Substitutions Are Sometimes Better

I’m a firm believer in using what you have. If you don’t have milk or sugar or eggs, it’s not the end of the world. Over the years, I’ve treasured quick substitutions. Here are some of my favorites:

Baking Soda & Baking Powder

Baking soda is a hot commodity in Germany; while in the USA, you can get 5 pounds of it for $2. Who knew?! So I’ve become accustomed to substituting baking powder in its place.

  • 1 tsp Baking Soda = 3 tsp Baking Powder

Sugars: Brown & White

I have yet to even see the typical molasses-based brown sugar I was used to having in the US.

  • 1 cup Brown Sugar = 4 tsp molasses + 1 cup white granulated sugar

Milk, Buttermilk, & Yogurt

Buttermilk is not something I have on storage, but it’s perfect for things like buttermilk pancakes or buttermilk wings. So, I always default to one of the following:

  • 1 cup Buttermilk = 3/4 cup plain (unsweetened) yogurt + 1/4 cup milk or water
  • 1 cup Buttermilk = 1 cup milk (we always use whole milk) + 1 tbsp lemon juice, lime juice, OR white vinegar

Milk & Milk Alternatives

Lactose intolerant? Hate milk? Love cows? Ran out of milk? Coconut, Almond, and Cashew milks are a few alternatives that you can keep on hand.

  • For nearly EVERY recipe that calls for milk: 1 cup Milk = 1 cup Coconut, Almond, or Cashew Milk
    • If you decide to use canned coconut milk, the whole can is pretty much palm oil. So shake the can vigorously and use 1/2 cup of the mixture + 1/2 cup water.

Milk & Water

A lot of recipes call for milk, but you really never need the milk. Of course it tastes a little creamier, or it gives it a different fat vibe; but never skip a recipe just because you don’t have enough (or any) milk on hand.

  • Hot Chocolate Fix: for every 1 cup of milk requested, add 3/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup milk. Or use 100% water and top it off with a marshmallow – you won’t even remember your substitution 😉

Different Waters: Tea & Juice

I ate oatmeal everyday in University for 4 years. I learned how to make it a little more exciting than just using water: Flavored Tea!

  • Brew a cup of flavored tea – Fruit, Blueberry, Raspberry, etc. and add it to your oats before heating.
    • 1 cup water = 1 cup flavored tea

If you’re making a cake that requires water, you can use juice in its place! You’ll have to be sure to cut down on the sugar by however many grams of sugar are in the juice. This is EXCELLENT for those boxed cake mixes!

  • 1 cup water = 1 cup juice
    • MINUS the sugar in the recipe – Ex: if the juice has 30 grams of sugar per cup, subtract 30 grams of sugar from whatever the recipe calls. If the juice has more sugar than listed in the recipe, just add the juice and NO additional sugar

Drinking Chocolate with Cocoa Powder & Sugar

It’s not often that we are caught off guard with ridiculous marketing. But, alas, we were. And it just so happened to be with “Drinking Chocolate.”
“What’s ‘Drinking Chocolate’?”
“It’s cocoa powder with sugar already added…”

The fancy prepared “Drinking Chocolate” that we bought for a huge nice sum of 24 Euros is 22-24% cocoa.

  • Make your own mix: 1/2 cup unsweetened Cocoa Powder + 1 cup white granulated sugar
    • add 2 tablespoons to each individual cup of hot water (or hot milk)
      • for stronger hot chocolate, add more cocoa 🙂

Chickpea Juice & Meringue

This is a crazy one and awesome for all those times we make homemade hummus! It’s also great for those dishes you don’t want to worry about having been made of egg whites and very vegan friendly!

Oil & Butter

Interchanging Oil and Butter is tricky; but sometimes fat is fat. For cake recipes that call for butter, I find that canola, vegetable, and sunflower oils make a more moist cake. Also, butter is expensive!
Be cautious though – for any recipe (typically crusts) that call for cubed butter, stick with the stick! Oil may work out; but in these cases, butter is better!

  • For a Cake: 1 cup of Butter = 1 cup Oil
    • Don’t use olive or sesame oils for baking. They’re very aggressive.

Peanuts & Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is really pricey outside of the USA. Thus, we’ve been making our own, when it comes time for things like chicken satay. It’s not hard, but does require some kitchen appliances.
Also, don’t be discouraged about unsalted vs salted peanuts. If the salted peanuts are cheaper (which they seem to be for some strange reason) or are the only type available, just rinse the salt from the peanuts and BAM! you’ve got unsalted nuts 😉

This isn’t the one we use for chicken satay, but it’s an excellent basic recipe for all your peanut butter needs (and it doesn’t add to palm oil’s environmental stress)


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