Substitutions {Giveaway}

by Jenn (eating bender) on June 16, 2010

The middle of June holds many a special holiday.

Tomorrow, June 17, is my brother’s 17th birthday – the Golden Year!

This Sunday, June 20, is Father’s Day.

And today, June 16, is Bobby’s brother and sister-in-law’s anniversary. Cheers to Cara and Jim!


Minor freak outs aside, I could not be more excited. I know this summer is going to go by in a blur with all of the crazy – but fun – things that are planned. October is going to be here before we know it! It’s just a matter of making sure all the t’s are dotted and i’s are crossed.

Wait, I think I said that wrong…

Fortunately, I have a wonderful mom who has my back – and so much more – with everything. At this rate, I am going to have to buy her a new car with all of her time and effort 😉 Seriously though, I have to take a moment to thank her for all that she’s done so far and will continue to do.

Thank you, mom!


If there’s one thing my mom rarely does, it’s substitute. She is always looking for the best possible options in everything she does – which is why she is such a great bargain shopper and detail-oriented event planner. I fully support her philosophy and strive to do my own thorough searches for that “perfect fit” before looking for any alternatives when it comes to a work project, new exercise plan, etc.

The only exception to this rule is the kitchen. {Ironically, mom doesn’t spend much time there…} I love substituting ingredients in recipes, if only because I almost never have all of the ingredients I need. But apart from that, there is also something fun about creating your own unique spin on a culinary creation, whether it’s as simple as a sauce or marinade, or as elaborate as a 20-step baked good.

For this reason, I was delighted to have the opportunity to interview the author of Substituting Ingredients: The A to Z Kitchen Reference (June 2010), Becky Sue Epstein.

Becky Sue Epstein has experience in the fields of wine, spirits, food and travel. She has traveled and lived on the East and West Coasts, as well as in the UK, the Middle East and Europe.

I hope you enjoy the interview!

It seems as though every time I make a recipe, there are one or two ingredients that get left out or substituted, so your new book has been a wonderful resource so far! How did you decide to write about this topic?

Basically, I like to make improvisational meals, and I don’t like to spend a lot of money on a spice or condiment I might only use once.

I’ve been experimenting with different marinades for chicken and fish. Do you have a particular favorite from your book?

If you like some Asian flavor on your fish and chicken, there’s a marinade in the book that makes a LOT of it – 3-1/2 cups. If your family likes the flavors of barbecue sauce better, mix in 1-3/4 cups ketchup. The trick is to only put the fish in for about 20-30 minutes. If you’re making chicken, it can marinate longer.

You can make one batch of this marinade and split it between the fish and chicken if you’re serving both. (Do not put fish and chicken in the same container.)

Mix together:

  • 1-1/2 cups soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • dash of bottled hot sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed

Sounds great! I also read in your bio that you have really traveled and lived around the world. Do you find that these places have inspired your writing or recipes?

Absolutely! Every region has their own foods, traditional dishes and sauces – and even their own names for things. Like satsumas are common in the UK, while we eat what we call clementines (or mandarin oranges). And different cultures use different greens, or different rices and grains as their everyday foods, which is why I have listings of things like similar grains and similar greens that are interchangeable in many recipes.

I also read that you are experienced in the field of wine. My fiance and I will be traveling to Napa for our honeymoon. What are some of your favorite ways to use wine in recipes?

I like wine in marinades and in stews, dishes that have time for the wine to really cook in and meld with all other flavors.

What ingredients do you find yourself substituting most often?

When I was growing up, we never had baking chocolate so I got used to substituting for that whenever I made chocolate cake. Now, I look at the baking pan sizes section a lot, because I often have a different size pan than the recipe calls for. For the book, I measured and listed volume (the number of cups) in different pans so I know whether my pan will work or I’ll have to make 1-1/2 or 2 times the recipe.

Sometimes I make “healthy” substitutions in baked goods, etc., but find when I go to try the recipe, the food doesn’t taste at all like the real thing. Are there any examples of items that you believe should not be substituted?

Well, if you really want chocolate, a carob cake will not satisfy you.  But make a great carob cake and it will be nice and moist and a little fruity. With substitutions like honey for sugar and whole wheat flour for white flour, I add cautions that you have to check the total amount of liquid and the baking times.

In general, I find it’s best to start with substituting only a percentage – a quarter or a half – of an ingredient in a recipe. And this may be counter-intuitive, but if you take all the salt out of a sweet baked good, it will not taste right: a dash of salt really helps the sweetness in the food.

Where does your passion for food and cooking come from?

I think it’s because I like to eat!

What has been one of the most satisfying experiences or lessons you’ve learned as a food writer?

