Adapting Your Favorite Recipes to Increase Nutrition

So you are on a quest for eating more nutritionally as a family and yet the task appears rather daunting. Do I have to develop a whole new menu plan with healthy recipes? Who wants to throw out all your family favorite recipes that have been passed down? Or those favorite comfort foods that make your family feel so satisfied and rejuvenated? The last thing any of us moms want to do is start from scratch when it comes to healthy real food eating.

Today, we would like to offer a resource of ideas for helping you adapt your favorite recipes to make them more healthy. The truth of the matter is, you don’t have to throw out your favorite cookbooks and recipes. In fact, practically every recipe on this site has been a family favorite for quite some time, and have only been adapted in the past several years to replace the ingredients with more real whole food alternatives. The flavors may have changed slightly, but overall, choosing to use real food ingredients only increases the flavor and intensity of each recipe.

I have provided here for you a simple chart to convert those standard ingredients in your everyday recipes to real, whole food ingredients.

Sweeteners

Learn about these healthy sweeteners here.

White sugar: Replace with equal amounts of rapadura or sucanat (both of which are whole cane unrefined sugars), or 1/3 less of raw honey or pure maple syrup (Vermont or Canadian sources). You can run rapadura/sucanat through the blender to get a less grainy texture, a perfect alternative for powdered sugar.
Brown sugar: Replace with equal amounts of sucanat or rapadura which have an excellent darker texture and tone similar to brown sugar. If you desire that wetter texture of brown sugar, simply add a Tablespoon of blackstrap molasses to the sucanat or rapadura.
Powered Sugar: replace with powdered sucanat/rapadura, or a dash of stevia.

Grains

White Rice: Replace with brown rice. Basmati brown rice is very similar in texture to white rice. Brown rice takes a longer time to cook so make sure to check the packaging. I usually use 1 cup brown rice to 2 cups water.
White Flour: The Colorado State University Cooperative Extension recommends the following for substituting flour when baking.
1 cup of white, all-purpose flour for baking can be substituted with the following:
• 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs;
• 7/8 to 1 cup corn meal;
• 1/2 cup cornstarch plus 1/2 cup rye, potato or rice flour (sift together 6 times, use with 2 tsp baking powder per cup in quick breads as wheat flour allergy substitute);
• 5/8 cup potato flour;
• 7/8 cup rice flour;
• 1 1/3 cups rolled oats;
• 1 1/4 cups rye flour;
• 1 cup minus 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour.

If you are new to using whole wheat, try using half and half with unbleached white flour (choice unbleached to avoid the dying process), and gradually increase the whole wheat content until you can make it 100% whole wheat. Sourdough options are my favorite for getting a light fluffy texture and delicious results even when using whole wheat.

Bread products: Try to find sprouted whole wheat options (Dave’s Killer Bread, Food for Life or Alvarado Street Bakery are all good sprouted bread companies) & or make sure to check labels that they are made from 100% whole wheat without the addition of high fruitose corn syrup or enriched wheat flours.
Pastas: Your best option is brown rice pastas (Trader Joe’s and Tinkyada are great brands), as they are both gluten free and low in phytates. You can get most varieties of pasta in brown rice varieties now.

Learn how to use more variety in your grain choices here.

Dairy

Generally, choose whole milk alternatives for any recipe calling for low-fat, non-fat, or skim. Whole milk is essential for getting quality fats from dairy products. Low or non-fat alternatives have been processed and are very difficult for the body to digest. If you have access to raw milk, this is your best option. Otherwise, choose whole milk cultured dairy products. Substitute them for equal portions in recipes. Other good alternatives include coconut milk, hemp milk, or organic milk based products.

Margarine: Replace with real butter made from whole milk.
Buttermilk: Replace equally with cultured kefir or yogurt. (Coconut milk kefir is a good choice as well.) You can also make your own milk kefir.

Oils

Your best choices here are olive oil, coconut oil, or butter.
 Read more about healthy oils here and part 2. Choice cold-pressed unrefined options. I use these three oils exclusively in all my cooking and baking.

Canola/vegetable oil: replace with olive oil for salad dressings, melted coconut oil for baking, and melted butter or coconut oil for sauteing. Real butter can be used for baking or sauteing.
Crisco/Shortening: replace with palm oil, coconut oil, or butter in their solid state.

