Healthier Substitutions for Standard Baking & Cooking Ingredients
Find some of the following online, at the grocery store, or at the health food store.
Take a field trip with the family!
Have you even stepped foot in a health food store? If not, please take the time to visit one and wander the aisles looking at all the great baking and cooking ingredients available. Usually the employees are eager to answer any questions you may have. It’s also a great place to get locally grown, organic produce.
To find out more about each ingredient, CLICK on it to go to your link to better health.
1. BEANS – the lining in cans can leech harmful chemicals into the food contained in them. Dried beans are inexpensive and easy to make. Just throw them in the crock-pot with water or organic broth and leave them on warm all day long, no need to soak them first. Or find recipes on this blog. Buy beans in the organic bulk bins at the health food store or order online from a company like Bob’s Red Mill.
2. BREAD – sprouted grain bread contains protein and is a better choice. Look for other sprouted grain products like cinnamon-raisin bread, buns, English muffins, pocket bread, and ready made pizza crusts.
3. BEEF – grass-fed, free-range, organic beef is best
4. BROTH – making broth condenses ingredients, you don’t want a toxic soup of pesticides, growth hormones, etc.
- VEGETABLE – organic, low sodium w/o added oil and/or sweeteners, read label, Pacific brand
- MUSHROOM – organic w/o added oil and/or sweeteners, please read labels, Pacific brand good
- CHICKEN – organic low sodium w/o added oil/sweeteners or organic NO-CHICKEN broth, Pacific brand
- BEEF – organic low sodium w/o added oil and/or sweeteners, please read labels, Pacific brand good
- Coconut Butter, Artisan brand is a good one
- Fruit substitutions from Krista’s list – best choice for better health
6. CHEESE – good quality, organic hard cheeses like parmesan. Also, organic low-fat mozzarella , feta cheese, and goat cheese. Organic cheese is best because it is growth-hormone and anti-biotic free. Or for a dairy-free, cheese substitute try nutritional yeast.
7. CHIPS & TORTILLA CHIPS – baked not fried! Guiltless Gourmet makes a great line of tortilla chips using organic non-GMO corn. Check your local health food store or their website for where to buy. Vacuum dehydrated vegetable chips like Sunwell snack packs for kids lunches are great. Or vacuum processed potato chips like Terra Blues. Remember potato chips are made from a vegetable…potatoes! You can easily make baked vegetable chip right at home, recipe coming soon.
8. CHOCOLATE – raw chocolate has more antioxidants than green tea. Chocolate is actually very good for you, it’s the things that are added to chocolate to make chocolate bars that are unhealthy. Enjoy unsweetened, raw cacao powder like Dagoba brand or unsweetened, raw cacao nibs like Navitas Naturals brand in smoothies and other recipes. This is not the same as cocoa powder from the grocery store which is Dutch-processed with alkaline and not the best choice.
9. COFFEE – caffeine free is best, decaf still has 50% caffeine and is processed with harsh chemicals. Try using roasted chicory from the organic bulk spice bins at the health food store in your coffee maker instead. Or order roasted chicory online. Also, good iced, roasted chicory root contains healthy prebiotics. Why caffeine isn’t good for you, is explained in this article.
10. COLD BREAKFAST CEREAL – if you don’t have the time to make a hot breakfast cereal with a healthy whole grain or don’t have time to make breakfast period, then these Food For Life sprouted grain cold cereals are a good alternative and great with a healthy nut milk. Read about cows milk verses nut milk in this article.
11. EGGS – local eggs or store-bought eggs from organic, cage-free chickens are more nutritious with your best bet being organic eggs containing Omega-3 essential fatty acids. And please visit the Humane Society website and sign the Farm Animal Protection petition to reduce the suffering of animals raised for meat, eggs, and milk.
