I’m a whole or real foods kinda girl. I go for butter over vegan spreads, raw cow milk over store bought almond milk, and pure maple syrup over maple flavored Aunt Jemima “syrup.” I also love to transform recipes into something a bit healthier for my family. Many of my Grandma’s recipes use mostly whole foods, but still has that stick of margarine or even artificial sweetener. Plus anytime I search for a banana bread recipe, its either half sugar, or filled with artificial sweetener (YUCK). For those of you who aren’t super experimental in the kitchen, here are a few substitutions that can HEALTHIFY your cooking and baking!
EGGS: I use local eggs in almost all of our baking (unless of course we have run out). But if you have an egg allergy or are out here’s what you can do (and avoid the gross commercial egg substitute).
- 1 Tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water = 1 egg. Mix them together, rest until gelatin-ish then add to recipe in place of egg.
- 1/2 banana (aprox 1/4 cup) = 1 egg
- 1/4 cup applesauce + 1 teaspoon baking powder = 1 egg
VEGETABLE OIL, CRISCO & MARGARINE: If you currently use vegetable or canola oil, go research what it is and how its made. We don’t use them anymore (except for crafts), but all too often, recipes call for the dreaded vegetable oil or Crisco.
- 1 cup butter = 1 cup margarine. Beware however, your baked goods will spoil quicker than if using margarine, as butter isn’t full of preservatives. (I like to store muffins and such in the freezer)
- 1 cup coconut oil = 1 cup Crisco or vegetable oil. Melt your coconut oil and then stir it into whatever you are making. If you aren’t a fan of the coconut flavor, buy refined coconut oil (which is flavorless).
- 1 cup Earth Balance = 1 cup Crisco. Though not a whole food, Earth Balance is organic and GMO-free.
- 1 cup applesauce = 1 cup vegetable oil. I prefer to use half applesauce and half coconut oil when using applesauce. Though some people prefer all applesauce which is fine.
- Olive oil and coconut oil = vegetable oil or canola oil in any stove-top or oven cooking. Using olive oil or coconut oil instead of vegetable oil or canola oil will be much healthier. If you are worried about the taste, get a mild olive oil (not virgin) or a refined coconut oil.
FLOUR: We aren’t gluten free here, so I really don’t have many alternative flours to list. but I still don’t think white flour is the way to go for everything. Here’s how to switch over to eating whole grains instead of processed white flour.
- 1 cup unbleached flour = 1 cup bleached flour. Bleached Flour is terrible. Just putting that out there. Save what you have left to make some playdough. If you want to use a regular white flour, buy the unbleached variety. It looks nearly the same and tastes identical.
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (plus slightly more liquid & wheat gluten) = 1 cup white flour. Whole wheat flour can be used nearly interchangeably in items such as muffins. If you are making a yeast bread, add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of wheat gluten per cup of flour for better results. Whole wheat flour also needs more liquid in all recipes than white flour. Now I can’t give you a concrete answer with HOW MUCH liquid you are going to need, so you are going to have to eyeball this one. If it’s a traditional recipe, or something you are used to making, just slowly add liquid (water, milk, etc.) until you have the right consistency.
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour = 1 cup whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour is one of my favorite products out there. It is still a whole wheat flour, however its flowers are white instead of a red flower that is found in traditional whole wheat flour. It makes your baked goods a bit lighter and less dense than using regular whole wheat flour.
- NOTE: If your family isn’t already used to eating 100% whole wheat foods, try mixing recipes half and half. For example, if a banana recipe calls for 3 cups white flour, use 1.5 cups whole wheat and 1.5 cups white flour. Rarely will they be able to taste the difference! Slowly work your way up to 100% whole wheat.
SWEETENERS: As much as I love sugar, I love that there are other, less processed options available to sweeten your goods. However, not all things taste quite right with a sugar substitute, so I buy organic sugar for things like cookies and cakes. You can also lessen the amount of sugar in many recipes and achieve the same result. This is a long section, but one of the most important.
- 2 Tablespoons molasses + 1 cup white sugar = 1 cup light brown sugar. Did you know that you can make your own brown sugar? Organic brown sugar is much more expensive than organic white sugar. So save some money (and cut something off that shopping list) and make your own!
- 3 Tablespoons molasses + 1 cup white sugar = 1 cup dark brown sugar.
- 1 cup white sugar + 1 tablespoon corn starch (processed in food processor) = 1 cup confectioners sugar.
- 1 cup sugar + 1/4 cup water = 1 cup corn syrup.
- 1 cup honey = 1 cup corn syrup. Honey will be a bit sweeter.
- 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon honey (minus 2 tablespoons liquid) = 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup maple syrup (minus 3 tablespoons liquid)=1 cup sugar
- 1 1/3 cup molasses (minus 5 tablespoons liquid) = 1 cup sugar. I would not substitute more than half of sugar with molasses as it has a strong flavor (though when baking yeast bread it can be used interchangeably).
- 2/3 cup sugar = 1 cup sugar in many recipes. If your banana bread recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar, use 1 1/3 cups instead. Bet everyone will still love it!
- 1 cup sugar = 1 cup sucralose (Splenda). Please do not eat Splenda. However, if you have a recipe that calls for it, substitute sugar (or any of the other options above) instead.
- 1/4 cup sugar = 6 (1 gram) packages aspartame (Equal/Nutrasweet). Aspartame is another thing not to eat, but if a recipe calls for it, substitute sugar (or any of the other options above) instead.
DAIRY: I’m an organic or raw milk kind of person (whole, not low-fat), but if you need something besides milk, or need something dairy free, check out these ideas.
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice + enough milk to make 1 cup = 1 cup buttermilk. Just let it sit 5-10 minutes to curdle.
- 1 cup sour cream = 1 cup plain yogurt
- 3/4 cup milk + 1/3 cup melted butter = 1 cup heavy cream. Though not for whipping, this is useful when organic heavy cream is costly or not available. Works well in soups and pasta dishes.
- 1 cup almond/rice/coconut milk = 1 cup cow milk. Taste may change slightly, however these “milks” work well if you have a dairy allergy. (Please read ingredients and consider making your own as many have added vitamins and ingredients).
LEAVENERS: Not much crunchy goes on here, except that you should consider using an ALUMINUM FREE baking powder. However, its still useful to know a few tricks in case you run out of something.
- 1/3 teaspoon baking soda + 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (I always have this on hand for making playdough) = 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoon baking powder minus salt in recipe = 1 teaspoon baking soda
What recipe are you trying to make “crunchy?”