Meat/Eggs

Look for pastured grass fed varieties for best nutritional value. These are animals raised on pasture that are fed a variety of greens rather than corn products. Wild fish products are preferred to farm raised. Find local sources here.

Canned Goods

The main concern with condensed soup is the MSG content. Either just eliminate these recipes altogether or replace with the following options:

Condensed Soup (Mushroom, Chicken, etc): replace with this easy homemade version or with cultured sour cream (as used in my enchilada recipe which originally called for cream of mushroom soup).

To learn what canned food brands do not have BPA in the lining, check out this list or Treehugger’s list.

Seasonings/Condiments

Table Salt: Replace with sea salt (I recommend RealSalt for its high mineral content). Or replace salt with herbs, either fresh or dried, and other seasonings. Freshly ground pepper and fresh seasonings have so much flavor, you won’t miss the salt.
Thickeners: Replace cornstarch or white flour called for in a recipe to a smaller portion of arrowroot powder (i.e. 1/4 cup flour = 1-2 Tbsp arrowroot powder).
Bouillon cubes: replace with homemade or organic free range chicken/beef broth. Usually a recipe will say 1 bouillon cube and 1 cup water, and you can simply replace both with 1 cup homemade broth. You can also freeze homemade stock in ice cube trays to replace the bouillon cubes.
Pancake Syrup: Replace pancake syrup (the fake HFCS sugar syrup) with pure maple syrup (Vermont or Canadian sources), honey, or fruit syrup.
Mayonnaise: Make your own homemade mayonnaise or purchase coconut oil mayonnaise or safflower mayonnaise.
Ketchup: Make your own or choice fermented ketchup or an organic variety that does not use HFCS.
Bread crumbs/croutons: Make your own!
Vanilla Extract: Use pure vanilla extract (not vanilla flavoring or imitation vanilla) or make your own.
Salad Dressings: The best nutritious salad dressing is a simple balsamic vinegar and cold pressed olive oil. But you can also make your own recipes of salad dressings using healthy fats, as described here.
Worcestershire Sauce (this often has corn syrup): replace with equal amount of white vinegar
.
Baking powder/baking soda: Chose aluminum free varieties (Bob’s Red Mill or Rumford brands).

For further help, please check out Baby Steps to a Real Food Diet.

Did I miss an ingredient? I am sure I did…let me know and I’ll add our source to the above list. Have a favorite recipe that you are just not sure how to adapt? Share below and I’ll try my best to offer some suggestions.

Photo Credit

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

79 Responses to Adapting Your Favorite Recipes to Increase Nutrition

  1. Julie Bromhead April 29, 2012 at 6:04 am #

    What could you use to enlace soy sauce?

    • Alicia May 8, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

      Bragg Liquid Aminos is a great replacement for soy sauce.

  2. Julie January 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Hi Lindsay,
    A really helpful post – thanks for this! I have a quick question for you about substituting white and brown sugar with rapadura / sucanat. If you have a recipe that calls for both white and brown sugar, would you replace the total amount with all rapadura / sucanat? Thanks!

    • Lindsay January 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

      Yes!

  3. cookie recipes September 30, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    I?m not certain the place you’re getting your information, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic info I was on the lookout for this information for my mission.

  4. Sarah July 11, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    This is a fun and helpful list of substitutions, thanks! I was wondering if you knew about using whey (strained from homemade yogurt) in place of buttermilk or other liquids in baking? I’ve heard that you can use it, but don’t know the health benefits and if it’s a 1:1 sub. Thanks!

  5. Jacque July 5, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    Although there are ways to make homemade, healthy “fast food” meals at home, it still wont be the Happy Meal that the majority of my daughters peers get to eat. Lindsay, do you have any advice on how to explain to my daughter why our family does not eat fast food without making her feel “different” and without condemning others?

