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Hungry Girl Today: 4.2.14


Hey HG,

I love so many of your recipes! However, I don't eat mayo and my husband can't stand cilantro. Is there any way we can still enjoy recipes that call for those ingredients without including them?

Swappin' Sandy

Hi Sandy,

The HG arsenal is pretty massive, so you may occasionally come across ingredients you don't love. Some of these, like cilantro, can just be left out. Others, like mayo, need a similar ingredient substituted. Your Q really made me think, so I decided to share some general ways to customize HG recipes...

Toppings - Items that are sprinkled, drizzled, or dolloped on top of a dish -- like herbs and condiments -- can just be left off. If the recipe makes several servings, keep the toppings on the side so people can add them if they want to.

Condiments Mixed Into a Dish - HG dips, scoopable salads, casseroles, etc., often feature one of the following ingredients: fat-free or light mayo, fat-free or light sour cream, or plain fat-free Greek yogurt. For the most part, these are interchangeable in savory recipes. So choose your favorite! Of course, mayo does have a different flavor from the others. But if you don't like the condiment called for, these swaps are worth trying. Just know that if a recipe calls for a fat-free ingredient and you use the light kind, the stats will be higher.

Vegetables - Dying to try a certain stir-fry or foil pack, but can't stand one of the veggies called for in the recipe? Swap it for another one -- preferably one with a similar texture (so the cook time won't be drastically different). Don't like broccoli? Try sugar snap peas or bell peppers instead. Hate red onions? Go with the sweet yellow kind. Just pay attention to the cook time, and adjust it a little if needed.

Meat Swaps - Portabella mushrooms are surprisingly meaty and a great swap for beef. Cut them into strips for a steak swap or finely chop for a ground texture. Also great? Boca burgers and ground-beef-style crumbles. For recipes calling for chicken, you can use a faux chicken product, like this one from Beyond Meat. For more meat-swapping info -- including trading turkey for beef and vice versa -- click right here.

Egg Substitute - I get questions about egg swaps pretty often. In almost any recipe you can use egg whites (from whole eggs or from a carton) in place of egg substitute. A quarter-cup of egg substitute is equal to about two large egg whites, and the liquid egg whites measure cup-for-cup like egg substitute. Click for more info on this subject.

Sweetener - Granulated sugar, stevia, and Splenda are interchangeable in terms of amounts -- but, of course, the nutritional info will vary. More and more often, HG recipes list two sets of stats: one if made with granulated zero-calorie sweetener (like stevia or Splenda) and one if made with sugar. As for packets, it takes two teaspoons of real sugar (about 35 calories' worth) to equal the sweetness of one packet of no-calorie sweetener. Those calories can really add up, so I suggest using a stevia-based sweetener like Truvia if you prefer something natural.

Spices and Seasonings - You can easily leave out any spice or seasoning you don't love, but your dish might need a little extra flavor. Just season to taste with your favorites. Watching your sodium? Skip the salt altogether, but try a salt-free seasoning mix (like Mrs. Dash Original) to keep things from being bland.

Now no matter what the recipe, you should be able to tweak it a little to make it work for your taste buds... and it'll still be guilt-free! Problem solved.

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