4 Surprisingly Delicious Food Substitutions

When you’re juggling a jam-packed schedule, finding something new to eat isn’t always a priority. Although there is nothing wrong with defaulting to your favorite standby, switching things up can be a positive change. Whether you’re gluten-free, dairy-free or love to eat it all, here are some food substitutions to help refresh and re-jigger your go-to meals.

If you usually go for: Mayo-based meals
Try this: Avocado
Avocado is often categorized as a superfood, packed to the brim with beneficial nutrients. This flexible fruit can dazzle in a side dish of guacamole or on avocado toast. But an unexpected way to use an avocado is as a mayo replacement. Next time you make chicken or tofu salad, swap mayo for avocado to hold the mixture together and keep the smooth texture. Avocados can also help other recipes that are best extra creamy, like smoothies and fresh pesto.

If you usually go for: Starch and rice
Try this: Cauliflower
When you first look at a cauliflower, the possibilities might not seem endless. But when you add a food processor or blender to the picture, things really shake up! Craving mashed potatoes but looking for a healthy alternative? Steam a cauliflower and blend it up with cream if you can have dairy or olive oil works if you are dairy-free, add salt and pepper, and you have a convincing substitute. Also try cauliflower crust pizza, cauliflower couscous or even cauliflower nuggets.

If you usually go for: Cheese and cream
Try this: Cashew cheese
Nut milk is a great alternative to milk, but the nut derivatives don’t end there. Cashew cream can be used in place of cheese in stuffed shells or lasagna, as a topping to a quinoa/rice bowl or liquefied to a cream to replace alfredo sauce. Just soak cashews for a few hours and blend with your favorite spices. Add or subtract liquid to get the texture just right for what you’re cooking. If you have a sweet tooth, cashew cream can also be used to make the filling for a yummy dairy-free, vegan pie.

If you usually go for: Honey, agave or sugar
Try this: Dates
Keep your baked goods sweet but low on sugar by swapping in dates. They naturally sweeten whatever you’re working with, from breakfast (oatmeal) to dessert (cookies). Dates not only sub for sugar but for flour as well. Mix them with walnuts (and some chocolate chips if you so choose) for a pared-down but still delicious cookie. And if your green smoothies need something sweet, dates are a delicious sweetener alternative. Add to your mixture and blend until smooth.

Sarah Wormser is the Creative Project Manager at ClassPass, a professional to-do list maker, amateur at-home chef and avid park-goer. You can find Sarah trying classes all around New York, from tap dancing to rowing.