Tried & Tested: Health-ify Your Ingredients

It was a Saturday night, 8 PMish, red wine, and Ina Garten’s bolognese simmering on the stove top. Maybe I had won that night and Sam Smith was playing, a common musical three-way debate between myself, Brian, and Alexa.

And I struck self proclaimed genius. This recipe was almost completely guilt free, we look to the wine for our indulgences, but I could make one change and it’s now dairy-free/additive-free/etc. One easy recipe substitution, coconut milk for heavy cream. Female Einstein- I know!

And you might be thinking okay that’s not very revolutionary-get a life, but I had realized I could take some of my favorite recipes that had a few ingredients I wasn’t loving, swap it, and I could still enjoy. Replace before remove!

Below I put together common ingredients and the swaps I’ve tested. Take a screen shot and see if you can fix up one of your favorites.


Heavy cream: coconut cream (the can will say coconut milk). Place the can in your refrigerator and the cream and water will separate.

Whipping cream: coconut cream or macadamia milk. You can even make your own macadamia nut milk (1 part nuts + 2 parts water). Macadamia nuts are one of the best nuts to eat; they are not inflammatory and you don’t have to soak the nuts ahead of time because they are low in phytic acid. Making your own milk will also be thicker and contain no additives. Whipping cream and heavy cream are very similar so they are quite interchangeable here for subs.

Buttermilk: you have a couple options here! Mix 1 TBS of ACV or lemon juice with 1 cup of nut milk. Then let it set for 15 minutes at room temperature to thicken. If you’re baking try Cream of Tartar (in the spice section). Use 1.5 teaspoons to one cup of milk, but it’s better to mix it into the dry ingredients as it tends to clump when mixed into liquid. It can give your baked goods the same light and fluffy effect as buttermilk, without vinegar or lemon aftertastes.

Half & Half: Half & Half is the lightest cream in terms of fat percentage. Ripple makes a dairy free half & half that is pea protein based. Also Califa Farms has an option that is dairy free.


White/cane sugar: coconut sugar, date sugar, date paste. These metabolize like any other sugar (slightly lower GI), but they do have the added advantage of minerals and vitamins and are less processed.

Monk fruit is a zero sugar sweetener. It can be used 1:1 in baking and cooking. Just be sure to check the ingredients for additives.

Maple syrup, lucuma, and mesquite (not what you’re thinking) are all lower on the glycemic index (indicates the effect carbs have on a person’s blood glucose level).

Raw, unpasteurized honey has many medicinal benefits, such as regulating hormones and balancing immunity as well as many vitamins.

Yacon syrup is lower in calories than honey and maple syrup because it contains indigestable inulin, which is a probiotic fiber and it cannot be broken down by our bodies so it passes right through.  It is also low on the glycemic index.

Pantry Items

White/wheat flour: I have found success with Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour. I have also recently liked cashew flour. You can find it on Amazon or if your in a pinch make it yourself in a food processor; just don’t let it go too long or you’ll have cashew butter.

Cornstarch: arrowroot powder/flour (same thing) or potato starch. These are from plants and vegetables and obviously cornstarch is from corn and unfortunately majority of corm grown is a GMO. Arrowroot is also nutrient rich.

Bread crumbs/panko: I go GF, saves so much sugar.

Tortillas/Chips: Siete.

Pasta: Cappello’s, they have three different noodle types: linguini, lasagna, and gnocchi. I do also like the red lentil pasta as Trader Joes.

Pizza crust: Outer Aisle cauliflower crust, Cappello’s almond flour, or Simple Mills almond flour (might be the easier one to find in more grocery stores; the other two I’ve only seen at Whole Foods or Natural Grocer).

I hope this inspires The Great DWD Baking/Cooking Show! My last bit of advice I’ve learned; if you recipe prep you have time to find certain items in an organic or an all natural brand on Amazon/Whole Foods/Natural Grocers. For example; in Ina’s new cookbook Cook Like A Pro she has a lovely recipe for Roasted Shrimp Cocktail Louis. She calls for Heinz chili sauce and if you check out the ingredients the third one is high fructose corn syrup. If you take time to prepare Organicvillle makes an organic chili sauce with very clean ingredients. Try it with that instead and make sure you have the time to run it down.

Happy cooking!

xx, Kalain






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s