Whether you’re veggie, vegan or just want to eat more plant-based foods, chef and author Bettina Campolucci Bordi suggests some clever alternatives for everyday animal products.
It’s official – our eating habits are changing, we’re eating fewer animal products and experimenting with plant-based ingredients, even with everyday staples. To put that into context, the UK’s alternative milk sector is set to rise by 43% over the next four years, which means that even the way we take our tea or eat our breakfast cereal is having an overhaul.
If you want to see how you can add more plant-based foods into your diet, you can’t get much better than chef and author of Happy Food, Bettina Campolucci Bordi for solutions. Colourful, plant-based food is her passion and she even offers workshops for beginners on creating delicious dishes from scratch.
“I’ve met so many people who want to make a change in the way they eat but often they don’t know where to start,” she says. “These alternative suggestions and simple ‘make it yourself recipes’ will be easier on your wallet and last longer in your fridge or pantry…”
1. Cheese alternatives
Make it: Nut-based cheeses taste amazing and you can age them to create the texture you like. For your cheeseboard, create my cashew cheese, which contains gut-loving yeast. You can age it over a couple of days and it resembles a creamy Camembert. I also love adding flavours to it such as truffle oil for extra indulgence.
2. Milk alternatives
Buy it: For your tea and coffee, I’d recommend a coconut milk such as Koko. Unlike almond milk, which can separate when used in coffee, it works really well and isn’t too fatty. Oatly Barista Milk is another good alternative. It’s made with oats and actually foams in your coffee!
Make it: You don’t need to spend ages soaking nuts to make your own plant-based milk. Try 1 tbsp of almond butter and whizz together with water to make almond milk. Or use 1 tbsp of oats and blend with water for instant oat milk. For the ultimate companion to your porridge, try my almond milk recipe sweetened with vanilla.
3. Meat alternatives
Buy it: Plain tempeh is a great ready-made substitute to meat and it is beloved by lots of Eastern countries. It takes on flavour easily and I usually season it with lots of different spices or marinades.
Make it: I’m not a big fan of meat replacements. I usually prefer to use nuts, seeds, grains and pulses to replicate textures. You can create a mince alternative for chilli corn carne or spaghetti Bolognese by using a combination or lentils, walnuts, black beans or quinoa with chopped tomatoes or tomato puree, and add your own seasoning. Or try my Swedish ‘non meatballs’ recipe.
4. Yoghurt alternatives
Buy it: You can buy oat or soy yoghurt but I love coconut yoghurt. The tastiest varieties include The Coconut Collaborative, which does a lovely ‘natural-style’ yoghurt or for on-the-go yoghurt snacks try Rebel Kitchen – it’s not too thick and really light.
Make it: Coconut yoghurt is easier to make from scratch than you think. Try my recipe – all you need to do is blend the ingredients and ferment for 24 hours.
5. Egg alternatives
Buy it: Tofu scramble is a tasty alternative to your morning scrambled eggs. Use extra firm tofu for a great texture and season with chilli, garlic or turmeric for punchy flavour.
Make it: When you’re baking, mashed bananas are a good binding replacement for eggs, while carrot, sweet potato and apple puree also add moisture. And for egg whites, try aqua faba (which is chickpea water, simply drain and save from the tin). This transforms into the same texture as egg whites when you whip it!
6. Butter alternatives
When it comes to butter, I prefer to use hummus and avocado as a substitute. They add more taste, especially if you’re making a sandwich with lots of veg. Pesto is also a great base and you can make your own using anything from sun-dried tomato to different herbs and nuts such as hazelnuts and walnuts – you don’t need to stick to traditional pine nuts and basil.
If you’re allergic to nuts, you can also use pumpkin seeds. It’s super easy to make, simply by whizzing your ingredients in a blender. They also last for a long time in the fridge, to see you through the week.
Plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean healthier, so make sure you always read the labels. Some brands add sugar and other additives for extra flavour. When it comes to nut milk, some ready-made products use a lot of water and only 1-2% of the product is actual nuts, so watch out for the percentage of nut content to get the best value for money.
If you have time, another good tip is to make things from scratch. That way, you know exactly what ingredients are being used.
Interested in plant-based protein supplements? Check out our thoughts on whether plant-based supplements are worth a try.