Subs and Stand-Ins

It’s been way too long since I’ve blogged! Sadly, that seems like the way my past couple of posts have begun. I’m going to try and be better about it because I enjoy journaling like this so much. When I was a college student studying in Paris for a semester, I kept a weekly blog (and was religious about it) that my Dad later turned into a book for me. I came across it the other day and it brought back so many memories of things I’d done and feelings that I’d forgotten. I wonder if one day I’ll look back on this blog the same way? My life has changed so much just in the short two years since I started this blog, and it’s fun ┬áto look back and see how my cooking tastes have changed, too.

When I uploaded my latest picture batch from my camera, I realized how many things I’d made recently that I hadn’t written about. There was also a common theme that I thought I’d compile this montage under…substitutions. Both accidental and purposeful.

Flour

This one is both accidental and purposeful. I bake and cook a lot with flours, so I’ve made an effort recently to be more careful about the flours I buy. I cook with 100% whole wheat flour as often as I can — because I think it’s important to retain the full scope of nutrients from the wheat grain — and keep a collection of other whole wheat flours in the freezer (I especially like adding wheat bran to bread/muffin recipes and recently discovered brown rice flour, which has a nice consistency). I also never buy bleached flour anymore.

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But until a month or two ago, I still kept a supply of unbleached refined white flour for those recipes where substituting whole wheat flour(s) didn’t work, or which required a blend of white/wheat. Erik was doing the grocery shopping and picked up white wheat flour, which I discovered has a similar nutritional profile as whole wheat but the milder flavor of white flour. I now use this stuff when white flour is called for, and split it with whole wheat flours in old stand-by recipes like my pizza dough (which is still on a pretty frequent rotation these days for homemade pizza).

You can’t tell the difference! This is one of those nutrition upgrades that you’ll never even notice, but eating whole grains over refined is so important.

Chia Seeds, etc.

I’m not trying to go on and on about chia seeds here — in fact I kind of get annoyed in general by these types of trends, and am sick of seeing so many kale/chia/quinoa/amaranth/whatever the next “superfood” turns out to be in the blogosphere and magazines. *But* at the same time, I’m trying to work my way through many of the nuts, seeds, and grains that I’ve accumulated. Does anybody else out there have lots of little bags of things like cous cous, lentils, and rice everywhere?

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So, this past week I’ve attacked my chia seed canister and have been adding it in to lots of things I make. Today, instead of poppyseeds in this delicious Lemon Poppyseed Muffin recipe, I just used chia. They provided the same great taste and consistency and you’d never even notice!

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Meatless

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Anybody who has cooked eggplant, mushroom, or bean-based dishes knows that you don’t need meat to get that rich hearty taste. These lentil tacos knocked it out of the park, and I’ve made this recipe three times in the past two weeks. It’s wonderful because it’s so spicy and savory, and really hits the spot when you’re craving taco night. The best part is that it probably won’t require a trip to the grocery store. Just don’t skimp on the spices in this one! I’m generous with the onion in this recipe and use a heaping teaspoon of regular chili powder (because I don’t stock a lot different varieties of chili powder). Try this recipe, please!

Non-canned soup

This winter I’ve been trying to make an extra effort to make soup on the weekends and freeze half of it, so that I can avoid buying canned soup (which I find pretty unsatisfying in general, and much too salty). And I can’t tell you how many times it’s been so nice to just pull a container out of the freezer and stick it in a pot to heat up!

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This creamy tomato soup is by far one of my favorite recipes, and I’ve blogged about it before. This week when we were getting snow dumped on us, I bought a can of crushed tomatoes instead of a can of soup and whipped this up instead. Yum.

Please share any of your favorite substitutions in the comments!

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