Making Any Recipe Your Own
A recipe is a guideline – it’s a canvas to create a unique dish that caters to you and your family’s personal preferences. Of course, there are some ingredients that simply can’t be substituted without loss of quality – but the main FLAVORING ingredients can almost always be swapped out for another. Better yet? Many recipes can also be prepared using the same ingredients, but switching up the cooking method. You might start with the ingredients for a meatball, but if you stir fry them, you can make a tasty taco instead!
What Can You Change in a Recipe?
Swapping out one flour for another, using an egg replacement instead of eggs, or adding/removing liquids will often result in disaster (not recommended).
However, there ARE some ingredients that can almost always be swapped, added, or removed, with no loss in quality. One easy change is to swap sweet for savory. Leave out the vanilla, and add chiles or cheeses. Here are some examples for things that can easily be changed…
- Spices and herbs
- Hard cheeses (soft cheeses may affect the texture or structure of a dish)
Substitute Ingredients – like for like
In addition to the ingredients above, you can always substitute like-for-like ingredients. For example…
- Swap white beans for black beans
- Replace a low-fat protein with another low-fat protein (see Equivalents Chart on page 49 of Always Delicious to swap one protein for an equivalent option)
- Swap non-starchy vegetables for different non-starchy vegetables
- Replace one AH/AD sauce/dressing with another (check the nutritional information to ensure the gram amounts of each macronutrient are roughly the same)
Use a Different Cooking Method
Finally, you can also transform a recipe by using a different cooking technique in place of the one suggested. For example…
- Blend together the ingredients to make a dip (works well for bean-based soups, stews, and casseroles)
- Bake or roast instead of frying (for example, use pancake batter to make mini muffins)
- Stir-fry instead of bake (for example, make a beef stir fry instead of meatballs or meatloaf)
Recipe Transformations From Our Books: Grain-Free Waffles = Savory Donuts
Using the strategies from above, Chef Kenzie has transformed a few of our recipes into brand new dishes…
- Grain-Free Waffles (Always Hungry? pg. 223): Bake in donut moulds instead of in a waffle iron to make grain-free savory donuts. Replace vanilla extract with 1 tsp each of chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Add cheddar cheese and jalapeños (if desired)
- Shepherd’s Pie (Always Hungry? pg. 238): Replace ground beef with a large filet of salmon. Omit tomato paste. Toss all vegetables, including cauliflower and cooked white beans in olive oil and spread onto a sheet pan. Roast at 425°F for 15 minutes. Lay the salmon over the vegetables. Continue to roast at 425°F until salmon is cooked and vegetables are tender. Serve as a white bean and fennel roasted salmon dish!
- Black Bean Tofu Hash (Always Hungry? pg. 222): Cook as per the recipe, then blend for a fun bean and tofu dip.
- Cheesy Pinto Bean Dip (Always Hungry? pg. 290): Replace pinto beans with white beans. Replace cheddar cheese with parmesan cheese. Omit chili powder and add fresh basil to turn this into an Italian-style dip.
- Meat Loaf with Smoked Paprika Ketchup (Always Delicious pg. 152): Sauté meatloaf ingredients on the stovetop (reserve the Chickpea Breadcrumbs for the topping). Serve in lettuce cups and top with Chickpea Breadcrumbs for a crisp garnish, or replace with Herb-Roasted Chickpeas (Always Hungry? pg 293) as a topping. Drizzle with Smoked Paprika Ketchup or another sauce/dressing of your choice.
Featured Recipe: Grain-Free Savory Donuts
Check out Chef Kenzie’s recipe below for preparing Grain-Free Savory Donuts. Try out her recipe, then prepare your own unique combination. Share your new recipe in our Facebook Group or pop it in the comments below. We always love to see what you’re cooking!
Want to Learn More About Recipe Adaptation?
Check out our downloadable meal planning classes. Each class comes with an eBook including a Specialized One-Week Meal Plan and Prep Sheet, or Specialized Recipes, as well as Additional Resources prepared by Chef Dawn Ludwig and Chef Kenzie Osborne. Each class also has the option to add-on downloadable presentation slides for more recipes and extra resources.