I’ve learned that I can go in 2 directions: to not be afraid to experiment, and also to be disciplined when I have develop and test a recipe.

I have my own aspirations to be an author someday! One of the hardest things for me is developing a topic and seeing it through to its completion. I tend to get sidetracked by something else or decide that it’s not good enough and people won’t want to read. Can you share your top general tips for writers?

You have to trust yourself.

Also, read aloud what you’ve written – that helps with your word choice and word flow. Really aloud, not just moving your lips silently. If you can, join – or form – a writers’ group that meets regularly, no excuses.

Lastly, I’d love to hear what’s next for you! Any major projects in the works?

My next book is A Global History of Champagne and Sparkling Wine, an area I’ve been researching for years. (Really!)


Big thanks to Becky Sue Epstein for taking the time to answer my questions! You can find a copy of her book here on Amazon, but if you would like to enter for a chance to win, see below!

Substituting Ingredients Giveaway

I’m so excited to send a copy of this book to one of my readers! It truly is a great guide and also includes things you might not expect such as green household cleaners and budget-friendly ingredient guides.

If you’d like to enter, leave a comment on this post with one or more of the following:

  • Leave a comment listing your favorite ingredient to substitute in recipes
  • Tweet “Visit @EatingBender for a chance to win Substituting Ingredients from @beckysueepstein:” and then leave a comment letting me know you tweeted
  • If you aren’t on Twitter, leave a comment letting me know you are not on there and instead tell me one cool fact you learned from Becky Sue’s blog

I figure that’s the best way to give everyone a chance at two entries :) I will randomly select one winner on Friday, June 18th at 9:00 pm CST and let you know on Saturday.

Good luck! Can’t wait to see all of your fun substitutions and facts!


{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica June 16, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Pumpkin or applesauce!


2 Ilene June 16, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Whole wheat flour :)


3 Ilene June 16, 2010 at 7:01 pm

I don’t have Twitter, but I learned from Becky’s blog that it’s easy to pair high-end food with cheap wines!


4 Amanda June 16, 2010 at 7:17 pm

I like to substitute applesauce for butter!


5 Amanda June 16, 2010 at 7:20 pm

On Becky Sue’s blog, I learned some new names of wines that I have never heard of before!


6 Julia June 16, 2010 at 7:24 pm

I’m a big fan of substituting egg whites for whole eggs – less cholesterol yay!


7 Shannon June 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm

two subs i make now w/o thinking about it are white whole wheat (or whole wheat pastry, whichever is cheaper) for white flour and greek yogurt for sour cream :)


8 Astrid June 16, 2010 at 7:35 pm

I never have vanilla extract when I need it, so I love to substitute an alcohol, such as rum or whiskey, and sometimes kahlua or bailey’s. I’m too lazy to buy a bottle of vanilla!


9 Tara June 16, 2010 at 7:42 pm

I love experimenting with different veggies in carrot cake. This started because one time I really wanted carrot cake, but I only had a zucchini. It was delicious though and now I use all kinds of different veggies.


10 BroccoliHut June 16, 2010 at 7:58 pm

I like to substitute tofu for hardboiled egg whites–not having to boil, peel, and chop the eggs saves a lot of time!


11 Brittany June 16, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Great interview Jenn! I’m all about substituting or leaving out ingredients as well. I don’t like buying a full jar or container of something that I won’t use again. I’m all about being resourceful!

I love substituting flax and water for eggs in baked goods. It’s just so cool how gelatinous ground flax can get. :)

Happy b-day to your bro!!


12 Kate June 16, 2010 at 8:28 pm

This was such a fun interview to read! I love the thought of substitution! I like to substitute out applesauce for oil or butter and flax/water mixture for eggs and milk for almond/soy/hemp milk so that I can make vegan baked goods!


13 Mara @ What's For Dinner? June 16, 2010 at 8:33 pm


I’m always substituting lemon juice for cream of tartar in egg white based meringues… I can never find the darn little thing of cream of tartar!


14 Nic June 17, 2010 at 1:30 am

I rarely have eggs and butter at home!
So I often substitute (like Kate) applesauce for oil/butter (or just use oil instead of butter) and banana or a flax-egg for an egg!
Oh and of course I tweeted!! :) @nicpicpic


15 Julie @SavvyEats June 17, 2010 at 5:10 am

Flax eggs!!


16 sals June 17, 2010 at 5:23 am

I always use whole wheat flour in my recipes! and typically use flaxseed instead of eggs.


17 sals June 17, 2010 at 5:25 am

no twitter, but I learned about Becky Sues visit to a seminar on tea – there are many different characteristics and types of teas!


