Side shot of the Mother Mix in a measuring cup on a kitchen counter,
January 27, 2024

The Mother Mix: Your new plant-based pantry staple

January 27, 2024

The Mother Mix: Your new plant-based pantry staple

Side shot of the Mother Mix in a measuring cup on a kitchen counter,

If you're new to plant-based eating, you might be looking for alternatives to dairy to use in creamy recipes. While there are many ways to add creaminess to plant-based recipes, the Mother Mix provides an easy shortcut. It's a quick DIY that's all-natural and gluten-free. Made with just four ingredients, it's a dry mix that stores in your pantry. The Mix itself takes less than 5 minutes to make. In another few minutes, you can turn it into a simple cream sauce for drizzling over veggies or pasta. Or use it as the base to jumpstart over 15 recipes from Hot Spinach Dip and Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup to Sauced-Up Roasted Cauliflower and Zucchini Fritters. 

Ingredients

The Mother Mix is made from just four ingredients: almond flour, tapioca starch, nutritional yeast, and salt. 

The 4 ingredients in the Mother Mix, an easy DIY base mix for plant-based recipes. Includes almond flour, tapioca starch, nutritional yeast, and salt
  • Almond flour: If you’ve made a vegan cream or cheese sauce, you’ve probably encountered recipes that use soaked and blended cashews as the base. They’re typically used to replace dairy or cheese, providing substance to the dish, and providing necessary fat and protein for the chemistry of cooking. We wanted to save time and make cheesy or creamy sauces without waiting around for cashews to soak. Finely ground cashews, (cashew flour), would save us time, but cashew flour is not readily available. Enter almond flour, which makes an excellent stand-in. We use superfine almond flour, also known as blanched almond meal. It’s just skinned, finely ground almonds. You can find almond flour in the baking section of your grocery, in bulk food bins, and stores like Costco.
  • Tapioca starch, aka tapioca flour: Tapioca starch, also known as tapioca flour, is a gluten-free flour made from the cassava plant. Tapioca flour serves as a thickening agent, allowing you to make creamy sauces, without the gluten found in traditional wheat flour. Tapioca starch also makes sauces stretchy and cheese-like, which is just want we want with our cheesy comfort food recipes. You can find tapioca starch in the baking section of your grocery. Sometimes, we also see it in the “ethnic” food section, where it’s usually cheaper and just as good.
  • Nutritional yeast, aka "nooch": Nutritional yeast is a non-active yeast that gives our Mother Mix a savoury, umami flavour. A little bit nutty, a little bit cheesy, nutritional yeast is a common ingredient in many dairy-free or vegan dishes. In some recipes that use the Mother Mix, the recipe calls for additional nutritional yeast, to boost the cheesy flavour.
  • Salt: There’s a small amount of table salt in the Mother Mix. Since salting food is such a personal preference, we’ve kept with a minimum quantity. Some recipes that use the Mother Mix call for additional salt, as well as other seasonings..

Why We Named it the Mother Mix

  • The Mother Mix is the base from which many not not nutritious recipes have been born.
  • Mothers are often associated with comfort, and the Mother Mix is the perfect starting point for comfort food – like our creamy Scalloped Potatoes or Mexican Stuffed Peppers.
  • You heard of a kombucha mother? The Mother Mix is a bit like that in that once you’ve got your starter, you can make a bunch of different batches. But where it diverges, is that you can use it to make a bunch of different recipes — not just batches of the same recipe. The Mother Mix is also a dry mix – no maintenance required.
  • We’re riffing on the culinary concept of the mother sauces — these are the 5 French sauces that are the base of many recipes. While we’re not claiming that the Mother Mix can replace the French classics, having some on hand will help you easily create delicious food!

Making the Mother Mix

Making the Mother Mix is super simple: combine the dry ingredients in a big bowl and you’re done!

Storing the Mother Mix

Once combined, we store ours in a well-sealed container, at room temperature. If you think you’ll only use it occasionally, you can store it in the fridge or even freezer. The Mother Mix is awesome to have on hand if you have guests or family that are vegan, plant-based, gluten-free or dairy-free.