    • Melanie July 19, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

      Jacque,
      You could educate your daughter on the good and the bad. That way, she could share bits and pieces with her peers why she eats the way she does. Also one of her reasons could be that she doesn’t want to feel tired or sick after she eats, because more than likely (depending on how much of a change to diet done) she would feel sick somehow if she eats that junk!
      Oh, also we’re working on our five year old on the condemning part! What we’ve tried to teach her is that many other people don’t know what we know about food. How can they change if they don’t know? I also try the “Golden Rule” on her. Would she want somebody to criticize her? She seems to be better at it now, being more tactful. :)
      Something else to consider, you could try an experiment. Buy a cheeseburger and put it in a container without the lid and let it sit out. I will not go bad or grow mold on it!! Our chiropractor with http://www.maximizedliving.com did it three years ago and it is sitting out in the open and it looks like it’s fresh! But it was bought in October 2008! YUCK!!
      Also another idea, your daughter could invite friends over to have “junky” food with healthy substitutions in it! See if they can tell the difference and maybe like ya’ll’s food better…. :) Hope that helps! :)

  6. sarah July 3, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    i used to buy alvarado street bakery products, but then i noticed that in addition to sprouted wheat their bread contains a lot of added vital wheat gluten, which seems like it would cancel out many of the benefits of using the sprouted wheat, since the sprouting is supposed to make the gluten more digestible.

    their products are softer than the food for life varieties (which is why i used to buy them), but i think that this is because of the added gluten.

  7. Joli S July 2, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    VERY helpful post! Totally wish I’d found this sort of info all in one place when we were first starting to make healthier changes and choices! I’m sharing this on my blog and point people here! Thank you, Lindsay!

  8. Audrey July 1, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    This post is so helpful! Thanks for sharing. I started reading your blog fairly recently and love all that you have to share. Blessings!

  9. Nikki July 1, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    Hi! Thank you for sharing all your wealth of information on this website. I really enjoy it and you have helped my family! Would you be willing to post a list of ingredients you try to avoid when purchasing items when subs are not available. I’m aware of High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, MSG, and food dyes, nitrates, any other major things to avoid? Thank you!

  10. Allie @ This Precious Life June 30, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    I love this list & I’m sure I will reference it at some point on my blog! :)

    One thing I have noticed about Sprouted Bread products is some contain Soy Lethicin, which is an ingredient I most definitely avoid. In my experience, Food for Life’s products that are packaged in an orange color bag, do *not* have Soy Lethicin in them.

  11. Erin June 30, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    Super helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to post this!

  12. Sarah June 30, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    What’s wrong with buttermilk?

    • Elizabeth B. June 30, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

      I don’t think anything is necessarily wrong with buttermilk. I get organic buttermilk from Azure Standard. I think Lindsay’s point was the more you can make from home from scratch, the better. Cheaper too!

      • Allie @ This Precious Life June 30, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

        You can actually make your own cultured buttermilk too!

        Kefir especially & yogurt too are generally much better for you though, due to the high amounts of pro-biotics & healthy bacteria. :)

        • Sarah July 1, 2011 at 2:02 am #

          You can start with raw milk, separate the cream, and leave that cream out to sit until it smells sour. Both the butter and buttermilk you make from churning that cream are delicious (though the buttermilk does take some getting used to :-) ).

      • Lindsay July 2, 2011 at 6:59 am #

        Yah, I wasn’t saying buttermilk was bad for sure. I just like to substitute it for something more nutritious – like kefir or yogurt. It also improves the texture to use kefir or yogurt in replacement for buttermilk and they are guaranteed cultured products which is essential if you are soaking. If you do use buttermilk, you just want to make sure it is cultured.

    • Annie C. December 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

      True buttermilk is nothing like the buttermilk we buy in the grocery store. It is the by-product of making butter, and it is watery and in my opinion, a little funny tasting. You can make one “generation” of buttermilk with the buttermilk you buy in the grocery store. Take one part buttermilk and 4 parts milk, mix well, let it sit out (unrefrigerated) for 24 hours, and that’s it. More than one generation can not be made because the grocery store buttermilk is made from skim milk, and lactic acid is added in to it. The bacteria necessary to make the buttermilk is not the same for 2nd generation. The same thing is true if you make your own yogurt – you can make it with yogurt from the store, but only one generation because the bacterias change with the next generation. If you make yogurt from a yogurt starter, you can get one or two more generations out of it.

      I love buttermilk – and this stretches it a little bit.

  13. Alisha M. June 30, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    How almost all the Asian cultures eat white rice and they are typically thinner and healthier than us Americans. However, doctors and foodies advise Americans to stay away from white rice and eat brown instead?

    • Lindsay June 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

      I think its more about the processed fast food sedentary culture of America that makes us unhealthy. From my experience overseas in Asian countries, yes, they eat alot of white rice, but they also eat vegetables and meats, all of which are usually locally grown. Brown rice simply has more nutritional value.

