Cooked By TFW: Alternatives and Substitutes

So apparently it’s “holiday season…” I’ll spare you my rant on colonialism, capitalism, and all that is wrong with this time of year… What I will say is: talk to your family members about their problematic beliefs… ALSO… stop spending money on Black Friday. #VoteWithYourDollars.

With that said, a big concern (that might be an oversell; it’s a big deal to me, as fight team captain) we have at the gym is keeping our fighters at a manageable weight as we hit “big meals” season. We have several fighters, myself included, who recently dropped to a lower weight class. While we don’t have any fights scheduled for the rest of 2017, I think we can all agree we don’t want to start 2018 with a bunch of butterballs 30-50 lbs above their fight weight (at time of writing this… I am currently 32 lbs above my new fight weight. Hypocrisy is thine name).

Coach LA shared some tips with our fighters on how to survive “too much food and booze” season* (I think we’ve discovered this week’s drinking game: Tym comes up with a thousand different names for this “season” we’re in). One of the tips was “Make Healthy Alternatives.” That got me a-thinking… Alternatives. I’ve shared with you guys some unhealthy alternatives (remember my bacon fat waffles? Here’s the link: https://www.tfwmma.com/news/2017/7/5/cooked-by-tfw-bacon-fat-waffles), but today I want to talk about healthy alternatives and substitutes for this gluttonous season (drink). This week we’ll take a look at some recipes shared before and talk about how to make all your meals a little healthier.

The primary goal of Cooked By TFW is – if you ask me, “force Tym to learn how to cook more than the handful (ha, six… get it?) of meals he regularly makes, happily;” I’m half-kidding – to eat healthier. (Side note: I’m writing this post while watching YouTube videos on making various cakes and cookies… because I’m a masochist… and also, I just finished a Steven Universe marathon and have nothing else to watch.) A lot of what we make here is from scratch, and we do that for a few reasons.

First, you’re the captain now… (did you read that in the Somali pirate from Captain Phillips voice?) By making your meals from scratch, you are in total control of what you’re putting in your body, which is the point of today’s post. Along those lines, you’re also eliminating all the extra crap processed foods have in them so that they stay “fresh” longer. I don’t trust processed foods… This is quickly becoming “conspiracy theory season,” as you learn how little I trust… everything… THEY’RE PUTTING MICROCHIPS IN OUR FOODS! It took just over 380 words for my first all caps sentence. But yeah, processed foods are the devil… we here at Cooked By TFW Headquarters believe in using as many single-ingredient foods as possible. (I think this is a good time to remind everyone about the Grocery Guide we published months ago: https://www.tfwmma.com/news/2017/5/10/cooked-by-tfw-grocery-guide)

So let’s talk about substitutes!

First, some dishes… Thanksgiving is next week. A staple Turkey Day dish is mashed potatoes. Back in the day, I was known for a… hold your breath… seven-cheese, bourbon, bacon bit mashed potato. Yeah, kids, Uncle Tym Tym don’t play. And I still don’t play… except now, I’m play Chess and not Chubby Checkers.

You Guys… I’m so damn proud of that pun… Like, a lot… I’m starting to cry. That was such a good… anyway…

We’ve hit mashed potato substitutes before, two different ways. First, was in my “Ode to Cauliflower” (link: https://www.tfwmma.com/news/2017/5/18/cooked-by-tfw-an-ode-to-cauliflower) I showed y’all how to make a delicious puréed cauliflower. Make that for the fam next week and see how Uncle Jerry reacts to it! The second way is “mashed” sweet potato (link: https://www.tfwmma.com/news/2017/6/14/cooked-by-tfw-pured-sweet-potatoes). Both are going to be healthy alternatives to your traditional. If you need to compromise with your less-than-healthy family members, might I suggest…

Marbled. Mashed. Potatoes.

