6 Easy Ways to “Real Foodify” Any Recipe (Plus a Few Extra Tips)

Unless you are using this amazing real food search portal, when you search the web for recipes they most likely will consist of ingredients like vegetable oil and margarine (yikes!), processed and refined sugar, flour, and irradiated spices. There probably will be no distinction of whether or not to use local, organic produce and meats.

Fortunately, it is quite easy to transform a “conventional” recipe to a real food recipe when you know what you need to do. Use these 6 easy, simple steps and you’ll become a master at making any recipe “real foodified.”


1. Switch to Clean Meats & Produce

This is a simple give in. When you find a recipe and it calls for any kind of produce, meat, eggs or dairy products just go ahead and switch it to an organic version. Don’t forget, if you can meet a farmer face to face you may be able to save a little money going the non-organic route.  Some farmers will use no pesticides, chemical fertilizers or inhumane ways of feeding and treating animals but not have an organic certification. This is because the organic certification process costs the farmer an arm and a leg. The key thing here is to know your farmer! If you can’t get face to face with a local farmer and you’re on a tight budget, use the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 as a resource guide. These lists will let you know which food item has the most and least pesticides enabling you to save money when it’s not necessary to buy organic.

For meats, dairy products and eggs look for keywords such as pastured, raw, and grass-fed (although, sometimes grass-fed may not mean what you think it means). You do not want eggs that have the words “fed a vegetarian diet” because chickens are not vegetarians. Usually, this means the chickens are not able to spend most of their time out on pasture foraging through the dirt and grass for bugs. Sometimes, when dealing with a local farmer, if they do not have organic certification for their meat, dairy and eggs it just means they are beyond organic. This is how my favorite farm, Tara Firma Farms, is. They are not organic but they hit the term “organic” out of the park.

Again, in situations like this, the only way to 100% confirm a farm is “beyond organic” is to go there yourself and check it out.


2. Change the Oil

If the recipe calls for any kind of rancid, industrialized and genetically engineered vegetable oil, you can easily switch it to a refined coconut oil. This type of coconut oil has zero coconut flavor and is generally a higher heat oil which makes it great to bake with. Using coconut oil in replacement of canola, soy and/or vegetable is a great way of making a recipe healthier and “real foodified”. It’s never a bad thing to get more coconut oil in your diet!


3. Change the Flour

If the recipe you find calls for an all purpose flour you can easily switch it to whatever kind of organic flour you want to use; spelt, sprouted wheat, etc.You can even choose to soak your flour in an acidic medium like buttermilk the night before you use the flour.

My personal favorite is einkorn flour. I’ve used this flour for waffles, pancakes, biscuits, cakes and breading for my crispy green beans and it has always provided an outstanding flavor! It’s all purpose as well so it makes for a great alternative to enriched bleached flour. Find einkorn flour here.


4. Change the Sugar

Unless you’re brewing kombucha, white sugar is definitely not a necessity. You can use wholesome, unrefined and unbleached sugars instead. I like to use coconut sugar because it’s a low glycemic sugar and my favorite all purpose sugar is rapadura sugar. Rapadura sugar has never been separated from the molasses so all the minerals are intact. The Weston A Price Foundation has it rated in the “best” category in their shopping guide. If you need a more coarse sugar and has a similarity to brown sugar, sucanat is a great option. Sucanat means Sugar Cane Natural and is made by simply evaporating the water from the cane juice and then granulating the remaining cane crystals. It’s always best to buy organic as well.

You can also use real maple syrup and high quality honey in replacement of sugars. You have to use your best judgement to see if it will work in the case of the recipe you are trying to change.


5. Change Your Spices

Wait, what? Spices can be felonies of fake food? Yeah, sorta. Most spices are irradiated which means they go through a process that zaps all the bacteria out of them — good and bad. It’s best to buy your spices from an organic source because organic certifications do not allow the use of irradiation. My favorite brand of spices is Frontier.

For the spices I know I use frequently like black pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder, and oregano I buy in bulk on Amazon. You can buy a 1lb bag of premium quality black pepper for $14, whereas if you go to your local health food store and buy the bottle it’ll cost you around $7. I think each bag can fill up the small spice bottle at least 4 times. You’re basically getting two free bottles out of the bag! Sometimes you can get two bags for the price of one.


6. Switch Your Salt Out

It is ridiculously simple to change the salt out.  Unrefined sea salt is a necessity to have in the kitchen. If you haven’t chucked your Morton Salt yet, please do! Not all sea salts are created equal as well. It’s best to use a sea salt that specifically states it is unrefined like this one. Devoid of all the trace minerals, processed salt is no bueno for your health.

However on the other hand, real, unrefined sea salt benefits the body in many ways and should not be feared. My favorite salt to cook with is Real Salt because it tastes great and it’s affordable. Plus, they mine the ancient beds in Utah so it’s all kept in the US — talk about local!


Other Tips —

  • If the recipe calls for cornstarch you can either find a non-GMO kind like this or you can use an alternative like arrowroot powder instead
  • If you need a dairy-free alternative to regular cow’s milk, you can always substitute with coconut milk. Make sure your coconut milk comes in a BPA-free can like this brand
  • You can also change butter to refined coconut oil depending on the recipe
  • To make a powdered sugar, just take your favorite wholesome granulated sugar, put it in your food processor and blend it until it’s a fine powdery consistency
  • If a recipe calls for nuts, it’s always best to soak them over night and dehydrate them so they are more easily digestible


Do you have any other tips when modifying a recipe to make it real food quality? Share below!

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  1. Great tips on using healthier ingredients, thanks! I’ve been starting to incorporate more and more of these in my cooking over the past couple of years and have had a lot of success with it. It sure seems like the cost of many of these alternatives is coming down too since the concept is finally starting to gain traction and popularity. I had NO idea about the irradiated spices, so I’ll be more cognizant of that when replacing mine. I have been going to the Middle Eastern market and buying my spices in bulk, but I’m not sure where or how they are made. I’m going to ask them next time I’m there.

    1. It is definitely a good thing the prices are going down. Makes it easier for all of us! Yeah, I’m not too sure if specialty type markets irradiate their spices so it’s probably best to ask them first hand. Good luck!

  2. Excellent article. I’m curious as to why butter & lard were left out of your oil/fat section? Coconut oil is far from local where I live. So are many spices if I go too far down that road. Thanks for putting this list together!

    1. Hi Chris,
      You’re right, I will go in and add butter and lard. I guess I was just thinking of when a recipe called for vegetable oil or something like that. Total brain fart, thank you for catching that. 🙂

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