Make Smart Substitutions


I am excited to share with you that I completed my first Fresh Formula publication outside of my blog.  🙂  I completed an article for the Adjunct Faculty Association spring newsletter, The Connection, and was among only five adjuncts selected to write in the health and wellness section.  Today, I thought I’d share that article with you.

If you’re a regular subscriber of The Fresh Formula, some of the article’s content won’t be new information, but a refresher never hurts.  I also included the recipe for my chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie, which was one of my first blog posts.  Click the link above to see the original article or read the text below:

On my plant-based living blog, The Fresh Formula, I share information and recipes for healthy eating.  One of the easiest changes we can make to our diets is to consider healthier substitutes for the items that we are using regularly.  Below, I have listed some examples of substitutions that I have made in my own kitchen:

  • White flour –> Whole wheat flour, spelt flour, graham flour
  • White granulated sugar –> Turbinado sugar, maple syrup, agave syrup, medjool dates
  • Iodized table salt –> Pink Himalayan sea salt


  • Nut butters with additives –> Nuts-only nut butters
  • Eggs –> Chia seeds or ground flaxseed (mixed with water), bananas, steamed apple puree
  • Dairy milk –> Unsweetened almond, cashew, coconut, grain, and hemp milks
  • Canned beans –> Dry beans or unsalted canned beans (beans only)
  • White rice –> Brown rice, farro, quinoa, wheat berries, cracked wheat, barley
  • Prepackaged popcorn –> Bulk popping corn (made on the stovetop)


  • Vegetable or canola oil –> Coconut, avocado, sesame, peanut, and olive oils
  • Boxed/canned stock/broth –> Unsalted homemade stock (can also be used as a flavorful substitute for water when cooking whole grains)

While many of these substitutions are more expensive, some are cheaper than their preservative-laden brethren; I believe that the health benefits are worth it either way.  I adopted a plant-based lifestyle because I had high cholesterol, so eggs, for example, were one of the first items to cross off of my shopping list.  Chia seeds, by contrast, are cholesterol-free sources of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and calcium.

I have included my irresistible chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie recipe incorporating many of the aforementioned substitutions.  It is so decadent, it can serve as dessert, but is a healthy option for a meal or snack, too!


Serves 2-3

  • 2 frozen bananas (or fresh bananas and a few ice cubes)
  • ½ cup peanut butter (nuts only)
  • 1 heaping tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 2 pitted medjool dates
  • Unsweetened almond milk to achieve desired consistency (start with ½ cup)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until silky smooth.


For more valuable health tips, information on plant-based living and eating, and tons of delicious recipes, visit and subscribe for regular updates.  Cheers to good health!


Fruit Scraps Turned Scented Candles


When it comes to expensive organic produce, I don’t like to waste a single scrap. If you have a compost pile, you can always put your fruit and veggie scraps there. Otherwise, I’ve come up with a few solutions to maximize every inch of your plants.

With my veggie scraps—which include items like carrot tops and kale ribs—I like to make my own veggie stock. You can read more about how I collect and transform the scraps under Basic Formulas.

Coming up with an edible use for fruit scraps—peels, cores, pits, etc.—has proved much more difficult. I was reminded of a time that I visited a candy factory in France. The chocolatiers had candied orange peels and they were pretty tasty. I figure I can experiment with candying other types of peels, but being that I like to keep my lifestyle low in added sugars, I’m not eager to do this any time soon.

I decided to go another route. My husband bought me a bouquet of winter plants on Christmas Eve and we thought that it would be neat to do something with the pine needles since they smelled so wonderful. We researched online how to make scented oil candles and then it hit me: If I could make candles out of pine needles, flowers, and herbs, why couldn’t I use my fruit scraps to do the same?

Alas, I started deliberately saving my fruit scraps (while still allocating many of them to my compost pile in the backyard). I placed a food storage container in the fridge and added to it every time I peeled or cored a new fruit. It took me only a couple of hours to accumulate the scraps that you see here, which include peels from oranges, lemons, grapefruit, kiwis, and mangoes, and the core of a Red Delicious apple.


There was no rhyme or reason to this combination of scraps and a happy aromatic accident resulted. While my fruit scraps continued to marry their flavors in the fridge, I collected the necessary candle-making supplies: mason jars, oil wicks, and vegetable oil. I already had mason jars in several sizes, and you can find them many places, including the dollar store. For the wicks, I perused Amazon and found these pretty glass wicks; they are available in many metal varieties, too.


As for the oil, I selected vegetable simply because it is economical and pale in color – I really wanted to be able to clearly see all of my colorful fruit scraps. Being new to candle making, I’m not sure if one oil is preferred over another for the best scent or longest burn time. In my limited research, I found that you can use just about any oil you’d like, but I imagine it will take me many an attempt to figure out which one is truly the best. For example, I made the candles you see in this post almost two weeks ago and upon lighting today, they are just starting to smell. The length of time it takes for different scents to infuse the oil probably has to do with their intensity and the oil selected. Only time will tell, but in the meantime, I am enjoying the appearance of my fruit scrap candles while I wait for them to smell even more delicious.  🙂


What you’ll need:

  • Fruit scraps of any variety (accumulate in the fridge over the course of a day or two) –> I’m using citrus, kiwi, mango, and apple.
  • Oil –> I’m using vegetable.
  • Mason jars of any size
  • Oil wicks –> You can make your own or purchase in store or online. I’m using wicks with a glass covering.

How to make:

  • Puncture a hole in the lid of your mason jar. The size will depend on the type of wick that you are using. The lid of a mason jar is easy to puncture with just a screwdriver or other metal tool with a semi-sharp tip.
  • Fill the mason jar with your fruit scraps. Cram them in tightly, leaving a small gap in the middle to accommodate your wick. You can arrange them with your fingers or a variety of different kitchen tools. I squished the scraps down with an ice cream scoop myself.
  • Fill the remaining space in the mason jar with oil. Keep in mind that you will need to add the wick, so don’t fill it quite to the brim.


  • Thread your wick through the hole you created in the lid and gently push the end of it into the candle itself. I used a skewer to do this.
  • Screw on the lid and wait an hour or two for the wick to absorb the oil before lighting.  Don’t expect the candles to be immediately scented, although it could happen.

Here, you can see my fruit scrap candles front and center, as well as the pine needle candles mentioned earlier, and some red rose candles made from dried roses from the hubby. Fresh would have been better, but I didn’t have this oil candle brainchild until long after they had been dried over the years. You can intensify and expedite the scent experience by adding complimentary essential oils (you can purchase these in many places that sell candles, oil burners, etc.), which I did with the roses since they weren’t fresh. Enjoy!