If you’ve set foot in a supermarket in the past few months, you’ve probably noticed a few empty shelves as concerned consumers stock up on pasta and other everyday kitchen staples like rice, cheese and eggs, amid fears of a complete coronavirus lockdown.
The good news is there are plenty of substitutes that work just as well. Not only are these great for when you’re running low on pantry essentials, but they’re also good if you’re trying to stay healthy during self-isolation, which Brisbane-based nutritionist Alessandra Trovato reckons is super important.
“A healthy, well-balanced diet has many advantages such as boosting your mood and improving mental health, boosting the strength and ability of your immune system to effectively fight off colds, flu and viruses,” Trovato tells Starts at 60. “In addition, it also looks after your general health by helping you to maintain a healthy weight, keeping your heart, liver, kidneys, and eyes healthy.”
Here are some of the best food swaps you can make if you can’t get your hands on those staples.
A healthy alternative to: Rice
Quinoa is a fantastic alternative to white rice. Like rice, quinoa is gluten-free and cooked in a similar way, however, it has double the protein! It’s also rich in fibre, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium and various beneficial antioxidants, which are believed to help fight ageing and many diseases.
A healthy alternative to: Rice
Have you heard of cauliflower rice? Light and fluffy in texture, if you’re looking to bump up your veggie-intake, cauliflower rice is loaded with fibre, vitamins and minerals. It’s also a great healthy rice substitute! All you need to do is grate the cauliflower florets until the texture resembles rice and cook on medium heat for five minutes. It’s that easy!
A healthy alternative to: Pasta
You’ve probably heard of the spiralized trend that transforms your favourite veggies into healthy pasta. And our favourite veggie to work with is zucchini. Not only is zucchini simple to use, but it’s also packed with beneficial nutrients including fibre, magnesium and vitamin C. And all you need is a spiralizer to turn raw zucchini into curly pasta noodles. Zucchini pasta works great in a salad or served with hot pasta sauce over the top.
A healthy alternative to: Cheese
Nutritional yeast can be a good alternative to cheese. Not to mention, it’s an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. A lot of people love nutritional yeast for its strong resemblance to parmesan cheese. Some ways to use nutritional yeast include sprinkling it over homemade pasta or pizza, adding it to sauces and dips, or stirring it through creamy soups like chicken and mushroom soup.
A healthy alternative to: Eggs
No eggs? No problem! It turns out that mashed or pureed fruits can substitute for eggs in baking. Mashed banana and apple puree is most commonly used, but pumpkin puree and mashed avocado work well too. This substitution is best used in cakes, muffins, brownies and bread, with 1/4 cup or 65g of any pureed or mashed fruit replacing a single egg in most recipes.
A healthy alternative to: Milk
Oat milk — made from oats and water blended together — is a good alternative to regular cow’s milk. And the best part is you don’t even have to head to the shops to get your hands on some. All you need is a blender, some oats, and water!
A healthy alternative to: Butter
Olive oil is a healthy substitute for butter. The ‘good’ fats found in olive oil are monounsaturated oleic acid (omega-9 fatty acid). Oleic acid has several health benefits including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and reducing the risk of cancer.
As a rule of thumb, substitute three-quarters of the butter in a recipe with olive oil. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, you can replace it with 3/4 cups of olive oil.
A healthy alternative to: Flour
Whole wheat flour is a great alternative to white flour. It has a higher protein content than regular white flour, as well as more fibre, nutrients and flavour. Whole wheat flour is great for making loaves of bread, pastries and everything in between, but be prepared for your baked goods to be a bit denser and heavier.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.