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January is a time for many people to revisit their mindset, whether that means focusing on new goals or changing their approach to diet and well-being.
Veganism has become increasingly popular, with searches on TikTok for “Veganuary 2024” up by a whopping 5,500%. Veganuary is an annual opportunity to reset eating habits, improve health, and explore a new plant-based lifestyle.
If you’re a committed vegan or making the change for the first time, looking for tasty alternatives can be challenging if you’re used to meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. This is why the experts at Wren Kitchens have shared five vegan swaps to add to your diet this month, along with a tasty plant-powered recipe to try.
Beef to black beans
When cooked, black beans have a tender yet slightly firm texture that can resemble ground beef. They work well in tacos, burritos, and veggie burgers, adding a hearty texture and flavour. Black beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein and various essential nutrients, including iron, magnesium, and folate. It’s a heart-healthy option; black beans are lower in saturated fat than beef.
Dairy cheese to vegan cheese
Vegan cheese is typically made from plant-based ingredients such as nuts (cashews, almonds), soy, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, and various flavourings. The texture and flavour of vegan cheese can vary depending on the brand and type, ranging from spreadable to sliceable and classic to herb-infused. Vegan cheese may provide nutritional benefits, such as healthy fats from nuts and coconut oil.
Chicken to jackfruit
The unripe, green jackfruit has a meaty texture that closely resembles shredded or pulled chicken when cooked. It can be grilled, sautéed, baked, or simmered in stews and curries. The key is to season it well with spices, herbs, and sauces to enhance its flavour. Jackfruit is low in calories and fat, making it a healthy alternative to chicken. It is also a good source of potassium and vitamin C.
Fish to tempeh
Tempeh is a fermented soybean product with a nutty taste and firm texture that works well at imitating the flakiness of certain fish varieties. It can be sliced, cubed, or crumbled; however, marinating tempeh before cooking enhances its flavour and helps mimic the taste of fish. Tempeh is suitable for a variety of fish-inspired dishes, including fish tacos, fish and chips, and even sushi rolls. It’s rich in protein, dietary fibre, iron, and calcium.
Mayonnaise to aquafaba
Aquafaba is the liquid leftover from cooked chickpeas or the water in a can of chickpeas. To use aquafaba as a mayonnaise substitute, you can whip it into a foam. Typically, 3 tablespoons of aquafaba can replace one egg in mayonnaise recipes. Aquafaba itself is relatively neutral in flavour, in mayonnaise, it takes on the taste of other ingredients, such as mustard, lemon juice, or vinegar. It’s a lower-fat alternative to traditional egg-based mayonnaise. Chickpea water contains some nutrients and proteins, adding a nutritional element to the condiment.
Guilt-free vegan black bean burgers
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice
- 1/2 Cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 Cup finely chopped bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (adjust as needed for binding)
- burger buns
- Preheat your oven to 190°C. In a large mixing bowl, mash the black beans using a fork or potato masher. Leave some beans partially intact for texture.
- Add the cooked quinoa or brown rice, chopped red onion, chopped bell pepper, minced garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, chilli powder, salt, black pepper, tomato paste, soy sauce, and olive oil to the mashed black beans. Mix well until the ingredients are combined.
- Gradually add breadcrumbs until the mixture reaches a consistency that holds together well. The exact amount may vary, so add breadcrumbs as needed.
- Divide the mixture into equal portions and shape them into burger patties. Ensure they are well packed to prevent them from falling apart during cooking.
- Place the patties on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25–30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until they are golden brown and firm. Or heat a little oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook the patties for about 4–5 minutes on each side until they are browned and cooked through.
- Toast your burger buns and assemble your black bean burgers with your favourite toppings. Serve your vegan black bean burgers immediately and enjoy!
Darren Watts, showroom development and design director at Wren Kitchens, says: “Veganuary is a great chance to alter your diet and introduce plant-based options into your meals. Plan your meals ahead of time and batch cook to ensure you have all the necessary ingredients. This can help you avoid last-minute compromises or the temptation to revert to non-vegan options.”