Simple Substitutions

We’ve all been there…you’re in the middle of making dinner or baking a pie and, Oopsie Daisy… we’re stuck without a much needed ingredient.  Have no fear, here’s a few simple substitutions you can use (instead) hehe, of the ingredient called for in the recipe…

When in Doubt…Opt for Greek plain yogurt when you need:

Soup Base: 2 Tbsp. Rice Flour and 1 cup Greek plain yogurt

Cream Cheese: Strain plain Greek yogurt in cheesecloth; cover and place into the fridge for 24 hours.

Sour Cream: Plain Greek yogurt and 1 tsp. baking soda added to your dry ingredients

Mayonnaise: 1 cup Greek plain yogurt, sea salt, pepper, 1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard

Other Substitutions

1 clove Garlic: 1/6 tsp. garlic powder

1 Tbsp. Fresh Herbs: 2 Tbsp. dried herbs

1 tsp. All Spice: 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 cup honey: 1 cup agave nectar or 1-1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup warm water

1 tsp. Lemon juice: 1/2 tsp. White vinegar

1 cup Dry Bread Crumbs: 1 cup crushed crackers, cereal, corn chips, rice chips

OR

1 cup Dry Bread Crumbs: 2 slices of bread, toasted in the oven, then crumbled or sliced into cubes

1 oz. Baking chocolate: 1 oz. raw cacao nibs

OR

1 oz. Baking chocolate: 3 Tbsp. cocoa and 2 tsp. butter or ghee

1 cup Buttermilk: 1 cup milk (or 1 cup Greek plain yogurt) mixed with 1 Tbp. white vinegar; let sit for 20 minutes.

1 cup Self-Raising Flour: 1 cup all purpose flour mixed with 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. Arrowroot: 1 Tbsp. Flour and 1-1/2 tsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. Flour for thickening: 1-1/2 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot

1 tsp. Baking powder: 1/3 tsp. baking soda and 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Whole Eggs: Two egg whites for each whole egg and 1 Tbsp. oil

In The News This Week…

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Gingerbread Cookies

How adorable are these cute little gingerbread men and women? I couldn’t resist…as with every year I have to make my special gingerbread people.  It’s a fun, festive ritual that I take part in and enjoy every second of the process from grading cutting shapes with my cookie cutters to decorating the clothes and features on the gingerbread people.  Here is a wonderfully delicious gingerbread recipe that will surely compliment your gingerbread house this season.

I was so excited to make these gingerbread guys and gals because I used two of my new Open Sky products, my Winco Aluminum Rolling Pin, which was fabulous and created an even and smooth surface for my cookie cutters and my Copper Bowl, which was perfect for mixing my ingredients to create the gingerbread dough.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. wheat germ
  • ¼ cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 stick butter, unsalted and softened
  • 1 tsp. honey or agave nectar
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar or stevia
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat several baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, flax seeds, wheat germ and salt; mix well. Beat butter, honey, oil and sugar in another large bowl with an electric mixer until it forms a creamy texture.
  • Add egg, molasses and balsamic vinegar; beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Divide the dough into 4 equal portions, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • On a floured surface, roll each portion separately to create a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut cookies using cookie festive cutters. Combine scraps and roll dough again to make additional cookies.
  • Place cookies on baking sheets.
  • Bake the cookies, about 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Decorate with icing and personalize each gingerbread man and woman.

In The News…

95% Celiac Disease Sufferers Go Undiagnosed

Companies Fall Short in Advertising Health Foods To Children

2010 Predicted Food Trends

Coffee and Tea May Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Try a One Size Fits All Dinner for Vegetarians and Meat Eaters

Chef Creates Healthy Pizza

Pumpkin Bran Cookies

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Earlier this week I was in the mood for some serious pumpkin…it must be the fall foliage and autumn breeze that spark my yearning for harvest foods.  These are the days when Central Park is remarkably beautiful; the leaves turning beautiful shades of auburn and rust…reminds me of pumpkins and produce-packed cornucopias.  It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is next month, although we still have time to enjoy these October days I’m eager to whip up new tasty seasonal recipes.  And what better ingredient to use than good ‘ol pumpkin?