Mother Mix in a see-through container

The Mother Mix, your dairy-free, vegan, shortcut to comfort food

Visual Overview: Making A Simple Plant-Based Cream Sauce

Notes:

  • You need a blender for this recipe.
  • This recipe makes a basic (plain) sauce, without any spices. 
  • If you want to use the Mother Mix to create your own recipes, consider adding more nutritional yeast to make it taste cheesy, and/or add herbs and spices, such as garlic or chilli powder. If you want it to taste like a Bechamel sauce, add nutmeg. See for example: Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Scalloped Potatoes. Add dry spices to the blender. You can also add other flavourings such as chopped fresh basil, minced jalapeños, sun-dried tomatoes. Add these during the cooking stage.
  • For other recipes on this site that use the Mother Mix, follow the specific recipe's instructions, as each is slightly different in terms of spices and quantities. 

Step 1: Blend the ingredients.

Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend on high for 1 minute until smooth.

Top down view of a blender jug with Mother Mix ingredients

Blending the Mother Mix

Top down view of a blender jug with blended Mother Mix sauce

Making the Mother Mix

Steps 2: Cook the sauce.

Pour the sauce into a saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes (or more if you have made a larger quantity of sauce.) The sauce may go through a brief period where it looks like it is curdling. Keep stirring, this is only temporary. 

Top down view of Mother Mix sauce in saucepan before cooking.

Making the Mother Mix basic cream sauce

Top down view of Mother Mix sauce in saucepan before cooking.

Making the Mother Mix

Note: Depending on your blender, the sauce might taste a bit flour-y on its own. I don't find this noticeable when it's combined with other ingredients. 

Pinterest Pin for Mother Mix, an all-natural gluten-free dry mix that you can make in minutes and store in your pantry.

Making a Mother Mix Recipe Without the Mix 

If you want to try a recipe, but don’t want to make the mix, all of the recipes on the website include the equivalent quantities of ingredients needed.


Tips: Cooking for mixed groups 

If you’re cooking for people with mixed diets, such as plant-based people with vegetarians or omnivores, then this section is for you! Often, we provide recipe variations to use the Mother Mix along with your choice of plant-based or dairy-based cheeses. This means that you can make the base version of the recipe plant-based and add dairy-based cheeses for the vegetarians or omnivores in the group. For example, with the Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe, the foundation is the plant-based Mother Mix sauce, but you can garnish the soup with a handful of cheese of your choice. We’ve tested the Mother Mix sauce with both plant-based and dairy-based cheese, and it's mild flavour goes well with either. See also our Mexican Stuffed Peppers and Green Pasta Sauce.

Pin for the Mother Mix, an easy DIY to jump-start, creamy plant-based recipes

Recipe Card

The Mother Mix

5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes
This dairy-free plant-based pantry staple is made of 4 all-natural ingredients. Just add water, blend, and cook for a few minutes to make a simple vegan cream sauce in just a few minutes. The Mother Mix is the foundation of many comfort food recipes on not not nutritious too, everything from Broccoli Cheese Soup to Hot Spinach Dip and Mexican Corn Chip Casserole.
Servings 13 1/2 cup servings
Calories 267 kcal
Author Sylvia Eastman

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups almond flour {also called almond meal, or superfine almond flour, or blanched skinless ground almond}
  • 1 1/4 cups tapioca starch {also called tapioca flour}
  • 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt

Instructions

To make the dry mix

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir well, then transfer to a tightly-sealed container. You can keep this in your pantry, or store it in the fridge if you don't think you will use it up within a few months. 

To make the basic Mother Mix simple cream sauce

  • To make about 1/2 cup of sauce, combine 1/3rds cup of dry mix and 1/2 cup of water in a blender. Blend on high for about 1 minute. Transfer to a small saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat for about 3 minutes until the sauce is thickened and stretchy. It may go through a brief stage where it looks like it is curdling. Just keep stirring and this will disappear. Larger quantities of sauce will take longer to cook.

Notes

Storing the Mother Mix

Store the Mother Mix in a tightly-sealed container at room temperature. If you think that you will be using it irregularly, you could store the dry mix in your fridge or even freezer.  

Storing Cooked  Sauce

Store any cooked sauce in your fridge in a sealed container. It will keep for 3-4 days. Reheat it over low heat, stirring to remove any lumps, as needed. 

