Vegan Baking Tips, and Life Updates

There’s been a BIG response to my gluten free baking tips. So how about some tips for vegan baking??

Ok, so there are a couple of reasons for this “tips” post instead of another recipe. Truth is, life has been so busy lately that I’ve been severely slacking on making up recipes. Or even trying new recipes.

Hopefully, this will change soon and I’ll be back with lots of new things for all of you to try. Here’s what’s been happening in my life lately:

  • I turned another year older!! July 13th was my birthday, and even though I greatly dislike getting older, I love birthdays!! Funny thing? I totally didn’t have a birthday cake. My mom, sister, and oldest niece came to visit and bought a small cookie cake for us to share. Plus birthday gelato. I was so busy with cake orders and the TMNT cake you’ve seen that I didn’t have patience time to make another one.

    Birthday gelato! Yummmm

  • Little Bit Sweet, the business, is growing!! I’ve been very blessed to have more orders lately, and I’m starting to learn the ins and outs of organizing a small business. Holy cow it’s difficult! Especially when you have a science, not financial, mind. But I’m loving the learning experience for sure.
  • Work!!! As many of you know, I’m also a pediatric dietitian. And I’ve gotten pretty lazy respectful of my time at night. It’s a lot of work coming up with recipes and writing….and I’ve been slacking. Telling myself that it happens to the best of us. 🙂
  • Concerts, visiting family, seeing old friends. All fun things. Especially the concerts! I saw John Mayer & Phillip Phillips on my birthday, and will see Train, Maroon 5, and Kelly Clarkson in the coming months. Yay!!

    John Mayer mania. Look at all of the people!! And this was just the lawn seating.

Now that you’ve caught a glimpse at what’s been happening on the home front, how about we get into today’s post?

GF Vegan Cupcakes

Vegan baking is something I totally got into by chance. A few of my dear friends are vegan, and wanted to include them in celebrations. So I worked to make recipes vegan-friendly. Then, I got the order for gluten-free & vegan rainbow cupcakes. I HAD to learn at that point.

There have been opportunities to learn from failure….like the time I set the oven aflame.

But I learned a few things along the way. Vegan or have vegan friends? Here are a few tips for you:

  1. Use an egg replacer…a good one.
    One that will not cause the batter to explode and start an oven fire. Meaning, do NOT use baking powder and water to make an “egg” if you already have another leavening agent in the recipe.
    My favorite egg replacer is Ener-G Egg Replacer. You mix the powder with some water and use it just like a regular egg. I’ve also tried making a flax egg (1 Tbsp flax seed + 3 Tbsp water), but it will cause your baked product to have flecks of flax in it….leading people to ask “what’s in this?” If you’re making a muffin or bread of some sort, a flax egg works perfectly because there’s already flecks of stuff in the batter. As a general rule, though, I use Ener-G “eggs.”
    **Note: these replacers don’t work for custards and will also not replace egg whites for meringue…still working on figuring out replacements for those**
  2. You’ll need a milk substitute, of course.
    I tend to always use soy milk. Works like a charm, usually. And for baked goods such as cakes or muffins, I like using light vanilla soymilk for that little bit of vanilla flavor. Coconut milk, almond milk, and others are also said to work as well. I just haven’t tried them.
  3. Recipe call for butter? No problem.
    Use a vegan-friendly “butter.” My friend Rachael directed me toward Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks and I haven’t turned back. (Seriously, I’ve learned what I know about vegan baking from her.) The buttery sticks work just like butter or margarine. You can also replace most or all of the butter with a fruit puree like unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana, but it will yield a different texture for the final product.
    Another tip: if the recipe calls for softened butter, substituting oil will also yield a different final texture. Butter (or “butter” in this case) when still cold and incorporated throughout the baked good, makes little air bubbles in the final product as it bakes and melts. So using oil instead of “butter” makes things a bit more dense…because these tiny bubbles won’t form in the batter.
  4. Chocolate chips can be dairy free.
    Look for it on the package. My favorite is the Enjoy Life brand.

    Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Try using vegan buttery sticks & non-dairy chocolate chips in this awesome recipe.

  5. If your recipe calls for buttermilk:
    Place 1 Tbsp vinegar in a measuring cup and add enough soymilk to make 1 cup total. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. It will curdle and look disgusting. Fear not. Mixes in just fine and is a perfect replacement for buttermilk.

And there you have it! You’re a vegan baking pro.

Well, not just yet probably….there’s a lot more to it than these 5 simple tips. But at least this will get you started.

Now back to my hectic schedule. Today, I’m baking my dad and grandpa a birthday cake. Fun!

Have a great day!!

Perfection is Overrated

It’s time to come clean.    I’m not perfect. *whew* That was hard to say.

Sometimes it’s hard to admit that perfection is not a realistic goal.  Will I ever think that I have the perfect skin?  No.  But I’ve learned to embrace my freckles and love the fact that it makes me different special.  They’re what make me, well, me.

This may seem like a random post for a website that publishes desserts and food information.  But far too often the internet becomes inundated with posts about “How to get perfect hair” or “How to plan the perfect party” ….or the ever present “Get the perfect body”.

It’s time to have a post that says, “You may not be perfect, but you’re pretty awesome.” 

Maybe the posts out there should focus on how to love yourself.  Lift yourself up while working on areas in your life that you see as a hindrance to happiness.  The Army used to say “Be all that you can be” and I think that’s a great motto for everyone.  You may not have the perfect body right now, but love yourself enough to exercise and eat right, working your way to a place where your weight or lifestyle will not hinder having a full life.  That also means not being so concerned about fitness and healthy eating that it keeps you from spending quality time with family and friends.  Shouldn’t a balanced and healthy lifestyle be the perfection we seek?  I’d hate to have such a strict diet that I couldn’t have a piece of cake with my grandparents for their anniversary.  Then again, I enjoy dancing and jogging to get rid of stress.  Again, balance.

Love yourself for your imperfections, not despite the imperfections.  Sometimes, you have to be your own cheerleader.  After all, if it’s the material things that you love, would you still be yourself if they were all taken away? Yes.  The things that matter are not things.  It’s not the perfect body, perfect wardrobe, perfect family.  Perfection is being thankful for blessings and opportunities despite bumps along the road.

What is something that you’ve been holding onto that has hindered you from living to the fullest?  Please feel free to comment and share!  Maybe someone else has the same issue.

I hope today leaves you feeling happy and strong.  Strong in your accomplishments, and strong in the face of adversity.