      • Elizabeth B. June 30, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

        Isn’t that the truth! Our ancestors grew up on a “meat and potatos” diet and they were generally much thinner than we are as a society now. All the conveniences of the modern supermarket and lunch line are literally killing us.

        Thanks again, Lindsay, for all the knowledge you share.

  14. Linda June 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Yay for making things healthy. What a great encouragement. I feel so good when my kiddos eat stuff that’s good for them. :)
    http://mamamiamcmasters.blogspot.com/2011/06/rainbow-gathering-and-its-language.html

  15. Sarah June 30, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! These last few posts have been so educational. Food is the thing I struggle with in the home, and these posts are simple and inspiring. I have two little ones a little younger than yours (same distance apart :) and it is vital to me to start to implement natural recipes and foods in our diet. It’s just all a new concept to me though, and changing our routines more in this direction is what I’m trying to wrap my head around. Praise God that we are not left ignorant in a world of terrible food. He cares for us!!

  16. jengod June 30, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Awesome post.

  17. Linda June 30, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    Pacific Foods has a great line of ‘cream of’ soups that are not in cans. I refuse to buy anything in a can. We have also replaced our tomato pastes and tomato sauces with ones in jars.

    Thanks for the list of substitutions! Those are great!

  18. Suzanne June 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Two of my sons have milk allergies so I’ve had to adapt some things in our diet (others we just omit). We use margarine instead of butter for him but I don’t like doing it because I know it’s terrible. What can I use in place of butter? This may have already been answered in the comments but I just haven’t read them all super closely. I’m assuming that for baking I could use the solid form of coconut oil….but is there anything I could use for butter when I’m trying to replace the taste of butter, like on toast? It’s not a big deal; we can just omit. I’m just curious. And if I can’t just replace butter with solid coconut oil in baking please let me know! Thanks!

    • Lindsay June 30, 2011 at 11:01 am #

      You can certainly replace butter with coconut oil in baking but there is really no healthy version to replace for toast and such. That is where you would best just have to avoid it.

      • EPastor July 1, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

        I also use coconut oil on my toast and I love it. Granted it doesn’t necessarily taste like butter, but it provides a similar effect and is a delightful change.

    • Rebecca January 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

      what about ghee. most milk problems are with the lactose. ghee is refined and does not have the lactose. something to look into.

    • Big Dave January 31, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

      There are two things you can use as a substitute:

      First is GHEE, which is a type of clarified butter. You heat butter until the milk solids and much of the moisture comes out of it. What is left is, essentially, is butter oil. Since the milk solids are gone, even those who are lactose intolerant can eat it.

      The second thing you can do is culture and churn your own butter. Very easy. Search online for recipes. You add yogurt or kefir to cream and let it ferment at room temperature for 24 hours. Then you whip it in your mixer until the buttermilk and the butter separate. You wash the butter in cold water and there you are – cultured butter, which is OK for most dairy adverse people. AND, you get free buttermilk as a byproduct. Win-win!

  19. Jessica June 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    Hey loved the post but I have a couple questions :-) my husband loves choc chip cookies so I tried subsituting rapadura and they tasted aweful would love to know how to make them still taste good but not using white flour or sugar :-) and second I make ur soaked whole wheat bread but my husband likes the store bought whole wheat cuz it’s soft, is there a way to get my bread somewhat close to store bought

    • Lindsay June 30, 2011 at 11:03 am #

      Hmmm….that’s very strange. Something else must have gone wrong. I use rapadura or sucanat all the time in my cookies and it never affected the flavor like that. For homemade bread, try white whole wheat flour (also known as hard white spring wheat, I believe) for a softer texture. The dough enhancers are important for that as well.

    • Allie @ This Precious Life June 30, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

      I had the same problem when we first switched to rapadura. My husband liked the cookies (or whatever I made) but I thought otherwise. I started using 1/2 rapadura & 1/2 raw honey & gradually increased the rapadura until our tastes adapted. We *love* it now!

      I should mention though, I have found that sucanat isn’t quite as strong as rapadura so you may want to try that too. :)

  20. Living So Abundantly June 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    First I want to tell you that my husband and I really enjoy your soaked whole wheat pizza dough recipe! YUM! It is filling, which means it’s serving its purpose. I do have a question. Do you have any suggestions about cheese substitutes or how to flavor things differently. We both like cheese, but it does affect triglyceride levels. Thank you so much!

