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Plant-Based Pantry Ingredient Swaps

Sharon Palmer

Can’t find flour or yeast? No problem, try these 9 Plant-Based Pantry Ingredient Swaps to fast track your favorite recipes.

You need a variety of essential ingredients, such as flour, grains, nut butters, and beans, in your plant-based pantry to get your favorite meals on the table. Whether you’re making a batch of cookies or a pasta entrée, you’ll always need to reach into your cupboard for those basic pantry staples. But what if you can’t find everything you need for that special recipe you’re dying to make? There may be so many reasons you need to make a quick ingredient swap. These days, you may be faced with empty shelves in the pantry section of your local supermarket. Or perhaps you’re making a change on a recipe to accommodate an allergy, flavor profile, diet preference, or because you simply forgot to buy the ingredient and don’t feel like making another grocery store run. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways in which you can substitute specific ingredients in your pantry for other ingredients you may have on hand that can provide a similar taste, consistency, and flavor. That’s why I’m sharing this super simple guide for 9 Plant-Based Pantry Ingredient Swaps in order to help you create foolproof meals, based on the ingredients you have in your cupboard.

This recipe for Sweet Potato Bread includes almond flour as a replacement for part of the wheat flour.

9 Plant-Based Pantry Ingredient Swaps

Missing Item Substitution How To Use
YeastBaking Powder

 

Use to make savory and sweet bread, muffins, pancakes, and pizza dough (use 1 ¼ teaspoons of baking powder per 1 cup of flour in recipes)
Wheat FlourAlmond MealUse in tarts, cookies, waffles, pancakes, and sweet breads (use as a 1:1 swap to replace flour)
SugarAgave SyrupUse in cookies, bars, breads, pies, and smoothie bowls, or as a topping on pancakes and cereal (1 cup of sugar is equivalent to ⅔ cup of agave for sweetness, but reduce reduce liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup)
Chickpeas, cannedWhite Beans, cannedUse in hummus, grain bowls, veggie balls, soups, salads, and veggie burgers (use as a 1:1 swap)
Wheat PastaPulse Pasta (i.e., bean, lentil, chickpea)Use in pasta dishes, pasta salads, vegetable soups (use as a 1:1 swap)
BananasDates

 

Use in smoothies, sweet breads, cookies, bars, oatmeal topping (3 ripe, medium bananas in a recipe is equivalent to 1 ½ cups soaked, chopped dates).
Peanut ButterTahiniUse in baked goods, breads, bars, cookies, sauces, vinaigrettes, and on toast (use as a 1:1 swap).
Rice, cookedCauliflower

 

Process cauliflower until it achieves the texture of cooked rice. Use in grain bowls, salads, plant-based fried rice (use as a 1:1 swap).
OilAvocado, mashed

 

Use in muffins, cookies, brownies, salad dressing, pasta sauce (blend in a food processor or a blender until smooth or mash with a fork; 1 medium avocado is equivalent to ½ cup of oil).

*you can download this list here.

9 Plant-Based Pantry Ingredient Swaps

If you’re out of these ingredients, it’s no problem. Give these swaps a try.

This recipes for Whole Corn Muffins uses baking powder to leaven it.

1. Yeast ➡ Baking Powder

One of the most common replacements for yeast in baked goods is baking powder, because both of these ingredients are slightly acidic, which is a necessary characteristic for breads to rise. To properly use this substitution, make sure to include the correct amount of baking powder: about 1 ¼ teaspoons for every 1 cup of flour called for in the recipe. You may not get that same light, airy yeast-driven height and flavor, but baking powder can be incorporated into both savory and sweet breads as an option for adding volume to breads, pizza dough, pancakes, waffles, and muffins.

Try these Lavender Almond Cookies, which include almond flour.

2. Wheat Flour ➡ Almond Flour

Wheat flour can easily be replaced with almond meal, which has an extremely similar texture to wheat flour, with a one-to-one replacment ratio. Just use almond meal in place of the flour in the recipe and mix it in with the other ingredients called for in the recipe. Almond meal can be used in sweet baked goods recipes, such as tart crusts, cookies, sweet breads, as well as breakfast breads like waffles and pancakes.

Use agave to sweeten recipes such as this Matcha Tea Smoothie Bowl.

