The more I cook, the more confident and relaxed I get about cooking. I used to follow recipes to the letter, hesitant to ever deviate from the instructions or ingredients. I just lacked the confidence or knowledge to improvise or make intelligent substitutions. Now that I have several years of cooking under my belt, I am much more comfortable making changes on the fly and substituting ingredients when necessary.
Such was the case when I made the Sweet Potato and Broccoli Salad with Pomegranate-Peanut Dressing from 1000 Vegan Recipes. The original recipe calls for cooked sweet potatoes, celery, green onions, ginger, lemon juice, fresh broccoli, peanut butter, roasted peanuts, and fresh pomegranate seeds. I wanted to make a few healthier switches, swapping almond butter and sliced almonds for the peanut butter and roasted peanuts, and maple syrup for the sugar. I also did not have fresh pomegranate seeds or fresh broccoli, so I used dried cranberries and frozen broccoli. I also cut the amount of oil in the recipe from 4 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons, and added a bed of fresh baby arugula for some greens. I stayed true to the spirit of the recipe, but I customized it to my own personal tastes and supplies. That, I think, is the way to cook!