An Education In Vegan Baking

cookbookcover-smallRecently I attended the book signing for Babycakes, a vegan and mostly gluten free baking cookbook by Erin McKenna. Enticed by the prospect of enjoying sweets with natural sweeteners and healthy ingredients, I made my first of several trips to Henry’s Market, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. As I walked the aisles seeking new ingredients, such as garbanzo-fava bean flour and coconut oil, I felt like I was entering a whole new world. I had never even thought to use these items in my baking before. Fortunately, I myself do not have any food allergies, that I know if anyway, that have forced me to experiment with gluten free baking. However, after learning about the many health benefits of coconut oil, flaxmeal, soy and natural sweeteners like agave nectar and evaporated cane juice, I was inspired to take my love for sweets to a healthier, and hopefully tastier, level.

I decided to start off by making the chocolate cupcakes (of course!) with chocolate frosting and the chocolate chip cookies. All tasted delicious, however, there were several important lessons I learned along the way which I have shared with you below.

Healthy Ingredients

Healthy Ingredients

Coconut Oil: If you have never bought coconut oil before, here are a few things I have learned:

  • Virgin Cold Pressed Coconut Oil is preferable for the Babycakes recipes.
  • Coconut Oil is available in refined and unrefined, Erin uses the unrefined version. And some of the recent studies showing the health benefits of coconut oil site the unrefined version.
  • Coconut Oil is a GOOD fat. It is often used by athletes because it promotes healthy thyroid and metabolic function and is used as storage for quick energy sources.
  • It is more expensive than some other oil alternatives, but it is worth the cost, both for its health benefits and its taste. I tried making the cupcakes with grapeseed oil for example, and the taste was not the same.
  • You have to melt the coconut oil. It comes in a jar and in a consistency similar to shortening.

Dry Soy Milk Powder: It is an elusive ingredient that I have yet to located in any of the health food stores near me. But I did find it on Amazon.com, here.

  • I have tried substituting Dry Powdered Goat’s Milk, which is actually very healthy for you and is often tolerated by some people who cannot drink cow’s milk or soy milk.
  • The Dry Soy Milk is a key ingredient in the frosting recipes for Babycakes, and since I have not yet used it yet, I have been able to achieve the ideal frosting consistency. Of course that might also be due to the brand of coconut oil I used, I am going to try a different brand, Omega Nutrition. That is the one that Erin mentioned but I have only found online so far.

Flour: If you are a health nut like me and not a vegan or restricted to a gluten free diet, then I encourage you to experiment with some of the recipes. I used Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour for the cookies and they tasted wonderful.

That’s it for now. I’m baking another batch of cookies this afternoon and will share some tasty images and my adaptions for the Babycakes Chocolate Chip Cookies. Join me later for milk and cookies!

Interested in making your own vegan and gluten free recipes but can’t find some the ingredients? Visit my Amazon store’s new Vegan Baking section.

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