If you are having trouble lowering your calories with your food intake, try subbing out some of the higher fat or sugary ingredients for a healthier recipe.
Below are some ideas for food substitutions. Try them out and see what you think!
- Applesauce for Oil, Butter or Sugar – Applesauce is a healthy baker’s best friend. Not only does it add sweetness to recipes, but it does so with significantly fewer calories than sugar. And without butter, you’re cutting the saturated-fat content of baked goods like muffins, breads and brownies. Not to mention the added dietary benefits of apples’ fiber.
- Nonfat Greek Yogurt for Mayo or Sour Cream – Nonfat Greek yogurt has far fewer calories and fat than mayonnaise or sour cream, but its consistency is quite similar. Next time a recipe calls for either of those fattening ingredients, try using the yogurt instead. You may want to play around with spices and seasonings, but by making the swap, you can cut the fat while adding an extra punch of protein
- Mashed Avocado for Butter or Oil in Baking – Not all fats are bad for your body: the fats found in avocados can actually do you some good. Like olive oil and nuts, avocados are high in monounsaturated “good” fats, which help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels and stave off heart problems. In contrast, solid fats like butter are high in saturated fats, which raise your cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Mashed Bananas for Sugar, Butter and Fats – Sliced bananas are a tasty addition to cereals and oatmeal, but you can give them an even bigger role in the kitchen as a sugar, butter and fat substitute in baking. Bananas are high in potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, and they also help keep your digestive system in check.Just remember, if you’re using mashed bananas as a sugar substitute, cut down on the moisture in your recipe by using less milk or water. That way, your baked goods will come out with the right texture and firmness.
- Nuts for Croutons in Salads or Granola in Yogurt – Unsalted nuts pack flavor and crunch and give dishes a nice boost of protein. Instead of high-fat, salty croutons in salads or super-sugary granola in yogurt, substitute a handful of nuts. Walnuts and almonds are our heart-healthy favorites. Just don’t go overboard — a small handful is high in calories.
- Rolled Oats for Bread Crumbs – Craving breaded chicken? Instead of using salt-laden bread crumbs, opt for rolled oats with a little seasoning. Oats are high in fiber and healthy carbohydrates, and like all whole grains, they’re packed with nutrients like B vitamins, iron and fiber.
- Soda Water for Tonic Water – Here’s a healthy swap for when you’re out on the town. If you’re drinking cocktails, ask the bartender for soda water instead of tonic. Tonic water is high in sugar, while soda water contains none. Also consider adding less juice and more soda water to your fruity drinks to cut your sugar content.This is a swap you’ll probably notice, though, since tonic is so much sweeter than soda water.
- Whole Wheat Flour for White Flour – The government’s MyPlate dietary guidelines recommend that at least half of your daily grain intake be from whole grains. That means you should buy whole-wheat and whole-grain cereals, breads and pastas — and make the swap in your baking too. If a recipe calls for flour, use whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose white flour. Or at the very least, go half-wheat and half-white. It’s unlikely that you’ll notice a difference, and you’ll get more nutrients in your cooking.
- Zucchini Ribbons or Spaghetti Squash for Pasta – Use a vegetable peeler or a mandoline to make long, thin noodle-like slices of zucchini or spaghetti squash. Skip the boiling and simply bake or sauté the “noodles” for a few minutes. You can use the veggies in side dishes or to replace high-carb pasta in dishes like lasagna. It’s an easy way to cut the calories in your favorite pasta meals and sneak more vegetables into your dinner.
- Pureed Potato for Cream to Thicken Soup – Fall is soup season, and there are plenty of ways to pack more nutrients into your favorite varieties. Instead of bulking up your soups with cream, for example, add pureed sweet potato instead. Not only are you getting less fat, but the potassium in sweet potatoes will help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke. Talk about a win-win.Also, if you’re buying ready-made soup from the store, it’s a good idea to check the sodium level — always choose low-sodium varieties.