Happy April Fools Day, World! A time to practice extreme silliness and joy, and plan a prank or two. And, in my opinion, the perfect holiday to play a little (or a lot) with your food. Because really, everyday on a low-so diet (or any diet) is a “fool” day, in which one uses creativity and fun to trick those eyeballs and those tastebuds.
And trust me, if I can make vegan, low-so, and gluten-free Twinkies a reality, seriously, anything is possible.
So to inspire your own edible tom-foolery — today and everyday — check out some of my favorite ingredients swaps that expertly mimic favorite foods in looks or taste, and sometimes both. Giving you all the flavor of super salty dishes without all the sodium. And as you’ll see, many of these ingredient swaps are great for those on Paleo, gluten-free, Whole 30, vegetarian, and vegan diets, too! So don’t forget to share these tricky eats with your friends.
CAULIFLOWER CHORIZO low-so, Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, veg & vegan
This was a total dinner game-changer for me — and a great way to celebrate meatless-Mondays or entertain no-meat guests. The non-recipe is simple. Just use a knife to chop up a head of cauliflower until it looks like ground meat. Then, in a mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower with a little oil and chorizo spices (salt-free of course). Cook the seasoned cauliflower in a medium-hot pan with a little more oil, as needed. And then serve warm with a BYO (build your own) taco spread. Or with scrambled eggs for breakfast. Or mixed into a delicious corn chowder. Get the non-recipe here.
SQUASH DOGS low-so, Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, veg & vegan
For those of us who don’t do Franks, try halved yellow squash instead. Lather the fleshy, flat sideof the squash with a little oil and then grill until cooked through, about 10 minutes. For those who can or do eat bread, stuff the squash dogs instead a bun per usual, with all the hot dog fixings. Otherwise, skip the bun and wrap the squash dog inside of leafy lettuce or sturdy cabbage. Get the non-recipe here.
SHREDDED BUTTERNUT “CHEDDAR” low-so, veg & vegan
I love my food processor. Especially because it can instantly transform a bunch of hard, butternut squash chunks into soft, cheddar-like threads that will melt into your risottos, into your chili, or even a top your next batch of nachos or baked potatoes. Providing the right texture and color. Just season according to your taste buds. And you won’t miss a cheesy thing. Get the non-recipe here.
BOWTIE PASTA CROUTONS low-so, veg & vegan
It is entirely possible to make low-so bread using a low-so recipe or even low-so bread products from the store. But for something super quick and effortless, just grab some bow-tie pasta from the cabinet. Cook as directed and then bake until crispy. And use just like croutons for your next spring salad. Or bowl of soup. Get the non-recipe here.
HASH BROWN QUICHE CRUST low-so, Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, vegetarian
Skip the work of making a dough from scratch. And complete your next quiche with a simple hash brown crust. Fill greased muffin tin wells with thawed and seasoned hash browns, as you would a pie crust. Bake until golden and crispy. Then fill with your chosen quiche mixture. Or even a single cracked egg, if you really want to keep things low-key. Get the non-recipe here.
CAULIFLOWER “RICOTTA” low-so, Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, veg & vegan
Make this now. After a quick steam, your food processor will do all the work, transforming a combination of cauliflower and creamy nuts (or seeds) into a ricotta like spread. Use it to fill pasta or collard wraps or cucumber baguettes (below). Or as a dip for happy hour. Get the non-recipe here.
FRITTATA FOCCACIA low-so, Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, vegetarian
If you miss a good, sturdy slice of bread, miss it no more. And look to your eggs instead. By whipping up a frittata and cooking it in a square (or rectangular) baking dish, you can have the perfect focaccia stand in. Slice like bread and then build some open-face, bread-free sandwiches. Great for a not-sad-desk-lunch or a super creative, guest-worthy brunch.
SOCCA PIZZA CRUST low-so, Paleo, gluten-free, veg & vegan
In the time it would take to order a pizza you can make something equally satisfying and super healthy just by using a little water and chickpea flour. It only takes 10 minutes for the “dough” to set. Then cook it in an oiled and hot pan, finishing it in the oven. When the crust is cooked, top with your pizza toppings. Slice and serve. Get the recipe here.
PASTA CRACKERS low-so, vegetarian
The next time you find yourself with an SOS snack emergency, look no further than your pantry. Just like those bow-tie breadcrumbs, pasta can once again save you from hunger or worse yet, cheating on that low-so diet. Simply cook thick pasta noodles and then cut into cracker shapes. Paint on a little oil and sprinkle with no-salt seasoning (dill is totally my favorite). And bake until the pasta crackers puff up and turn golden, about 10 minutes or so. Get the non-recipe here.
BAKED TOFU FRIES low-so, Paleo, gluten-free, veg & vegan
For those on low-potassium diets or looking to limit starch and oil and, check out baked tofu fries. A fun, healthy twist with a similar chewiness that will satisfy comfort food cravings. And may prove a kid-favorite, too. Simply cut very firm and drained tofu into french-ry shapes. Spritz or paint on some oil, and sprinkle on spices (try curry powder for something really daring and fun). Then bake until the tofu starts to puff a bit and turn golden in color, about 25 to 30 minutes or so depending on the thickness. Turning the “fries” halfway through the baking time. Get the recipe here.
CUCUMBER BAGUETTES low-so, Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, veg & vegan
Even if you cannot or chose not to eat bread, it doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to sexy sandwiching. Like an elegant French baguette, hollowed out cucumbers prove equally useful for lunchtime fare. Simply fill the empty halves with your chosen spread, veggies, and egg salad or meat (if you do the protein thing). Eat it immediately or wrap it up for lunch. Get the non-recipe here.
PEACH EGGS BENEDICT low-so, Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, vegetarian
This is my drag queen name. But it is also my new favorite way to brunch during spring and summer when stone fruit is in season. Skip the high-sodium Canadian bacon and grill up a few sturdy peach or nectarine halves. Then, layer with all the things called for in a traditional Eggs Benedict. And serve to your super impressed friends. Get the non-recipe here.
APPLE DONUTS low-so, Paleo, gluten-free, veg & vegan
We all have our vices and sugary things are one of mine. And that’s okay — because we all need something sweet to eat once in a while. That’s living. So the next time you have a donut craving, skip the donut shop and try these ADORABLE apple donuts instead, topped with white chocolate and a sprinkling of other fun things (liked dried cranberry crumble, ginger and lime zest, and of course, colorful jimmies). Get the recipe here.
BEET BLOODIES low-so, Paleo, gluten-free, veg & vegan
One real bloody Mary can easily exceed the daily sodium allotment. But you can get all the same great flavors (including SALT) by subbing in beet juice for super sodium vegetable juice. Keep it virgin or add a splash of vodka (according to your health needs). And don’t be afraid to set up your own BYO Bloody Bar with other fun fixings, like low-so pickled green beans and no-salt bacon (below). Get the recipe here or in my first cookbook.
NO-SALT BACON low-so, Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free
To round-out this ingredient swap round-up, I give you nonother than the ultimate low-so swap — a one-hour, DIY bacon that requires very little effort and lets you spice to your liking. It’s a stand-in that everyone on any diet will appreciate. So go ahead and a make a batch and share it this weekend with those you love. Who love bacon. Get the recipe here or in MY NEW COOKBOOK!