What 'Healthy' Substitutions Do You Actually Enjoy?

Photo: Alisha Hieb, Unsplash

Food is fuel, but that fuel is only effective if one consumes it. While it's all fine and good to suggest you eat a thick piece of cauliflower instead of a steak, that suggestion is devoid of joy, and I happen to think joy is pretty important part of eating (and life). However, there are some healthy swaps out there that aren't as dismal, and I bet you all know some good ones. As always, I have some questions.

  • Fad diets and the like always lead to a veritable slew of substitutions. Do you have a favourite sub or swap you learned from a diet or "lifestyle change"? I have not tried a "diet" in over 10 years, but I do I like the fact that you can eat chicken wings on Whole30 as long as you use ghee.

  • "Replacing foods with cauliflower" is very popular for some reason. Do you have a cauliswap that makes your mouth happy? I have yet to find a cauliflower pizza crust or "rice" that didn't make me a little sad, but I don't mind cauliflower mashed into potatoes, and I really, genuinely enjoy Buffalo-style cauliflower. (Not as much as I enjoy Buffalo chicken wings, but it's a very good bar snack.)

  • What is your favourite Pinterest-y swap you've found during your time on the internet? I love that frozen banana and cocoa powder "ice cream." It's like a spoonable chocolate covered banana! Who wouldn't like that?

  • Which vegetable makes the best fake pasta? I like a spiralled butternut squash pretty well.

  • What's your favourite vegan substitution? I will tell you something: there are a few vegan cheeses I enjoy a whole lot, particularly of the fermented cashew variety. I also love nutritional yeast on every savoury food imaginable. (If you've never had "nooch," sprinkle it on popcorn and watch your life change.)

  • What's your favourite use for coconut oil, cream, or milk? I love coconut milk in cocktails, but I am pretty much obsessed with this coconut dulce de leche.

  • Is there a vegetable "fry" you prefer more than the french fried potato? No.

  • Have you found a truly good gluten-free bread? Pao de Queijo — know also as "Brazilian cheese bread" — is just that.

  • What is your favourite non-dairy "milk"? Coconut, to be quite honest.

  • Have you tried the egg-free miracle that is aquafaba? Chickpea liquid can be used to give fluffy volume to egg-free desserts or other baked goods. Plus "aquafaba" is fun to say.

  • What's your favourite meat-free way to add umami? Our own A.A. Newton has a lot of great tips here, but I am a fool for a deeply-roasted mushroom.

  • Have you ever had a vegetarian or vegan dish that was "better than the real thing"? There is a burrito place near me that makes a soy curl burrito that is loads better than any of their carnivorous offerings. I also enjoy a soy curl rice bowl drenched in peanut sauce. Soy curls — texturized soy protein that take real well to frying — are pretty great, is what I'm saying.

Feel free to answer as many or as few of the questions above as you like, and ramble on about anything even remotely related to our topic. I just want to talk about swaps (of the food variety).


Comments

    Just on the diet question, one I do suggest to people is to simply live like a diabetic. The basic premise behind a diabetic diet has a lot of health benefits by default, namely cutting out unnecessary sugars.

    Its not a cheat per se, but its a handy tip. For comparison, it tends to be similar to a paleo diet, without being anywhere near as extreme. Diabetics also use a few "swaps" along the way, like using fruit to introduce sugar into recipes. Banana for example, mashed into dry ingredients, can act as a sweetener, and be mushy enough to bind it together.

    I really love cauliflower rice! It has a nice mellow, sweet flavour and absorbs sauce really well. I go 50/50 with regular rice and prefer it to plain rice.

    I also love zoodles with pesto - not so much with tomato-based sauces or other pasta-y applications, but as a stand-alone salad-like dish that I'm happy to have as a light main. Can also go 50/50 with spaghetti.

    In general, adding heaps of veggies to any pasta dish is pretty hard to mess up and you end up eating less pasta (ideally).

    Also this isn't a substitute but grilled kale with lemon and garlic is ridiculously delicious.

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