Category Archives: Food Substitutions

Milk Substitute

Milk substitutes replace milk in recipes as well as in a person’s daily diet. Though milk is a good source of protein and calcium, especially for vegetarians, many people are reducing its consumption due to lactose intolerance or allergies. Substitutes can be equally nutritious. Some products like ice creams use these alternatives instead of dairy products like cream.

Almond Milk
Almond milk is made by grinding blanched almonds with water. It is high in protein content and has no saturated fats. It was used as a popular beverage in the Middle East and Medieval Europe. Health benefits of almonds include treating constipation and lowering blood sugar levels. Due to high amounts of antioxidants present in this substitute, it helps in fighting the ill effects of free radicals. Organic almond milk can also be prepared at home. Soak one cup of almonds in water for a minimum of eight hours and blend them with four cups of water for a milk-like consistency. Store this in an airtight jar in the refrigerator. You can use almond milk as a substitute in cakes, cookies, puddings, and other creamy desserts.

Soy Milk
Soy milk is mostly used because it has a high protein content and reduces cholesterol levels. It is a stable emulsion of water, protein, and oil. It is prepared by grinding dry soybeans with water. The nutritional value of soy milk is similar to cow’s milk. Consuming half a cup of soy milk along with a bowl of cereal for breakfast can supply the body with high quality carbohydrates, vitamins, and proteins. It includes concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acids that are good for the heart. Soy milk can be used as a substitute for milk in recipes such as cream sauces, pasta sauces, and salad dressings.

Grain Milk
Grain milk is processed from grains like brown rice, oats, rye, or wheat. It can also be made from flour or fermented grain. It is higher in carbohydrates and lower in saturated fats and protein compared to cow’s milk. It contains no lactose, so is beneficial for people who are lactose intolerant. Grain milk is also fortified with vitamins and calcium. Since it is free from milk protein, it is suitable for vegans and people with milk allergies.

Condensed Milk
Condensed milk is made by extracting water from cow’s milk. It is prepared from pasteurized milk and is not heat processed. To make your own condensed milk, you need to blend boiling water, melted butter, dry milk (fat-free), and a few drops of vanilla essence. Before using this substitute in any recipe, cool and refrigerate it for about a week.

Evaporated or Dehydrated Milk
Evaporated milk, or dehydrated milk, is fresh milk from which about 60% of water is removed. It is sterilized using a heat treatment and vacuum process, making it more concentrated than whole milk. These treatments give it a longer shelf life. It can be used to add a creamy texture to thick sauces, crock-pot recipes, and puddings.

Powdered Milk
Powdered or dry milk is made by treating evaporated milk to dryness. It has a long shelf life and can be used in various recipes like cakes and puddings. It is convenient to use and does not compromise with the recipe’s flavor.

Though there are many substitutes available in the market, nothing can completely replace milk. Consuming substitutes have some side effects, so care must be taken while choosing a suitable substitute for milk.

Half and Half Substitutes

Half and half basically is what the English in the United Kingdom call half cream. It is indeed a rather light variety of cream that cannot be whisked, and has a butterfat content standing anywhere between 10 to 12.5%. Half and half gets its name from the concept that it is a homogenized mixture of separately pasteurized milk and cream, in equal parts.

Given that a single fluid ounce of half and half has only 39 calories (31 coming from fat), it naturally is a low in calorie cream option as a coffee additive. It also has about 3.5 grams of total fats, 39 mg of potassium, and 12 mg of sodium in a serving of 1 fluid ounce, along with 0.9 grams of protein and 1.3 grams of carbohydrates. Half and half can be used in the making of some creamy scrambled eggs, cocktails such as White Russian, some yummy pasta sauce, some good French pastry ganache, and of course, ice cream. But instances wherein one tends to run out of half and half will naturally force an individual to look up a viable substitute which will work just fine, without tampering with the flavors or taste of whatever it is that you are concocting. So, here are some substitutes that you can use in times of need.

Half and Half Alternatives
Say, you couldn’t find any of the individual serving containers of half and half that are available in the market, and do not want to buy one of those ½ gallon packs, as using up that much before the thing expires can be a little dicey. Then, suddenly you need a little bit of it for this recipe. That is when these substitutes will prove handy.