12. FLOUR – put oatmeal in the food processor and process it then substitute for white flour in recipes. You can use gluten-free oats if you have a gluten sensitivity. You can find the flours below in the organic bulk bins at the health food store or order them online from companies like Bob’s Red Mill. Keep foods containing flours to a minimum, read about the glycemic index and glycemic load, blood sugar spikes, and weight gain in this article. And please be sure to experiment with some or all of the following flours, you’ll be pleasantly surprised:
- Brown rice
- *Bulgur wheat, please buy organic so it’s non-GMO
- Garbanzo Bean
- *Kamut, please buy organic so it’s non-GMO
- Oat, you can buy gluten-free
- Rye, stone-ground
- *Spelt, please buy organic, so it’s non-GMO
- Sprouted grain flour
- Teff or gluten-free Teff
- *Whole wheat, stone-ground, please buy organic so it’s non-GMO
13. FRUIT – locally grown best and organic, especially if it’s on dirty dozen list of most heavily sprayed produce
14. HERBS & SPICES – experiment with a wide variety of herbs and spices to flavor your food naturally. Start a fresh herb garden in pots indoors or out or add fresh herbs to your garden. Learn all about herbs and spices from About.com.
15. HOT BREAKFAST CEREALS – recipes coming soon. Find these healthy whole grains in the bulk organic bins at the health food store or order online from a company like Bob’s Red Mill. They also offer a variety of mixed whole grain hot breakfast cereals.
- Amaranth grain
- Brown rice
- Kasha or buckwheat groats – contains no wheat, not related to wheat
- Oat berries or groats
16. LEGUMES – beans and other legumes like lentils and peas are super healthy, inexpensive, and easy to make. Look for recipes on this blog. Buy legumes like split-green or yellow peas, green, red, or black lentils from the organic bulk bins at the health food store or order online from a company like Bob’s Red Mill.
17. LEVENERS – to make bread and other baked goods rise. Look for these at your local health food store or order them online from a company like Bob’s Red Mill. They also offer other baking aids.
- Baking Soda – please buy aluminum-free from health food store
- Baking Powder – please buy aluminum-free from health food store
- Guar Gum
- Xanthan Gum
- Dairy – if you are going to stick with dairy then at least use organic hormone-free, anti-biotic free, fat-free, skim-milk. We explain why nut milks are a healthier choice in this article.
- Unsweetened coconut milk like SoDelicious brand from a carton, not a can, 50 calories or less per cup.
- Unsweetened almond milk like Silk brand from a carton, it should be 50 calories or less
- Other nut milks contain oil and/or sweeteners, please read your labels.
- Soy milk is okay in moderation if it’s organic, non-GMO and unsweetened.
20. NUTS – raw, unsalted nuts are your best bet. You can sprout them to unleash the protein in them. Instructions coming soon.
21. OIL – buy cold pressed, expeller pressed or unrefined oils in dark bottles and never cook with medium-chain fatty acid oils to prevent oxidation. Eden Organics makes a nice line of unrefined, cold pressed, and expeller pressed organic oils, sold in dark bottles. Refined oils are more resistant to smoking even though unrefined oils are healthier. We explain good oils verses bad oils in this article.
- Cooking on stove-top: Avocado oil, cold-pressed, unrefined, Grapeseed oil-expeller, pressed, refined, Walnut oil, refined, Almond oil, refined, Safflower oil, high-oleic, expeller-pressed, refined
- Never Heat on stove-top: extra-virgin Olive Oil, Coconut oil, unrefined and virgin, Walnut oil, unrefined, Macadamia nut oil, unrefined, Hazelnut oil, unrefined, Flax Seed oil, Hemp oil.
22. PASTA – Krista’s pick is Quinoa pasta made with organic quinoa and corn flours. It’s the favorite for Norma and I, too. Or try whole wheat pasta, spelt pasta, or sprouted grain pasta, Krista says if you cook these al dente, they won’t spike your blood sugar. Spelt is a hardier, more nutritious wheat. This is still pasta so please eat it in moderation. Read about the glycemic index and glycemic load, blood sugar, and weight gain in this article.
24. PORK – Always buy pork from sources that treat their pigs humanely – visit the link or look for organic brands at your local health food store. And please visit the Humane Society website and sign the Farm Animal Protection petition to reduce the suffering of animals raised for meat, eggs, and milk.
25. POULTRY – organic, cage-free, hormone-free, antibiotic free, pesticide-free chicken and turkey is best. Visit the link or look for organic brands in grocery stores. Non-organic chicken is raised in inhumane conditions and harsh chemicals are used to counter this unnatural environment. Please visit the Humane Society website and sign the Farm Animal Protection petition to reduce the suffering of animals raised for meat, eggs, and milk.
