Easy Swaps to Help You Switch to Plant-Based Eating

Welcome to Mise en Place, a column which takes its cue from the French tradition that literally translates to “everything in it’s place.” More than just the culinary process of prepping and assembling ingredients beforehand, Mise en Place is a state of mind. A philosophy of cooking, that will equip you will all the tips, tricks and hacks you need to embrace and elevate your inner chef.

This edition sees Sarah Edwards of Copper + Cloves reveal startlingly-simple plant-based swaps, from tips on making your own mylk, to vegan protein and more! Over to her.


The last few months have increased awareness of our need to live in harmony with our environment and protect our precious resources. This combined with a collective growing interest in health, immunity and wellbeing, means that there has never been a better time to move towards a more plant-based way of eating.

I use the term ‘plant-based’ to describe how I eat. It isn’t a label with rigid rules – it’s simply a phrase that describes an eating style that consists of mostly plants.  Over the years I have made a number of plant-based swaps that now are my ‘new normal’ – and I savour and enjoy them as much as any dairy or non-veg that I used to eat! Don’t feel pressured to make lots of changes at once – instead, try out different things that appeal most to you.

Plant-Based mylks

Reducing our dairy intake can have a whole host of health benefits, including improved digestion and healthier skin.

The nature of industrial-scale dairy farming drove me to switch to plant-based mylks early on in my plant-based journey and I haven’t looked back. Does that mean we should all start buying packaged, imported almond mylk from America? Absolutely not. It’s so easy to make at home and you can make just what you need, reducing wastage.

Homemade coconut mylk tastes delicious as the base for smoothies, granola bowls and even with coffee. Try blending 2 tablespoons of coconut milk, 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, a sprinkling of cacao and a cup of black coffee in a tightly sealed mixie – it makes for the most delicious latte!

Cashew Mylk

Cashews are an ingredient local to India, particularly South India. Due to how soft they become when soaked, they are a key ingredient in plant-based alternatives because they can be ground up with water to make a smooth and creamy milk.

For this recipe you need a mixie. This recipe will give you around 250ml of cashew mylk.

Ingredients

  • 30g cashews, soaked overnight in filtered water
  • 250ml filtered water
  • 1 date, stone removed
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon (optional).

Method:

  • Soak the cashews overnight. In the morning, discard the soaking liquid and add 250 ml of fresh water.
  • Blend all ingredients in a mixie for 3-5 minutes until they are smooth. Blend until it is a beige coloured smooth liquid. Pour into a glass bottle and store in the fridge.

You can use cashew mylk instead of cow’s milk in chai; as an ingredient in overnight oats; and/or as the base of creamy, filling smoothies.

Optional step: Cashews blend so well with water that really it just needs a good shake before using (it is normal for it to separate a bit in the fridge); but if you prefer your milk to be very smooth, strain the liquid through a muslin cloth over a container and store in a glass bottle. Keep refrigerated.

Flaxseed Eggs

Full of fibre and different nutrients, flaxseeds are wonderful for your gut health and digestion. They also make the most fantastic binder- acting in the same way that eggs do in cakes, biscuits and fritters.

To make a flax seed egg,  you first need to make flax seed powder (grind up flax seeds to a fine powder in a mixie).

Tip: Store this in a jar in your pantry where you can see it so you remember to use it often –  sprinkle a few teaspoons of this powder on top of salads, smoothies and sabzis to add a nutritional boost.

In baking – for one egg replacement take 1 tablespoon of flaxseed powder and mix it with 2.5 tablespoons of water, mix well and store in the fridge for 15 minutes. It will firm up and take on a gelatinous texture.  This is one egg replacement. If the recipe calls for two eggs, double these quantities, and so on.

Over on my instagram I have recipes for plant-based dark chocolate brownies using a flaxseed egg and even Iranian style herb fritters- just check out the story highlights.

Hemp Protein Powder

Traditionally we have been led to believe that to get our protein, we need to consume a lot of meat and/ or whey protein, especially if we are active and work out. However many find that these sources don’t quite agree with them, particularly with whey protein often containing lots of additives, preservatives and sweeteners.

I am passionate about hemp seeds. These are little powerhouses of nutrition, high in protein, fibre and nutrients like magnesium.  They are grown in India using sustainable farming methods. I add hemp hearts to smoothies, salads and on top of curries; and then I discovered hemp protein powder!

Hemp protein powder actually tastes lovely and nutty, has a high protein content and is simply ground-up hemp seeds – no nasty additives. I add 2-3 tablespoons of hemp protein powder to my favourite smoothie (cacao + cold brew + 1 banana + dates + cashew mylk). I buy my hemp protein powder from a lovely local, sustainable brand called India Hemp & Co here.

Plant-Based Desserts

I know what you’re thinking. It can be hard going vegan when it comes to desserts, especially as the creamier the dessert, the more craveable it is.

However, even the ultimate creamy indulgence – a cheesecake- can be made healthier with entirely plant-based ingredients. Coconut oil is your friend here – liquid at room temperature, yet solid when put in the fridge, you can set a cheesecake without using gelatin or baking it with dairy ingredients. Generally coconut oil can be used in place of butter as a fat in baking too!

If you fancy a creative recipe for using up the season’s creamiest avocados, try whipping up my Avocado Lime Coconut Oil Cheesecake, here.


About Copper + Cloves

Sarah is a passionate cook and a Health and Wellness Coach. She set up Copper + Cloves to bring healthy, nourishing food to Bangalore and get people excited about eating fresh, whole foods. A big believer in the farm-to-table philosophy, Sarah focuses on  working with local, organic producers and suppliers as much as possible. | Instagram @CopperandCloves

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I’d love to hear from you! Do let me know if you try this recipe – leave a comment below; and tag me in your delicious creations on Instagram @the_foodiediaries.

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