Substitute a cup of half and half cream with an equal amount of evaporated milk.
Commingle 120 ml of whole milk with the same amount of 5% butterfat light cream, to equal a 1 cup half and half requirement.
Take 25 grams (2 tablespoons like) of the unsalted variety of butter, and heat it until it melts. To this, add 210 ml (almost ⅞ of a cup) of whole milk, and voila! The best part about this recipe is that you can store it in the fridge for like 2 weeks, and just reheat the concoction before using it the next time.
Another variation of the butter-milk mixture in mixing together ⅞ cup of milk and 4½ teaspoons of molten normal butter that has been allowed to cool for about a minute. Whisk the two together to mix very well, and use it to replace a cup of half and half for dishes that need baking. Works great if your making some Polish babka with icing. Some people say that a single tablespoon of molten butter is enough. So, try both and see what suits your purpose better.
If you are using margarine instead of butter, then mix a tablespoon of molten margarine with ¾ cup and 2 tablespoons of milk.
Take ½ a cup of heavy whipping cream with 35% butterfat, and whip it with an equal part of partly skimmed milk, which would be about 120 ml.

It is said that one can refrigerate and package half and half for up to 10 days. The above options are indeed very viable substitutes, that can be used in any recipe that you may be making. Of course, if you are looking for a more instant choice, then just thoroughly combine ½ cup milk and ½ cup cream, and use it instantaneously, before the two have an opportunity to carve up. Do let me know of any other substitute that you may happen to discover while experimenting in your own laboratory at home, popularly known as the kitchen!

Anise Seed Substitutes

Anise or Pimpinella anisum is a flowering plant that belongs to the plant family Apiaceae, which is also known as parsley family. The anise plant is native to Southwest Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean region. The seeds of this plant are crescent-shaped, and they are widely used for culinary purposes across the world. Anise seeds or aniseeds are highly valued as a spice for their sweet, licorice-like flavor.

Aniseed Health Benefits

They are not only prized for their rich flavor, but for several health benefits as well. Aniseeds can alleviate gastrointestinal problems by improving digestion. In India, they are usually chewed after having a meal to ensure proper digestion of food. They can be used for alleviating gastrointestinal or digestive ailments, like indigestion, bloating, and gas. They are also used as a home remedy for treating colic in infants.

Anise seeds are known to possess expectorant properties, for which they can facilitate the expulsion of phlegm from the respiratory tract, and thus provide relief in cough and congestion. They contain phytoestrogen, and they can be effective in alleviating menstrual problems and increasing breast milk. Apart from these, they are known to improve memory, stimulate the pancreas, and provide relief in irritable bowel syndrome and headaches.

Replacing Anise Seed
When it comes to substitution, a few other seeds, like star anise, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds can be used to replace aniseeds in a recipe. The flavor of these seeds closely resemble the smell of anise seeds.

Star Anise
Those looking for a less expensive substitute of aniseeds can go for star anise seeds. Star anise is a small evergreen tree, native to China and Vietnam. The seeds of this plant are an important spice used widely in Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian cuisines.

Like aniseeds, they can improve digestion, relieve abdominal pain and headaches, and prevent colic in babies. It is a source of ‘shikimic acid’, which is used to make anti-flu drug or Tamiflu. The seeds contain anethole, the same substance that gives aniseed its flavor. One star anise is equivalent to about 1/2 teaspoon of crushed aniseeds, which should be kept in mind while substituting one for the other.

Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds are an integral part of Indian and Chinese cuisines. They also contain the compound, anethole, which is why their flavor is similar to that of anise seed. However, fennel seeds are more aromatic and sweeter than aniseeds. The medicinal properties of fennel seed are also similar to those of aniseeds.

Caraway Seeds
Caraway or the meridian fennel plant is a member of the same plant family to which the anise plant belongs. Caraway seeds have a delicate, licorice-like flavor, just like the anise seeds. Therefore, they can be used to substitute aniseeds in a recipe.

You can also use anise oil for replacing anise seed. But you have to be a bit careful, as the oil is stronger than the seeds. Moreover, it is always safe and better to use fennel seeds, star anise, and caraway seeds to substitute aniseeds. They are widely used for making savory dishes in Asian countries. But it is also true that no one can completely match the characteristic flavor of anise seeds, for which it is always better to use only aniseeds in recipes like Italian pizzelle, springerle, and aniseed balls or picarones.

Nutmeg Substitute

You have always used nutmeg as a popular flavoring spice for your apple pie recipes, zucchini bread recipes, soups, etc. Have you ever thought what is nutmeg and where is it produced?

Ground Nutmeg Substitute
Nutmeg is usually used in dessert recipes, savory dishes like cheese sauces, soups, meat and potato dishes. The best substitute for ground nutmeg is ground cinnamon. Cinnamon is the most common substitute. You can even use ginger, mace, allspice or cloves as freshly grated nutmeg substitute. Pumpkin pie spice is a great substitute, if you run out of nutmeg while baking an apple pie.

The nutmeg tree is originally from Banda, the largest Molucca (spice island) in Indonesia. It grows on Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree that is now cultivated in West Indies. The nutmeg tree produces not one but two spices, that is, nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is actually the seed of the kernel inside the fruit. The aril on the kernel is mace.

