Using Simple Substitutions to Make Your Meals Healthier

Posted on

Eating healthier does not have to mean giving up all of your favorite dishes. In many cases, you can substitute healthier ingredients for the high-fat, high-calorie ingredients a recipe calls for and still end up with a tasty—yet much healthier—dish. Here's a look at some common substitutions to try.

Yogurt for Mayonnaise

One tablespoon of mayonnaise contains a whopping 90 calories and 10 grams of fat! This can really add up when you use mayo in salad dressings, dips, and similar concoctions. Try switching the mayo out for plain yogurt. You can even use Greek yogurt for recipes where you want a thicker, creamier consistency. Greek yogurt contains just 17 calories per ounce.

Cornstarch and Chicken Stock for Cream of Chicken Soup

Many casserole and one-dish-meal recipes call for cream of chicken soup. Not only is this canned soup high in fat and calories, it's also overly processed. Try substituting 1 1/2 cups chicken stock plus a tablespoon of cornstarch for the canned soup. Just whisk the cornstarch into the chicken stock and add then it as you would the soup. The cornstarch will work as a thickener, and you will get plenty of great chicken flavor without all the fat.

Applesauce for Butter (in Baking)

This one sounds strange at first, but consider that the role of butter in baking is to keep things moist. You can substitute an equal amount of applesauce for the butter in most any muffin, bread, or cookie recipe and still end up with a delicious—and much lower fat—treat. The consistency of baked goods made with applesauce is a bit denser. If this bothers you, try replacing just half of the butter with applesauce.

Marshmallow Fluff for Frosting

Frosting tastes great on cookies and cakes, but 2 tablespoons of fluffy white frosting contain about 110 calories. Try topping your baked goods with a little marshmallow fluff instead. This sweet, sticky treat contains just 40 calories in 2 tablespoons.

Zucchini for Pasta

Pasta is satisfying, but it's a very calorie-dense food that won't help you too much if you're trying to keep off the pounds. Try using zucchini instead. In stores, you can find "noodler" or "spiralizer" tools that shred zucchini into long, twisted noodles. If you're making lasagna, just slice the zucchini lengthwise into thin sheets and then use the sheets as you would regular lasagna noodles. The resulting dish will be much lower in calories, and you'll be eating your vegetables.

Experiment with the substitutions above, and see what other healthy substitutions you can come up with on your own. For more information about eating nutritiously, talk to a nutrition professional such as a registered dietitian.