Substituting This For That
The same learning curve happens when transitioning to a healthier way of eating. You are going to stumble at first. Finding the new ingredients might feel like searching for buried treasure or that wonderful picture from the recipe you followed is definitely not what is on your plate and you will end up tossing more than one failed meal.
We have all been there. Going through these beginning stages of learning a new skill is always a challenge. You will mess up, you will want to retreat to your comfort zone. But if taking on a new lifestyle of eating wasn't a challenge, that would mean everyone would already be doing it. It's clique to say, but by going through the difficult part of the learning curve, you come out with a new skill set and the knowledge to make your new healthy lifestyle sustainable.
Everyone must follow their own journey on the path to eating healthy but that doesn't mean you have to do it alone. Here are our favorite tips we wish someone shared with us:
- Start with the basics: meat and veggies. With the entire food industry trying to capitalize on the "health" trend, it is extremely confusing to know which products are actually good for you and which ones aren't. That's why we recommend when you are starting out to make your meals from scratch (and whole foods). Start with the basics: grass fed meat and organic vegetables. You can change up the meat, vegetable type or seasonings used to create different flavors!
- Use recipes that already have the substitutes. Avena has an entire Pinterest account dedicated to providing recipes that are already converted to fit with your lifestyle. This is a great place to start because every recipe on there has been approved for that lifestyle and does not have any "bad" ingredients hidden in it. Another option is to Google recipes that contain keywords of your lifestyle (paleo, clean keto, lectin free). Once you find recipes you like, bookmark the websites because it's probably a safe bet they will have more recipes that you will like.
- Once your pantry expands, experiment. As you dive further down the rabbit hole of healthy living, your pantry will see a makeover as unhealthy ingredients get replaced with better options. When this happens, you can begin to experiment with these new healthy ingredients. From following recipes that already have substitutions, you began to see how the ingredients work and how they taste together. Follow those guidelines to begin experimenting with recipes you what to try but are not substituted yet. Don't forget, Google is your best friend and loves to give substitution suggestions (ei. Hey Google, what are substitutes for Crisco?).
Remember, this is a learning curve and is suppose to challenge your current comfort zone. The more you practice, the better you will become (and the better your food will taste, we promise!). Below is an example of how we used substitutions to make a healthy dessert out of an unhealthy recipe:
Chocolate Cheese Cake Hot Cocoa Cups
- Heat oven to 325 F.
- Follow the recipe for Keto Graham Cracker Crust.
- Scoop and press crust into bottoms of 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake for 8 min.
- Beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup monk fruit sweetener, and 1/4 cup cocoa powder in a medium bowl with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Spoon over crusts.
- Bake 22 to 25 min. or until centers are almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, cover baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt Lily's chocolate chips and spoon into a resealable bag. Cut a small piece off one bottom corner of bag; use to squeeze chocolate into 12 shapes on prepared baking sheet to resemble cup handles. Freeze until ready to use.
- Remove liners from cheesecakes. Beat coconut cream and remaining monk fruit in a separate medium bowl with mixer on high speed until soft peaks form; spoon onto cheesecakes. Sprinkle with remaining cocoa powder; top with Smashmallows. Gently press chocolate handle into side of each cheesecake.
When you aren't familiar with the right, healthy substitutions and how they change the texture, flavor or look, it makes baking healthy feel like a chore. Every one of us at Avena has been there. Which is why we have an entire Pinterest account filled with recipes that already have the substitutions in them! Sorted by diet (keto, paleo) and food sensitivities (egg, dairy, lectin free, etc), find a recipe that looks good and give it at try!
This Creamy Chicken Brussels Sprouts and Bacon recipe is a fantastic place to start learning substitutions! The recipe is already converted, making it easy to see which ingredients make this dish as creamy and "cheesy" without the need to cheat.