Delicious Living Blog

Easy ways to modify a favorite recipe

Use your imagination to customize any recipe with ingredients you have on hand.

I’m constantly trying to encourage people that recipes—any recipes—should really be considered more like guidelines. If you have different ingredients on hand, or if you’re hankering for a different taste, give yourself permission to tweak as necessary! 

This definitely goes for Delicious Living recipes as well. Just last weekend, our beauty and digital editor, Jessica Rubino, made our favorite recipe for Chocolate Mousse Parfaits (with its secret superhealthy ingredient: avocado).

But because she was hosting a Mexican-themed party, she had the bright idea to add cinnamon and cayenne pepper to the mix, thus lending the mixture a south-of-the-border kick. She also topped it with mango instead of raspberries. Love it!

Likewise:

  • If you want to make tabblouleh but can’t eat wheat or gluten, make the same recipe with quinoa or millet.
  • If you don’t have pine nuts for classic basil pesto, use almonds, pistachios, or cashews.
  • If you don’t have spinach for a salad, substitute any finely chopped leafy green, such as kale, chard, or even beet greens. 
  • No olives? Try capers or sliced sun-dried tomatoes.

A caveat: The one exception to this "substitute at will" approach is baking, where measurements actually matter. (That's why I'm not very fond of baking.)

How have you modified your favorite Delicious Living recipes? Let us know in the comments below.

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 31, 2012

I "substitute at will" when it comes to baking. Like doing any substitutions, you have to make an informed guess as to whether it will work or not and be willing to eat something odd tasting - or scratch the batch and chalk it up to a learning experience.

I think people are afraid of making substitutions in baking because they never try. It's all about practicing and learning to know when a batter looks and feels "right".

on Sep 4, 2012

You're braver than I am, but I like your style! I agree, the more you try your hand at any kind of substituting, the more you'll start to understand ingredients and what will work (or not). Just yesterday I made a peach-blackberry crisp (admittedly a very forgiving type of "baking") and substituted all over the place. It turned out fantastic -- no small thanks, of course, to the organic and perfect peaches and blackberries.

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