When Emily Malone graduated from culinary school last year, she could roast, grill, and deep fry a slab of meat with the best of them. Too bad those skills would never be particularly useful: Malone’s a vegetarian.
She and her husband, Casey, went meatless two years ago as a money-saving experiment while they saved up for their wedding. They realized that eliminating meat from their grocery list would save a lot of cash. But they got more than they bargained for. “We found that we didn’t miss it,” says Malone. “With veggies instead of chicken as our main dish, we became more creative with our food.”
They also noticed that they felt healthier (“cleaner” is how Malone describes it), shed a few pounds, and had more energy. Malone says her skin even looked better. “I just felt a lot lighter,” she says.
The two have stuck with it, and now Malone uses her culinary training to create healthful vegetarian and vegan recipes in her Alexandria kitchen. She blogs about them on her site Daily Garnish.
While there are lots of interpretations of vegetarian diets, Malone and Casey, both avid runners, have settled on one that’s free of foods that require animals to be killed—so no fish or filet mignon—but which includes limited amounts of things like cheese and eggs. Naturally, they gravitate toward veggie-centered entrées, and they eat lots of grains like millet and quinoa.
Desserts are another bag. While Malone might prepare scrambled eggs for breakfast, she says, “I don’t like to waste our eggs in baked goods. I do all of our baking vegan.” That can be a challenge since most baked goods rely on combinations of milk, eggs, cream, and butter—all animal by-products. The key, she says, is knowing substitutions.
“Once you know a few basic swaps, you can look at any recipe and say, ‘I can easily make that,’ ” she says. “And in my opinion, it tastes the same.”
For butter she uses coconut oil or Earth Balance, a non-dairy butter substitute made with a blend of natural oils. Cow milk is switched for almond or soy milk, and if the recipe calls for buttermilk, she adds a tablespoon of lemon juice to curdle it. For chocolate, she gets vegan chocolate chips at Whole Foods.
Instead of eggs, Malone makes flax “eggs”—one tablespoon of ground-flax meal mixed with three tablespoons of water equals one egg. “Let the mixture sit for a minute while it thickens to an egg-white consistency,” she says.
Malone gets most of her ingredients at Whole Foods, but says any organic or health-food store—including Yes! Organic Market and Mom’s Organic Market—should have what you need. Trader Joe’s, she says, usually does not.
Over the weekend, Malone whipped up a batch of vegan double-chocolate-chip cookies and shared her recipe with us. How’s that for a perfect Valentine’s Day treat?
Vegan Double-Chocolate-Chip Cookies
Makes 30 cookies
For the cookies:
¾ cup organic cane sugar
¾ cup vegan margarine, such as Earth Balance
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax meal, plus 3 tablespoons water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup soy or almond milk
1¼ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
For the glaze:
¾ cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
2 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a mixer, beat sugar and margarine together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, flax egg, and almond milk while mixing on low speed. In a separate bowl, combine whole-wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop dough balls and place them one to two inches apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.
While the cookies bake, whisk together the confectioners sugar and water in a small bowl until it becomes a glaze. When the cookies are finished, remove them from oven and transfer them to a wire cooling rack. Using a small brush, add a thin layer of the sugar glaze while the cookies are still warm. Allow to cool completely before eating.
Nutrition facts (per cookie): 120 calories, 7 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of protein.