My first real job, one that did not involve packing rambutan on my parents farm in Hawaii, was at a bakery. I absolutely loved it, and I still miss it to this day. Looking back, I never would have thought that my first little barista/bakery position would play such a role in shaping my cooking career today. At the time I was getting a degree in biology and chemistry with the intent of becoming a pediatrician.
I naturally gravitated towards the baking aspects of the job, and tended to choose those over the cooking responsibilities. My second job, was again at a bakery and it was there that I began to experiment with the world of vegan baking. It was fun and different; some of my interests stemmed from the health benefits of a vegan diet but it was also the science behind it all that intrigued me. Baking is without a doubt a science, it all comes down to chemistry, which to me is fascinating and a fun challenge when it comes to putting together vegan ingredients to obtain the results you are used to with conventional baking.
I happened to be in the right place at the right time. The cafe was expanding its vegan options and I was excited to learn more about healthful cooking. I was immediately impressed with the possibility. I had been brain washed by butter, by eggs, and the like. I honestly had no idea of the realm of possibilities that were awaiting me in the world of vegan baking, it was a nice surprise!
This quick bread recipe is a great introduction into vegan baking. It is by far my favorite quick bread recipe. It’s light and moist, with just the right amount of sugar and a nutty depth from the flax seeds. If you are vegan or just looking for new ways to incorporate healthful ingredients into your cooking, flax seeds make an excellent egg replacer for most baked goods. They are particularly delicious in breads such as this. In general, the ratio of 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed to 2-3 tablespoons of water will replace one egg. I like to buy whole flax seeds, and grind them in a spice or coffee grinder when I need them for the freshest results.
Numerous studies have been conducted regarding the health benefits of flax, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid that our bodies are unable to manufacture on their own but are vital for our metabolism. In addition to being among the top sources of omega-3s, flax is also very high in lignans, which have powerful antioxidant properties and have shown to protect against cancer.
When buying and making vegan baked goods, remember that vegan does not always mean healthier. I think this is a big misconception and has escalated with current marketing campaigns. Often times vegan products will have more sugar, for instance, to keep the consumer coming back, so read your labels and make good choices! I’m still wholeheartedly in love with the egg, but I like to incorporate variety when cooking as much as possibly, which is why I often choose to use vegan ingredients, such as flax, to add healthful balance to my diet.
- 2 T flax seeds, ground
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 ½ T apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup raw organic sugar
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 ½ cup zucchini, grated
- 1 t vanilla
- 1 ½ cup organic whole wheat flour
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1 t nutmeg
- ½ t baking soda
- ½ t baking powder
- 1 t salt
- ½ pecans, toasted and chopped
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease a bread pan with coconut oil and set aside.
Mix flax seeds and water in a small bowl and set aside. The mixture will become thick and gooey.
Combine the coconut oil, vinegar, sugar, maple syrup, zucchini and vanilla in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, spices, baking soda and powder, salt and pecans.
Mix the flax seed mixture in with the wet ingredients, and then mix your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients until fully incorporated.
Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 45-60 minutes, or till a knife or toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean.