Food App Review of the Week: Substitutions

By on Friday, January 11th, 2013

Runs on:
Version: 2.2

We’re just getting back into the groove of a new year, which means many of us are trying to tackle a new skill, exercise a little more or eat a little better. Whether you’re trying to lower your cholesterol, lose weight or cut meat out of your diet, Substitutions from Gormaya can help provide food alternatives.

Substitutions is a very simple app. Over 400 ingredients are listed in nine different categories to help you quickly identify a workaround or alternative. The opening screen lists all of the categories with a simple icon for each and the number of ingredients per category. The categories vary widely from dairy and alcohol substitutions to gluten-free and low-fat substitutions. You just click on a category, locate an ingredient and then below it will mention alternatives.

At first I thought the simplicity of this app would be a blessing, but I quickly found out that a lack of consistency and depth became a detriment. Like the substitution app KitchenSubs Plus, there are no pictures, descriptions or even links to more information. When looking in the Herb & Spice category, for example, it recommends swapping basil with oregano or thyme. Really? Even if I’m trying to make a Caprese salad? You can see how a little explanation as to why they’re recommending a substitution would be a huge benefit.

The lack of consistency appears when you look for substitutions in different categories. For example, when trying to find a substitution for Camembert cheese within the Dairy category, I get Brie. Who can argue over Brie? Within the Gluten-Free category, however, the ingredients listed are the alternatives; and below them are descriptions of how they can be utilized. So if I want a substitute for all-purpose flour, I have to read through the descriptions of all the listed ingredients to find out which one will fit my recipe the best. Also, some of the substitutions just don’t make sense.

Within the Baking & Cooking category I browsed down to Baking Soda, for which it recommends “2-3 t Baking Powder per t (not recommended).” So … its recommendation is to NOT use its recommendation? Also within the category as a substitution for applesauce it lists a variety of apples. A recipe to make applesauce out of the apples would be helpful.

Like KitchenSubs Plus, this app does provide some utility. If I’m looking for an alternative for dark corn syrup, Substitutions recommends mixing 3/4 light corn syrup and 1/4 light molasses. If I’m regularly looking up an ingredient, clicking on it will highlight it and essentially act as a bookmark, jumping directly to that ingredient when I navigate back into the category.

A final observation is that this app lists several brand names as substitutions, particularly within the Vegan category. You may find this helpful or intrusive, I won’t judge.

For me to give up real estate space on my phone the app has to provide value greater than a basic web search. Unfortunately, Substitutions is not a great alternative.

Toque Rating: 2.5/5

Written by Steve Cooper

Steve Cooper is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Hitched, a service and lifestyle online magazine for married couples. When Steve is not not researching or dispensing relationship information, he's reading, eating or marrying flavors together in the kitchen.

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