Is Shortening Vegan?
The other day when I was zipping through other vegan websites, I came across a dessert idea which included croissants. While it wasn't carb-friendly it looked great, but there was no recipe.The sweet treat jumped out at me because my 11-year old daughter has been longing for some of the foods that once wafted through our home in the morning, like croissants. Back then, they were fresh from mom's bakery in the kitchen.But since going vegan over a month ago, I have not attempted to make any baked goods since all of my creative cooking time has been spent learning how to shop for and prepare vegan meals which my family will enjoy.
Wanting to surprise my curly haired cutie with a tasty treat, I looked around several grocery stores hoping to find a way to duplicate the decadent dessert I had spotted online. After scouring the dry goods shelves and finding nothing, I turned to the refrigerated section and started reading ingredients. Ninety-nine percent of the products were immediate off limits, but I did see a Pillsbury product made from soy oil and shortening. Now, when I was a kid, my southern grandmother who lived on a large farm used shortening for almost everything. I remember it looking and smelling like a gross glob of animal fat. But, from that fat would spring foods that tasted amazing and country cakes that were to die for! Vegan was not in her vocabulary, but yummy sure was, I assumed there is no way this item or others like it could be vegan. I left the store feeling dejected - again.
Curious to find out if my conclusion was correct, I set out to find out if shortening could be vegan and to my surprise, the answer is an overwhelming- yes.Shortening is any fat that is a solid at room temperature, and it can be vegan if made from plants like soy, palms or coconut.Even Crisco has gotten in on the change. In a statement, Criso says, " Good news for our herbivore friends: All of our products are 100% vegan, yes even shortening." They even offer recipes and suggestions like better broccoli in which the company encourages you to saute seasoned bread crumbs in their shortening and sprinkle them on top of your veggies. And, suggest that you cook some vegetables like carrots and potatoes first since they take longer, before adding others veggies like tomatoes (actually, a fruit) or peas.But if Crisco is not your choice, there are many alternatives, which have been specifically created for and marked to those on a plant-based diet. And some make claims of better health.
I found one called Nutiva. It is an organic blend of coconut and palm oils and is, the company says, ideal for making flaky baked goods. They add that the coconut oil offers the added health benefit of lauric acid. Lauric acid is considered a "healthier" saturated fat. The body absorbs it more easily, and according to livestrong.com, lauric acid is reported to help with weight loss, although it's not clear how.So, I guess it's back to the store for me, better informed this time, because as my daughter frequently says, "baked goods equal happiness!"Shhh... don't tell her, this flaked happiness is meant to be a surprise!
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