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Aquafaba became the holy gray for vegans because it allows us to create amazing desserts that would otherwise require animal ingredients.
For example, now I can make a delicious chocolate mousse, a favorite of mine.
However, I don’t always have a can of chickpeas ready, nor do I enjoy shopping for canned goods. Plus, cooking beans is also something that takes a long time, and doing it for aquafaba isn’t exactly economical, so sometimes I have to use alternatives to achieve the same result.
The aquafaba substitutes most people use are flax and chia seeds, applesauce, mashed bananas, and commercial egg replacers. However, it’s not possible to whip these ingredients from soft to stiff peaks as you would do with aquafaba.
In this article, I’ll show you why you may want to avoid aquafaba, and how you can use the substitutes I’ve mentioned to replace aquafaba.
What is Aquafaba and What Does it Do?
Aquafaba is an egg replacement that typically comes from chickpea water.
However, you can also create it from soybean water or water from other neutral-tasting beans – but chickpeas are by far the most popular source of aquafaba.
For vegans or vegetarians who cannot eat egg whites, aquafaba is the ideal substitute for creating dishes that would traditionally require animal ingredients, such as:
- Ice Cream
- Vegan Cheese
- Muffins, Cupcakes, and Brownies
There isn’t a limit to what you can do with aquafaba as long as you’re creative.
Why Do Some People Avoid Aquafaba?
Even though aquafaba is a great egg substitute, some people choose to avoid aquafaba for a few reasons:
Poor Nutritional Value
Chickpeas are quite nutritional, but since aquafaba is made from the water that is used to cook chickpeas, there’s really no nutritional benefit in consuming it.
It’s extremely low in calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fats, and it contains very little if any, vitamins and minerals. Compared to eggs or egg whites, they’re lacking in that aspect.
However, let me also point out that aquafaba has no saturated fat, no trans fat, and no cholesterol, and it’s also very low in sodium and sugars.
Canned Chickpeas Contain BPA
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical used to make certain kinds of plastics. They’re often found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.
Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products, namely food cans.
Research shows that BPA can seep into food or drinks from containers made with BPA, which is rather worrying if you look at the potential health effects.
Some studies suggest that BPA harms the brain and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children, while others create a possible link between BPA and type 2 diabetes, increased blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
However, the US Food and Drug Administration said that BPA is safe at very low levels, which is an assessment they made based on a review of hundreds of studies.
If you’re concerned about the effects of BPA on your health, one of the steps recommended by health authorities to reduce your exposure to BPA is to reduce your use of canned goods.
Aquafaba May Interfere With Digestion
Aquafaba has three compounds that can interfere with digestion.
These compounds are called oligosaccharides, saponins, and phytic acid.
Oligosaccharides are sugars the digestive tract is incapable of digesting properly, at least not until they reach the lower gut because we lack a digestive enzyme called ⍺-galactosidas.
This may result in bloating and gas, two conditions that most people do not appreciate.
Saponins are plant-derived organic chemicals that have a foamy quality when agitated in water, and they’re actually used to create soaps, medicinals, and fire extinguishers.
If you have a sensitive stomach, saponins may cause indigestion and gut imbalances.
Phytic acid is known to impact mineral absorption, particularly of minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc, thus promoting mineral deficiencies. For that reason, it’s often referred to as an anti-nutrient.
That being said, you can easily reduce the phytic acid content in chickpeas (or other beans) by soaking them in water overnight.
Also, despite phytic acid’s impact on mineral absorption, it’s worth pointing out that it also has several health benefits, namely antioxidant benefits and protective properties against kidney stones and cancer.
What To Use Instead of Aquafaba?
From what I’ve found through my research online, there are two sources (outside eggs) that you can use to replicate the uses of aquafaba, namely:
Flax and Chia Seeds
Flax seeds – also known as common flax or linseeds – are small oil seeds with a high content of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and unique plant-derived compounds.
To make a flax egg, mix one tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal with three tablespoons of water. Mix it well and let it sit in the fridge for 15 minutes to set up and thicken.
Chia seeds, like flax seeds, are also small oil seeds with a high content of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and beneficial plant-based compounds.
To make a chia egg, take a single tablespoon of chia seeds, and place them in a small bowl or cup. Add three tablespoons of water, and wait for about 5 minutes, until it becomes a gel. Unlike flax seeds, you don’t need to ground chia seeds to make chia eggs.
A flax egg is great in quick bread, muffins, pancakes, waffles, sturdy cookies, and chocolate cakes, while a chia egg lends itself nicely to darker baked goods such as chocolate, banana, spiced bread, muffins, waffles, cookies, and brownies.
Applesauce is basically a pureé made from cooked apples, and it’s often flavored with nutmeg and cinnamon.
To replace one egg in most recipes, you can use one-fourth cup (about 65 grams) of applesauce. Use unsweetened applesauce, otherwise, you have to adjust the amount of sugar or sweetener in the recipe.
Mashed banana is also a popular egg alternative.
The downside to baking with bananas is that the finished product will have a mild banana flavor, which is something that might not fit the flavor profile of what you’re looking for.
You’re also free to use other fruits like pumpkin or avocado, as those will not affect the flavor that much.
Use one-fourth of a cup (65 grams) of fruit pureé for each egg you wish to replace.
Commercial Egg Replacer
There is a variety of commercial egg replaces but most are typically made with potato starch, tapioca starch, and leavening agents.
Egg replacers can be used for all sorts of baking goods, and unlike most of the options mentioned in this article, they do not change the flavor of the finished product.
Egg replacers come with instructions, which vary from brand to brand, but you usually have to combine 1.5 teaspoons (10 grams) of powder with 2–3 tablespoons (30–45 grams) of warm water to get the equivalent to one egg.
Like I’ve said, there are several brands, including Organ, Ener-G, Bob’s Red Mill, and Neat Egg, which you’re able to find in supermarkets near you or online on websites like Amazon.
Does Aquafaba have to be from chickpeas?
No, aquafaba doesn’t solely come from chickpeas. In fact, you can get aquafaba from the cooking water of most neutral-tasting beans.
Is Aquafaba Vegan?
Yes, aquafaba is suitable for vegans as it’s typically created from the water of cooked chickpeas or other neutral-tasting beans. In fact, aquafaba is actually the most popular vegan substitute for eggs.
Is Aquafaba Gluten-Free?
Yes, aquafaba is gluten-free as you will not find any wheat or any other grains containing gluten within the aquafaba.
Does Aquafaba Need To Be Refrigerated?
Aquafaba can go bad, and you can usually sense that by how it smells. If the aquafaba smells like spoiled beans (a rather unpleasant smell), which is what happens if you leave it outside, throw it away.
If you want it to last longer (and if you don’t wish to use all of it right away), it’s a good idea to store it in the refrigerator, which should help it last for a week before getting spoiled.