Healthy Substitutions in Cooking

BUTTER. For greasing, sauces and savory dishes use coconut, peanut or grapeseed oil. For baking and raw desserts, use raw almond butter, raw coconut oil or apple sauce. Generally, if there’s a chocolate involved, I prefer to use almond butter. If it’s something with fruits or oats, I find it tastes nicer with coconut oil. You need less coconut oil then the amount in recipe. Almond butter can be used as required. Apple sauce can be a good substitute for olive oil in desserts such as carrot cake, muffins and brownies. For sandwiches and other cold snacks, mashed avocado works perfect instead of butter.

DAIRY MILK. Nowadays, there are so many varieties of milk substitutes available it really is not a problem to find the one for your taste. Organic, unsweetened, non-GM soy milk is a good all-rounder (and no, men won’t turn into females if they cook with soy milk). Unsweetened almond milk and coconut milk are delicious too, but slightly more expensive. All three types are suitable for sweet and savory dishes and sauces, and can be used in the same manner as cow’s milk. There are also quinoa, hemp, rice and oat milks available, but those are not suitable for all types of dishes and most of them do have a distinctive taste.

EGGS. For vegan recipes, try using Ener-G egg replacement powder as a quick solution. Otherwise,  a teaspoon of whole flax seeds soaked in water prior to cooking and baking can be a good egg substitution.

BUTTERMILK. If you really have to use buttermilk, substitute it with natural Greek or soy yoghurt. Alternatively, place 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a measuring cup and add milk of your choice as required. Let it stand for a few minutes until it curdles.

FROSTING: this works perfect as a chocolate frosting. Follow the recipe, but don’t freeze it.

SWEETENER. Organic malt or maple syrup, honey, molasses, xylitol and sometimes stevia are perfect sweeteners for any recipe. Just be careful with honey in desserts, as it is not recommended to eat more than a tablespoon of honey a day. So, if you expect to eat a lot of cake, add stevia or brown sugar/stevia blend instead. Also, you can use half almond or coconut milk and half fruit juice or sweet cider when baking pancakes – no sugar required and the bubbles in cider makes them fluffy. Apple sauce or mashed bananas can also substitute for at least half the sugar required in a recipe.

MEAT. Yes I have to mention meat for those who still eat it, but trying to become vegetarian or vegan and have difficulties with certain recipes. Use firm organic tofu instead, you can marinade it just like meat. The beauty of tofu is that it’s tasteless, so it is possible to make absolutely anything out of it with the right spices. For stuffing, I love using chestnuts instead, they are filling, low-fat and delicious. Surprisingly, aubergines have the right texture to use them instead of meat, e.g. you can make aubergine escalopes. If you crave for bacon, use smoked paprika in dishes – it smells and tastes bacon! And if you are just getting off meat, you can always substitute it with fish. Just make sure you buy wild, not farmed fish. Check your source. And of course, beans and chickpeas are great substitutes to meat in many dishes.

FLOUR. Those intolerant to Gluten and/or Wheat can substitute wheat flour by using coconut, almond or buckwheat flour, or oatmeal (if only wheat is a problem). Flour substitutions only work for something which does not need to rise much and make for much denser breads. Buckwheat flour and almond meal are good in desserts, especially in pancakes and cake bases. It is also tastes good in breads when mixed oat or flax meal. Coconut flour and ground almonds can be used for all desserts, but make sure add more liquids or less flour if using coconut flour as it absorbs liquids extremely well.

For breadcrumbs and coatings ground almonds or any other crushed nuts work just as good.

BAKING POWDER. use 1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) plus 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar in place of 1 teaspoon of baking powder.