    • Lindsay June 30, 2011 at 11:05 am #

      I use raw cheddar cheese for our pizzas and found that to be the best option. I am not aware of any cheese substitutes that would be considered “real” food. ;)

      • Living So Abundantly July 1, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

        Thank you so much!

      • Melanie July 19, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

        I’ve heard of raw cashew butter that tastes like a cheese sauce and hemp butter that tastes like cheese as well. They’re definitely healthy! :)

  21. Kristin June 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Great post! It’s encouraging to see all the things we are doing right, even though there are several big ones we need to change! Things I’m most hoping to do differently are sugars, grass fed beef and brown rice pastas.

  22. Abby June 29, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    Hi Lindsay!

    I really appreciate your list of substitutions! The only thing that I would do differently is Worcestershire sauce. For me, vinegar just can’t give the same punch as Worcestershire sauce, so I make my own:

    1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    2 tablespoons water
    1 teaspoon molasses
    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
    1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon black pepper

    Bring to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, simmer for a minute, cool, and store.

    This gives about the same flavor as the bottled recipe, and stores well for multiple recipes!

  23. Danielle June 29, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    I have a couple church community cookbooks, and most of the recipes call for condensed creamy soup…I am so definitely going to try substituting sour cream because I love sour cream!

  24. paula June 29, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    I second the question about peanut oil…. doesn’t SF recommend it? We are taking steps to better, more nutritious food–been making our own bacon and just bought a share in a grass fed cow!

  25. Jennifer June 29, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Thanks so much for this handy reference! I want to point out the suggestion of substituting homemade stock for bullion is such a good one. It tastes SO much better, is far more nutritious, and if you make stock from leftover chicken bones, it is practically free too!

  26. Amanda June 29, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    What a great summary! I’ve been slowly taking these steps throughout the past 2 years. Thanks especially for the link to the coconut oil mayo – I’ve just started thinking about finding a healthier mayo, but don’t have an egg source I trust enough to cook with raw eggs.

  27. Lacey Wilcox June 29, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    This was great!! Love all of this! Thanks for such a great list! Any tips of substituting honey in baking?

    • Lindsay June 29, 2011 at 11:48 am #

      You can easily substitute honey in baking as follows: 1/2 cup honey to 1 cup sugar. It is also recommended to reduce other liquids by 1/4 cup.

  28. Debra June 29, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    How about a BBQ sauce? Any healthy alternatives or recipes for this?

    • Elizabeth B. June 29, 2011 at 10:25 am #

      Try this one:

      1/2 cup butter or olive oil
      1/2 cup honey or Sucanat
      1 cup chili sauce
      1 cup vinegar
      1 tablespoon chopped onion
      1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
      4 lemon slices
      1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

      Or there is this one as well: http://www.halleethehomemaker.com/2009/09/kellys-bbq-sauce/

      If you read both the recipes, you’ll get the idea of what types of ingredients to use and then just play around to get a recipe that you like.

      • Debra June 29, 2011 at 11:32 am #

        Thanks! My daughter is diabetic, do you suppose I could leave out the honey entirely and maybe add some stevia for sweetness? Stevia wouldn’t replace the bulk though.

        • Kristin June 29, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

          It seems like it would be hard to make BBQ sauce without sweeteners, but there are lots of other BBQ seasonings you could do instead. Rubs are great and you don’t have to add sugar. There are also vinegar or mustard based sauces that are good too.

    • Ambritt June 29, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

      We make our BBQ sauce from scratch and here is the recipe that I use:

      32oz Ketchup (I get organic at TJ’s)
      1 C Sucanat
      1/2 C organic molasses
      1 small onion (finely chopped)
      1/8 tsp pepper
      1/4 C organic apple cider vinegar
      1/2 tsp liquid smoke

      Simmer on low for approx. 2 hours.

      It is DELICIOUS!

  29. megan June 29, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    I like to use grapeseed oil (expeller pressed) for high-heat cooking in addition to using olive oil, coconut oil and butter for other cooking needs. Grapeseed oil has a very clean flavor that lets the food’s flavor shine through and has great nutritional properties as well. It’s my favorite by far for popcorn!

  30. Elizabeth B. June 29, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    I have often heard to stay away from products that contain palm oil, palm kernel oil, or coconut oil are bad for you because they are very high in saturated fats and trans fats.

