Missing an Ingredient? Here’s What You Can Use Instead

Alexa Weibel wrote . . . . . . . . .

The most important skill in the kitchen — and, arguably, life — is adaptability. The list below, which is by no means comprehensive, is meant to help you replace ingredients with confidence. Every alternative listed may not work in every case, especially when it comes to baking, but if you consider the ingredient’s texture, flavor and cook time, and make decisions according to taste, you’ll greatly expand your options — and you may even end up with a dish you like better than the original.


Flavor and texture are important considerations when substituting dairy products. When working with liquids, you can doctor consistency easily, thickening milk with a little flour or cornstarch to mimic half-and-half, or thinning out Greek yogurt with water to replicate milk.

The ingredients below are ordered from thinnest to firmest; if you don’t have the desired substitute for a specific item, feel free to move up or down the list.


Half-and-half or heavy cream thinned with water, evaporated milk, light coconut milk, light cream, oat milk, nut milk, soy milk.


Thicken milk with a little cornstarch or flour (about 1 tablespoon per cup of liquid) or thin heavy cream with a splash of water.

Heavy cream:

For 1 cup heavy cream, substitute 3/4 cup milk plus 1/4 cup melted butter (for richness), or simply thicken 1 cup milk with 1 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch or even flour. (Whisk the milk into the dried ingredient little by little.) Other options include coconut milk or coconut cream (beware of increased sweetness), or even softened cream cheese whisked with a little water. Be aware that you won’t be able to beat alternatives into fluffy whipped cream.


For 1 cup buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (or light vinegar, such as white vinegar, white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar) to a measuring cup and add enough milk to reach 1 cup. Alternately, thin one part yogurt, sour cream or other creamy dairy product with one part milk, or thin two parts yogurt or other creamy dairy product with one part water.


If using the butter to conduct heat, as in pan-frying, you could use olive oil or other fats. (See Oils and Fats category below.) For flavor substitutions — like stirring butter into risotto or polenta to add richness — a number of creamy options like heavy cream or mascarpone will achieve similar results.

Creamy dairy products:

Tangy, textural ingredients like crema, crème fraîche, mascarpone, Neufchâtel, Quark, queso fresco, sour cream or yogurt of any variety can be used interchangeably.


The cheese world is so vast that it’s impossible to cover the entire range. When substituting cheeses, think about its purpose: Will your cheese melt evenly in a creamy pasta sauce, or spread easily on toast? If you’re cooking the cheese, you might want to substitute a cheese with a similar texture, but if the cheese is used as an accent, you’ve got much more flexibility. Most widely available cheeses (predominantly cow’s milk) can be broken down into the following broad categories:

  • Fresh, unripened cheese (soft and wet): Cottage cheese, cream cheese, fromage blanc, ricotta cheese.
  • Soft-ripened cheese (creamy): Brie, Camembert, Pont l’Evêque, taleggio.
  • Semifirm or semisoft cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Edam, fontina, Gouda, Havarti, Jarlsberg, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Muenster, pepper Jack, Port-Salut, Swiss cheese.
  • Hard aged cheeses: Asiago, Comté, Gruyère, Manchego, Parmesan, pecorino.

Oils and Fats

Oils and fats each have a smoke point, which is the temperature at which the oil or fat begins to burn: Neutral oils with high smoke points won’t burn when exposed to high temperatures (as in deep-frying or pan-frying), whereas butter and other solid fats (with low smoke points) burn easily.

We’ve grouped oils and fats into three categories, bearing in mind flavor and smoke point. While many of these ingredients in the following categories are interchangeable, you’ll want to base your selection on those criteria.

Neutral oils (high smoke point): Canola oil, coconut oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil.

Flavored oils (medium or high smoke point): Avocado oil, nut oils, olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil.

Solid fats (low smoke point): Bacon fat, butter, chicken fat, lard, margarine, vegetable shortening. Solid when refrigerated but liquid when hot, ghee (clarified butter) has a very high smoke point similar to neutral oils.


