Monday, July 28, 2008

Finding Alternative Uses for Ingredients

In the spirit of making the most of the food we eat, I think it is a good idea to make our food multipurpose whenever possible. What do I mean by that? I mean, as often as you can, find some way to use a food or an ingredient beyond what might have been intended or what is common.

Let me give you an example. If you are fond of oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, cornmeal mush or some other hot cereal for breakfast, you probably already know now much the flavor and texture benefit from adding a bit of cream or milk. Nothing can turn oatmeal into a rich, decadent treat like a nice dollop of whipped cream.

Of course, if you are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy, this isn’t such a grand idea, is it? Or is it? You know, you can still have your creamy oatmeal. Obviously, a dollop of non-dairy whipped topping can drop right into your bowl and you’re good to go. However, if you’d rather add the cream or milk into the cereal, why not try some non-dairy creamer (whichever type you like best)? Most kinds are available in at least a few flavors and that’s fun, too. Good in your coffee (Try it in tea if you like your tea with milk. If you’re a tea expert, please don’t be angry. I really mean no insult to the tea and I’m just looking for an alternative.) and good in your oatmeal.

Another example is what I did with the ribs the other evening. I’m allergic to tomatoes so barbeque sauce is sadly right off my list. Furthermore, my husband has found that the sugar in most sauces is too much for him due to his diabetes. Now, that might make you think that there really isn’t a lot of point in trying for ribs anymore, right? Nope. We just looked for an alternative and found…

Salad dressing.

Yep, the same Greek salad dressing I used in our pouch dinners not so long ago made a great marinade and grilling sauce for our ribs. The ribs were full of flavor and totally without any ingredient that could offend my immune system or his pancreas. Perfect!

So, my challenge to you is to examine your refrigerator and your pantry shelves. What do you have that can be used in some other way? How can you get your food to do double or even triple duty and increase the variety in your diet?

Find it, tell us about it and let’s go eat that!


Deborah Dowd said...

I love using Thai sweet chili sauce instead of the usual cocktail sauce with shrimp-the sweet-hot flavor is a perfect accompaniment!

Sandra Gordon said...

Oh, that's a good one! Switching out the flavor profile like that makes it an entirely new dish. Great idea.