    I will top ice cream with Smucker’s Magic Shell, but then a friend of mine pointed out the ingredients below are terrible for you:

    SUGAR, SUNFLOWER OIL, COCONUT OIL, COCOA, CHOCOLATE

    Huh? – the ingredients seem whole and natural to me as far as a dessert option goes.

    If my friend is stating that this product that contains coconut oil is very, very unhealthy why do you and many other natural foods blogs state that coconut oil is a healthy oil and great to use in baking, frying, etc?

    I am hoping I am not the only one confused when it comes oils in our treats. I thought that this topping would be healthy(er) made with sugar and coconut oil compared to something with partial hydrogenated soybean oil and corn syrup.

    Help! :-)

    • Jennifer June 29, 2011 at 10:03 am #

      Elizabeth,
      Nutrition is such a confusing topic because for years experts have told us that saturated fats are bad for you and that they cause heart disease. In fact, studies have shown that people who eat diets higher in saturated fats are not at a higher risk for heart disease. Saturated fat and cholesterol are actually both very important in your diet. They help maintain the integrity of your cells, produce hormones, support your immune system, and heal your body.

      Trans fats are the fats that we are learning are very bad for you. Everyone agrees on that. Trans fats are found in margarine, crisco, etc. Coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil DO NOT contain trans fats. Trans fats are created in the lab, they don’t exist in nature. A food only contains trans fats if it has been tampered with by people.

      Coconut oil is great to use in baking and cooking because it is stable at high temperatures, so you don’t have to worry about it oxidizing like many oils commonly used in cooking. I hope this is helpful, but please go ahead and do some research of your own. Nourishing Traditions and The Weston Price Foundation are great places to start :)

      • Elizabeth B. June 29, 2011 at 10:18 am #

        When you say “oxidizing like many oil commonly used in cooking” – what does that mean? What’s an oil that does this? Why is oxidization of oil bad? Again, I know nothing about what oils to cook it……I was raised that peanut oil was the best to cook food it. Is peanut oil healthy to cook in?

        • Lindsay June 29, 2011 at 11:42 am #

          Peanut oil is not recommended because of its high percentage of omega-6 fatty acids. Read more about healthy fats and all the processes of oxidation here.

    • Lindsay June 29, 2011 at 11:51 am #

      I agree that the oils issue can surely be confusing. You can read more about coconut oil from the Weston A Price article on A New Look at Coconut Oil.

  31. Lisa Beth W. June 29, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    Lindsay, have you heard of virgin palm oil/red palm oil? I have heard good things about it, such as how high it is in carotene. Tropical Traditions sells it. Have you ever used it?

    • Lindsay June 29, 2011 at 11:52 am #

      I have not personally tried it because I don’t have an easy source for it. But yes, it is a good option as well. I just use coconut oil in its solid state for all these things.

  32. Wendy June 29, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    I have a couple questions…I am making all of our bread from scratch using whole wheat flour…if I do not soak my flour are we losing lots of nutrients?
    Also, I am interested in trying the sucanat…can it replace white sugar easily in baking? The Azure Standard website keeps saying that it replaces brown suger. Thanks.

    • Danielle B June 29, 2011 at 10:37 am #

      Yep sucanat can be substituted 1:1.

    • Lindsay June 29, 2011 at 11:54 am #

      No, you are not losing lots of nutrients. Soaking assists in making the nutrients more digestible to the body. It is very helpful but takes some time to adapt and incorporate into your lifestyle. I try to soak as often as I can but honestly, still using whole wheat as a whole foods ingredients is the more important issue in my opinion. Others would defer. Yes, you can replace sucanat 1:1 ratio in baking. I use it as my only sugar option in my baking and it always works great.

  33. Joy June 29, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    Another tip for those new to using whole wheat–use white whole wheat flour. I’ve been using that for over a year & swap it for the entire amount of all-purpose flour called for in my recipes. The end product is lighter than that from the more commonly used red whole wheat but it’s still whole wheat. I love it!

    • Lindsay June 29, 2011 at 11:54 am #

      Yes, a great recommendation!

  34. Kristen Bryant June 29, 2011 at 6:24 am #

    Love this post! It’s such a great help to those just starting to change their lifestyle and eating habits. Our family had to make some diet changes back in October due to my sons asthma and I spent hours upon hours researching what you have listed here. Great resource!

