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  • Sarah Kavlich

Let's Get Creative in the Kitchen

Going shopping while we are faced with a global pandemic creates many challenges. One of which is the idea of sheltering in place and the need to limit your trips outside of your home in order to do your part to help flatten the curve. So how do you create healthy meals for yourself or your family? We’d like to offer a few tips on using what you already have and the flexibility of substitution.

Substitute for tomato sauce?  Try pureed, canned, or diced tomatoes instead.  You can also try jarred pasta sauce, just remember to ease up on other seasonings in the recipe like salt, pepper, and herbs. Out of ground beef or turkey?  Replace ground turkey or other animal protein in your casserole or pasta with canned beans such as cannellini, black beans, or pinto beans. Fresh vs. dried herbs/spices?  If your recipe calls for fresh garlic, or herbs, you can substitute the dried alternative instead. Use ~1/3 of the amount that the recipe calls for when working with dried herbs since they are more concentrated in flavor. Remember you can always add more flavor and adjust the seasoning at the end. Vegetable substitutes?  Substitute canned or frozen vegetables in recipes that call for fresh. This works particularly well for soups, casseroles, and stir-fries.

  • In general, shallots, green onions, and regular onions can be used in place of each other.

Interchangeable dairy option?  Recipes that call for plain yogurt to add a finishing flavor to your dish can generally be replaced with sour cream and vice versa.



If you prefer to work with a recipe go ahead and start there but remember that you don’t have to stop there. Use your imagination and what you already have on hand and who knows, you might even create a new favorite!

Check out these resources:

For both beginners and advanced, The  New York Times has an incredible subscription chock full of all types of recipes, tips and tricks.  https://www.nytimes.com/subscription/cooking?campaignId=6W9RF&gclid=Cj0KCQjw6_vzBRCIARIsAOs54z5KrNUrZ2qEYVchkBd-MlmWMc3SpHAfXYNLZ-9mDY8k5nXLbI73fwQaAoW9EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Check out a meal delivery service like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh to save the trip the grocery store or worrying over what to make and have a step by step guide to meal prep! https://www.blueapron.com/ or https://www.hellofresh.com/.

For those of you who follow special diets, check out Epicured https://www.epicured.com/, Modify Health https://modifyhealth.com/ or Territory Foods www.territoryfoods.com for some meal delivery options. 

Got bored kids at home? If you are open to temporarily having a messy kitchen, check out Americas Test Kitchen Classroom for kids and ideas: https://www.americastestkitchen.com/kids/home. They also have great stuff for grown ups: https://www.americastestkitchen.com/ and are offering a 3 month subscription for $1.


If you need more tips on how to get creative in the kitchen, our dietitians are here to help!

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Disclaimer: Our dietitians are registered with accreditation from the Commission on Dietetic Registration.  Our dietitians are not licensed physicians.  We cannot diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical conditions.  Always let your physician know about any of your health concerns, and check with your doctor before making any diet, medication, exercise, or lifestyle changes.  I understand that the AccessRDNow dietitians are not providing health care or medical services and will not diagnose, treat, or cure in any manner whatsoever any disease, condition, or other physical or mental ailment of the human body.  The information is for educational purposes only.