It was about ten years ago now that I lost fifty pounds. And while I was in the thick of weight loss, I discovered recipe substitutions. I will admit to having prior knowledge about the substitution of applesauce for oil but that is about as far as I took it. And to be honest, in some cookie recipes, it just doesn't work that well because you simply cannot get a crisp cookie. Then, my sister, a terrific baker, told me about a Weight Watchers recipe where you took a pre-packaged cake mix (chocolate) and instead of adding the oil and eggs, you added a small can of pumpkin. And while the batter was thicker than most, the cake itself was delicious. Once I posted my discovery on Facebook, my friend Gail mention a recipe where using Fresca instead of the pumpkin (a yellow or white cake mix works better here) and again, it was a very edible cake. So this whole substitution thing led me down a rabbit hole of trying this in other recipes. I have used pumpkin instead of oil in several short breads recipes, especially either a pumpkin bread (duh) and even a sweet potato bread. And now that I have friends that are vegan or gluten free, the knowledge of how to substitute and what to substitute have made my ability to tweak a recipe a good thing because I can (hopefully successfully) feed a broader range of people.
I will be the first to readily admit that I am not out to light the world on fire as a food blogger. There are plenty of folks doing a terrific job at that right now. However, over the years, I have tried a thing or two that others might not have and I have to admit, I have had some terrific successes. On the other hand, I have also had some abysmal failures - which accounts for the reason my son very cautiously asks me, before taking a bite of a new recipe, "Mom, did you follow the recipe exactly or make some substitutions." And he calls himself a chef... This whole idea will probably make more sense if I just share a recipe and you can see what I mean. The following is a basic Oatmeal Cookie recipe that I have tweaked. The new recipe is vegan. And with slight alteration that I have noted at the below, you can make this gluten free or paleo.
1/2 cup plus 6 tbs butter Spectrum spread softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar Truvia baking mix (if you like sugar, knock yourself out)
2 eggs 2 tbs flax meal plus 6 tbs water (or you can use chia seeds)
1 tsp vanilla (does anyone really measure vanilla?)
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour (1 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup almond flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups quick or old fashioned oats
1 cup raisins candied ginger
1 cup chopped almonds
Heat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, cream together Spectrum and sugars. Add flax, water and vanilla. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add oats and raisins and mix well.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown.
To make this gluten free, simply use all almond flour. To make this paleo, keep the eggs and use all almond flour, eliminate the white sugar and replace the brown with maple syrup. You can also experiment with a combo of Spectrum and coconut oil. With all Spectrum, the cookies have a fabulous crunch and are light and crispy. With some coconut oil, they develop a chewiness that is pretty darn good. Let me know what you think!
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