In the Kitchen with Chef Robert: Cooking Substitutes

Each month, we feature Robert Pesch, our VP of Culinary Research & Development, where he shares insider tips on recipes and food trends, as well as great information on all the latest happenings on the menu at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.

Every year, people write down and vow to stick to New Year’s resolutions regarding better diet and exercise routines, but as many of you know, it’s sometimes tough to follow through and make a habit of those goals. The desire to make lifestyle changes is there, but food is just too good!

One thing you can do to make those goals a little bit easier to keep and a bit tastier to eat is by making some changes in your home cooking. You can substitute certain foods from your favorite recipes with healthier options without sacrificing flavor.

One of the things I try to do when cooking at home is to consciously substitute. What that means is to always keep an eye out for foods that can be substituted out with healthier options. So when you’re out at the grocery store, look for ways to swap out regular ingredients for healthier, more nutritious options.

For example, if you’re planning on boiling a pot of rice for dinner, substitute rice with quinoa. The quinoa is made of highly refined grains, which are much healthier and help promote a healthy metabolism, and they have double the amount of protein. You can still have that delicious meal, but swapping out rice with quinoa will score your dish high on the healthy scale.

If you’re looking for something a little bit on the meatier side, you can take ground beef and mix it together with Portobello mushrooms for a healthy, yet meaty burger. The thick texture of Portobello mushrooms mix with the beef and will give you a robust patty, but since you’ll be using less beef to make up the burger, it will be healthier than a straight-beef patty, and it will add a unique flavor element.

Consciously substituting foods creates endless possibilities!

With spaghetti squash becoming pretty common as a pasta substitute, the spiralizer kitchen tool is roaring back in popularity, and for good reason! Spiralized gourds have noodled their way into pastas and are packing it with flavor.

Another important thing to remember is to skip the frying pan and to roast your foods instead. Eliminating any extra oils will create a lean meal and help you save on fats and calories.

For your favorite treats and sweets, you can substitute the sugar with agave nectar or honey. Both ingredients are all natural and don’t need any processing in order to provide a sugary-sweet taste. Also, instead of indulging in a bowl of ice cream at the end of the day, opt for a sorbet instead. You can get your cold-and-creamy fix all while getting a serving of fruit.

By consciously substituting healthy food with foods that aren’t quite so healthy, you can have all your favorite foods with a healthy spin. Who knows? You may even like the modified recipe more than the original!

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