Though stock improves flavor, its primary purpose is to add liquid. If the recipe calls for a little stock, you can substitute water. If the recipe calls for a lot of stock, use water seasoned with one of the ingredients below, keeping the flavors of your recipe in mind. Start small and taste as you go, especially since some items skew significantly sweet, salty or condensed.

Stock substitutes:

Water seasoned with beer or white wine, juice (such as orange juice or apple juice), melted butter, milk (dairy, coconut, nut or soy milk), miso paste, mushroom stock (liquid from soaked dried mushrooms), olive oil, soy sauce, tea.



Most greens can be defined by their flavor and texture: Are they bitter or mild? Sturdy or tender? When choosing a substitute, consider how the greens are being used. Tender greens are often consumed raw while sturdy ones might need to be cooked longer; simply add the greens earlier or later in the cooking process as needed.

Mild and tender: Chard, lettuce, mâche, mesclun, spinach, tatsoi.

Mild and firm: Bok choy, cabbage, collard greens.

Bitter and tender: Arugula, endive, frisée, mizuna, radicchio, radish greens, watercress.

Bitter and firm: Escarole, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens.


Substituting vegetables in a recipe can be tricky, and depends largely on personal taste. But some can definitely step in for others: say brussels sprouts for broccoli. You’ll just want to bear in mind texture, moisture content and density. We’ve broken common vegetables up into two categories, based on cook times: Many in the same category cook at a similar rate, but if you’d like to substitute a firm vegetable for a quick-cooking one or vice versa, simply increase or decrease the cook time by adding the ingredient earlier or later in your recipe.

Quick-cooking: Asparagus, cabbage (bok choy, broccoli, broccolini, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale), celery, corn, eggplant, fennel, mushrooms, peas, peppers, summer squash, zucchini.

Firm: Root vegetables (beet, carrot, celery root, parsnip, potato, sweet potato, turnip), winter squash (such as butternut squash, delicata, kabocha, pumpkin).


Because of garlic’s pronounced flavor, it’s difficult to find an exact substitute, but leeks, onions (red, white or yellow), scallions, shallots and spring onions are largely interchangeable. Garlic and onions are available in dried form (powdered, granulated or dehydrated as flakes), which are infinitely more potent — and can skew bitter if overused. Substitute dried ingredients in place of fresh with moderation, and only when the fresh is called for in smaller quantities rather than bulk.


Fresh herbs fall into two categories: tender, bright herbs (basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley and tarragon), which are typically at their most flavorful when fresh, or woody, savory herbs (bay leaves, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme), which better retain their essential oils when dried. Since dried herbs are more potent than fresh, you’ll want to use less: Substitute one teaspoon dried herbs for each tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs. In general, you can substitute one tender herb for another, or one woody herb for another, but substituting a woody herb for a tender herb (and vice versa) works less frequently. Rely on personal preference, availability and the other ingredients you’re cooking with to pick an appropriate substitute.

Basil: Chervil, cilantro, dill, Italian seasoning, oregano, mint, parsley.

Bay leaves: Herbes de Provence, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme.

Chervil: Basil, dill, parsley, tarragon.

Chives: Cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley.

Cilantro: Basil, chives, parsley, mint.

Dill: Basil, chervil, mint, parsley.

Marjoram: Herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme.

Mint: Basil, cilantro, dill, parsley.

Oregano: Bay leaves, herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning, rosemary, thyme, sage.

Parsley: Basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, Italian seasoning, mint, tarragon.

Rosemary: Bay leaves, herbes de Provence, oregano, thyme, sage.

Sage: Bay leaves, herbes de Provence, oregano, rosemary, thyme.

Tarragon: Chervil, parsley.

Thyme: Bay leaves, herbes de Provence, oregano, rosemary, sage.


When substituting spices, think about what will work in your dish. Most spices can be grouped into four flavor profiles — earthy, floral, peppery and warm. You’ll often be able to substitute a spice that hits the same notes by picking one with the same qualities.

Earthy: Curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, Vadouvan, za’atar.

