Healthy kitchen switch ups
The desire to make healthier food for our families is there, but sometimes we worry that substituting ingredients will impact the taste, texture, and quality of the meals or desserts we’re making. But it is actually possible to rewrite those fat-, sugar-, and sodium-filled recipes without sacrificing any of the quality.
10 ideas for healthy recipe substitutions1
- Unsweetened applesauce for oil or butter: Applesauce helps give the right consistency to baked goods without all the fat of oil or butter. This substitution works particularly well in sweet breads, muffins and even box cake mixes. Swap out half the fat to start (so if your recipe calls for 1 cup of oil, use ½ cup of oil and ½ cup of unsweetened applesauce). If you like the results, try swapping out even more fat next time.
- Mashed banana for fats: Creamy, ripe bananas act as a thickener and add a touch of sweetness to baked goods. As an added bonus, they also bring nutrients like potassium, fiber and vitamin B6 to your desserts. One cup of mashed banana works in place of one cup of oil or butter.
- Evaporated skim milk for cream: You’ll find that evaporated milk has the consistency of cream but just a fraction of the fat. It’s an even swap, so substitute cup for cup.
- Ground flax or chia seeds for eggs: One tablespoon of chia seeds combined with one cup of water that’s left to sit for 15 minutes yields a perfect one-to-one egg substitute for baking. One tablespoon of ground flax seeds whisked with 3 tablespoons of warm water and left to sit for 5 – 10 minutes in the refrigerator is also a one-to-one egg substitute.
- Two egg whites for one whole egg. Trading out the yolk for a second egg white cuts the cholesterol while doubling the protein. However, if you’re making something that requires several eggs, keep one or two yolks in since they’re rich in vitamins A, E, D, and K. Check this article on vitamin fact and fiction from our November 2015 Membership Matters.
- Greek yogurt for sour cream and mayo: They each have similar textures, but Greek yogurt also offers an extra dose of lean protein and will save on fat and calories.
- Herbs or citrus juice for salt: Try seasoning your food using fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon or lime. You’ll be amazed at the amount of flavor you’ll add to your food without the risks of excessive sodium intake.
- Seltzer water with citrus slices instead of soda: A glass of sparkling water with a squeeze or two of lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit juice is a refreshing way to keep loads of sugar and artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors out of your drinks. One 12-ounce can of soda contains roughly 8 teaspoons of white sugar, while water has none.2
- Pureed fruit for syrup: Instead of reaching for that bottle of maple syrup, puree some fresh or frozen fruit and warm it up on the stove with a touch of honey. Not only will you be consuming much less sugar, but you’ll also be taking in a dose of antioxidants and vitamins.
- Ground turkey for ground beef: Choosing turkey, a leaner alternative to beef, cuts down on saturated fat and calories. Poultry can be a little drier so just add a splash of chicken stock if needed.
There are lots of other simple things you can do to lighten up your meals and add important nutrients to your diet. Just remember to keep the best and most nutritious ingredients in mind when you’re looking at recipes, and use them in place of less healthy options as often as you can.
For instance, put three times as many vegetables on your pizza or in your casseroles, stews and soups as you do meat; choose kale, arugula, collard greens, mustard greens or spinach in place of less nutritious iceberg lettuce; opt for whole-wheat pasta and bread; and try rolled oats or crushed bran cereal instead of bread crumbs when you’re topping casseroles or coating foods prior to baking.
If you’re cooking and baking with nutrition in mind, you’ll find all sorts of amazing ways to make your meals both healthy and delicious.
For more tips on healthy substitutions visit the Mayo Clinic.
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