Taking control of our food can be a challenge, especially when we first overhaul our diets for the better. Cooking, especially, can be hard when we try to find ways to make old recipes more healthy. I've found that rich ingredients, like creams and butters, can be the hardest to substitute when it comes to taste and texture. To help you out I've come up with some great substitutions, after many years of tweaking the recipes myself, in the kitchen. These substitutions are great to cook with and are much healthier. I hope you enjoy!
1 cup low fat cottage cheese
2 Tbsp. nonfat milk
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Combine ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Chill. Use as a topping for baked potatoes or in dips.
- Herb Dip: Add 1 tsp. minced onion and ½ tsp. caraway seeds to “sour cream.” Chill.
- Poppy Seed Dip: Add 1 tsp. each honey and poppy seeds, and ½ tsp. cinnamon to “sour cream.” Chill. This is good with fruit such as apples and pears.
- Dilly Dip: Add 3 Tbsp. minced dill pickle and 1 Tbsp. minced green onion to “sour cream.” Chill.
Guilt-Free Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp. tapioca
1 cup water
¼ cup low fat, low sodium ricotta cheese
Put the tapioca and water into a small sauce pan and let sit for one hour. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to a simmer for two to three minutes. Gradually, add the ricotta cheese to the tapioca mixture. Remove from heat and emulsify in a blender until the texture becomes creamy. Use as you would heavy cream, without the guilt. If you need a thinner cream, just cut the tapioca by 1 Tbsp.
In a recent taste test at the University of California at Berkeley, volunteers reported that low-salt tomato juice spiked with fresh lemon juice “fools the taste receptors in the brain, adding a zest that makes you think of salt.” Fresh lemon juice can be used as a salt substitute in several things like soups, fish, vegetable juices and chicken dishes. You can also use a variety of spices to decrease the need for salt. Good spices to try include ginger, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and fresh herbs. Experiment with fresh herbs, spices, wine and lemon juice as substitutes for the decreased salt in your diet. Also, try Angostura Bitters, curry powder, and dill weed to add flavor to foods that may otherwise seem “flat” at first. Wine is great in chicken dishes, lemon juice perks up vegetables, fish, and turkey; fresh parsley, garlic, and oregano add zest to stews and other combination dishes.
Peanut Butter Substitute—Nut Butters
Everybody likes peanut butter, but most of the brands available in grocery stores are loaded with sugar and preservatives; try nut butters instead. Simply grind the nuts or seeds in the blender until they are powdery. Slowly, add a small portion of peanut or other oil until you reach the consistency you like. You can also add a little salt and a small amount of honey to improve the flavor. Practically any nut makes a good butter: cashews, pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc. Just remember, if you use peanuts, be sure to roast them first. Always store your nut butter in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Now it’s your turn: What’s your favorite recipe for a healthy substitution when cooking?