It’s never been easier to eat a plant-based diet than it is today. It feels like new plant-based products are coming to market almost daily. This means that vegan options are more readily available than ever before. Unfortunately, many of these vegan options, while plant-based and cruelty-free, aren’t necessarily made with health in mind. So, I’m offering up some healthier swaps for a common product, vegan mayo.
What’s Wrong with Vegan Mayo?
Traditionally made with eggs and oil, mayonnaise was never really the healthiest option to top your sandwich. There are egg-less vegan versions available now, but they still contain a lot of oil. So, while they are indeed vegan, they still aren’t exactly healthy. If you aren’t sure why you should avoid oil, check out this post: All You Need to Know About Oil. The good news is, there are healthier swaps you can make for vegan mayo that are just as good (if not better) taste-wise.
How about hummus or bean dip? I know, I know, it sounds strange to spread hummus on a sandwich, but stick with me here for a minute. People like to joke that hummus is a food group. I’m definitely one of these people because it is so versatile you can use it in a bunch of ways. Is it adding some moisture so your sandwich isn’t super dry? Yep! Is it adding some flavour to take your sandwich to the next level? Totally! If you can’t get past the fact that it sounds odd, just give it a try, it’s seriously a game changer.
If you can’t get your head around hummus as a sandwich topper, try some other condiments. Mustard, definitely fills that mayo gap with an awesome pop of flavour to boot. They sell so many varieties now that’s there’s sure to be one you enjoy. Bold and spicy, dijon, whole grain, and more. There are tons of mustards to choose from.
Or think outside the box a little. Salsa, hot sauce, relish, avocado or guacamole are all items you can use instead of mayo. Even a thicker salad dressing will do the trick. Think of all the different varieties and flavour combos available. There is no shortage of options.
Make Your Own
I know there are some recipes where you really need a mayo-type spread to get the desired results. Or maybe you’re just really attached to vegan mayo. For those instances, you can make a homemade, oil-free version really easily.
I’m a big fan of the make-your-own option. This way, you get to control exactly what goes in it, instead of eating foods with questionable additives. And of course, I’ve got your back on this one, so check out the oil-free, WFPB, vegan mayo recipe down below.
What you need is a base, this can either be soaked nuts (like cashews, almonds, or sunflower seeds) or silken tofu. You can even use white beans for a lighter option.
Blend it up with an acid (lemon juice or apple cider vinegar work well) a little mustard and then any spices you may like. If you’re using a nut or bean base you may need to add some liquid (either water or plant milk) to get it to the desired consistency. Blend it all up and voila, you’ve got oil-free, plant-based mayo.
What You’ll Need
This is a simple recipe with ingredients you may already have handy.
Unsweetened non-dairy milk
Apple cider vinegar
Clove of garlic
Kala namak (black salt)
A high-speed blender makes quick work of turning nuts, liquid and spices into a creamy sauce. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you can still make this in a regular blender or food processor, but you’ll want to soak your nuts well (overnight if possible) and may need to blend longer.
Even if you are using a high-speed blender, I always like to soak my nuts to get a creamier sauce. However, I usually forget to put them out ahead of time. So my usual method is to boil the kettle, then soak my nuts in a bowl with hot water for about 10-15 minutes.
In this recipe, I use raw cashews. These seem to be widely available, but you can sub other nuts, like almonds, or walnuts if you prefer. Just note that the nut you choose may change the flavour a bit.
If you’re looking for a nut-free option, there are a few subs you can make. Sunflower seeds will work well in this recipe, you can substitute at a 1:1 ratio.
Silken tofu is also an option. Substitute an equal amount to the nuts called for. You may not need as much liquid in this case, so hold that back and add only if needed to get the consistency you like. Also, you may want to increase the seasonings a little, as I find tofu needs more flavour added to come out nicely.
As I mentioned above, you can use white beans for a lighter option. Just be aware that the consistency will change. It will be more like a hummus spread than a creamy mayo. If using beans, I’d suggest using aquafaba instead of the non-dairy milk called for. This can help achieve a creamy consistency.
I use kala namak salt or black salt because it adds that slightly eggy note that you would find in a typical mayonnaise. If you can’t find it, no sweat, just sub some regular salt and it will still come out perfect.
So, next time you’re craving some vegan mayo, consider these healthy swaps or make your own with the recipe below.
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp kala namak (black salt), see recipe notes
- 1/4 tsp ground mustard
- Soak cashews in hot water for 10-15 minutes. (If you don't have a high-speed blender, you may want to soak them longer)
- Drain the cashews and add to blender
- Add remaining ingredients to the blender, put the lid on and blend. Stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
- Blend until mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Transfer from blender to a container. Keeps well in the fridge for 5-7 days.
- If you can't find kala namak you can sub regular salt
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