This 2017 you should expand your culinary horizons to improve your health. According to the National Institutes of Health, people cook far less now than they did in 1965. Instead, everyone’s eating out, which researchers say is less healthy and contributes to the rise in food-related illnesses plaguing America. Learning to cook with different ingredients boosts your culinary versatility, which makes you more likely to cook rather than order delivery.
Here are a few healthy substitute ingredients you can use:
1. Vegetable Stock
If you’ve run out of meat stock for your soups or stews, you can use vegetable stock without losing any or little flavor. You can buy ready-made vegetable stock at the grocery, or make your own. Finely-cut mushrooms and kelp can taste almost like ground beef in dishes. You can add Korean fermented soybean paste to give it an umami flavor.
If you want a traditional vegetable stock, chop carrots, bay leaf, leeks, onions, celery, thyme, and peppercorn in one-inch pieces to create a crunchy texture. Fry in a pot for 5 to 10 minutes with frequent stirring, then add water and salt and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain out the vegetables.
These two vegetable stocks work great for ranch style beans instead of using meat stock. If you’re making ranch style beans, you can also substitute pinto beans for kidney beans or red beans, which both have similar taste.
Even if you have meat stock on hand, it’s best if you use vegetable stock. Meat has been linked to an increasing your risk for cancer and can be high in bad cholesterol. Vegetables are antioxidant-rich, which helps combat cancer, and they’re generally very low in bad cholesterol.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
If you planned on making a lemon-spritzed meal but forgot to buy lemons (happens to all of us), then you can substitute with apple cider vinegar. Dishes like lemon chicken, halibut prepared with lemon, risotto, and many others, will all taste similar or even better if you substitute lemon with apple cider vinegar (ACV). ACV has a much stronger sour flavor than lemon’s milder sting, but that’s nothing diluting ACV with water can’t fix.
Although lemon is very healthy, ACV can carry more health benefits than lemon. ACV has been found to suppress your appetite, which can lead to weight loss. It’s been found to lower your blood sugar levels after eating, and researchers have said this makes it a viable glucose management treatment for diabetics. It’s also good for your skin and can alleviate heartburn.
3. Cabbage Buns
You’re throwing a barbecue party or you’re hankering for a burger so you light up the grill and start flipping some patties – but you find you don’t have any hamburger buns! That’s okay if you have cabbage in stock. Cabbage leaves are a surprisingly great substitute for buns. Cabbage has a firm texture, not unlike taco shells or wraps, which makes it similar to a bun.
First you remove and discard the outer leaves, leaving the inner leaves for you to use as your sandwich bread. Thoroughly wash the raw inner leaves and then place your beef patty, cheese, and other toppings onto one leaf and cover with another! Raw cabbage leaves are nice and crispy, which makes them an excellent substitute for taco shells. They can also be used as wraps.
Cabbage is rich in B vitamins and vitamin C, which both promote the growth of a healthier beard. Doctors also found that taking vitamin C also helps you recover after surgery, which means eating food wrapped in cabbage buns after an operation can heal you. Unfortunately, your regular hamburger bun doesn’t really have any significant amounts of vitamins and minerals – it mostly has salt, fat, and carbs.
For health reasons, you should really make cabbage buns your permanent bun choice. But if you really can’t have your burger without an actual bun, you can use your cabbage leaves to make runzas. Bierocks (also known as runzas) are baked buns stuffed with shredded cabbage, onions, peppers, and even ground beef. You make dough with a little flour and eggs and stuff it with these ingredients and bake in the oven.
4. Canned Salmon
On the other hand, if you’re hankering for a burger but don’t have any beef patties to grill, you can use canned salmon. Here’s how:
- Open up two cans and drain the salmon with a strainer.
- Remove any bones.
- Finely cut two red onions and 1 large sweet pepper.
- Beat two eggs in a bowl and mix in the salmon, onions, pepper, and half a cup of bread crumbs.
- Coat your hands with flour and take a bit of the mixture and ball it with your hands.
- Flatten the mixture into your desired patty size and bread them with the leftover crumbs.
- You’re ready to make some burgers!
Salmon patties should be your permanent replacement for beef patties. Again, beef causes cancer, but salmon is filled with cancer-fighting antioxidants. Salmon’s famous antioxidant, astaxanthin, is so powerful it has been found to act as an internal sunscreen that protects your skin from the sun’s UV rays if you ingest it within 24 hours of sun exposure. Beef can’t do that! And unlike beef’s heart-clogging bad fats, salmon’s healthy omega-3 fatty acids nourish your brain and protect your heart.
2017 is here and it’s time to level up your cooking skills. Try making these healthy substitutions to your dishes once in a while and you’ll be eating healthier. It will also make your meals more fun and give your routine foods a little bit of an edge.
Featured photo credit: zoli2003 via pixabay.com