Smart Swapping: 5 Healthier Ingredients for a Better Meal

02/07/2013

Are you looking for a way to eat healthier? Or maybe you like to bake but hate the crazy calorie counts of your favorite recipes?

Here are some everyday solutions to high-calorie and high-fat ingredients that can be swapped out for better, healthier (and maybe even tastier) options.

Photo Credit: Back to the Cutting Board
Photo Credit: Back to the Cutting Board

1. Applesauce for Oil or Butter

The first time you make this substitution – do half and half. Using half butter and half applesauce will help you gauge how much you like this new addition and how much to use in the future.

This substitution is particularly good when making low-fat sweet recipes, like a low fat muffin or low-fat waffles that you can indulge in every day, guilt-free.

2. Black Beans for Flour

We know this sounds weird, but if you try it, you'll be quickly converted! This is a great way to increase your protein intake, lower your calorie and carbohydrate intake and also make a recipe gluten-free for those who follow a gluten-free diet.

Don't believe us? Just try this Black Bean Brownie recipe and prepare to be amazed!

3. Greek or Plain Yogurt for Sour Cream or Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is quite literally all fat, and it is often hidden in otherwise healthy, protein-packed foods like egg, tuna or chicken salad.

Try substituting Greek or nonfat plain yogurt with a little mustard in these salads in lieu of mayonnaise to get a different but exponentially healthier meal. One cup of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt contains 130 calories, 0 grams of fat and 23 grams of protein while one cup of light mayo contains 769 calories, 76 grams of fat and just 3 grams of protein. You can also dress Greek yogurt up by adding fresh chopped dill, cracked pepper and a pinch of salt.

Yogurt can also be a substitute for sour cream; it can be used to dress up your taco or make a delicious dip for your next family party. Try this recipe if you’re not a believer.

4. Vanilla Extract for Sugar

Many people don’t think to halve the amount of sugar in a recipe and add just a tiny bit – roughly one teaspoon of vanilla extract. It will cut out major calories (that 387 calories if the recipe calls for a full cup of sugar) and maintain the same sweet and delicious flavor. You can also try adding cinnamon or nutmeg to intensify the flavors.

5. Spices for Salt

Now this one’s tricky – some people are serious salt fiends. But the best way to cut back on this health hazard is to go spice-y – literally! If you don’t like the taste of hot food, use garlic, basil, oregano or dill! Try cayenne, aprika, chili powder or red pepper flakes if you can handle a little heat.

Not only does spicy food boost your metabolism and increase your immunity, but it cuts out unnecessary calories and sodium by flavoring your food in a delicious and fat-free way!

Try This: Next time you plan to make baked or pan-fried chicken, fish or another type of white meat, marinate it in light olive oil and a combination of your favorite spices about 24 hours in advance.  You really can’t go wrong skipping out on all the extra sodium, and when your food is done, it’ll be tender and juicy with lots of additional flavor!

By: Jennifer Wolfe

For More on Healthy Eating:

Eat Smart

How to Eat Out and Stay Healthy

10 Quick and Easy Ways to Eat Healthier


The Discovery Fit and Health team brings you the latest (and most interesting) health news as well as exclusive interviews, video clips, and other juicy tidbits from your favorite shows.
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