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The Beauty of Substitutions
January 25, 2012
Did you catch the news about Paula Deen, the Southern queen of high-calorie cooking, being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? She confessed that she’s had the condition for three years yet she doesn’t plan to change her cooking style to accommodate it. Just eat smaller portions, she told Matt Lauer in her interview on the Today show. What a golden opportunity she had to tell the world about the beauty of ingredient substitutions!
Anyone who’s living with special dietary needs is living with food substitutions. I’m not just talking about choosing fresh berries for dessert instead of a brownie. I’m talking ingredient substitutions.
Frankly, we’re experts at replacing key ingredients in recipes: a gluten-free flour/starch combo for wheat flour, some arrowroot or flax gel for egg, some hemp milk or rice milk for cow’s milk. This sort of thing easily becomes second nature. Once you get the hang of it, substitutions just aren’t that difficult. In fact, they open the door to creativity--exciting new foods and flavors. Not to mention a healthier way of eating.
I wish Paula Deen had opened that door…even cracked it just a little…with the idea that you can use, for example, healthy coconut milk rather than unhealthy heavy cream in dessert recipes. You can sweeten with a stevia product or low-glycemic coconut crystals rather than with refined white sugar. Even chopped dates add nutrients and fiber while they sweeten, unlike empty-calorie table sugar.
With her national platform (a TV cooking show, a magazine, cookbooks), her obvious culinary talent, her notable Southern charm and now her medical diagnosis, there are so many things Paula could have said…but didn’t. Given the nation’s growing rates of obesity and diabetes, this missed opportunity is a crying shame.
The special-diet community has a leg-up on the topic of living well and eating well with substitutions. We’re nimble thinkers when it comes to food. Super-creative this way and healthier for it. I just wish Paula would join us.