Alternative ingredients

One of the key things missing that I found important when removing ‘standard’ foods from our diets was knowing an alternative I could use. Many of the alternatives I discovered, that were suitable for how we wanted to eat, were found over time, and I considered each discovery and successful use a little triumph on our food journey. Knowing what is out there and suitable can be hard work. Here is a list of the alternative ingredients we have found useful over the years.

Removing milk – alternative coconut milk/ almond milk

Dairy is a big issue for some people; removing milk can be challenging and take a while to get used to, having an alternative can make life much easier. Coconut milk and almond milk are nice alternatives that are available in most supermarkets and health food stores. Look for the kinds of milk that don’t have any added sugar, sweetener or preservatives. You can always make your own if you want to remove the risk of milk with added chemicals.

Coconut milk

Removing soy sauce – alternative coconut aminos

Coconut aminos are an excellent replacement for soy sauce. Soy is one of the most controversial foods out there; it is considered either a superfood or a hormone-disrupting poison. Instead of working through many papers that argue the pros and cons of soy, use coconut aminos where you would normally use soy sauce, a nice and simple solution. Interesting facts about coconut aminos;

  • 65% Less Sodium than Soy Sauce!
  • High Source of Liquid aminos
  • 100% Organic
  • Gluten-Free
  • Dairy-Free
  • Non-GMO
  • Certified Organic by OCIA

This is the one that we use, and you can buy it in most health food stores.

Coconut aminos

Removing flour – alternative coconut flour

Often getting rid of wheat and grains from your diet is one of the hardest things for people to do, a nice way to minimise the impact and ease the transition is by using coconut flour as a replacement. It pays to keep in mind that coconut flour is not the same as normal flour; after much experimentation, I have found a simple formula that you can apply when using coconut flour.
Other alternatives to standard flours include almond flour, tapioca flour, and many other non-grain flours; it will often depend on what you are trying to make. I recommend experimenting to find out which flours work best for you and the food you are making.

Coconut flour

Removing sugar – alternative honey or maple syrup

Sugar is addictive, and in everything nowadays, removing it can be challenging, and once it’s gone from your diet, it does not mean the craving for something sweet will go away. Honey and Maple syrup are better options when you compare them gram for gram against sugar.
Both are sweet without that sickly sweetness you get with processed sugar, plus some honey is good for you (UMF honey and benefits) other replacements include Stevia and Coconut sugar.

Maple syrup

Removing rice and couscous – alternative cauliflower

Replacing rice is simple when you embrace cauliflower; it is much more versatile than you may think. Grating or chopping your cauliflower gives you a rice grain texture that you can use in most of the same ways you would use rice. It goes great with curry, as a side, fried rice, stuffing for peppers and even cold as a replacement for couscous.
Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice

Removing spaghetti – alternative spaghetti squash

I have yet to find anywhere in New Zealand that sells Spaghetti Squash, if you want it you need to grow it (or get your awesome in-laws to grow it for you), I can honestly say that growing it is worth the effort. It gets its name from the spaghetti strands you get when it is cooked, it has a mild flavour and goes with pasta sauces, and the bonus is you get an extra vegetable portion with your meal.

Spaghetti squash

Removing pasta and noodles – alternative coodles

Replacing pasta may seem difficult, but really, it isn’t. Coodles (carrot and courgette noodles) are perfect for filling the gap left by pasta and noodles. Just like cauliflower, coodles are versatile. Cut them julienne, and you have noodle or pasta strands, cut in strips you have replacement lasagne sheets or something to put you stuffing in for ravioli, use a spiraliser and you have little pasta shapes. They are quick to cook and are another sneaky vegetable hit for your meal.


Removing vegetable oil – alternative coconut oil

There are so many oils out there to choose from it could make you dizzy. You can spend hours reading about the pros and cons of vegetable oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, and corn oil, I could go on, but I won’t. Coconut is, as far as I can tell the best option, it gets a bad reputation because of the saturated fat it contains, but when you compare it to all the other oils out there, it comes out on top. A bonus is you can use it for your skin and hair as well as for cooking.

Coconut oil

Removing margarine – alternative ghee or butter

Replace your margarine now; it is highly processed and in no way good for you. Replace easily with ghee or butter. Ghee is clarified butter and is considered Paleo-friendly, as it has a lot of the impurities in butter removed from it if you have issues with dairy products this is the best option. If you don’t have any issues with dairy products use an organic/grass-fed butter, I look for the unsalted butter as you can use it for things like bulletproof coffee.

Removing standard/ lower quality meats – alternative organic, grass-fed and free-range meats

We are reasonably fortunate that here in New Zealand, we have some of the best meat products in the world. Unlike other countries our meat is reared, as it should be not fed grains like corn, they graze on grass all day long as animals are supposed to do. Mass-produced meat, generally speaking, is not fed on the right things and is usually much lower quality. Organic, free-range and grass-fed meats do cost more money, but it is worth it In the long run, the meat you get is better quality, tastes better and often you don’t need as much of the meat because there is less water and fat in the meat.

Grass-fed steak

Removing potatoes – alternative sweet potatoes

Potatoes make up a large part of many people’s diets when you look at the amount of French fries, potato chips and mashed potatoes we eat. “Meat and two veg” is a common approach to a meal and more often than not potatoes are one of the vegetables. Removing them from your diet can be challenging; thankfully, a helpful tuber is here to help. The Sweet Potato/Kumar is a popular Kiwi option that can replace your normal nightshades. You can use them for chips, potato chip, mash, and hash browns; you can even eat them raw.

Northland sweet potato/kumara

Removing peanut butter – alternative nut and seed butter

Let’s get this straight, peanuts are not nuts, they are legumes, you can make your own decision about legumes, but for me, peanut butter is not an option, more people have issues with sensitivities to things like legumes and nuts so you may need to find an alternative. Thankfully, there are a few tasty alternatives out there. If you are good with eating nuts, you can replace your peanut butter with Almond or Cashew Butter, for those wanting a nut-free option try Sunflower or Pumpkin Seed Butter. You can use these kinds of butter as one to one ratio replacements in recipes or just out of the jar if that is how you like it.
Sun Butter recipe

Homemade sunflower seed butter

Removing store-bought mayo – alternative homemade mayo

You may not realise it, but store-bought mayo isn’t what you think it is, often it’s made with ingredients you wouldn’t normally put in mayo and increasingly made with soya bean oil and has sugar added. Making your own mayo is simple (seriously, kids can do it) the beauty is that you know exactly what is going into your mayo. Here is a simple and foolproof recipe to try Easy Mayo

Homemade olive oil mayo

Removing chocolate – alternative raw cacao

Please don’t hate me; I’m not saying have chocolate again. Next time you get a craving take a look at the back of your chocolate bar before you buy it. Milk chocolate is loaded with milk and sugar; most brands also contain extra ingredients like soy. Good news is that chocolate itself is good for you, it has antioxidants which will do you good. Raw cacao is a great replacement, it tastes good, and you can make your own chocolate out of it. Making the change means, you get all the chocolate goodness without all the added nastiness. See that was not as bad as you thought.

Raw cacao powder

Removing cage eggs for organic free-range eggs

Free-range and organic eggs are better in so many ways, not just for us but also for the chickens. Chickens are born to walk around, peck in the grass, eat bugs and plans, not to live in a dark barn, without room to move around or locked in a cage, eating grains. The quality of organic and free-range eggs is so much better than caged eggs, moving over to free-range eggs is beneficial for you and the chickens, they do cost more, but they are worth the extra cash when you can taste the difference in quality.

Free range egg