Easy, healthy pantry ingredient swaps

By The Health News Team | June 3, 2020
Sprinkling flour on dough

In light of COVID-19 and the new normal it has set, many people are shopping less and cooking more. This means packed pantries, less fresh produce and inevitably running out of needed ingredients. It can also mean empty grocery store shelves for “hot” items such as yeast and flour.

We asked Erin Peisach, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and wellness education specialist with Sharp Rees-Stealy, to offer her favorite pantry swaps for cooking healthy meals when you’re missing ingredients.

Out of: Pasta
Try: Zucchini noodles (“zoodles”), spaghetti squash or pasta alternatives (such as pasta made from rice, quinoa, beans or lentil flour)
Erin says: “These are all healthy, tasty ways to replace pasta, whether you’re out of it or simply want a change of pace. Once you add sauce and Parmesan, they will taste just like the original. Plus, these are all options that are often lower in carbohydrates and higher in fiber than pasta.”

Out of: Potatoes
Try: Cauliflower
Erin says: “Depending on what you are using it for, cauliflower offers the same hearty feel, with fewer carbohydrates and calories. Dress it up as a healthy side using salt, pepper and olive oil — or combine it with milk and a little butter for a fancy mash.”

Out of: Peanut butter
Try: Almond butter or sunflower butter
Erin says: “Sunflower and almond butters contain healthy fats and are both a good source of protein. You could also try having PB2 on hand in your pantry, which is dried peanut butter powder that you reconstitute with water.”

Out of: Canned beans
Try: Dried beans
Erin says: “Stores are rarely out of canned beans, but if they are, dried beans are a great alternative. In fact, you get a bigger bang for your buck. Try cooking dried beans in batches, so you can freeze them and use them later.”

Out of: White sugar
Try: Brown sugar, bananas, applesauce or soaked dates
Erin says: “In many recipes, it is OK to switch out white sugar for approved-for-baking alternatives. But if you’re out of sugar completely, bananas, applesauce or dates can add needed sweetness to baked goods.”

Out of: Flour
Try: Almond flour, coconut flour or gluten-free flour blends
Erin says: “Some people avoid flour alternatives out of fear that they will not taste or perform the same as flour. But as long as you get the ratio right, flours such as almond or coconut are great substitutes for the real deal. Another option is blending rolled oats in a coffee grinder to make your own oat flour.”

Out of: Olive oil
Try: Canola, grapeseed or avocado oil
Erin says: “Most oils are interchangeable, so if you find grapeseed, canola or avocado oil in stock, you can replace them 1:1 in a recipe. You can also use butter, coconut oil or margarine if you have them, but keep in mind they could slightly change the taste of your recipe.”

Out of: Maple syrup
Try: Honey, canned fruit or frozen fruit
Erin says: “Honey or the juice from canned or thawed fruit can add a touch of sweetness to pancakes. Fresh fruit is even better! Or you could try pancake recipes that are naturally sweet because their batter contains ingredients such as mashed bananas, applesauce, pureed butternut squash or pumpkin.”

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