  35. Ashley June 29, 2011 at 6:09 am #

    What a helpful post- so many great tips in one place. I do some of these things already, in my kitchen, but I hadn’t yet thought of using aluminum-free baking powder and soda. There’s aluminum in there? My goodness! And I’m very happy to have a handy list of replacements for white flour, too. Thanks for sharing!
    I just found your blog for the first time today, and I love it.

  36. Sara June 29, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    Thank you, thank you for this post! You pulling all the information together in one easy-to-digest post is very helpful. And you made it sound so simple too!

    • Elizabeth B. June 29, 2011 at 8:34 am #

      Azure Standard sells a big tub of Rumford aluminum-free baking powder for very cheap.

  37. Katherine June 29, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    I have taken away white sugar from our house, but we live in the south and LOVE our sweet tea. I have been replacing white sugar with turbinado sugar for a while. I did not see that listed above. Is that also bad to use? Should I replace with something else?

    • Debra June 29, 2011 at 8:55 am #

      I have recently begun making green tea. While I didn’t mind plain old tea, I did add some Sweet Leaf Stevia to the pitcher one time and was pleasantly surprised! So stevia might be an excellent alternative to white sugar for you.

    • Lindsay June 29, 2011 at 11:56 am #

      Turbinado (also known as raw sugar) is just less refined than white sugar. It does have a small amount of nutrients left in it. It does metabolize the same as white sugar. It is better than white if you are looking for something that is closer to its natural state, but I don’t personally use it. I try to avoid the refining process as much as possible. Sucanat/rapadura is unrefined cane sugar. It is processed less than turbinado or raw sugar and a lot less than white sugar. It has more nutrients than turbinado or raw sugar. The natural molasses is still intact, and makes an excellent substitute for brown sugar. It does metabolize slower than white sugar.

  38. Jessica June 29, 2011 at 3:59 am #

    Just curious by why does maple syrup have to be from Vermont or Canada? I get mine from Western NY where I grew up and my uncle still makes it. My syrup is so dark it looks a bit like thin molasses. I LOVE IT. Is it somehow not as nutritious as that from Vermont or Canada?? Are the trees or process different? I really am curious.

    • Lindsay June 29, 2011 at 4:39 am #

      I am sure your source is perfectly safe. It is definitely wonderful to know your source personally and their practices. Sue Gregg recommends Vermont or Canadian syrup because it is free from formaldehyde residue which contaminates the sap. She also mentions that there may be high levels of lead in some maple syrup, so she recommends Canadian as the safest source. This information is provided in her breakfasts cookbook, but I have heard rumors that formaldehyde is a non-issue now, but I cannot say for sure.

      • Jessica July 7, 2011 at 3:44 am #

        Lindsay,
        I am at home and asked my mom about these issues because I did want to make sure my source was safe. She said that the formaldehyde was from a tablet they used to put in the trees so the hole would not close up. Once they found that it put formaldehyde in the syrup most stopped using it. I say most because I have no idea if everyone stopped or if they are even available anymore. The lead was from the old taps that were made from lead. Most taps are now plastic so this is also a non issue for most suppliers. I would say that most small town individual operations are safe. However, at least now if you want to use a different supplier you can ask if they use these tablets and what their taps are made out of. It is a lot easier than asking if their syrup has formaldehyde and/or lead. I hope this helps… It was an interesting discovery for me. :+)

  39. JanaC2 June 29, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    I was forced to adapt all our recipes to accommodate food allergies, but (in doing so) was also able to increase the nutrient density. Rather than use high priced specialty ingredients, I find ways to substitute pumpkin or sweet potato purees for shortening, dairy and eggs. I add the vegetable purees that I make for my daughter’s breakfast (hey, she eats it) to everything from ground meat (for tacos) to oatmeal and “cookies” (made from oats and mashed bananas). I make my own rice/quinoa milk and snack foods from organic ingredients, too. It has been a learning experience (with many culinary “flops”) but we are healthier for it!

    • Lindsay June 29, 2011 at 4:39 am #

      I’d love to hear how you go about this! Any tips or recommendations to share?

  40. Ashten June 29, 2011 at 3:31 am #

    Thank you SO much for this post! I forwarded it on to some other ladies in my family. It’s so nice to have a master list like this to refer to! Many blessings to you Lindsay.
    ~Ashten :)