The Vegan Challenge

I have a 16-year-old daughter who is vegan, and an 18-year-old son who is vegetarian but prefers not to eat eggs, plus two sons who are omnivores and a husband who would like to be a carnivore. Me, I like fish and fowl but tend not to do much red meat. This makes mealtimes around here, well, just a bit of a challenge.

Mostly, I wind up doing vegan things, with options like sour cream, shredded cheese, crumbled bacon and sauteed chicken breasts on the side to be added as desired. This isn’t really a workable strategy when baking, however. I usually go with the non-vegan ingredients, because of a personal bias towards richness.

However, today I had an interesting opportunity: we had five very brown bananas that needed to be used tuit suite. So I decided to make two batches of banana nut muffins, each as identical as possible except for the vegan substitutions.

The Recipe:

This is my basic whip-together-breakfast-muffins recipe, and can be adapted for any dried or fresh fruits, nuts, spices, what-have-you…

Preheat oven to 325F.

Cream together:
1/2 c. butter or margarine (the butter today was unsalted, and the margarine was Country Crock brand)
1 c. sugar (in today’s case, I used 1/2 c. each brown and white sugar… we aren’t going to debate the veganness of white sugar in today’s posting, ok?)

2 eggs or the equivalent amount of egg replacer (Ener-G mixed with water)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. plain unflavored yogurt (Brown Cow) or 1 T. apple cider vinegar

Whisk together and add to wet mixture:
2 c. flour (today I had to dip into the husband’s stash of bread flour)
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

Fold in:
2 1/2 mashed brown bananas (I had five to use up)
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/2 c. Ghirardelli chocolate chips (which are already vegan)

Fill muffin tins with paper muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Turn muffins halfway through baking time if your oven is uneven like mine.

The Results:

Nonvegan muffins:

Vegan muffins:

The nonvegan muffins rose less, and looked “melty.” Vegans looked more cakey and gathered together.

On the plate:
Left: Nonvegan, Right: Vegan

To my surprise, the non-vegan muffins fell apart more on release from the muffin papers (could be that I didn’t wait long enough, but the vegan muffins came right out just fine), and just felt more messy and goopy (they were definitely done, though). The taste was remarkably similar, but the crumb was more firm and held up better in the vegan variety.

I have to say that the Vegan muffins won this round! However, the nonvegan versions are perfectly edible, and with four kids and all their pals running in and out of the house, I’m certain they will all be properly disposed of by this evening.

So… if you’re out of eggs and yogurt, you can still whip up some fantastic muffins, and your PETA friends will think you rock.


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