Floral: Cardamom, coriander, fennel, lavender, nutmeg, saffron, star anise.

Peppery: Allspice, ground ginger, peppercorns, mustard powder, sumac.

Warm: Cinnamon, chile (dried), chili powder (blend), cloves, cumin, nutmeg, paprika.

When it comes to spice, there is ample room for experimentation. Consider layering flavor carefully by seasoning lightly at the start of cooking so the end result is subtle, that way you can increase the spice to taste, if desired, once your dish is fully cooked.

Allspice: Combine cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, or use any one of the three.

Cardamom: Coriander, fennel, ginger, lavender.

Cayenne: Aleppo pepper, chili powder, dried chiles, hot sauce, paprika, red-pepper flakes, sumac.

Chili powder: Combine paprika (sweet, hot or smoked), onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano and cayenne or red-pepper flakes; or use another warm spice, such as cayenne, cloves, cumin, nutmeg or paprika (sweet, hot or smoked).

Cinnamon: Allspice, apple pie spice blend, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice blend.

Cloves: Allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper.

Coriander: Cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, nutmeg, saffron, turmeric.

Cumin: Chili powder, coriander, curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric.

Curry powder: Combine coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and black pepper; or substitute allspice, chili powder, coriander, cumin, garam masala, or turmeric.

Ginger: Allspice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander.

Nutmeg: Allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ground ginger.

Paprika: Cayenne, chili powder, curry powder, black pepper.

Turmeric: Curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder, Vadouvan, za’atar.

Meat and Seafood

While many home cooks plan meals around a protein, even that’s flexible. Make protein substitutions according to preference and what you have on hand, and shift cook times accordingly, adding longer-cooking meats, like beef chuck, earlier or quick-cooking seafood later within the recipe. You can also adjust the size of the protein by cutting it into smaller pieces (or remove the meat from the bones) so it cooks faster, or leaving it in larger pieces so it cooks at a slower rate. Thinking broadly can expand your options even further: Tofu, lentils, beans and other vegetarian options can make excellent textural substitutes.


If swapping one cut of beef for another, try to substitute tough cuts (like chuck, brisket or round roast) for other tough cuts, and tender cuts (like strip steak, flank steak or filet mignon) for other quick-cooking cuts. You can also use lamb in place of beef in many recipes, though its flavor is more assertive.

Ground meat or fresh sausage:

Both can be used interchangeably. You can remove sausages from their casings, and cook them as ground meat, or flavor plain ground meat with red-pepper flakes, fennel seed, Italian herbs and other seasonings. You can also substitute ground meat of any kind, swapping in ground pork for ground beef in meatballs, or ground chicken for ground turkey in a larb, for example. But bear in mind the fat content of whatever you’re using: Ground pork is the fattier option; if cooking with ground beef, chicken, turkey or veal, you might want to add extra oil to provide extra fat.


Bone-in pork chops cook in roughly the same time as steaks of similar thickness, but you will want to use a meat thermometer to check the temperature to achieve desired doneness. If working with diced pork stew meat, cubed beef stew meats will cook at a similar rate. Cubed chicken will also work, but you’ll need to reduce cooking times.


You can substitute whole boneless, skinless breasts for boneless, skinless chicken thighs: Just butterfly the breasts or pound them thinly to achieve a similar thickness of thighs. (You may also need to adjust cook time.) If substituting bone-in, skin-on thighs, increase the cook time. Ground turkey or turkey breasts also achieve similar results as their chicken counterparts.

Fish fillets:

Most fish fillets are either lean (bass, catfish, cod, flounder, halibut, monkfish, red snapper, skate, sole, tilapia) or fatty (char, mahi-mahi, salmon, swordfish, tuna). Substitute lean for lean, and fatty for fatty.

Shrimp or scallops:

Fresh or frozen, both cook very quickly at similar rates and benefit from quick, high-heat cooking methods. Depending on your recipe, fish fillets or small pieces of meat or poultry also might be suitable substitutes.

