By Mindy, Contributing Writer
Are you working to ditch processed foods and put more real food on the table? This month we’re running a series called Real Food Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Eating Better. Our goal is to answer the questions you might have and make the transition a whole lot easier!
Starting out on a real food journey can be very overwhelming–especially when all of your old favorite recipes call for less than ideal ingredients, and you just don’t know what to cook anymore.
Well, I have some good news for you! Most recipes can easily be adapted to include real, whole food ingredients to not only be healthier, but also taste better!
Over the past few years, I have worked to cut bad, processed ingredients and foods from my family’s diet. During this time, it has become second nature to me to read a recipe and substitute the bad ingredients for healthier ones.
Today, I’m going to share a handy (printable) list with you of 20 different real food ingredient switches and substitutions. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a starting point that should help you in turning almost any recipe into a “real food” recipe.
I also want to note that this substitution list could look different for different families. If your family is gluten free, for example, then you would obviously not use whole wheat flour to substitute for all-purpose flour. This list is just a general substitution list that you can adjust to meet your family’s needs.
Click on the chart to access the free printable PDF, which includes links to the homemade ingredients.
Tips for Substituting Ingredients:
- Substitute like ingredients for like ingredients. For example, you will have more success substituting regular white sugar with an unrefined granulated sugar (such as sucanat) rather than with a liquid sweetener (such as honey).
- Think about the overall taste of the dish you are preparing when choosing certain substitution ingredients. If you are making an Italian dish that calls for canola oil, then olive oil would be a better substitution choice than coconut oil. The rich flavor of the olive oil will complement the rest of the ingredients better than the tropical flavor of the coconut oil.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment! Sometimes a recipe may not turn out exactly as expected when you try substituting real food ingredients, but more than likely it will still be yummy! The best way to learn how to switch up recipes to include healthy ingredients is just by doing it. Experience is the best teacher!
Simple Apple Crisp: An Example of Substituting Real Food Ingredients
To help inspire you, and show you how easy it is, I have made up a chart showing how I switched out real food ingredients for less than ideal ones in this apple crisp recipe.
Click on the recipe chart to access the free printable Apple Crisp recipe.
Other posts in the series:
Do you have any substitutions to add to this list? Do you enjoy taking recipes and turning them into “real food” recipes?