For this particular recipe I used canned pumpkin, which can easily be found in your food store.  Be sure not to purchase ‘Pumpkin Pie Mix’ because the can looks quite similar to regular ‘Pumpkin’.  I always reach for Libby’s canned pumpkin as it has a delectable taste and is incredibly delicious eaten directly out of the can (Yes, you caught me…I have been known to scoop a few spoonfuls of Libby’s right into my mouth).  In this case, try not to eat all of the pumpkin as you’ll need 1/3 cup for the recipe.  I do recommend, however, purchasing another can of Libby’s pumpkin as it is incredibly inexpensive and is wonderful when mixed with a dollop of Greek yogurt and cinnamon for a tasty treat.

I have yet to test this recipe with fresh pumpkin, however, I will be experimenting soon and I’ll be sure to fill you in on the recipe.  For this particular case, canned pumpkin is a perfect option for a quick and easy way to create these healthy treats.  When I’m short on time, but desire flavor I reach for canned pumpkin and it always does the trick.

As for the bran crumbs, they can also be found in your food store…just take a peak down the baking aisle and you’ll be amazed to see numerous boxes, all of which are perfect suited for this delectable recipe. Bran crumbs are a fantastic way to enrich your recipes with a hearty crunch and a dose of heart-healthy fiber.

Not only are these cookies incredibly tasty, but they’re chock full of fiber and pack scores of beta carotene, as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg (or egg substitute)
  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup butter (or butter substitute), melted
  • 2 cups bran crumbs or (stale bread mashed into crumbs)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Combine wet ingredients, then add to dry mixture.
  • Slowly add melted butter and bran crumbs; mix well until it forms a cookie dough consistency.
  • Drop teaspoon sized spoonfuls of cookie dough onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until done.

There are ways to enjoy these fiber-ific pumpkin cookies.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Pumpkin Cookies crumbled and sprinkled atop morning oatmeal, Greek yogurt and fruit parfait, applesauce or whipped banana pudding.
  • Frozen Greek yogurt sandwiched between 2 Pumpkin Cookies, then rolled in chopped nuts to make ‘Flying Saucers’.
  • Add soft baked Pumpkin Cookies (cut into quarters) to your trail mix or popcorn for a harvest taste.

What is your favorite way to enjoy fiber-rich cookies?

Deciphering Fats

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Look beyond the total fat in a given food.  Don’t focus on the percentage of calories from fat per serving…this number does not decipher between your good and bad fats.  Therefore, it is more important to focus on the type of fat that is beneficial to heart health than a particular food’s ratio of calories from fat.   For instance, instead of using butter to saute vegetables, use canola oil.  Moreover, snack on a handful of nuts instead of pretzels.  These small changes may help protect you from heart disease.

Check the nutrition label for the amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.  These are the healthy unsaturated fats, who’s numbers should be higher than those for trans and saturated fats, both of which are linked to heart disease.  If your food does not have these nutrients listed, you can easily figure out these good fats by subtracting the amount of trans and saturated fats from the total fat.  This number will give you the estimated unsaturated fat amount.  Make sure to minimize saturated and trans fat in your daily diet and try to incorporate foods with healthy unsaturated fats.

Fats that raise your cholesterol are saturated fats, trans fats and dietary cholesterol.  Saturated fats originate from animal foods such as whole milk, cream, ice cream, whole milk cheeses, butter, lard and meats as well as from certain plant oils such as palm, palm kernel, and coconut oils, and cocoa butter. Trans fats, whose source is from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are found in cookies, cakes, crackers, French fries, fried onion rings, and donuts.  Trans fats result from adding hydrogen to vegetable oils used in commercial baked goods and for cooking in most restaurants and fast food restaurants.  Lastly, dietary cholesterol is found in animal food sources such as meats, egg yolks, dairy products, organ meats, fish and poultry.

On the other hand, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats both lower your cholesterol.  Polyunsaturated fats are found in certain plant oils such as safflower, sesame, corn, soy, and sunflower-seed oils, as well as in nuts and seeds.  Monounsaturated fats are found in certain plant oils, as well such as olive, canola, and peanut oils, along with avocados.

Overall, the type of fat is what is most important for us to focus on for our health.  For a quick rule of thumb regarding your fat intake: unsaturated fats are to be emphasized, trans fats are to be avoided, and saturated fats are to be kept on the lower level.

What are your favorite “good fats’ that you incorporate into your daily meals/snacks?