Review & Recipe: The Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutions

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Ever wish you had a way to magically veganize any recipe? Somewhere to turn when you find that perfect dinner dish and all your hopes come crashing down when you scroll through the ingredient list only to discover meat or dairy hiding at the end?

Joni Marie Newman and Celine Steen have you covered with The Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutions.

complete substitution guide cover

Image courtesy of Quarto Publishing Group USA

I’ll admit that I never paid much attention to the original Complete Guide book simply because I thought I didn’t need it. A bit arrogant of me, perhaps, thinking that I already knew everything I needed to know about making standard recipes vegan, because once you’ve seen one cheese sauce recipe, you’ve seen them all, right?

Oh, how wrong I was. The minute I got my hands on a review copy of this book, I realized that there was so much more to vegan substitutions than I ever could have imagined. The contents are divided into four sections:

  • Dairy (milk and cheese)
  • Eggs (for savory dishes and baking)
  • Protein (chicken and beef, seafood, bacon and non-meaty meat “replacements”)
  • Kitchen Success (comprehensive substitution charts)

Throughout the book, Newman and Steen include notations to show which recipes are gluten-free, nut-free and soy-free. You’ll also find no-added-sugar recipes, oil-free options and “quick and easy” recipes that come together in a flash. This lets you tell at a glance if a recipe fits your dietary needs and whether or not you can whip it up when your mother-in-law spontaneously announces she’s coming over for dinner.

Before delving into the recipes, you can look over a glossary of some of the possibly unfamiliar ingredients that are used. Most are pretty recognizable, but some others, such as black salt, may be new to you. (I haven’t had the pleasure of trying that one yet!) When you’re ready to head to a specific section, you’ll find a chart of substitutions specific to that part of the book along with an example recipe shown in its original and veganized formats. It really couldn’t be any simpler than that.

Just what kinds of recipes are there, you ask? A better question would be what isn’t there? Of course, there are recipes for the substitutions themselves, such as vegan butter, yogurt and cheese slices, but there are also recipes that use these substitutions. Here’s just a small sampling to give you an idea:

  • Mexican Cobb Salad (complete with tofu “egg whites” and “yolks”)
  • “Fish” Tacos
  • Strawberry Clafoutis
  • Linguine in Tomato Garlic Cream Sauce
  • Breakfast Rice with Plums
  • Summery Spelt Salad
  • Bahn Mi Scramble

As you can see, Newman and Steen cover the whole spectrum from salads to desserts with main dishes for every meal in between. They even include an entire subsection full of meat replacements that don’t try to imitate meat; rather, these recipes can stand in for meat when you’re looking for a protein option without a meaty flavor. By the time you hit the substitution charts at the end, you’ll be armed with an arsenal of vegan recipes for just about any substitution you could want, plus a bunch of brand-new dishes to try. The charts provide both homemade and store-bought suggestions for replacing non-vegan ingredients with page references to recipes within the book.

This is more than a guide; it’s practically an encyclopedia. With this as part of your kitchen arsenal, you’ll be armed and ready to veganize literally any recipe that comes your way, even those crazy bacon concoctions that keep popping up. (Link contains pictures of actual bacon, but all the recipes can be made vegan!) Because yes, there’s even a recipe for Seitan Slab O’ Bacon.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “This all sounds great, but I can just go out and buy vegan yogurt/cheese/chicken/seafood/bacon…” Sure you can, but how many of these products contain the same kinds of highly processed ingredients that are making so many people on the standard American diet sick? The second goal that Newman and Steen have with this book is to provide recipes that use as many natural, whole-food ingredients as possible and avoid the junk that, while tasty and convenient, can undermine the health benefits of a vegan diet.

So go ahead, make that sausage and cheese breakfast sandwich you’ve been thinking about. Dip your veggies in ranch dressing. Serve your omni guests tuna sandwiches or spaghetti with “meatballs.” It’s all been veganized, and it’s right at your fingertips in The Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutions. If I had three thumbs like Zaphod Beeblebrox, I’d be putting them all up for this book!

Thanks to the folks at Quarto Publishing Group for letting me have a look at the book and for passing along a great recipe for me to share with you. True to form for me, the recipe that really smacked me between the eyes was perhaps the least quick and easy of them all. I haven’t had a chance to make it yet, but I can practically hear it calling to me every time I pick up the book. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Dinner Plate Bowl. Chock full of goodness, it has everything you could want in a meal from the bed of kale on the bottom to the “special sauce” drizzled over the top. The best part? You can make a bunch when you have time and pop one in your lunch bag to enjoy a hearty plant-based meal at work any time during the week.

Trust me, your colleagues will be jealous. Even the guy who makes fun of you for eating so much kale.


Dinner Plate Bowl

* No Added Sugar * Nut-Free

There is something about putting your whole meal into a bowl that just makes it, well, taste better. And this one is no exception. We call it the Dinner Plate Bowl because inside is all the components of a traditional dinner plate. We like to make all of the components ahead of time, and assemble the bowl and reheat as needed for a quick-and-easy lunch or dinner. In fact, Joni has been known to make huge batches of these ingredients just for the purpose of “bowling” all week long.

For the potatoes:Potatoes (4799817714)

  • 2 pounds (908 g) baby red potatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (9 g) minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1 tablespoon (2 g) fresh
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the balsamic onions:

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) neutral-flavored oil
  • 1 large red onion, cut into thin rings
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the special sauce:

  • 1 cup (225 g) vegan mayonnaise, store-bought or homemade
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (17 g) ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill, or 11/2 teaspoons fresh
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the tofu:

  • 1 block (10 ounces, or 284 g) extra or super firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1 tablespoon (8 g) nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspooon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) neutral-flavored oil
  • Salt, to taste

For the bowl:

  • 1 bunch (about 10 ounces, or 284 g) Dino Lacinto kale, julienne cut
  • 4 cups (632 g) cooked white or (780 g) brown jasmine rice, warm
  • 1 cup (134 g) green peas, heated (fresh, frozen, or canned is fine)
  • 2 stalks scallion, small chop on the bias

Red_onion_rings_closeup by Sebastian Wallroth (Public Domain)To make the potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6). In a medium bowl, toss the halved potatoes with oil, garlic, and rosemary to coat. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet, and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until tender and edges are browned. When done, remove from oven, and add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve. (QV Note: You can roast potatoes without oil if you prefer–simply use parchment paper or a silicon mat on the baking sheet!)

To prepare the balsamic onions: Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until soft. About 5 minutes, tossing regularly. Add the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and continue to cook down until onions are very soft and caramelized, 7 to 10 minutes.

To make the special sauce: Whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

kale by Ayla87

FreeImages/Ayla87

To make the tofu: Add all the ingredients, except oil and salt, to a small bowl and toss to coat. Preheat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the tofu mixture and saute for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Add salt to taste.

To assemble the bowl: Layer the ingredients in the following order: Kale on bottom, rice over the kale, potatoes over the rice, tofu over the potatoes, peas over the tofu, balsamic onions all over the top, drizzle liberally with sauce, then garnish with chopped scallion. Serve immediately, or package for easy-to-reheat lunches and dinners throughout the week.

Yield: 4 bowls

 

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About The Author

Sam has been a vegan since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of vegan food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a member of Toastmasters International and currently serves as part of the Capital View Toastmasters club. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read, play silly card games and knit socks.

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