Tamme McCauley is an entrepreneur and food connoisseur. In the article below, Tamme McCauley of Pacific Palisades dives into reinventing the standard household recipes from Grandma’s cookbook and reinterprets them to match today’s health-conscious goals.
Grandma’s creamy chicken casseroles, honey-butter cornbread, and golden pecan pies sure taste divine, but seeing her recipes might make these nostalgic dishes seem more like the devil in disguise, at least according to the latest health-trend headlines. Tamme McCauley of Pacific Palisades discusses below ways to make the modern health food more comfortable with Grandma’s comfort food.
While the health-obsessed modern world may leave little room for Grandma’s high-calorie comfort food, the development of new plant-based, allergy-friendly, and healthier-alternative ingredients can help to alter traditional recipes to boost their nutritional profiles without compromising on taste.
Tamme McCauley of Pacific Palisades provides some tips and tricks on how to savor the flavor of Grandma’s original dishes while keeping up with the needs and preferences that change with the changing times.
Tamme McCauley on Revamping Grandma’s Recipes
For most people, “Grandma’s recipes” aren’t exactly the fit lean lunches and date-sweetened energy bites featured on the latest health blog. Tamme McCauley of Pacific Palisades says that the menu for an evening of Grandma-approved recipes is more likely to feature “comfort foods” like buttered rolls, carb-heavy main dishes, pie with ice cream, and gooey cookies served warm with milk.
The modern balanced nutrition model, however, labels many of these tasty classics “empty calories” for their lower nutrient-density profile. Although dietary guidelines and trends shift over time, dietitians and health coaches fairly consistently emphasize getting enough high-quality lean protein to promote lasting satiety and muscle growth.
Tamme McCauley of Pacific Palisades says that while fresh wild salmon and gourmet protein supplements are often front-and-center in the health food industry, they’re none too easy on the wallet. At the same time, however, many of the more budget-friendly protein choices like tinned tuna, scrambled egg whites, and canned chickpeas don’t sound like the most appetizing alternatives.
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with indulging in Grandma’s originals occasionally, a few simple swaps can turn her crispy green bean casserole and creamy chicken pot pie into protein and veggie-packed meals to add to the weekly rotation. Tamme McCauley says that simple ingredient swaps can also help these dishes to fit into almost any ethical, medical, religious, or health-conscious diet.
Enhancing the Health While Keeping the Comfort in Grandma’s Recipes
These days, it seems like everyone is trying to watch their figure or general health by avoiding certain foods, which can make it hard to cater to a crowd. With new health trends growing faster than goji berries and joining a list longer than the Whole Foods check-out line, it can be hard to enjoy and share Grandma’s cooking without becoming the latest target of the “food police.”
Tamme McCauley asks, “wouldn’t it be nice to keep the comforting warmth of hearty old classics and also avoid unsolicited comments about cholesterol, carbs, and calories?” Here are some resources and suggestions for adding a nutritional boost to many nostalgic favorites:
- Explore using an air fryer to reduce a recipe’s oil content
- Learn how to make any recipe diabetes-friendly
- Take advantage of their mild flavor by sneaking greens or cauliflower into recipes for added vitamins and fiber
- Experiment with these healthy swaps that use cauliflower, zucchini, beets, and sweet potatoes in carb-heavy dishes and desserts
- Reduce a recipe’s sugar content with these tips on cooking keto
Adapting for Allergies and Intolerances
Beyond tweaking for health improvements, Grandma’s recipes can also be adjusted to make them more allergy friendly. Tamme McCauley says that while allergies may not have been a big issue when Grandma was dishing up her pecan pie and gluten-filled, dairy-heavy baked mac and cheese, the number of children with food allergies increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011, and is still on the rise.
According to the FDA, the top 8 food allergens are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy. Luckily, there are a large number of allergy-safe alternative ingredients at most grocery stores, as well as countless online resources with advice on how to make seamless substitutions for each of these common allergens. Here are some quick examples:
- Swap nuts for pumpkin or sunflower seeds and nut butters for Sunbutter or other nut-free alternative spreads
- Swap eggs for mashed banana, applesauce, and flax or chia “eggs” while baking
- Use chickpea flour, bottled egg alternatives like Just Egg, or crumbled tofu to make savory recipes like quiche
- Swap dairy products like milk, butter, cream, and ice cream for products made with a base of almond, soy, flax, hemp, oat, coconut, cashew, pea, or any other non-dairy milk
- To make a recipe gluten-free, swap gluten-containing items like flour, pasta, breads, cereals, and cookies for their certified gluten-free equivalents, which many grocery stores keep together in a designated “gluten free” aisle or section
Making Grandma’s Recipes Plant-Based
Tamme McCauley of Pacific Palisades reports that global plant-based meat and dairy sales are projected to reach $162 billion by 2030, and the number of people who consider themselves fully vegan or vegetarian is steadily on the rise. To keep up with these trends, many of Grandma’s milky, buttery, creamy treats, and meat-heavy, cheesy, and saucy holiday specials are going to need to adapt.
While new plant-based meats and cheeses are hitting the shelves every day, some plant-based eaters may prefer to stick with more whole-foods options by using tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans, and nuts as their staple proteins.
While some of Grandma’s meatless recipes are already vegetarian or vegan, here are some ingredients to watch for and replace when making a recipe vegan-friendly:
- Eggs and egg whites
- Milk and buttermilk
- Meats of any kind
- Seafood of any kind
- Dairy-based puddings and custards
- Ice cream
Since any of the above ingredients can hide in other products like pastas, pie crusts, and breads, it is always best to check a product’s ingredient list before using it. Many companies now make this process easier by including a “V,” a small plant symbol, or a clear “Plant-based” or “Vegan”/”Vegetarian” label on their packaging.
Tamme McCauley of Pacific Palisades says that while this list of things to watch out for may seem pretty restrictive, modern alternatives to animal products are now carried in most grocery stores, making them easier to find than ever. Thanks to modern food science and marketing, it now takes fairly minimal effort to bring the authentic nostalgic flavors of Grandma’s cooking to those who choose to avoid animal products.
For some examples of traditional cultural recipes that are already vegan, check out this list of plant-based recipes from around the world.
While Grandma’s original recipes may taste timeless, even the best classics sometimes need tweaking to stay relevant and appealing. In line with the health-focused modern world and its ever-shifting diet trends, new food sciences and alternative ingredients have made it fairly easy to tailor traditional high-calorie comfort meals to almost any dietary restriction or preference.