18 jen June 17, 2010 at 6:13 am

I hate lemon and always sub it with lime!


19 Jenn @ Watch My Butt Shrink! June 17, 2010 at 6:33 am

Sounds like a great book to have in the kitchen! I like to sub whole wheat flour for regular flour when baking yummy things.


20 jenngirl June 17, 2010 at 6:57 am

This book sounds so great! I often do not try recipes because there are ingredients that I do not have, and will probably never use again in them, so knowing suitable substitutions would be very helpful.

I love that water+ground flax seed can be substituted for eggs.


21 Joanne June 17, 2010 at 7:03 am

I have always been a big fan of using applesauce instead of oil.


22 Joanne June 17, 2010 at 7:06 am

No twitter, but what I learnt from Becky Sue’s Blog is that I definitely do not drink enough wine :)


23 *Andrea* June 17, 2010 at 8:02 am

i love using greek yogurt for sour cream in mexican dishes!


24 luckytastebuds June 17, 2010 at 8:24 am

What a fun interview…as usual Jenn!! I wish it could have been longer. :)

Let’s see… I do love using the chia seed and water or flax with water for eggs just because I never eat up my fresh eggs before they go bad. I also love agave instead of sugar or honey in recipes! OH! And low-fat yogurt instead of oil in brownies and cakes.


25 Emily June 17, 2010 at 8:38 am

Applesauce for oil or bananas for eggs!


26 Emily June 17, 2010 at 8:40 am

I’m not on Twitter, but I learned that she is the editor of The Palate Press online.


27 Michelle June 17, 2010 at 9:04 am

I basically only use whole wheat flour at this point–no matter what the recipe says.


28 Spiceaholic June 17, 2010 at 9:16 am

Great interview and awesome giveaway!

When baking, I sub applesauce or yogurt for part of the oil/butter. I also sub soy or almond milk for regular milk.


29 Erin June 17, 2010 at 9:19 am

A good substitution is awesome- but I also like to add things in. I love adding chopped nut to anything I bake. I am also a mac and cheese fanatic, but I try to make it a bit more healthful by adding in whatever veggies I can get my hands on. Its all about making the food work better for you and your diet.


30 Spiceaholic June 17, 2010 at 9:28 am

I tweeted! I’m @spiceaholic80


31 Stephanie C June 17, 2010 at 9:40 am

I like to substitute a portion of whole wheat flour for all purpose flour when baking.


32 Stephanie C June 17, 2010 at 9:43 am

Not on Twitter – I learned about the cork harvest/process from Becky Sue’s Blog


33 Akanksha June 17, 2010 at 10:33 am

SWEETENER! I have a serious sweet tooth, and this saves my life. Knowing Stevia is just better for you has been life-restoring!

I tweeted! I’m Akanksha Chawla on Twitter.


34 Cristin June 17, 2010 at 11:01 am

Oh my goodness! What a great idea for a book!

I love the faux flax egg. And Greek yogurt for sour cream. But I could definitely use more ideas!

Great giveaway!


35 kari June 17, 2010 at 11:19 am

i love using plain yogurt in recipes and also as a sour cream substitute on things like tacos. yummm!


36 Sarah Louise June 17, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I like to substitute apple sauce for oil, and whole wheat flour for all purpose flour.


37 Lisa June 17, 2010 at 1:47 pm

My favorite item to substitute is soy milk…I always feel like I’m being so much healthier…even if I’m only tricking myself :)


38 Ashlee June 17, 2010 at 2:36 pm

This book sounds amazing!! I use Greek yogurt a lot instead of sour cream and the yogurt for part of the amount of butter. It is healthier and adds protein.


39 Ashlee June 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm

I don’t have twitter, but I realize I need to have more wine in my life after reading Becky Sue’s blog. :)


40 MaryZ June 17, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Favorite substitution is in place of buttermilk, I use regular milk with lemon juice in it. (Really, who has buttermilk in the fridge regularly?)


41 Ashley June 17, 2010 at 4:05 pm

whole wheat flour for white!


42 Ashley June 17, 2010 at 4:07 pm
43 Ashley June 17, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I don’t use Twitter, but I’ve been substituting (or adding!) vegetables into more and more dishes in efforts to eat less meat and eat healthier in general. However, it seems my tastebuds aren’t so keen on mushrooms or eggplants (yet!) so I try to substitute them in recipes with either other ingredients that similarly take in a lot of flavor (carrot or tofu) or something I really LOVE like asparagus or bell peppers. I just have to make sure to add more broth or stock to the dish if I’m throwing in something like carrots.


44 Karla June 17, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Great interview and giveaway Jenn! We should chat soon–I’m crazy busy like you now, but we can squeak out time for a phone chat, right? 😀 Looking forward to hearing about all the wedding plans and exciting work news!