The early importers of nutmeg were the Arabs who were the sole traders of this spice to Europe. When Vasco de Gama reached the Moluccas in 1512, and claimed the island for Portugal, the monopoly of the Arabs decreased. The Dutch claimed rights over the tree and restricted the propagation of the tree only to the islands of Banda and Amboina. The Dutch did all they possibly could to prevent the spread of nutmeg trees around the world. But Pierre Poivre (Peter Piper) a French smuggled the nutmeg and clove seeds to Mauritius, off the east coast of Africa. The British took over the island of Moluccas, and the East Indian islands began cultivating the spice.

Nutmeg was believed to contain many magical powers. People believed carrying nutmeg under the left armpit would help them attract admirers. Some even wore amulets of nutmeg with the belief that it would protect them from boils, broken bones and even rheumatism.

Nutmeg spice is produced from the encased mottled yellow edible fruit. The fruit splits in half and reveals a red covering over the seed. This red covering is aril, which is collected and dried. It is then sold as mace. The dark shiny nut-like pit is nutmeg. The nutmeg is lightly wrinkled, dark brown outside and light brown inside. It has a sweet, aromatic and nutty aroma and is nutty, warm and slightly sweet in flavor.

Nutmeg is used in a number of pudding recipes, custards, cookie recipes and spice cake recipes. You can even add it to tomato soups, slit pea soups, chicken soups, etc. Egg, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, beans, eggplant dishes can also be added with a little nutmeg. It is even included in many middle eastern lamb recipes, Italian mortadella sausages, mulled wines and punches.

Nutmeg is known to aid digestion, help in treating diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. It is thought to increase appetite. The flavor and fragrance of nutmeg contains oils of myristica that contain myristicin which is a poisonous narcotic. It can induce hallucinations, vomiting, epileptic symptoms, even death when consumed in large doses. But do not worry, you won’t experience any of these symptoms, even if you add a generous amount of nutmeg to your recipes.

This was just a brief information on the popular spice nutmeg. It does not have any allergic reactions similar to other nut allergies. It is very rare to find someone who is allergic to nutmeg. If you run out of nutmeg in your kitchen, do not worry, you now know which are the other substitutes.

Dangers of Packaged Foods

Foods are packed using special packaging techniques to store and maintain the foodstuffs in good condition when they are stored. Packaging of food refers to the processing of food for preserving it from contamination from germs and dust. Another important aim of packaging food is to decrease the food wastage. In developed countries, where packaged foods are used quite often, the amount of food wasted is around 3%. Whereas in the developing countries, the rate of food wastage is around 30%.

Processed foods easily available in the market. These products contain artificial sugar, additives, chemicals, and preservatives. Nowadays, when one visits a grocery shop, he spends on an average more than half the budget on buying packaged foods. The human body needs vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are responsible for good physical and mental health. Processed foods do not contain these essential nutrients and contain unhealthy preservatives.

Dangers of Food Additives and Preservatives

Food preservatives or additives are the ingredients in packaged foods that are used to preserve the food for a long time and thus, increasing their shelf-life. These additives include artificial sugar, sodium nitrate, trans-fats, BHA and BHT, synthetic food colors, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). The foods labeled as no sugar added, actually contain artificial sugar, which are empty calories. These have a low nutrition to calorie ratio and leads to increase in weight. Usually, soft drinks contain these artificial sugar additives, which are a major reason for the growing rate of obesity in people.

Sodium nitrate is added to packaged meat and is said to carcinogenic. The sodium nitrate gets converted to nitrosamines (which are carcinogenic) when meat is cooked at high temperatures. Trans-fats are mostly found in the snacks, biscuits, cakes, and crisps. They are saturated fats, which increase the rate of getting a heart attack.

BTA and BHA are two antioxidants that are added to avoid unwanted fermentation of food. Research is still going on to prove that BTA and BHA are carcinogenic, so it is advisable to avoid food with these additives. Monosodium glutamate is a food enhancer, which is used to improve the taste of the food. Frozen foods are preserved using monosodium glutamate.

Artificial coloring added in cereals, candy, and ice-cream, are carcinogenic and do not have any nutritional value. From allergies to autism, colored foods can be a cause of many diseases.

The dangers of packaged foods can be listed as follows:

Body ache
Allergies and rashes
Swollen lymph nodes

Next time when you buy packaged foods, make it a point to check the ingredients and additives of the packaged food.

Coriander Seeds Substitute

Coriander is the spherical seed of a small plant called Eryngium foetidum. The fresh leaves of the same plant are known as cilantro. Both coriander seeds and cilantro are used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Unripe coriander seeds have an unsavory smell, while their ripe form has a distinctive fragrance. They impart a warm, mild, and sweetish flavor to pungent dishes from India, Middle East, and Mexico.

