Category Archives: Imitations

Frugal Folks Lara Bars

(There are many variations on the internet, but I bet these are the cheapest, because I use raisins.)

2 cups raisins (about 12 oz)
1 1/3 cup shredded coconut or finely chopped nuts
(about 5 oz coconut flakes)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla

In food processor, shred coconut flakes or chop nuts. Pour into another container.

Process raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla until raisins are chopped tiny and want to stick together in a big clump. Break up the clump and add coconut or nuts. Process until thoroughly mixed, stopping as needed to break up the clump and scrape the sides.

Line a 9×5 bread pan with wax paper, allowing extra to cover the top. Press the clump into the pan, using the edges of wax paper.

Use the wax paper to lift the whole bar out of the pan. Turn it upside down onto plastic wrap and carefully pull off the paper. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours. Unwrap and cut in bars.

Note: I haven’t found a way to make these without both wax paper and plastic wrap. If you press it directly into the pan, good luck getting the bars out. If you refrigerate it in the wax paper, it sticks and you have wax all over the bars.

(I figured this out from several recipes on the internet, but this version is from my own experimentation.)

Grain-Free Spaghetti

I’ve heard people say spaghetti squash is a good substitute for spaghetti, and I think they must be smoking something. It’s delicious with olive oil & garlic, but it’s not fooling anybody.

I’ve discovered a much better approximation of pasta’s texture: Finely julienne rutabagas, and steam them for 20-30 min depending on how soft you like them. Serve the “spaghetti” with meatballs & tomato sauce, other vegetables, under grilled chicken, etc. I like to simmer in broth and maybe spices, then drizzle with olive oil. You could thicken the broth with tapioca/arrowroot to make a sauce. It won’t wrap around your fork, but other than that it’s a pretty good imitation.

Alternative: This works with turnips or probably most root vegetables. Also try frying the “spaghetti” in lard or coconut oil for a different flavor. I think you could also make lasagna noodles, but I have no idea whether you’d cook them first, or how you’d adapt the lasagna recipe.

Everything-free pumpkin pie

It’s TORTUROUS to have Thanksgiving dinner and be unable to eat the pumpkin pie. Here’s my solution for 2013. (And then I became sensitive to coconut. Sigh.)

1 pie crust free of your problem ingredients
(optional, the crust isn’t the important part anyway)
1 can pumpkin puree
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey (optional, see below)
1 Tb vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
3 envelopes powdered gelatin

Heat water in a saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over the surface. Whisk until gelatin is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and heat, whisking until smooth. Pour into 10in pie crust, dessert dishes, or fancy molds and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

Alternatives: if you can’t have any sweetener, use 3/4 – 1 cup raisins, finely chopped in a food processor. Or replace part/all of the pumpkin with sweet potato. Or if you’re accustomed to not eating anything sweet, this will taste great with just the spices.

If you can’t eat coconut, replace the coconut milk with another 1/2 cup pumpkin & 1/4 cup solid fat such as butter or palm shortening. Increase the cinnamon & vanilla to 4 tsp each. I’d be generous with the nutmeg too.

This recipe is a combination of two others. Each has a different crust that would work for some people — The first is a traditional crust with gluten-free flour, and the second is made of dates!


Whipped Topping — modified from this recipe

1 can full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey, or to taste (optional)
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt

Pour off coconut water for another use — it could replace part of the water in the pie. Beat coconut cream with a hand mixer, add remaining ingredients, and continue whipping until fluffy.


There are a great variety of crust options depending on which ingredients you need to avoid. Ideally I’d make this pie with the coconut crust. Barring that, I think next time I’ll try a hash-brown crust made of rutabaga instead of potatoes, and cinnamon or ginger.

Healthy Ranch Dressing

Healthy Ranch Dressing
(Use as much dressing as you want on your salad — it’s good for you!)

2 cups plain whole milk yogurt (Brown Cow gives the best consistency)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced onion
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp dill
1 Tb chives
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Stir everything together and refrigerate overnight so the flavors mix. (Don’t use a blender or food processor, because it makes the yogurt too runny.)Use as a salad dressing, veggie dip, or sandwich spread.

For a dairy-free version, substitute hummus as a base. Or if you can’t eat legumes either, try cooked cauliflower or other vegetable pureed with olive oil. It may be necessary to adjust the amount of base to get a similar flavor strength.

Spice list inspired by several recipes for conventional ranch dressing.