Source: The New York Times

Eggs Gascon


4 eggs
1 medium-size onion (thinly sliced)
4-5 tablespoons oil
1-2 eggplants (according to size) — sliced and dégorgé (sprinkling with salt to remove excess liquid)
1/2 lb tomatoes (skinned and thickly sliced)
salt and pepper
dripping, or oil (for frying eggs)
2 gammon (Virginian ham) rashers (shredded)


  1. Saute onion slices in the oil until just brown. remove and set aside.
  2. Dry the eggplants and place them in the pan. Saute in the oil until golden-brown.
  3. Pour off any surplus fat and add the sliced tomatoes. Season, put back onion and cook for 6-7 minutes until mixture is rich and pulpy. Remove to a hot serving dish and keep warm.
  4. Wipe out pan, heat fat (or oil) and fry the eggs.
  5. Place eggs on top of the eggplant mixture.
  6. Shred the gammon and fry for 3-4 minutes in the pan.
  7. Scatter gammom over the eggs and serve at once.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Source: Cooking with Eggs

In Pictures: Home-cooked One-plate Breakfasts

Is Eating Beef Healthy? The New Fight Raging in Nutrition Science

Julia Belluz wrote . . . . . . . . .

A group of 14 researchers just set off a firestorm with a new series of studies that upends years of nutrition advice about meat. Their five systematic reviews, published Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, suggest there’s no health reason to eat less red meat — not even the bacon and salami we’ve been told for years to cut back on.

Led by Dalhousie University epidemiologist Bradley Johnston, the authors, who hail from seven different countries, focused on the impact of red meat consumption on cancer, cardiovascular disease, and mortality, among other effects, as well as people’s values and preferences regarding red meat.

Based on these studies, their conclusions — summarized in a new Annals clinical guideline — challenge the guidelines from just about every major national and international health group. Just four years ago, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that people should cut back on processed meats if they wanted to avoid certain types of cancer. The American Heart Association and the US government’s dietary guidelines panel have also long suggested curbing our meat habit for better health.

But the authors of the new studies argue that people can “continue their current consumption of both unprocessed red meat and processed meat,” meaning whatever amount they’re currently eating. That’s because the health impact of cutting back is either nonexistent or small, and the evidence of any harms is so weak, that it’d be misleading to suggest people should avoid meat for health reasons.

Importantly, the studies did not investigate non-health reasons for eschewing beef and bacon — including animal welfare and meat production’s harmful impact on the environment — and the science backing the environmental case remains stronger than ever.

But what’s really interesting about this new series is the argument that previously published guidelines have been, well, bad science.

“These papers provide a nice counterbalance to the current norm in nutritional epidemiology where scientists with strong advocacy tend to overstate their findings and ask for major public health overhauls even though the evidence is weak,” said Stanford meta-researcher John Ioannidis, a longtime critic of nutrition science who was not involved in the research.

So it comes as no surprise that already, the Annals series has prompted a fierce blowback from various groups who’ve long argued that red and processed meat consumption should be curbed. The American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and a slew of other researchers objected to the series. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine — a group that’s long endorsed a plant-based diet — filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission in response to the studies, asking the agency to “correct false statements” contained in the report, which they deemed a “major disservice to public health.”

So how did the authors of the new studies come to a wildly different conclusion? It’s less a story about whether or not one should eat meat and more about the challenges of nutrition science and how eating recommendations should be made.

Why the study authors determined eating red meat is fine for health

In the past, many of the groups that have set guidelines for whether or not humans should cut back on meat considered a very broad range of research, from animal evidence to case-control studies, a relatively weak type of observational research. (Here’s more on different types of study designs.) As you may have guessed, there are all kinds of problems with these kinds of study designs.

Models based on animal studies don’t always bear out in humans. Case-control studies are not the most reliable, either: Researchers start with an endpoint (for example, people who already have cancer). For each person with a disease (a case), they find a match (a control) — or someone who doesn’t have the disease. They then look backward in time and try to determine if any patterns of exposure (in this case, eating meat) differed in those with cancer compared to those who don’t have cancer.