Add-Ins and Timing  

  • If you want to use the Mother Mix to make your own recipes, consider adding more nutritional yeast to up the cheesy factor, and/or you add herbs and spices, such as garlic powder, chilli powder, or nutmeg if you want it to taste like a Bechamel sauce. Add these into the blender.
  • You can also add other flavourings such as chopped fresh basil, minced jalapeños, sun-dried tomatoes. Add these during the cooking stage.

Other Recipes that Use the Mother Mix

Please see all the Mother Mix recipes listed in this post.

About Almond Flour 

Depending on where you live, almond flour might also be called ground almond meal or blanched, skinless ground almonds. We use super fine almond flour, but it is not always labelled that way. It’s usually in the baking section of the grocery store. In my store, buying it as almond flour was the cheapest way to go.

Replacing Almond Flour 

We have not tried this with other nut flours, but we think the next best option would be cashew flour. 

Nutrition

Calories: 267kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 805mg | Potassium: 51mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 2mg

Courses, Cuisines, and Keywords

Cuisine
North American
Keywords
all purpose vegan sauce
|
dairy-free cheese sauce
|
dairy-free comfort food
|
dairy-free cream sauce
|
dairy-free pantry staple
|
gluten-free pantry staple
|
make ahead
|
mother mix
|
pantry staple
|
vegan cheese sauce mix
|
vegan comfort food
|
vegan cream sauce
|
vegan pantry staple
|
vegan sauce starter

Comments

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Recipe Rating




  1. 5 stars
    I’ve had so many dishes with this recipe I don’t even know how many any more.
    It’s soooo good I forget that it’s actually plant based.
    Dairy free doesn’t have to be dull and tasteless. It’s amazing!!

  2. 5 stars
    I love this mix! I’ve used it in casseroles, grilled cheez sandwiches, and on pizza. It’s easy to throw together, and it’s super tasty!

    1. Hi Dinah – Unfortunately I don’t have a good suggestion for you right now. I have some ideas for using oat flour instead but I haven’t done any testing at all yet.

  3. 5 stars
    Oh my goodness! The Mother Mix is amazing. Since going whole food plant based last year the biggest thing I’ve missed/craved is cheese……….but this hits the spot!.
    I made a cheesy pasta bake with the MM tonight and it was so delicious! I was using what I had – one red onion, a few cloves of garlic, 150 grams mushrooms, one yellow pepper, sauteed in veg stock, a small handful of frozen sweetcorn, and I cooked the wholewheat pasta I had left (100 grams).
    I combined the veg and pasta into a baking dish, then stirred in the mother mix sauce (I checked your recipe for scalloped potatoes to get a mother mix sauce amount)
    Wow! I know i will be making a huge tub of Mother Mix tomorrow. Thank you ?

    1. Hi Tessa! Soooo happy to hear that you’re loving the Mother Mix! Your recipe sounds delicious and really shows how versatile the mix is! Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Hi! I’m allergic to almonds and you suggested cashew flour might work. Do you think it would work in the same ratio?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi – I would try testing a small batch, and yes, I would start with the same ratio. I’d love to hear how it goes if you test it out.

    1. Hi – it sounds like you want to replace the tapioca flour/starch with one of these? I haven’t tried but I think cornstarch would be the closest. You could try making a small amount and test it out. Since I have used the Mother Mix as the basis for numerous recipes, I can’t be sure that it will work equally well with all of them. I’d love to hear back from you if you try it out, even just for a single recipe.

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Hello!


We're creating a course: Baby Steps to Plant-Based Eating

Yes, seriously. Trying a plant-based diet can be overwhelming and we'd like to help. 

This course is for you if: 

  • you're curious about plant-based eating, but don't know where to start 
  • you have family or friends who eat plant-based and you'd like to be able to cook for them
  • you've dabbled with plant-based cooking, but would like to expand your repertoire 

Baby Steps to Plant-Based Eating will: 

  • answer your pressing questions
  • cultivate your confidence 
  • arm you with recipes

Want to learn more?  

Join our email list for updates about the course launch. You'll also get priority access to new recipes, and other subscriber privileges.