Substitutions 101 – for Healthy Food & Recipes

Healthy AlternativesMany of us are interested in being healthier, so here are some good substitutions for common ingredients:

Beans (canned) – Dried beans are better for you. Canned beans have excess sodium and preservatives, which none of us need.

Bread – Whole grain bread is a wiser choice. Pitas are also good.

Bread Crumbs – Oatmeal (rolled oats) are a good choice and can be seasoned the same way that bread crumbs can. You can also use crushed flax or fiber cereal.

Butter or Oil – Use bananas or unsweetened applesauce. Use the same amount as you would of oil or butter. Applesauce is best in muffins, cakes, and bread and it cuts the fat. Bananas add potassium, fiber and vitamin B6.

Cheese – Low-fat cheese is a better choice. It saves on fat and cholesterol. Low sodium is also a good option if your watching your sodium intake.

Chocolate Chips – Use mini chips. You can use less and it will seem like you still have a lot of chocolate since it will be more evenly distributed in your recipe.

Cream – Use evaporated milk, the same amount that the recipe calls for. It cuts the fat

Croutons (for salads) – Top your salad with nuts. You’ll still get crunch, but you won’t be adding carbs.

Eggs – Use flax meal. Mix one tablespoon ground flax seeds (flax meal) with 3 tablespoons warm water substitutes well for one egg. Stir well. Let it sit in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Bananas and applesauce can be substituted in baking. You can also use two egg whites for one whole egg if you’re watching your cholesterol.

Flour – Use black beans. Rinse and drain the beans and then puree them. Use the same amount of beans that you would use of flour. This cuts gluten and adds some protein. You can also substitute whole wheat flour for white flour. It provides extra fiber and can lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

French Fries – Opt for sweet potato fries instead of regular white potato fries. You’ll get extra fiber and vitamins A, C and B6. It also cuts about 20 grams of carbs per one cup serving.

Frosting – Use meringue. It’s made of egg whites and sugar, so it’s fat-free. Also, marshmallow fluff is a nice alternative. It has 40 calories for two tablespoons while traditional frosting has around 100 calories plus fat.

Fruit (canned) – Don’t buy fruit canned in syrup, but fresh or frozen. If you must get it canned, make sure in it’s own juice or water packed.

Hummus – Although it seems like it’s really good for you, it has a lot of calories and carbs (32.5 net carbs/cup). Try edamame hummus (12.5 net carbs/cup) instead.

Ice Cream – Freeze bananas and then puree. They have the same texture and you can add flavor to them. Or try frozen yogurt. It’s less fat!

Lettuce (iceberg) – Leaf lettuce, such as romaine, spinach, arugula, or kale are all better choices. They have more nutrients like iron, vitamin C, and antioxidants.

Mayo (for sandwiches) – Spread with avocado instead.

Milk – Use skim milk instead of whole milk or 2% milk. You’ll be taking in less calories and fat. If you don’t like the taste, reduce the fat content gradually but going from whole to 2% for a week or two and then dropping to 1% and finally to skim.

Oatmeal (instant) – Steel cut oats are better for you. You can also susbtitute quinoa and cinnamon for a good breakfast cereal.

Oil or Butter – Use bananas or unsweetened applesauce. Use the same amount as you would of oil or butter. Applesauce is best in muffins, cakes, and bread and it cuts the fat. Bananas add potassium, fiber and vitamin B6.

Olive Oil – Use an olive oil spray instead of pouring it from the bottle. You’ll use less.

Pasta – Use whole-wheat. You won’t notice the difference (except the color) and it’s a much healthier choice. Spaghetti squash is another option.

Potato Chips – Popcorn is better. It’s lower in fat and calories and you can season it with many things like cinnamon, chili powder, and parmesan cheese.

Potatoes – Mashed cauliflower is a good alternative with much fewer calories. If you don’t want to serve all mashed cauliflower, try a mixture of half potatoes and half cauliflower.

Rice (white) – Use brown rice or wild rice instead. Both are better for you for a variety of reasons. You can also use quinoa as a substitution for most recipes.

Salt – Fresh herbs are a better alternative. You can spice your foods up with natural flavors and keep your sodium levels low.

Soda – Try seltzer/sparkling water with citrus slices instead.

Sour cream – Use low-fat yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese. It will cut the fat. Greek yogurt have about half the fat and calories of sour cream.

Sugar – There are several good options. I use stevia for the sugar. You generally use the same amount as you would sugar, but stevia is really sweeter, so you may want to cut it a little. This cuts a lot of calories from your sweets. Applesauce is good, but you need to cut some of the other liquid in the recipe. You may also add more vanilla to your recipe. If you cut some of the sugar and add an additional teaspoon of vanilla it will make up for the flavor. You can’t cut all of the sugar, but start with about half and add more if needed.

Syrup – Puree some fresh fruit and heat it on the stove with a little honey and cinnamon (if you want). You’ll love it!

Tea (bottled) – Make home made tea instead. Pre-bottled teas are full of sugar and calories.

Tomato Sauce – When making pizza, top with sliced tomatoes instead. You’ll cut out the extra sodium, sugar, and preservatives that canned sauce has in it. For other things, home made sauce is better for you.

Tortillas (flour) – Corn tortillas have half the calories and fat that flour tortillas have.

Tortilla Wraps – Lettuce leaves work great for rolling your filling in.

Wine – Although white wine generally has fewer calories, red wine has cancer fighting compounds and natural cholesterol checks.

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