But since meat eaters differ so fundamentally from those who don’t eat meat, the reasons the two groups have varying health outcomes could have nothing to do with meat. Researchers try to control for these “confounding factors,” but they can’t capture all of them.

Some past reports on meat eating have also factored in the environmental and social effects of gobbling up steaks and bacon.

The five Annals papers did something different: They looked only at the health effects of processed and unprocessed red meat. Processed red meats — everything from hotdogs and bacon to lunch meats — are transformed by salting, curing, or fermentation. Unprocessed meats include beef, veal, pork, lamb, and venison. The papers were also systematic reviews and meta analyses, or syntheses of the research evidence that bring together a bunch of studies with the goal of coming to more fully supported conclusions. And the researchers used a very strict definition of what constituted reliable evidence for inclusion in their reviews.

GRADE, a tool researchers used to come up with their guidelines, explained

More specifically, they relied on a trusted research-rating system called GRADE, or the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation, to decide which studies to include in their papers. GRADE was developed for creating summaries of research evidence to help guide health decision-making. It’s currently the most widely used tool for evaluating the quality of science, with more than 110 organizations endorsing the method.

The idea behind GRADE is to push reviewers to base their conclusions on only the most certain evidence available. And, according to the tool’s criteria, in the case of meat consumption and health, that was large cohort studies and randomized control trials. So the researchers simply threw everything else out, including the animal studies.

The logic was simple, says study author Gordon Guyatt, a professor at McMaster University who also helped develop GRADE. “What GRADE does is say we should rely on the highest quality evidence. In this instance, we had 600 cohort studies alone.”

Cohort studies are considered to be more trustworthy than case-control studies. Unlike case-control studies, they follow people with a known exposure (eating meat) through time, waiting to see if, when, and how many people develop a particular health outcome (such as heart disease or cancer). This means researchers are not left searching for artificial controls to match their cases. And since participants are followed forward, researchers can track in real time what they’re eating instead of relying on people’s faulty memories of the past.

Randomized controlled trials, meanwhile, are deemed the gold standard in health research. They take two groups of people and randomly assign them to an intervention (in this case, eating meat or not). The idea is that the only difference between the two is the intervention (whether or not they ate meat) and not any of those other confounding factors, like socioeconomic status. And while they’re challenging (and rare) in nutrition research, they’re generally more reliable than, say, animal models.

So that’s why the conclusions of the series look different from other similar reports: They used a new approach to evaluating nutrition research, picking out the best available evidence, tossing the rest.

On a range of health outcomes — from deaths due to cancer and cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer incidence, stroke, all-cause mortality, and heart attack — the researchers generally found either no benefit on cutting back on meat or one so small, and based on such weak evidence, it was deemed unreliable. (You can read the papers here, here, here, and here.) For the fifth review, the researchers looked at people’s feelings about meat consumption, again focusing only on health concerns (read: not moral, ethical, or environmental reasons for avoiding meat). And they found, essentially, that many people are attached to meat, and feel being able to eat it influences their quality of life.

Even the best evidence in nutrition is far from perfect

But the authors were clear that even the best-available evidence on meat is far from perfect. Let’s parse the language in their guideline recommendation (emphasis mine):

The panel suggests that adults continue current unprocessed red meat consumption (weak recommendation, low-certainty evidence). Similarly, the panel suggests adults continue current processed meat consumption (weak recommendation, low-certainty evidence).

In GRADE, there are four levels of evidence. And evidence is rated down if it’s deemed problematic for any reason — from imprecision to risk of being biased. In the case of meat and disease, the researchers determined, even the best evidence was “low certainty.”

So, Guyatt said, “We’re closer to saying: we really don’t know,” while past guidelines have generally suggested we fully understand meat’s health effects.

Now let’s look at what a “weak recommendation” means, according to GRADE. Weirdly, this isn’t just about the strength of the evidence; it’s also about people’s values and preferences.

