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8 Healthy Food Substitutions for Everyday Cooking


There are healthy and delicious food substitutions that can be used in everyday food preparation. Taste does not need to be compromised when preparing a healthy meal. Remember, there is usually a low-fat or low calorie alternative to a regular ingredient that will not alter the taste while making a healthy substitution. Try one substitution at a time to assess how each works in your favorite recipes.

1. Whole Wheat

Replace white bread, rice, crackers, pasta and sweetened cereals with whole wheat bread and pasta, whole grain crackers and cereals, brown rice and couscous. 

2. Fresh Herbs

Use fresh herbs and spices in place of salt.

  • Fresh ground black pepper is the simplest of spice substitutions.
  • Experimenting with other flavorful herbs and spices can enhance the flavor of any recipe.
  • Salt is an essential component of any baking recipe; do not make a substitution in baking.

3. Low Fat Dairy

Dairy products can be a healthier choice by selecting a low fat or nonfat substitute.

  • Heavy cream can be replaced with fat free sour cream.
  • Replace sour cream with nonfat plain Greek yogurt; this eliminates the high saturated fat and cholesterol while adding high quality protein.
  • Instead of mayonnaise, nonfat yogurt can be used in salad dressing and spreads. 
  • Thicken soups or sauces by pureeing a portion of the chunky ingredients; add the puree back into the recipe. This healthy alternative thickens the recipe without the fat intake.

4. Applesauce 

Try using applesauce in place of butter or shortening. One half cup of applesauce equals one cup of butter or shortening. Be aware that baked goods using applesauce can become a little rubbery if left in the oven too long. Non stick cooking spray is another important substitution when baking or cooking on the stovetop. Simply spray the pan to eliminate the extra butter or shortening. Another secret to eliminating unnecessary fat is to substitute vegetable stock for butter when sauteeing vegetables on the stovetop.

5. Eggs

Eggs are easy to substitute. Use either a liquid egg substitute or a powdered replacement.

  • The liquid substitute is the most common and can be used in baking as well as to make a delicious omelet or scrambled eggs; 1/4 cup of egg substitute equals one whole egg.
  • The powdered egg replacement can only be used in baking; mix 1 tablespoon of the powdered egg with 3 tablespoons of water to reconstitute and add to recipe.

6. Turkey, Chicken and Tofu

Moving onto the main entree, there is an easy ground beef substitution. Ground turkey or ground chicken can be used in any recipe calling for ground beef; an easy way to eliminate unhealthy fat grams. The ground chicken is a little moister than the turkey so adjust cooking times accordingly. At the very least, use extra lean ground beef if turkey and chicken are not an option. Tofu is another option to replace chicken in any entree recipe.

7. Fresh and Frozen Vegetables

The best choice of vegetables is fresh. Next choice, select frozen vegetables with no added flavors, salt or sauces.
Canned vegetables should be avoided because of the salt content and other additives.

8. Other Substitutions

Try these simple food substitutions that can make your meals healthier from the start.

  • Don't use bacon; use Canadian bacon or lean ham.
  • Don't use ricotta cheese; use low-fat or nonfat cottage cheese.
  • Don't use cream in coffee; use milk.
  • Don't use mayonnaise on a sandwich; use mustard.
  • Don't use butter on a bagel; use jam.

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