What you need to know about ingredient substitutions for eggs
I have a love-hate relationship with eggs. I grew up eating eggs several times a week — scrambled or over easy for breakfast, egg salad with mayo for lunch, or a dinner recipe my mom would prepare, ultimately calling for eggs at some point in the game. Eggs are a staple to non-plant-strong folks, in terms of nutritional value, and the glue that holds many dishes together. But before I discuss what you need to know about ingredient substitutions for eggs, I wanted to tell you a little bit about egg facts.
Eggs have zero dietary fiber, and a large portion of their calories is from fat – about 70%. Saturated fat. The average-sized egg has about 213 milligrams of cholesterol, and for those of us with high cholesterol, we shouldn’t be consuming more than 200 milligrams per day. Actually, we have no need to consume any cholesterol at all. We make more than enough all on our own.
The obvious question is why is there so much fat and cholesterol in such a cute little package? Within that egg shell are all the pieces of the puzzle needed to produce a new life, to make feathers, a beak, eyes, a brain, a heart, and so on. Yes, it takes a lot of nutrients to make a chicken!
Other health hazards exist as well. Eggshells are porous and fragile, and conditions on egg farms are pretty horrific, so eggs are the perfect breeding ground for salmonella which is the leading cause of food poisoning in the U.S.
What about egg whites?
Egg whites are trouble, too, but somehow don’t seem so bad. I always feel less guilty when ordering an egg white omelette with spinach and mushrooms. Most of us eat egg whites because of the concentrated source of protein, rather than the yolk, which is the concentrated source of fat. But egg whites pack a punch of protein, which is needed to make all those little chickie body parts. So when we consume too much protein, as most Westerners do, adding a concentrated source can increase the risk for kidney stones, kidney disease and prostate cancer.
Dr. Greger, in his ground-breaking book, How Not to Die, discusses the link between consuming eggs and invasive cancer, because of a compound called choline, found in eggs. Higher levels of choline in the blood have been associated with increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
What’s the answer?
Of course you know what my answer is going to be! Avoid eggs and try to consume more plant-based foods. By increasing your intake of protective fiber, phytochemical and antioxidants, you will decrease your intake of saturated fat, animal protein and cholesterol. Easy peasy.
Pumpkin is my favorite ingredient in my plant-based kitchen. It is creamy like banana and applesauce, and I love the way it adds an orange hue to baked goods. Pumpkin is a great substitute in recipes that may benefit from some extra color. Aside from that, pumpkins are an excellent way to add antioxidants to your day. They are low in sodium and high in fiber. Mixing pumpkin and flax makes an ultimate egg in these scrumptious cupcakes!
Since pumpkin is heavier than eggs, it’s perfect for recipes that call for heavier ingredients, like pies, or bread loaves. This Pumpkin Parfait with Cashew Vanilla Cream is unbelievably delicious, and if you start making it now, you will perfect it in time for the holidays! 1/4 cup of pure pumpkin = 1 egg.
Mashed bananas work wonders in baking, and one of my favorite recipes is for Banana Muffins from Forks Over Knives. The bananas make the mixture very creamy and thick which translates into the most delicious, moist muffins. Bananas are potassium-packed powerhouses which offer plenty of starches and sugar, so they work best in recipes that call for added sweetness.
Speaking of sweet, this recipe for Banana Nice Cream is one of my most favorites! No dairy, no eggs, and no refined sugars. It is a win-win, and so deliciously satisfying! Oh, and 1/2 a mashed banana = 1 egg.
This little black seed grown in South America was a staple in the Aztec and Mayan diets, and for good reason. They are chock-full of antioxidants, proteins, Omega 3s, vitamins and minerals, all of which provide a powerful punch of energy.
Chia seeds are considered a hydrocolloid. Hydrocolloids are molecules that thicken and form a gel when combined with water. That’s why they make the most perfect egg substitute — gummy and thick. Mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 1/3 cup of water (which equals 1 egg), let sit for a few moments, and add to your batter. If you don’t grind the chia seeds first, your batter will have a great, chewy texture with some delightful crunch.
I love applesauce. Maybe it is a throwback to my days as a young girl, when my mom would give me applesauce to soothe a tummy, or to help a fever subside. There is a certain level of comfort that applesauce provides, so I welcome this ingredient whenever I can. The combination of sweet and tart makes this egg replacement a top choice. I use applesauce in my muffin recipes as a great way to turn a recipe plant-strong, and I have also used it in banana bread and cookies.
The great thing about using applesauce is that it is also a replacement for oil. It makes a great stand-in for both eggs and oil, immediately converting your recipes to plant-strong goodness. One of my favorites: Fudge Vegan Brownies. Enough said. 1/4 cup of applesauce = one egg.
I’ve saved the best for last. If you are whole-food, plant-based, or trying to be, I guarantee that you’ve come face-to-face with these little tiny seeds. Flaxseeds have been around for 6,000 years, and are considered one of the world’s first cultivated superfoods. These little powerhouses contain anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids (but not the same kind that fish have), along with other antioxidant substances called lignans. Lignans are great for hormonal balance.
So, if you are interested in improving digestion, clearing your skin, lowering cholesterol, fighting sugar cravings, improving heart health, and cooking without eggs, you’ve found your match. The seeds are small, brown or tan, or golden. You may see them called “linseed” which is the same thing. Oh — they are a great source of dietary fiber and plant-based protein.
Aside from putting a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into my protein smoothies, I cook with them a lot, because they are my egg-substitute elixir. They contain emulsifiers, which are molecules that bind oil and water, which makes your baked goods nice and fluffy.
Here’s a recipe for flax eggs. Ready? 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 2 tablespoons of warm water. Mix and let sit for a moment. That equals ONE egg.
One last thing: it is important to grind the flaxseeds, as you cannot digest them whole. No kidding. You can use a coffee grinder like this one, or you can buy them already ground. The thing with flaxseeds is that they turn rancid pretty quickly once they are ground. So, be sure to seal them in an airtight container, and keep refrigerated.
Anyone up for some Chocolate Chip Coconut Pancakes?
Now that you have all the info you need for ingredient substitutions for eggs, there’s no need to consume eggs anymore! Click on the Amazon links below to start substituting!