A “strong recommendation” comes when a guideline panel believes all fully informed people would make the same choice. A “weak” one comes when “there is likely to be important variation in the decision that informed persons are likely to make,” according to a BMJ explainer on GRADE. As you’ll remember, one of their Annals reviews looked at people’s values and preferences around meat consumption, and found the majority of people value meat.

“When you trade that off with uncertain — and if it exists at all — small benefit from reducing meat,” Guyatt added, “our inference is that most people would choose to continue.” Hence, the weak recommendation.

In the past, he added, guidelines appeared to be focused on getting people to eat less meat rather than a truly dispassionate look at the science. “It doesn’t serve that goal well to point out either the uncertainty or the small effect.”

Not everyone is sold on the researchers’ approach

While people like the tough-to-please meta-researcher John Ioannidis called the series “very rigorous and unbiased,” others were not as impressed.

The Harvard School of Public Health — well known for trumpeting a plant-based, Mediterranean eating pattern — issued a response to the series, essentially discrediting it for discounting all the evidence showing meat’s links with poor health.

Christopher Gardner, a Stanford nutrition researcher, called the study’s GRADE approach inappropriate for nutrition. “I respect they want to have a clear-cut evidence base,” he told Vox, “but it won’t apply to lifestyle.”

Other guidelines consider observational epidemiology in additional to animal research and randomized trials, he added. “If you do that — and you’re the WHO — you say ‘based on the overall evidence from multiple disciplines, this is our best advice,’” said Gardner. “[The Annals researchers] just cut that off at the knees and said we’re not going to consider most of that.” Specifically, he was concerned that the authors threw out important and potentially relevant research, such as the PREDIMED and the Lyon Diet Heart studies. While these randomized trials didn’t focus on meat consumption, they did contain data on dietary patterns involving meat that may have been relevant.

Then there was the concern over the series’ omission: meat’s impact on climate, water, land, and pollution. “This is a missed opportunity,” the Harvard researchers wrote, “because climate change and environmental degradation have serious effects on human health, and thus is important to consider when making recommendations on diet, even if this is addressed separately from direct effects on individual health.”

But that wasn’t the purpose of the studies, said Guyatt. The point was to zero in on the fraught question of meat’s direct influence on health. Plus, he added, the new series is an attempt to do something radical: to say the rules of science should apply to nutrition. “Why have one set of rules for judging [nutrition] and another set of rules for some other area?” he asked. As he and his colleagues continue to apply their new method to other dietary questions, they may lead us to more uncomfortable conclusions.

Source: Vox

Study: Coronavirus Came to New York City From Europe, Not Asia

The new coronavirus has been circulating in New York City for longer than previously believed and most cases can be traced back to Europe, a new study reveals.

To come to that conclusion, genetic information about the coronavirus was gathered from nasal swab samples taken from 75 patients at Tisch Hospital, NYU Winthrop Hospital and NYU Langone Hospital Brooklyn, said the NYU Langone Health team.

The findings were submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data, which promotes the international sharing of data on influenza infections and is now tracking the evolution of the new coronavirus.

“The value of determining viral local sequences is that — the more that become available — the better we can monitor the spread and severity of the disease — and the more it can clarify which drugs, vaccines or social interventions are effective here,” said sequencing team leader Adriana Heguy, director of NYU Langone’s Genome Technology Center.

“We’re just starting this project, but will soon be sequencing 192 viral samples per week with the goal of offering thousands of sequences for analysis in the near future,” Heguy added in an NYU Langone news release.

“This global effort does not just determine the code of a single version of the virus, but tracks how its genetic code changes as it moves through a population, and with what consequences,” explained Dr. Matija Snuderl, director of Molecular Pathology and Diagnostics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City.

“As viruses evolve during transmission from person to person, their sequences can help researchers to zero in on the provenance, or place of origin, of that specific infection,” said Snuderl, who leads the clinical testing team.

“Slight changes in the genetic code of a virus that happen during transmission from person to person can help to guide the public health response,” added Matthew Maurano, from NYU Langone’s Institute for Systems Genetics and Department of Pathology.

Source: HealthDay

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