26. SALT – sea salt (from evaporated sea water) and Himalayan (salt) contain minerals that are depleted from over farmed soils so this is a good way to get some of the minerals your body needs. Due to the fact that our oceans are now polluted and everything in the sea water is condensed when evaporated, I now buy Himalayan salt because it comes from underground mines.
27. SEAFOOD – wild caught, non-predatory fish have less mercury in them. Stick with wild-caught salmon, tilapia, trout, cod, haddock, herring, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, etc. Mussels, oysters, shrimp, and scallops also have lower levels of mercury than large predatory fish. Please avoid farm-raised fish and shrimp, they are grown in a toxic soup of their own waste then chemicals are added to counter the unsanitary conditions.
28. SEEDS – raw seeds and nuts are your best bet. You can sprout them to unleash the protein in them. Instructions coming soon. And don’t forget about omega-3 rich seeds, great in smoothies and shakes: hemp, chia, and flax. Also, good for you: raw pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, etc. Get them in the organic bulk bins at the health food store or order online from a company like Bob’s Red Mill.
29. SODA – we don’t have to tell you that soda and diet soda is not good for you, right? Try natural sodas made with sparkling mineral water and a variety of fruits including fresh crushed berries and fresh squeezed citrus juices. You can make your own at home and if you absolutely must sweeten try adding 100% liquid Stevia drops. There is a new soda on the market made with Stevia, called Zevia. Please, use Stevia in moderation.
30. SOY – make sure it’s non-GMO and organic. It’s best to eat the whole food or the soy bean or edamame. If you are buying tofu look for an organic brand that does not use harsh chemicals in it’s processing. Wildwood brand makes a good one called, Sproutofu from sprouted soy beans for extra protein. Avoid processed soy products that are loaded with unhealthy chemicals, please read labels.
31. SUGAR – SWEETENERS
- Coconut or Palm Sugar– my new fav! It has a lower glycemic index and less calories than white granular sugar, an especially great substitute for brown sugar.
- Lucuma powder – especially good in frozen desserts and puddings with a fairly low glycemic index
- Honey, raw and unprocessed – refined honey has a higher glycemic index please use raw and unrefined
- Maple Syrup, Grade B but it’s processed
- Agave nectar lower glycemic index than cane sugar/white sugar but it’s processed
- Over ripe bananas especially in pudding, mousse, frozen desserts, baking
- Raisins, prunes, dates especially in baking or recipes that require simmering. Please, buy organic raisins, grapes are on the Dirty Dozen list of most heavily sprayed produce.
- Stevia – 100% natural liquid or powder – grocery store brands processed w/harsh chemicals + contain fillers
- Turbinado sugar – it is still cane sugar but it is made from the first press of the sugar cane so it’s less processed than white sugar and lower in calories.
- White sugar – if you absolutely must have it for baking then try organic cane sugar, it at least retains it’s vitamins and minerals.
- Shredded carrots – Krista’s best choice for better health, recipes coming soon.
NOTE: artificial sweeteners are not recommended please read why in this article. And please keep foods containing sugar to a minimum, read about the glycemic index and glycemic load, blood sugar spikes, and weight gain in this article.
33. THICKENING AGENTS – all natural, non-GMO. Find them at the health food store or order online from a company like Bob’s Red Mill.
- Guar Gum
- Xanthan Gum
34. TORTILLAS & CORN TORTILLAS – spouted grain tortillas and sprouted corn tortillas contain protein. And for a healthy gluten-free alternative try Pure Wraps, all natural coconut tortillas made with only 3 ingredients.
35. VEGETABLES – locally grown best and organic, especially if it’s on dirty dozen list.
36. WHOLE GRAINS – COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES, recipes coming soon. You can find these healthy whole grains in the organic bulk bins at the health food store or order them online from Bob’s Red Mill.
- *Bulgur Wheat, organic so it’s non-GMO
- *Cracked Wheat, organic so it’s non-GMO
- Kasha or buckwheat – not related to wheat
- *Oat berries or groats, organic so it’s non-GMO
- Quinoa – actually a seed in the beet family, use white, red, black, or tricolored mix
- Rice – organic short grain brown rice, Bhutan red rice, organic Forbidden black rice
- Rye berries or groats
- *Spelt – organic so it’s non-GMO
- *Teff – organic so it’s non-GMO
- *Wheat berries or groats, organic so it’s non-GMO
- Wild rice – actually a seed