3. Sugar ➡ Agave Syrup

A simple replacement for sugar (white or brown), which provides similar sweetness to recipes, is agave syrup or nectar. The main difference between these two ingredients is that sugar is a powdered sweetener, while agave is a liquid-based sweetener. Replace 1 cup of sugar in a recipe with ⅔ cup agave, and reduce the liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup. Try agave in cookie dough, smoothie bowls, or as a topping on breakfast dishes, such as pancakes, waffles, and oatmeal for extra sweetness.

Use white beans in bowls, such as this recipe for Green Goddess Buddha Bowl.

4. Canned Chickpeas ➡ Canned White Beans

Canned beans are one of the most awesome items in your pantry, because they are versatile, long-lasting, and delicious! In general, beans are a great source of fiber, meaning they aid in hunger-control, and are beneficial for weight management. Chickpeas are the hot canned bean now, with multiple recipes calling for these tasty pulses. So, what do you do if you’re out of garbanzo beans (aka, chickpeas) in your pantry? Just replace them with canned white beans. White beans and garbanzo beans have a one-to-one replacement ratio in recipes, and contain similar flavors and textures that allows for a simple substitution. White beans can be utilized in hummus, veggie balls, salads, ratatouille dishes, grain bowls, and more!

You can swap out the regular pasta in recipes for pulse pasta, such as in this recipe for Mushroom Bomb Lentil Pasta.

5. Wheat Pasta ➡ Pulse Pasta

If you’re out of wheat-based pasta, you can simply replace it with a protein-rich, gluten-free, nutrient-dense substitution known as pulse pasta. Pulse pasta is generally made from lentils, chickpeas, peas, or beans. You can add all sorts of seasonings to this delicious pasta, along with any vegetable and plant-based protein of your choice. Some pasta dishes that are extremely flavorful include Mushroom Bomb Lentil Pasta and Lemony Garden Peas with Pasta.

Use dates to sweeten recipes, such as this Ginger Pear Date Oats.

6. Bananas ➡ Dates

Bananas are an essential ingredient for banana bread and muffins, but what if you are out, and want the sweetening power of fruits in your baked goods? One way to substitute the added sweetness of a banana is to use dates in your recipes! Dates can easily replace bananas in smoothies and toppings in oatmeal. In addition to their delicious taste, dates have similar health benefits as fresh fruits, as they are packed with nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, manganese, potassium, copper, and more. Replace three ripe, medium bananas in a recipe with 1 ½ cups soaked, chopped dates. For more information about the health benefits of dried fruits click here.

This recipe for Tahini Ginger Dressing is an excellent addition to salads and bowls.

7. Peanut Butter ➡ Tahini

A unique replacement for peanut butter is tahini (sesame seed paste), as they both have similar creamy textures and rich flavors. Similar to peanut butter, tahini provides healthy fat, as well as other key nutrients. Tahini is excellent in dressings, hummus, and sauces for grain bowls. However, it’s nutty taste and creamy texture make it a great replacement for peanut butter in your favorite recipes. Try tahini in both sweet and savory dishes, such as cookies, bars, curries, smoothies, and salads. Instead of peanut butter on your morning toast, you can actually spread tahini on toast for a delicious, healthy snack or meal idea.

Use cauliflower to make “rice” for your next recipe.

8. Rice – Cauliflower Rice

Here’s a healthy, low-carb replacement for cooked rice: cauliflower rice. Just cook up the cauliflower and process it into rice-sized pieces—check out my step-by-step guide for making it here. Cauliflower rice is a great alternative if you don’t have rice on hand, because there are so many seasonings and vegetables that enhance its flavor, such as this idea for Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice. Check out more ways to highlight cauliflower in your kitchen here

Use avocados instead of oil in recipes, such as Chocolate Zucchini Power Muffins.

9. Oil ➡ Avocado

Looking for a heart-healthy, plant-based, unsaturated fat that can replace oil for both cooking and baking purposes? Get to know the . In order for your avocado to achieve a thin consistency, blend it in a food processor or blender. Substitute one medium blended avocado for  ½ cup oil in your recipe. Try substituting avocados for oil in both sweet and savory dishes, such as cookies, brownies, pasta sauce, salad dressing, and muffins. Look for more ways to use avocados in recipes here.

For more plant-based pantry ideas, check out:

Top 10 Plant-Based Pantry Recipes
5 Plant-Powered Pantry Foods I Can’t Live Without

Written by Savanna Rania Malki, Dietetic Intern, with Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

Image: Get Nutty Whole Grain Banana Bread, Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

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