No Substitute For Substitutionsby Rob Striks, Special Writer Encompass HealthCare and Wound Medicine
At Encompass HealthCare and Wound Medicine, we talk a lot about making dietary food substitutions in order to take in more protein, lose weight or gain energy to aid in wound healing.
Sometimes, the substitutions we recommend are appropriate for a much larger audience than just wound care patients. Diabetic, cardiac and obese patients can make important strides in their health by making simple substitutions in their diet.
With that in mind, I made two important discoveries this week that have revolutionized my entire diet. I cooked with garbanzo flour and I learned how to make fried rice out of cauliflower. This is literally, and I use the term “literally” correctly here, the best thing since sliced bread.
That’s because I can now use garbanzo flour in recipes where I used to use wheat products and the end result is not only tastier, it’s infinitely healthier for me. Garbanzo beans are a rich source for protein, dietary fiber and healthy carbohydrates. They’re also very low in fat.
This discovery is a personal triumph for me as I used to pride myself on being able to make healthy substitutions in all my cooking. My substitutions, though, did not necessarily result in a trim body or more energy.
For instance, I learned how to substitute skim milk for whipping cream in Fettuccine Carbonara, which is like ordering a Boston Cooler made with Häagen-Dazs ice cream and telling the server to use Diet Vernors instead of regular Vernors. No big payoff there.
Then when Egg Beaters came along, I saw the clouds part and a heavenly ray of light shine down. Finally, the answer to high cholesterol had arrived! Unfortunately, they arrived along with mandatory nutritional labeling, and you had to be a chemistry major to figure out what they were actually made of. Plus, they didn’t taste all that wonderful.
Then, there is the never-discussed shame of ordering Egg Beaters in a restaurant. If you’re heavy, the server thinks you’re cheating somewhere else in your diet. And if you’re slender, you’re obviously high maintenance. There’s no winning with egg substitutes physically or mentally.
I did make the transition to substituting fresh egg whites for whole eggs in recipes and I learned to accept the texture changes in the finished products. Luckily, it’s 2014 and fresh whole eggs are enjoying some great publicity for being on the Good-For-You List again. I am cutting back on the yolks just a bit.
What brought me to garbanzo flour was the advice from my cardiologist that I give up all wheat, rice and potato products; and the advice from a good friend that I try socca, a food that’s like bread only it’s made with garbanzo flour instead of wheat flour. Cue the choir, it was fabulous.
Then, while putting together a ground turkey meat loaf, I substituted garbanzo flour for breadcrumbs and got another marvelous lift – a super protein, high-fiber meat loaf that held together perfectly. Is there anything these garbanzo’s can’t do?
A rich chocolate flourless cake made with garbanzo beans, you ask? The answer is yes and it’s right here. Make it and I guarantee the clouds will part for you
Now about that fried rice made with cauliflower. Who knew! I saw this demonstration online, I tried it and not only did I not need a nap after eating it, I actually felt quite energized. One of the secrets is using a food processor to pulse the uncooked cauliflower into tiny rice-size pieces. Then during the cooking process, you only use a small amount of liquid to steam the cauliflower so it doesn’t turn mushy.
Once you understand the liquid-holding and liquid-releasing properties in vegetables during cooking, there’s practically no limit to how you can use them as substitutes to enhance your nutrition. Spinach, for example, releases a lot of moisture when it’s cooked.
The same goes for mushrooms. So if you’re making quinoa with spinach and/or mushrooms and you want the same drier consistency, you have to use a bit less liquid than the usual two parts water to one part quinoa in the recipe.
In the beginning, using vegetables as substitutes in recipes works best when the seasonings usually overpower the dish. Like in the cauliflower fried rice, the soy sauce and seasonings over power any strong cauliflower taste.
Later, as you become more accustomed to the flavor and texture of the cauliflower, you may find yourself using less of the overpowering flavors in order to let the cauliflower taste come through.
So now that you can’t wait to garbanzo your diet, where do you get garbanzo flour? Well, you can make it yourself by grinding non-hydrated garbanzo beans in a spice grinder until they’re the consistency of flour, you can buy the flour already processed at most big supermarkets, or you can buy it online.
Try garbanzo flour for wheat flour. Check out cauliflower in place of rice. You can even prepare parsnips so they taste like sautéed potatoes. There’s no substitute for substitutions when it comes to eating healthier.
Hmmm…now that I think about it, lentils are beans and they’re also high in protein and low in fat. I wonder what would happen if I put them in my spice grinder and……
I’ll get back with you.
If you like this blog, please share it! [sgmb id=”1″]