Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Thinking Outside the Box for Cooking Substitutes


We are all home cooks now. WOW, what a turn of events. I knew all that cooking would come in handy and now I am serving a small army of kids and adults in my home. What really has come in handy is using ingredients that are non-traditional and having success with them.  I have included my favorites and how I use each of them.

I thought I would share a few substitutions with everyone which might help those of us who are trying to stay home and use what we have and make things from scratch. Of course, there will be a need for ingredients and it is up to you to source those. We are doing our best to grow as much of our food as we can this year. We are looking to friends and neighbors who hunt and fish to possibly work out a trading system for eggs or other types of exchanges (with very minimal social interacting). We are trying to figure out what we can harvest in our own yard and behind our house in the woods (blueberries, blackberries, chanterelles, herbs, etc). We are trying to stay confined and use what we already have on hand or in our pantry.

This requires us to think outside the box, to give up some of our favorite foods, to change our taste buds, and to possibly learn a few new tricks in the kitchen. Over the years I have cooked almost everything from scratch. I have done this because I enjoy cooking, I have sensitivities to almost everything prepackaged, and I believe it is a better way to feed our bodies---this is just my opinion, everyone has their own reasons as to why they do what they do, these are mine.

Below I will list some links to my favorite homemade foods we use in our home. Please reach out if you have any questions. Often there are substitutions that can be made if you don't have the exact recommended ingredient.  I am sharing some of my own recipes, along with recipes I use by other bloggers. I will not be sharing photos, just links. My time is limited and I think we can all appreciate a more direct approach instead of long, story-filled posts.

1. Aquafaba.  I used this numerous times to make mayonnaise and use it as an egg replacement. You do not have to only use garbanzo beans, I use a variety of bean liquid and get the same results. there are a lot of recipes that you can use aquafaba for. I am not overly skilled at the more refined uses and recipes.

https://www.simply-gourmet.com/2017/08/aquafaba-mayonnaise-vegan.html
https://www.americastestkitchen.com/guides/vegan/what-is-aquafaba

2. Non-Dairy Milk. I use a variety of non-dairy milk products for most of my baking needs. I prefer oat milk, but I have successfully made nut milk in the past. I have used cashews and almonds.

Almond: https://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-almond-milk/
Cashew: https://cookieandkate.com/cashew-milk-recipe/
Rice: https://minimalistbaker.com/make-rice-milk/
Oat: https://minimalistbaker.com/make-oat-milk/

3. Cashew Cream. I use this for sour cream, as a soup thickener, as a base for dips, or a spread on a bagel. When baked it can be made into a hot-dip too. It has many variations. The recipe below shares with you how I made it and how I baked it into a recipe.

https://www.simply-gourmet.com/2017/09/vegan-tomato-tart-with-cashew-cream.html

I will add more items as I remember them. AGAIN, there is a lot going on in my home with a full house and I am having to readjust my normal routine.

The list below are a few things I use if I can't find what I am looking for at the store or on Amazon. I have had to switch to these things more and more in the last few weeks because the "regular" products are not currently available.

1. Nutritional Yeast. This product can be used as a cheesy flavor. I have made macaroni and cheese with it, as well as adding it to cashew cream to make a cheesy spread.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-nutritional-yeast-3376833

2. Amino Acids by Braggs. I use this to add a "beef" like flavoring to stews, mushrooms, and soups. It is also used as a substitute for soy sauce.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-are-braggs-liquid-aminos-3376805

3. Guar Gum/Xanthan Gum. I use this as a binding agent for baked goods and bread when baking gluten-free. NOTE: You can find an assortment of baked goods without this ingredient, but it does help when making bread. I found it interesting that in the stores I could not buy or find regular wheat flour and only gluten-free flours (rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, etc). These work well when blended and work even better with a binding agent like guar gum.

https://www.bobsredmill.com/blog/recipes/guar-gum-vs-xanthan-gum/
My gluten-free bread recipe: https://www.simply-gourmet.com/2011/06/9-gf-flat-bread.html

4. Unrefined Coconut Oil and other Oil Sources. I use this in place of butter in baked goods, pie crust, and as an oil to deep fry our foods. I prefer to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil when I can, but the flavor doesn't always lend itself to some baked goods. I order this oil by the bucket on Amazon. It is too expensive in the store (in my opinion). I have made tallow before too using beef bones. It is very strong in flavor and should be used sparingly.

Homemade Lard: https://www.simply-gourmet.com/2014/07/homemade-lard.html

5. Monk Fruit Powder. I use this in place of sugar. It takes granules to make anything sweet and can be stretched for a long period of time. It is expensive, but again a little bit goes a long way. I have this in my food storage because it will work in a pinch. Again, this is thinking outside of the box if you cannot find something you normally use. I don't have a reliable link to share with you about monk fruit. I suggest you do some research before you purchase.

6. Greek Yogurt. Yogurt is easy to make at home. I use this in place of sour cream in most of my recipes.

How to make yogurt: https://wellnessmama.com/59276/yogurt-recipe/
Vegan Yogurt in an Instapot: https://amindfullmom.com/instant-pot-coconut-milk-yogurt/
Greek Yogurt: https://www.liveeatlearn.com/greek-yogurt/

7. Lime Powder. I bought this for the first time last month to replace fresh lime and to provide some vitamin C to my kids in case we cannot get fresh lemons, limes, or oranges. I love it! I have used it in place of lime for tuna poke, guacamole, and a chicken dish. THIS IS NOT AN AD.

I use a brand I found on Amazon: ORGANIC LIME POWDER BY MICROINGREDIENTS SUPERFOOD.

8. Chia Seeds. These can be used in place of an egg or used to make jelly. I have used the chia egg a lot in baking but never made the jelly. I am hoping to try the jelly this summer with our blackberries.

How to make a chia egg. https://minimalistbaker.com/make-chia-egg/
Recipe for Strawberry Chia Jelly. https://cookieandkate.com/berry-chia-seed-jam-recipe/

9. Coconut Sugar. I have used this for years as a replacement for regular white sugar.
What is coconut sugar: https://www.bonappetit.com/story/what-is-coconut-sugar

Well, this is a start. It covers a few substitutes for milk, eggs, bread, sweetener, and oil.

I hope this update is helpful and will come in handy if you find yourself in need of a substitute.


If you have any suggestions or items you have used with success, as a substitute, please leave in the comments section, along with a link and I will add it to this list.

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