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10-Second Recipes: Substitute Lots More Than Just Ingredients

(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)

By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate

Recipes often give helpful options for ingredient substitutions or extensive variations. Savvy cooks can save time by looking for other changes that can be implemented.

Use your cooking knowledge to determine what steps can be altered without affecting a good final result. A vegetarian recipe I recently made inspired me. I had all of the ingredients on hand, which included a potato, apple, eggs, cheese and olive oil. I had lent out my spiralizer and couldn't spiralize (make into thin noodle form) the potato and apple.

Since I read the entire recipe first, I knew I could make do. I wanted the fiber of the potato (the only part of the recipe that is cooked ahead in a skillet before mixing with the other ingredients and lightly frying as patties), so I saved time by not peeling it as called for. I cut the potato and apple into thin, small pieces I could tell would work in the recipe. I also don't relish shredding cheese, so I instead quickly cut it very thin with a cheese slicer and knew it would still melt as needed in the patties I was making.

The recipe's writer, Ali Maffucci, author of 'Inspiralized: Turn Vegetables into Healthy, Creative, Satisfying Meals', called hers buns that imitated a grilled cheese sandwich. Mine, which like hers, were cooked in olive oil in a pan on each side, emerged more like potato pancakes, hash browns or mini quiches. They were delicious.

Following are some additional ideas for tasks that might be ripe for changing in a recipe if you decide the final result would not be jeopardized.
  • Anytime you are interested in keeping more fiber within your dish (and saving time), don't peel your washed fruits or vegetables, even when called for in a recipe.

  • Try to always purchase the type of sausages that have no casings that later have to be removed.

  • Unless you think it will make a difference, before cooking, break dry pasta, like spaghetti, into smaller, easier to work with (and eat!) pieces.

  • If recipes call for more than one bowl or pan consider if you really need duplicates or could make it work with one each.

  • Think back decades ago to how your relatives who were good cooks would have made the same recipe without the availability of today's modern ingredients, cooking utensils and appliances and, if some of those steps save time or replace items you don't have, utilize them instead.

Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The ideas are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!

QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: If you want to explore the aforementioned subject further and don't only want to rely on a given recipe to hopefully cover exactly the change you would like to make, 'The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 6,500 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment, and Techniques' by David Joachim continues to be an excellent resource. The IACP winner is easy to use since it is organized alphabetically. A good gift for new cooks, the book is so comprehensive it will most likely also be used often by seasoned chefs.

Lisa Messinger  at Creators Syndicate is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet(Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on
Tags: Budget, Parenting, Recipes, Simple Savings, Stay-at-Home Mom
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