Monday, January 25th, 2021

Eat and Cook Healthier with Just a Few Substitutions

By Corinne Kantor on Dec 06 2011 • Filed under Health

Create Healthier Dishes with a Few Easy Substitutions (Photo: Zsuzsanna Kilian)Have you ever found a recipe that sounds absolutely wonderful, but then decided not to make it because it sounded too fattening, or just overall too unhealthy? Many recipes can easily be made healthier by merely replacing one or more of the ingredients, without sacrificing the taste or appearance of the dish.

Use this list (below) to see how you can make simple ingredient substitutions that can help reduce the amount of calories, fat, sodium, cholesterol, and sugar in your meals.

If your recipe lists this ingredient…

Try this ingredient…


Canadian bacon, turkey bacon, smoked turkey or lean prosciutto (Italian ham)

Bread (white)

Whole grain bread

Bread crumbs (dry)

Rolled oats or crushed bran cereal

Butter, margarine, shortening or oil (baked goods)

Applesauce or prune puree for half of the called-for butter, shortening or oil; butter spreads or shortenings specially formulated for baking that don't have trans fats

(To avoid dense, soggy or flat baked goods, do not substitute oil for butter or shortening. Do not substitute diet, whipped, or tub-style margarine for regular margarine.)

Butter, margarine, shortening, or oil (to prevent sticking)

Cooking spray or nonstick pans


Low-fat or fat-free cheese (fat-free cheese does not melt very well)

Cream (heavy)

Evaporated skim milk or fat-free half-and-half

Cream cheese (full fat)

Fat-free or low-fat cream cheese, Neufchatel, ricotta, or low-fat cottage cheese pureed until smooth


Two egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute for each whole egg

Fruit canned in heavy syrup

Fruit canned in its own juices or in water, or fresh fruit

(You can also rinse the canned fruit in water to rinse off the syrup)

Ground beef

Extra-lean or lean ground beef, chicken or turkey breast (no poultry skin)


Reduced-calorie mayonnaise-type salad dressing or reduced-calorie, reduced-fat mayonnaise

Milk (whole)

Low fat or non-fat milk

Milk chocolate chunks

1/2 the amount of mini milk chocolate chips or finely chopped dark chocolate

Oil-based marinades

Wine, balsamic vinegar, fruit juice, or fat-free broth

Rice (white)

Brown rice, wild rice, bulgur or pearl barley

Seasoning salt, such as garlic salt, celery salt, or onion salt

Herb-only seasonings (such as garlic powder, celery seed or onion flakes) or use finely chopped herbs or garlic, celery, or onions


Vegetable oil

Soups, creamed

Fat-free milk-based soups, mashed potato flakes, or pureed carrots, potatoes, or tofu for thickening agents

Sour cream

Plain yogurt or reduced-fat cottage cheese (blended)


In most baked goods, you can reduce the amount of sugar by one-half, then intensify the sweetness by adding vanilla, nutmeg, or cinnamon


Pureed fruit, such as applesauce or low-calorie, sugar-free syrup

Table salt

Herbs, spices, citrus juices (lemon, lime, orange), rice vinegar, salt-free seasoning mixes, or herb blends

Yogurt (fruit-flavored)

Plain yogurt with fresh fruit slices

Your task:

The next time you see a recipe that looks great but are concerned about the nutrition value, use this list to substitute one or more of the ingredients. This change can lead to a long-term habit of substituting ingredients, while allowing you to expand your healthy recipe collection.

1 Comment

  1. Clear, ifonmratvie, simple. Could I send you some e-hugs?

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