7 HEALTHY SUBSTITUTIONS
At this point in the year, my mind always starts to turn away from winter stews and comfort food (umm, pizza) and towards the lighter and brighter. Food and healthy choices are truly a game of inches, so I wanted to share a few of my go-to, healthy substitutions, stuff I do on an everyday basis at home to help offset my splurg-y meals out. One of my requirements as a cook, though, is that I can't miss what I'm substituting - it still has to taste amazing and fulfill whatever sense (taste, texture) gets activated. So hopefully you guys will like these subs as much as I do...
AVOCADO INSTEAD OF MAYO
I like to pulse an avocado or two in the processor with a bit of salt and lime to get a smooth, creamy and slightly whipped avocado crema. Mayo is not missed.
SWAP OUT OATS FOR AMARANTH OR QUINOA AT BREAKFAST
Breakfast for me is where I stuff in as much nutrition as I can! I love using cooked amaranth or quinoa for an easy breakfast pudding. Add a bit of milk of your choice to the cooked grain, some chia or even ground flax seeds, sliced almonds or other nuts, berries/fruit, and you have a super satisfying meal in no time. Much better than store bought cereal!
WHOLE GRAINS INSTEAD OF BREAD OR BREADCRUMBS
When I'm making meatloaf or meatballs, I like to use cooked bulghur, oats, or a short grain brown rice (slighly overcooked) as my binding agent in lieu of soaking bread in milk or using breadcrumbs. The texture is amazing, and it just makes the meal more nutrient-dense. Love it.
VEGAN BANANA ICE CREAM FOR DESSERT
I'm an ice cream snob, and there are obviously times when a pint of Mint Chip is called for. But when I know I need to keep it light, I whir up some frozen, sliced banana pieces in the processor with a bit of cinnamon to make vegan "ice cream." After it gets kind of icy / shredded, the processor warms it up and it turns into a super, whipped custard (and a bit of water or almond milk can get the blade moving if it's taking too long). It really is delicious - creamy, sweet and light; it hits the ice cream-craving texture spot on. AND you can make endless variations. Add frozen berries for more of a sorbet feel, vanilla bean to go traditional or peanut butter and raw cacao for a peanut butter cup treat.
DATES OR CINNAMON FOR SWEETNESS
I use these in totally different ways, so it may have been misleading to put them together. Dates (particularly the Medjool type) are my go-to for smoothies, muffins and cake batter - they have a caramelized sweetness that is hard to rival. Cinnamon is just what I put in coffee or my homemade almond milk to add some (blood sugar-balancing) sweetness; it's kind of a brain trick and takes some weaning off the real thing, especially when it comes to coffee, but it's worth it. Sugar gives you wrinkles (which is enough to send me screaming), so sub where you can.
MAPLE SUGAR RATHER THAN REFINED
If you must (and there are times that you MUST), using maple sugar rather than the refined, white sort is amazing. Full of antioxidants and lower on the glycemic index, this is my option for baking for my little one. Check it out in this Butternut Squash & Apple Bread recipe.
OAT + BROWN RICE + ALMOND FLOUR INSTEAD OF AP
Also, in that recipe, I use a great, gluten-free mix of flours instead of all-purpose. Really, since no one in my family has a gluten allergy / intolerance, I'm motivated again by nutrition - more fiber, higher vitamin / mineral content, full of good fats. And, again, I don't miss the AP here - this bread is just as good, if not better, with this healthy flour mix.