Its popularity as an ingredient to many dishes is increasing day by day. But its unavailability in many parts of the world restricts its usage. This is the reason why many people ask for coriander seed substitutes that can enhance the flavor of certain dishes in the same manner as these seeds do. The article has tried to list a few such substitutes that can bring the taste which may not be exactly same as coriander seeds, but quite similar to them. However, to get a better understanding of usage of these seeds and their benefits, take a look at the following account.

Uses of Coriander Seeds

✦ Coriander seeds find their use in various kinds of recipes. They are a major constituent of curry powder in India.
✦ The crispy form of coriander seeds is used in stews, soups, and various Mexican cuisines.
✦ Since coriander seeds blend well with smoked meat, they are an important ingredient in many English and Italian recipes.
✦ They are an important constituent of garam masala, pudding, and pickling spices.
✦ Powdered coriander seeds are added to cakes, breads, and other baked foods to enhance their flavor.


✦ Coriander seeds help in removing heavy metals from the bloodstream as they can form chelates with them.
✦ They have anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, they are used to alleviate the symptoms of diseases like arthritis.
✦ Regular intake of coriander seeds and leaves help in relieving many digestive system problems.
✦ These seeds are a rich source of minerals like iron and magnesium.
✦ They have a high content of dietary fiber.
✦ Coriander seeds, when taken on a regular basis, lower the concentration of low density lipoproteins (also called bad cholesterol) and raise the levels of high density lipoproteins (also called good cholesterol).
✦ They prevent nausea and treat intestinal gas.
✦ Coriander seeds are an aromatic stimulant and increases appetite. They boost the digestive system and relieve the problem of flatulence.
✦ These seeds are known for their antibacterial and antifungal properties.


✦ You can substitute one tablespoon of shredded coriander leaves with one teaspoon each of chopped fresh parsley, tarragon, and dill. They will impart an almost similar flavor to the dishes.
✦ You may substitute one tablespoon of coriander seeds with one teaspoon each of caraway, fennel, and cumin seeds.
✦ You may use cilantro as coriander seeds substitute as it gives almost similar taste to the foods. In many recipes like dukkah, coconut paste, cucumber raita, and cardamom can replace coriander seeds.

Though there are some substitutes for coriander seeds available, yet they cannot give the taste that these seeds impart to dishes. The flavor added by coriander seeds is undefinable and is truly pleasant and without any match. Therefore, try to keep these seeds as a part of your spice collection in your kitchen because practically, nothing can substitute it.

Cumin Seeds Substitutes

Cumin is a flowering plant that is native to the region from the East Mediterranean to India. It is said that it is also native to Syria, where the temperature is hot and arid. The seeds are highly popular for their culinary benefits, while the oil is used for flavoring foods and making cosmetics! There are many Asian food recipes that are just incomplete without these seeds.


Cumin seeds are available all year round and they can be a great match when combined beans, chicken, couscous, eggplant, fish, lamb, peas, lentils, pork, rice, potatoes, sausages, soups, stews, curries, and eggs. They must be stored in a dry place and in some airtight container so that the aroma as well as the texture remains intact. I would suggest you to not find any substitute, especially if you want to enjoy the distinct and original flavor of the recipes that are ‘nothing’ without the original ingredients.

If you are still looking for substitutes, caraway and anise seeds can do the job. Use half as much caraway seeds in any recipes. You can combine caraway and anise seeds too. People also use chili powder as an alternative ingredient.

Amber cumin seeds are often substituted by the white seeds and the black ones are substituted by amber seeds. If you are looking for the best alternative, use cumin seed powder, which is easily available. However, this alternative loses out on the crisp texture that the seeds provide.

Types and Medical Benefits

Cumin seeds have an aromatic flavor which is distinctly bitter. They get its aroma due to its abundant oil content. They are spicy to taste and light in color. They are available in whole and ground forms with three colors, white, amber, and black. Amber colored varieties are the most common and popular as the black colored ones have a much more complex flavor, that many people dislike. I must add that cumin tea is also becoming hugely popular today.

Cumin seeds are primarily used in cooking various Middle Eastern, Indian, Mediterranean, and Mexican dishes. Curry recipes are almost incomplete without its distinct aroma. The seeds are full of several healthy nutritional, antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. They are traditionally also used for their antispasmodic, diuretic, and carminative properties that can be used in treating several medical conditions like jaundice, dyspepsia, flatulence, diarrhea, and indigestion. Cumin seeds are said to have anticancer and hypoglycemic properties too, and there is no data available on their toxicity and dosage limits. Hence, they are generally recognized as a safe herb for culinary purposes.