A woman cooking in her kitchen during COVID-19.
Healthy Living

Struggling to Find Items at the Store? Check Out These Healthy Food Swaps to Keep You Cooking

Jun 8 2020
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The food shopping scene has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grocery stores are taking steps to keep customers safe and shelves stocked. Nevertheless, it has not been easy to find everything on your grocery list. Whether you’re ordering online, having a friend help with shopping or going yourself, you may end up missing a few items you need.

This doesn’t mean you have to give up on the recipes you had planned for the week. It’s time to get creative. For just about any missing food items, there are possible healthy food swaps you can try.

Swaps for vegetables

  • You can swap fresh vegetables for frozen when cooking.
  • Canned vegetables are a great alternative as well. However, keep an eye on the sodium content. Look for “no-salt-added” versions or drain and rinse regular versions.
  • With many varieties of salad greens available, try something new if your regular romaine and spinach choices aren’t available. Butter leaf, bib lettuce, radicchio and arugula are all good choices. Heartier greens such as kale and cabbage make great salads, and they taste even better when soaked in the dressing for a bit before serving.

Swaps for baking and cooking

Original Ingredient: 1 egg in baked goods
Substitution: 1 tbsp ground flaxseed (aka flax meal) with 3 tbsp water
Tip: This works well when the egg is used as a binder in the recipe such as muffins and cookies. Chia seeds can also work here.

Original Ingredient: 1 cup whole grain flour
Substitution: dry oatmeal (old fashioned, instant or quick)
Tip: For use in muffins and cookies. Pulse oats in a blender until desired texture. Try mixing some whole oats in with the finer flour to create different textures in your baked goods.

Original Ingredient: 1 tsp baking powder – double acting
Substitution: ¼ tsp baking soda with ⅝ tsp cream of tarter
Tip: Before using in baked goods, make sure your baking soda is still fresh by testing ½ tsp baking soda with 3 tbsp vinegar. If it doesn’t bubble, you need to buy a new box.

Original Ingredient: 1 cup tomato sauce
Substitution: ½ cup tomato paste with 1 cup water
Tip: Add finely chopped vegetables to boost the flavor and texture of your sauce. Examples include mushrooms, onions, zucchini and squash.

Original Ingredient: 1 cup tomato sauce
Substitution: ½ can diced tomatoes, drained and blended
Tip: Use a can of Italian seasoned tomatoes or add your own spices. You can also lower the salt by using no-salt-added or rinsing tomatoes first.

Original Ingredient: ½ cup oil in baked goods
Substitution: ½ cup apple sauce
Tip: Keeps baked goods moist. You many need less sugar, as the apple sauce is already sweet.

Original Ingredient: ½ cup oil in baked goods
Substitution: ½ cup pureed zucchini or yellow squash
Tip: Peel the zucchini first before putting it in the blender, otherwise your baked goods with have a greenish tint.

Original Ingredient: 1 tbsp corn starch
Substitution: 12 tbsp flour
Tip: Use for thickening.

Original Ingredient: 1 cup buttermilk
Substitution: 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar with 1 cup milk
Tip: Let it sit for 5 minutes before using.

Original Ingredient: 1 cup bread crumbs
Substitution: ¾ cup crushed crackers of choice
Tip: Using whole-grain crackers provides more fiber.

Original Ingredient: 1 cup mayonnaise
Substitution: 1 cup yogurt
Tip: Greek yogurt has more protein but also has a tangier taste. If you don’t like the tang, try low-fat or fat-free plain yogurt instead.

Original Ingredient: 1 cup ricotta cheese
Substitution: 1 cup cottage cheese
Tip: Cottage cheese is also higher in protein and works great in baked dishes like lasagna.

Use what you already have

Take a few minutes to dig deeper into your pantry or freezer. Are there items you have stocked but forgotten about? You can still cook safely with these items, even if you’re past the “Best By” date.

This is the perfect time to clean out the pantry and use these forgotten foods. Not sure what to do with random ingredients? Don’t worry, many recipe websites are searchable by ingredient.

Learn more about the nutrition services offered at Bon Secours.


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