Make your puréed sweet potatoes, and then separately make an equal amount of mashed white potatoes. Make the mashed whites a little firmer than usual. Once you have the two, toss them in a bowl and give them a few swirls… BOOM! You have this awesome marbled look and everyone is happy.

Another fun substitute we’ve played around with before is jackfruit… So far, we’ve tried two different jackfruit meals, but I have a few more I want to try in the upcoming weeks. There was the jackfruit meatballs (link: https://www.tfwmma.com/news/2017/8/16/cooked-by-tfw-jackfruit-meatballs) which are always a favorite. You can make a bunch of those and serve as an appetizer during Why Are There So Many People In My House Season (drink). Another recipe is the Sloppy Jack (link: https://www.tfwmma.com/news/2017/9/20/cooked-by-tfw-sloppy-jack-sweet-potatoes). When we made them for the blog, the “Sloppy Jacks” were on top of a baked sweet potato with the avocado tahini on top, but you could make it as a sandwich similar to a pulled pork sandwich or… surprise… a traditional sloppy joe!

So let’s switch gears slightly and talk about some ingredient changes we can make. A real easy one that we’ve talked about before is cutting out traditional flour-based pastas. Voila! The Veggie Noodle Thingy (link: https://www.tfwmma.com/news/2017/7/12/cooked-by-tfw-the-veggie-spiralizer)

I feel like this time of year is baking season (drink). Maybe not so much for Thanksgiving but who doesn’t like some homemade cookies in December to leave out for a fictional big guy who breaks into your home and leaves you a brand new video game system? I have tried several alternatives to butter and sugar in my baking recipes. Two ingredients I have a lot of success with are yogurt and applesauce. Hmmmm… I should share a recipe for homemade applesauce… alas, maybe one day.

Yogurt and applesauce can be used to cut down the butter needed in baking recipes. Halve the amount of butter needed and replace the half with either plain yogurt or applesauce.

For a sugar substitute, stevia is a great replacement… although it causes some trouble with baking, because sugar is used to add density to a recipe and stevia is a bazillion times sweeter than sugar. For every 1 Cup of Sugar needed, use 1 Teaspoon of liquid stevia or 1/2 Teaspoon of stevia extract powder. To make up for the density, for 1 Cup of sugar, add 1/3 Cup of yogurt, applesauce, or egg white.

Speaking of yogurt… for dips that call for sour cream, try using greek yogurt instead. Honestly… Greek yogurt is dope! Remember that Low Carb Dinner Date recipe (link: https://www.tfwmma.com/news/2017/7/19/cooked-by-tfw-the-low-carb-dinner-date)? Instead of using heavy cream, try using plain Greek yogurt instead! Boom, I just healthified (not a word, but it’s my blog, so I’ll do whatever I want) a previous Cooked By TFW meal!

The takeaway from this week’s post should be “Eat Smarter this ‘Why Is It Dark At 4:30PM’ Season (drink).” It’s really easy to get carried away. I’m speaking from experience. We are officially a month removed from my last fight and I’ve consumed – not hyperbole – close to 17 lbs worth of Nutella in that time. Most of that has been since Halloween. We’ve made big strides in 2017; don’t let this final month and a half be Ghost of Larger Pants Size Season (drink). You wanna know why January is such a boom month for gyms? Because folks without your self-control who don’t read this Pulitzer Prize-worthy blog stuff their greedy faces between now and the start of the new year, and then their bathroom mirrors fat-shame them into correcting their food mistakes.

You aren’t those people… There is no off season. (…um… drink?). We train with a purpose, and that purpose doesn’t have to be “get ready to fight.”

I hope my 1280 words of wisdom help you make it through this dark dark time… Programming note: Coach LA has a 10 lbs turkey for me. I’ve never made a Turkey before… I plan on documenting my adventure and making it an upcoming post. I doubt it will be next week, but keep your eyes peeled for that inevitable emotional roller coaster. 

*I will share a version of this guide later this week - Coach L.A.

LA Jennings