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This New Healthy Swap Is Every Vegan's Dream

by
author image Kelly Plowe
Kelly Plowe is a Philadelphia-based dietitian specializing in nutrition and health communications. She writes articles for publications and serves as a consultant for food and nutrition companies.
 This New Healthy Swap Is Every Vegan's Dream
Aquafaba is shaking things up in the vegan world. Photo Credit Jenna Butler

If you don’t eat eggs — whether by choice or because of an allergy — you probably think that you can’t enjoy whipped cream products ever again. But great news: You can!

There’s a new food trend that’s shaking up the vegan world, and it’s called aquafaba.

This chemistry experiment gone right has created endless possibilities in the kitchen for vegans and everyone else who omits eggs from their diets. Read on to learn more about aquafaba, along with three amazing recipes you can make with it. We've even thrown in a cocktail to celebrate.

What in the World Is Aquafaba?

Technically, it’s the “juice” — or viscous water — left over from cooking legumes. We know how strange this sounds, but bear with us. Once you start working with it in the kitchen, you’ll see how delicious and versatile it can be.

Aquafaba looks and acts very much like egg whites, making it a natural alternative. It can be enjoyed raw as a whipped cream or frosting, or baked into both sweet and savory dishes. It has given new life to meringues and macarons for those who otherwise avoid egg products.

It’s gluten-free and vegan, and serves as a great alternate for anyone allergic to eggs (one of the top eight food allergens).

Aquafaba -- or the leftover liquid from chickpeas -- functions similarly to egg whites.
Aquafaba -- or the leftover liquid from chickpeas -- functions similarly to egg whites. Photo Credit Jenna Butler

Aquafaba Makes History

If you hadn’t heard of aquafaba prior to this article, don’t feel like you’re completely out of touch: It’s still a fairly new food trend that’s just beginning to take food blogs and Instagram by storm.

Aquafaba was discovered in 2015 by Goose Wohlt, a U.S.-based software engineer, while he was tinkering with different vegan meringue options. He found that the leftover liquid from chickpeas could function similarly to egg whites.

He posted his findings on Facebook by way of the What F.A.T. Vegans Eat page -- and history was made.

Since then, a seriously committed community of fans has banded together and created The Official Aquafaba Website. It currently serves as the hub of all things aquafaba, including sharing the history and science behind the new food find.

The site even raised enough money to secure a nutritional analysis of chickpea brine, which didn’t exist prior to this year.

Aquafaba and Your Health

Since aquafaba is so new, the only nutrition analysis available is one funded by The Official Aquafaba Website and conducted by a third party. (Typically, credible nutrition analysis for individual foods and food products is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database or food manufacturers.)

One of the benefits of aquafaba is that it’s rather low in calories. According to an analysis conducted from a can of “no salt added” chickpeas, one tablespoon of aquafaba contains only three to five calories. And the concentrations of everything else are so low that they don’t register on a U.S. FDA food label.

Where to Get Aquafaba

You can’t currently just run to the store and buy a can of pure aquafaba, but it’s pretty darn easy to source. Since aquafaba is the result of cooked beans, you can have some whenever you want simply by straining canned or home-cooked beans.

And as for incorporating it into recipes, one egg can be replaced with about three tablespoons of aquafaba, according to Vegan Meringue, the Facebook page with more than 50,000 aquafaba fan followers.

Use a mixer to make aquafaba.
Use a mixer to make aquafaba. Photo Credit Jenna Butler

How to Work With Aquafaba

Aquafaba may sound foreign, but it's actually quite easy to work with. Follow these tips to get one step closer to making your own vegan whipped cream.

1. When making meringues and whipped toppings, know that this is not a job for your Vitamix. To make aquafaba, you’ll need a mixer -- one that can achieve higher speeds.

2. Again, when it comes to whipping aquafaba, be prepared for it to expand — like, eight times in volume! Also, don’t underwhip: This is a common rookie mistake. Make sure you achieve stiff peaks.

3. Use low-sodium beans. Obviously, cutting out excess sodium is a good thing, especially since so many of us overdo it as it is. But in most sweet-focused recipes, the added salt isn’t going to do you any favors in the flavor realm either.

4. Most dessert-based recipes call for sugar, and you can typically get away with less. Because you add the sugar slowly — a tablespoon or two at a time — you can actually monitor the taste and sweetness to get it to your liking.

Key lime pie tarts with aquafaba whipped cream
Key lime pie tarts with aquafaba whipped cream Photo Credit Jenna Butler

Let’s Get Cooking

Now that you’ve learned all about aquafaba, here are three recipes to get you started:

1. Vegan Key Lime Pie Tarts

2. Vegan Whiskey Sour Cocktail

3. Vegan Chocolate Pudding With Aquafaba

What Do YOU Think?

Have you tried aquafaba before, and if so, how did you like it? If you've never heard of aquafaba, would you give it a try? Which of these recipes sound the most appealing to you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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