Friday, October 29, 2010

Food Fridays: Substitutes!

With the increasing popularity of the book series, Eat This Not That, I thought it might be a nice time to share some of the substitutions for key ingredients in recipes. 

Bacon.  If your grandmother was anything like my grandmother, most vegetables were smothered with a rich, smokey bacon taste. Green beans, bacon!  Spinach, bacon!  Cabbage, bacon!  Greens, bacon!  Now, I can't say I feel I need that bacon taste on all these veggies and most of the time I am perfectly fine without adding anything at all - I like most of my veggies steamed, no salt, no butter, no nothing.  It's taken a little while to develop the appreciation of naked brussels sprouts, but they really are delicious in a lonely state.  However, this weekend I'm making a big pot of green beans and potatoes.  I want to make it in the way my grandmother did, with bacon or a ham hock but without the fat that goes along.  So, I'll be using canadian bacon.  The key with canadian bacon is to chunk it up and add it close to the end of the cooking process.  I've used this in potato soup and it had that same smokey rich flavor but without the added fat! 

Mayonnaise.  Potato salad, macaroni salad, tuna salad - all of these yummy dishes are laced with fat from the mayonnaise.  There are a few different options for a mayo substitute in salads.  One is an olive oil mayo which has far less fat than the conventional mayo (and the fat from the olive oil is a healthier fat) or YOGURT!  Plain, non-fat yogurt can be a fantastic substitute for regular mayo in salads. I even give it a couple shakes of the hidden valley ranch mix (not a lot) which gives it a more seasoned taste.  Delicious for macaroni salad!  You could even try some greek yogurt as a special treat.  

On a sandwich, I've made a point to purchase some high quality seedy mustard.  By using just a touch of this mustard in place of the mayonnaise, I have tons of flavor and I don't miss the mayo at all.

Flavor for fat. As cooler weather approaches, I yearn for some of those fall favorite crock pot dishes; beans, stews and soups. Often these dinners are prepared with high fat meats that cook all day long. Rather than adding stew meat or ham hocks, I choose a lean cut of meat, fat free chicken broth and then finish it off with fresh rosemary and thyme for a stew or fresh cilantro for beans. In addition to the healthy benefits, I find I prefer the flavor of the fresh herbs over the high fat options and the added bonus is no more heartburn!

What are some substitutions you have adopted into your everyday cooking? 

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