recipe and get cooking! Once you've shown yourself what you can do you'll be unstoppable. With time, you'll be able to 'veganise' any recipe that comes your way with just a few simple swaps. And if you're unsure, just refer to your old mate Google.

Has this blog post inspired you to try out something new? Let us know in the comments below. 

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