6 Staples and Substitutions

There are a few staple foods you’ll need to keep around, and some substitutions it’ll be good to know about should you decide to try this diet. Since you’ll be trying to keep healthy items in your fridge rather than stuff that’ll make you cheat, you’ll want to stop buying dairy and meat. But what do we fill your fridge with that’ll fill you up? Let’s start with the substitutions.

1.) Avocado instead of cheese. I think I mentioned a few times in a previous post how obsessed I am with cheese. I used to put it on everything. Now, instead of adding some feta to my salads, I’ll add avocado. It’s got the same creamy texture as cheese and a surprising amount of health benefits. Avocados contain good fatty acids (monounsaturated fats – like the kind you can get from whole milk and red meat), as well as potassium, vitamins, and a helluva lot of fiber (to keep you regular).

2.) Tofu or tempeh instead of meat. Tofu is the heavyweight in our house. We buy extra firm, firm or hard tofu depending on what store we are in. Soft or silken tofu is really only used for dessert making and things like that. So for meals, you’ll want the hard stuff. You can bake it (found this awesome recipe at loveveggiesandyoga.com), add it to a stir fry, or what have you.  You can pretty much do anything with tofu because it acts as a sponge that soaks up anything you marinate it in. Tempeh, is just a healthier version of tofu. You can find a good explanation of the difference between them here if you’re interested. To get tofu a nice crispy tougher texture instead of mushy, you need to press the water out of it before marinating.

3.) Bananas instead of eggs. I first heard this from an ex-vegan cashier guy at Williams Sonoma while we were checking out (buying our vegan cookbook). If you’re big on baking (one thing I’m good at that my husband is not) try using about half a banana as a substitute for one egg. They provide moisture to keep your baked goods (muffins, pancakes, french toast, etc.) nice and fluffy while serving as an important binding agent.

4. Dairy-free margarine instead of butter. I use Earth Balance butter. I was used to eating margarine growing up, so I don’t mind that it’s not the real stuff…

Paula Deen might mind…

I don’t mind though.

Oh BTdubya… Earth Balance makes great peanut butter if you don’t like the organic kind with just peanuts and a little bit of salt.

5. Agave nectar instead of honey. Nuff said… that shit’s delicious. I still use honey occasionally, but once I bought a thing of agave nectar I started using it more heavily. I even put it on Kashi brand frozen blueberry waffles (they’ve been warmed up by the time I drown them in agave nectar though).

6. Real fruit pops instead of ice cream. I will be the first to admit, ice cream is my frenemy. I love it and I hate that it goes straight to my ass and hangs out there. I switched over to Dreyer’s fruit bars because I was eating, like, way too many sweets. Sorbet, is another good substitute for a sweet tooth. Curbing my sweet tooth is the hardest thing, but knowing that I love sweets is the first step to correcting the problem. If I can fill myself up on other (maybe not super healthy but still not as bad for me) stuff, then I know I can get my sugar fix and be okay. 

Onward!  To the staple foods:

1. Peanut butter. We go through a ton of it and it’s delicious on apples… which is probably why we go through a ton of it.

2. Fresh fruits. Pick your favorites. We keep a pretty steady supply of peaches (while they’re in season), grapes, bananas, and apples. If you’re into making smoothies, you should also buy some frozen fruits.

3. Veggies. We pretty much always have the following in our crisper: lettuce (romaine or green leaf), onions (yellow, red, and green), green beans, carrots, bok choy, and bell peppers. I also like to make a side-dish with new potatoes and green beans (recipes to follow).

4. Noodles and rice. Since Lee makes a lot of asian-inspired dinners, we keep a pretty steady supply of basamati or jasmine rice as well as udon, ramen and other types of noodles in the house. If you live in Dallas, I would suggest spending some time at Asia World Market. You can buy a 10 lb. bag of rice there for like $9. If you’re more of a spaghetti person, try buying whole wheat pasta and making your own sauce with canned tomatoes.

5. Vegan frozen dinners… like Amy’s vegetable pot pie. We all get sucked into our workday sometimes and don’t really feel like coming home and cooking. Lee and I used to have what we called an “emergency pizza” in the freezer (even now on cheat days, I usually want pizza) for when we didn’t feel like cooking. This is part of knowing thyself and it’s exactly what will keep you from taking this diet seriously. If you cheat every day of the week because you don’t feel like cooking dinner, you’re not really curbing your eating habits are you? Keep some quick-fix dinners around just so you’re not tempted to run through Whataburger when you’re feeling a wee-bit lazy (I’ve done it, SO not proud of myself).

6. Liquids! As I mentioned before, I’ve never been a huge soda fan, so I never keep them in the house or drink them. Instead, we stock up on apple juice, orange juice, and soy milk. I keep a big water bottle with me at work all the time, and I drink water pretty consistently throughout the day. I don’t drink a whole lot of apple juice anymore (usually only when I’m craving something sweet), but I do drink a glass of orange juice in the mornings. Silk soy milk is a good milk substitute as well (Lee refuses to call it milk, he calls it soy juice). We tried the almond milk and kind of hated it, but you can come up with your own conclusions about that. There is also an abundance of coffee (any brand, we have Folgers ground and Dunkin Donuts whole bean) and tea (Aveda, Twinings, Yogi and Celestial) in our house as well. There are a number of recent developments which indicate black coffee (I will talk about the detrimental effects of artificial sweeteners in a later post) and teas can be beneficial to your health.

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