My favorite substitution is applesauce in baked goods. And when I don’t have buttermilk, I use 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and 1 cup skim milk per cup of buttermilk in the recipe. Works well!!

PS: Happy Birthday baby Bender!


45 tRANG June 17, 2010 at 9:10 pm

I love using applesauce instead of oil or yogurt instead of sour cream.


46 Laura E June 17, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Thanks for the opportunity! I love using agave nectar and some whole wheat flour in baked goods!


47 Laura E June 17, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I’m not on twitter but I checked out Becky Sue’s blog and learned that Italy produces 30% of all the wine in the European Union!


48 Mimi (Damn the Freshman 15) June 18, 2010 at 1:09 am

Greek yogurt for sour cream!


49 Jessica June 18, 2010 at 5:43 am

I always sub bananas or flax for eggs. I also like doing the applesauce for oil, not for calorie/health but usually I don’t have enough oil!


50 Kelly June 18, 2010 at 9:02 am

Great interview. I have so many, not all of them healthy. :-) I love reserving duck fat and using it instead of butter or oil when cooking as it adds so much flavor. On the healthy side, I think my favorite is prune baby food. It’s a lovely oil replacement in chocolate baked goods.


51 freckledfoodie June 18, 2010 at 9:20 am

I think this is a busy month for all of us! We’ve got all kinds of vacation, tournaments, father’s day celebrations, and birthdays in my famliy too! :)

Great giveaway! I’m excited to enter:

My fave substitute is probably canned pumpkin!


52 freckledfoodie June 18, 2010 at 9:24 am

I don’t Tweet, but I learned on Becky Sue’s blog that she began her career as a restaurant reviewer for the Los Angeles Times! How cool!?


53 Meagan June 18, 2010 at 10:23 am

I always use Greek Yogurt in my recipes to mix it up a bit!


54 Sarah @ See Sarah Eat June 18, 2010 at 11:19 am

As a vegan, I really love all the substitutions there are for dairy and eggs. It makes vegan cooking so much easier and the food just as tasty (if not moreso)!

Thanks for the giveaway, I’d love to check out that book :)


55 Sarah @ See Sarah Eat June 18, 2010 at 11:20 am

I tweeted! @SeeSarahEat


56 RedOne June 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I love substituting pureed beans for flours when baking


57 Sophia June 18, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Awesome interview. You can never have too many substitutes. I found this helpful guide of Healthy Substitutions that I thought you might like. Keep up the good work!


58 Jenn (eating bender) July 1, 2010 at 8:28 am

Thanks, Sophia!! That guide is great :)


59 Chelsey June 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Hi! I found you on food buzz – I have been looking for chicago bloggers! I’m glad there’s some out there!



60 Jenn (eating bender) July 1, 2010 at 8:27 am

Hi Chelsey! So glad you found me! We definitely have a community – I’ll make sure that you are on the email chain for the next blogger meet-up, if you’d like!


61 Chelsey July 1, 2010 at 9:20 am

That would be awesome thanks!


62 Lee June 19, 2010 at 4:45 pm

October will be here before you know it. I feel like I just got engaged and our wedding is next week! And, I like to sub whole wheat flour for regular. A boring answer, I know!


63 Jenn (eating bender) June 19, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Ahhh! I knew it was getting close – SO excited for you, Lee! I can’t wait to hear all about it and see pictures!


64 CaSaundra June 20, 2010 at 8:02 am

You always do such a great job of interviewing different people–thanks for sharing! My favorite sub is applesauce for oil when baking.


65 Jenn (eating bender) July 1, 2010 at 8:26 am

Aw, thank you CaSaundra! Great substitute!


66 Ann June 21, 2010 at 12:47 am

apple sauce for oil when baking. lowers fat tastes delicious


67 Chocolate Coated Runner June 23, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Applesauce and Bananas =)


68 Laura June 27, 2010 at 9:00 am

Um, not to try and detract from credibility of the cookbook, but in the U.K. we eat satsumas AND clementines AND mandarins- they’re different members of the same citrus family I think… more accurate examples would be British porridge = oatmeal, or American flapjacks = pancakes, (British flapjacks are more like American granola bars?) Sorry, my perfectionist tendencies are definitely coming out! Hope you are having a great, not too humid weekend! *sheepishly slinking off now*


69 Jenn (eating bender) June 27, 2010 at 9:04 am

I love it, Laura! I’m really glad you took the time to clarify – you would know best! I have plenty of perfectionist tendencies of my own and appreciate knowing the right answers now 😉 Thank you!

Watching England vs. Germany right now, by the way!!


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