New Vegan Dairy Products

New Plant Based Dairy Products

The world of vegan dairy options is rapidly expanding. When I first went dairy-free there were only a few companies with milk and cheese offerings, and you could forget about alternatives for butter and yogurt. Nowadays, shopping for vegan dairy products is exciting, with some products out-doing their non-vegan counterparts. Many of my recipes have “non-dairy dairy” ingredients, and here are a few of the newest that were spotted at Natural Products Expo West 2019 by Jenna Blumenfeld of New Hope Network.

Culina Botanical Yogurt Alternative

One of the best nondairy yogurts we’ve ever tasted, Culina won us over with its ultra-creamy cultured coconut base, floral botanical add-ins (the Strawberry Rose flavor was beautiful) and lack of plastic packaging. Instead, each yogurt is packaged in a terra cotta flower pot lined with a food-safe, biodegradeable glaze.

Mooala Organic Oatmilk Unsweetened Coconut

Oatmilk was a trending plant-based dairy option at Expo West, and Mooala earns points for launching an unsweetened, USDA Organic blend. This version is blended with organic coconut cream for improved consistency.

Malk Sprouted Organic Oat Malk Original

This brand’s dedication to simple formulations and conscious sourcing shine through with this USDA Organic, sprouted oatmilk. Bonus: Malk also pursued The Detox Project’s Glyphosate Residue Free Certification to quell worries about glyphosate-contaminated oats, which is printed on the back of the product packaging.

Milkadamia Macadamia Buttery Spread

Milkadamia Macadamia Buttery Spread

This beloved nondairy milk brand launched a plant-based buttery spread at Expo West that employs silky, rich macadamia oil to add body and flavor. We also like how no palm oil is used in this formulation.

Cultured Cashew Brie Alternative Beet Blush

The fermentation experts at Wildbrine bring their expert knowledge of microbes into the plant-based dairy category with this excellent cashew brie. Tinted with a hint of beets, this USDA Organic plant brie will steal the limelight at cheese parties.”

This post (or portions of this post) was provided by New Hope Network. I am a member of the New Hope Influencer Co-op, a network of health and wellness bloggers committed to spreading more health to more people. Images courtesy of New Hope Network. #NewHopeInfluencer

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How to Stop Your Cookies From Spreading

Spread Cookies image courtesy of crypto on flickr.com

Spread Cookies image courtesy of crypto on flickr.com

Here in the Decadent Vegan Baker’s kitchen I have whipped up my fair share of cookies. I always want them to look good for pictures, and for bragging rights, so I did some research on how to avoid the dreaded cookie spread. You know — when the cookies turn into unsightly blobs or, worse yet, fuse into each other. Here is what I found out …

A tip I got many years ago was to be sure to cool baking sheets down before placing the next batch of raw dough on them. That’s easy enough to do in the winter as I just prop them on the wall near an outside door. In the summer I have to wait patiently while the sheets cool off, but that time can be well spent engaged in the next piece of advice.

My second item of advice is to place the dough in the fridge prior to baking the cookies. “Chilling the dough solidifies the fat in the dough, meaning that it will melt more slowly under the heat of the oven and result in taller, thicker cookies,” say the chefs at Food52. Dough that is too warm can make cookies that look like flat blobs.

On the King Arthur Flour website they recommend two things for attaining the perfect cookie: lowering the baking temperature while also extending the baking time. For a recipe that called for cookies baked at 350°F for 14 minutes, they “dropped the temperature to 300°F, and extended the baking time: 22 minutes for chewy, 30 minutes for crisp.” They explained that “the fat in cookies is a big part of their structure, prior to baking…Once those cookies hit the oven, though, the fat starts to soften and melt. And the hotter the oven, the more quickly it melts. If the oven’s hot enough, the fat melts before the cookies set. And since their flour/liquid matrix hasn’t yet had a chance to harden, the cookies spread.”

A final trick offered by Food52 is that “when a recipe calls for room temperature butter, you should be able to make a small indentation easily with your finger without the area sinking under its weight. If the butter is too cold, you’ll have to do more mixing to get it to properly incorporate.” Unincorporated butter leads to airy dough that leads to cookies that fall in the oven, and that leads to the ugly blob.

If you find that you have tried all of my recommendations and still produce unsightly cookies, do not worry. Send the cookies to my house and my husband will dispose of them properly … for dessert.

What to do when your brown sugar is hard as a rock

soft brown sugar with a sugar saver

soft brown sugar with a sugar saver

Occasionally I will replace the type of sugar used in a recipe with something else I have on hand. The choice may be because the alternate sugar is healthier, but sometimes it is because brown sugar is required but I have none that is useable. The sugar I have often turns into a hard clump (thank you, dry climate). If you are plagued by this same problem, then this post is here to save the day.

For the issue of brown sugar resembling a door stop, I looked to The Spruce Eats. First off, they explained that “(t)he moisture in brown sugar evaporates much faster than in other similar products and causes the sugar to harden. To remedy this problem, you … can either restore the moisture content or prevent it from evaporating in the first place.”

One of their tricks confronts the problem when you need soft brown sugar right now. They recommend that you “place the brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and cover it with a damp paper towel. Microwave the sugar in 20-second increments until it is soft. You can use your fingers or a fork to soften any clumps that remain.” I cannot do this fix because I do not have a microwave. (I see you nodding as you realize why my recipes never talk about using a microwave to heat things up.)

Another suggestion from The Spruce Eats is for when you have thought ahead and do not need soft brown sugar this second. I have never tried this technique either because thinking ahead is not my strong suit when it comes to food. But, here goes: “place a few apple slices (or a slice of bread) in an air-tight container with the brown sugar. Then remove the apple slices or bread when the sugar has softened. You can also place the brown sugar in a bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it sit overnight.”

My solution to this circumstance is to include a brown sugar saver with my sugar. I tried various methods of doing this, including sticking one of the damp terra cotta stones in the zipper bag of sugar, but had no success until a helpful Sur La Table salesman told me I was using the saver incorrectly. The new instructions involved thoroughly soaking the stone for a whole 10 minutes in a bowl of water, then lightly patting it off before inserting it into the sugar. I took it a step further and poured the sugar out of the bag into a (recycled) jar before I put the brown sugar saver in.

I approached the situation by bringing moisture back to the sugar while also attempting to stave off moisture loss. Now I always have soft brown sugar.