I have written a few articles about substitutions, explaining how to take the sodium from astronomical numbers to more manageable and healthier levels. However, there are some instances, where I think substitutions are, basically, the devil. My wife and I talk about food substitutions all the time. She seems to be quite concerned about my health, even more so than I am.

She said something to me and I believe it to be true: “Never substitute non-food for real food.”

For example, one should never, ever substitute faux bacon for real bacon. Ever.

The fad of “manufactured” foods like tofurkey and its ilk just does not appeal to me. There is a ham substitute that uses a wheat “meat” mixed with squash, mushrooms and Granny Smith apples. I’m okay with the stuffing material but if I want that stuff with ham, I am going to have ham. I do not want stuff that is processed and dressed to look like something else. That’s why I’m at the top of the food chain.

I will eat anything that had a mother. But I am not belittling any vegetarian or vegan’s preferences, be it for health or moral reasons. What I am saying is that because I do not have such restrictions, just give me the real deal.

When I skip out on meat and need to get my protein in, I opt for beans over tofu or tempeh. Even though tofu and other soy products are considered healthy by most, they are still processed foods and can contain higher amounts of sodium, and some folks can’t have soy. Green beans, black beans, quinoa, chia seeds, peanut butter and many other foods can be great substitutes for meat.

I know that peanut butter, which happens to be my absolute favorite food item, is “processed” but it is still basically ground peanuts with oil. Many brands are also very good with sodium levels, as well. Keep in mind that my priority is sodium moderation. Another reason to love peanut butter.One substitute that I am okay with is cauliflower being pureed and made into a mashed potato-like substance. There are a few restaurants in the area that take cauliflower puree, press it into nuggets, deep fry it and toss it in sauce to make “Buffalo” bites. And cauliflower is good for you. That is a plus.

My main takeaway for food substitutions is to always look for real food instead of processed “food stuff.” Creative use of real food is never a bad option. We all try to shake it up sometimes, that is understandable. But I will always follow the rule that my boss laid out for me, which bears repeating: “Never substitute non-food for real food.”

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