Acid Alkaline Swaps

Adhering to your acid alkaline diet can be challenging when you don’t have the right ingredients on hand. A little cheat with sugar here, a little cheat with flour there — before you know it, all of those acid-forming cheats start to add up. In this article, I provide some alkalinizing swaps you can use instead of the ten highly acid-forming ingredients usually found in classic recipes. Didn’t get to the store this week? No problem. Eat this, not that, and you’ll stay on the road to an alkaline pH.

1. Tofu for Beef

Now don’t go wrinkling up your nose, tofu is the master magician of proteins. It can be chicken, beef, or even vegetable flavored, depending on how you sauté it. Fact is firm tofu has virtually no flavor. It takes on the flavors of the dish. If you press it nice and dry before cooking (or freeze it for a day) it takes on a meaty, chewy quality that can replace animal flesh in almost any dish.

Don’t discount tofu for eggs, either. Crumbled tofu can be used in placed of scrambled eggs in casseroles. Sprinkle it with some turmeric if you crave the egg-like appearance — it colors your tofu and tricks your peepers.

2. Honey for Sugar

When you need to make a dish or beverage sweet, think about using clover honey (the real deal, not the processed dime-a-dozen bottles). Some experts argue that honey is mildly acid-forming, but it’s still far less so than cane sugar,
high-fructose corn syrup, or the chemicals in artificial sweeteners.

Raw honey is a wee bit sweeter than sugar; you’ll have to play with your recipes until you get the conversion right. Since it’s a liquid, you also might want to decrease your other liquid ingredients a smidgen so you don’t end up with runny baked goods (who wants a runny cookie?)

3. Olive Oil for Shortening

Cold-pressed olive oil can be substituted for acid-forming cooking fats (shortening, for example) in most recipes without impacting the taste of the dish. Think about what you use lard or hydrogenated oils for . . . to fry things, right? Since you don’t fry anything on the acid alkaline diet, you can just drop those artery-clogging lards altogether.

I’ve watched a frightening new trend develop — the use of palm kernel oil for cooking. It’s scary that this tropical oil is being promoted as a healthy alternative to vegetable oil when it’s loaded with saturated fat (the bad kind).

4. Vegetable Stock for Bouillon

The next time a recipe calls for beef or chicken stock or bouillon, consider using yeast-free vegetable stock instead. Meat-based broths are just as acid-forming as the meats they’re made from. The conversion doesn’t take any culinary expertise; exchange the vegetable stock for the meat stock at a 1:1 ratio.

5. Almonds for Flour

No, I haven’t lost my marbles. You can use ground natural almonds (almond flour or meal) in place of acid-forming refined flour in many recipes.

Don’t use salted or processed almonds. If you want to make your own almond flour, purchase natural blanched or unblanched almonds. (Blanched just means that their skin has been removed.)

All you need to make your own almond flour is a coffee bean grinder and a sifter. But don’t forget to store your almond meal in the refrigerator; it can go bad if you leave it out (no preservatives means a short shelf life).

6. Mashed Veggies for Thickness

Prior to giving a hoot about my pH, I would use whatever I had on hand to thicken sauces, soups, and stews. However, traditional thickening agents include ingredients like refined flour, cornstarch, and gelatin. Unfortunately, all three of these products are extremely acidifying and make your pH plummet.

Try adding some extra veggies to your recipe and gently mashing them to add thickness. Cauliflower works great in many dishes and it doesn’t impart much flavor once cooked. For sauces and soups, you can also crank down the heat and let it simmer longer. The fluids will eventually evaporate, leaving a thicker base to work with.

7. Sprouted Grains for Wheat

Don’t knock it till you try it! Any refined grain product (bread, tortillas) is acid-forming during digestion. Sprouted grain products are alkalinizing during digestion — the sprouts add antioxidants to your diet and help your body re-
tain alkaline-forming minerals.

Sprouted grain products are available at health food stores (you can sometimes find them in the health food section of well-established grocery chains). I’ve found sprouted grain bread, tortillas, rolls, and even muffins online. They’re a bit chewier than regular refined grain products, but I find they’re also far more satisfying.

8. Sea Salt for Table Salt

Isn’t salt, salt? Nope, it’s not. Sea salt is formed from an evaporative process, not a chemical one. The minerals and flavor of the sea salt come from the sea-water where it was harvested. It comes in many different sizes, colors, and even tastes. On the other hand, those tiny, uniform granules of refined table salt are nothing more than chemically altered molecules from salt mines.

Sea salt is alkaline-forming because of its rich mineral content. Ditch the shaker, and pick up the grinder!

9. Green Tea for Coffee

Okay, so it’s not an ingredient, per say, but I had to include it. It kills me to say this, but coffee (that includes espresso, mocha, you name it) is acidifying. Got a hankering for a hot beverage? Try swapping out your java for a cleansing cup of green tea. Green tea is packed with antioxidants — the healthy little compounds that clean toxins out of your system. You can choose an herbal tea if you prefer (and you can even make your own by steeping the herb of your choice).

I have yet to try it, but some people advocate that cold-pressed coffee is less acid-forming than a hot brew. The premise lies with the fact that heating the ground beans releases more acid.

10. Clarified Butter for Fats

When a recipe calls for butter or margarine, you can use the clarified butter. Clarified butter, also known as ghee, provides the lubricants without the acidifying milk fats associated with butter (or the chemicals associated with margarine).

Ghee works well in baked goods, oven dishes, and even the occasional sautéed dish (although I prefer to use cold pressed olive oil for sautés). Prime ghee should be a translucent golden yellow without any solids.