Healthy Meals in a Snap

A great way to start cooking healthier is to substitute healthier ingredients in recipes. In most cases, you won’t even notice the difference. I have found that many recipes are loaded with unnecessary fat, sugar and calories.

Using substitutions like the ones below opens you and your family to a whole range of great flavors too. Rather than searching for healthy recipes, you can take almost any recipe and make it healthier just by selecting the right ingredients.

The substitutions below cut fat, sugar without compromising the taste. In some cases they also increase the amount of fiber too. This helps fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied. See how many of these substitutions you can incorporate into your everyday cooking.

Here are my favorite healthy substitutions:

Apple sauce instead of oil. Apple sauce makes a great substitution for oil in baked goods. You can substitute it one for one (e.g., one cup of apple sauce for one cup of oil). I use it in just about every recipe that calls for oil including coffee cakes, muffins, waffles and cookies. Using apple sauce reduces both fat and calories. In addition, apple sauce is a great source of fiber. I do still use a bit of oil – maybe a half teaspoon or so – in baked goods because it helps the items release from the pan.

Plain, non- or low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream. Plain, low-fat yogurt has just 18 calories per ounce and almost not fat while sour cream has a whopping 60 calories per ounce, with 53 of those calories coming from fat. Yogurt can be used on baked potatoes, for dips and casseroles, and for baking anything that includes sour cream (e.g., sour cream coffee cakes). Yogurt has a bit of a different taste than sour cream, but it’s hardly noticeable. And, in most cases the sour cream or yogurt are mixed with other herbs and spices which provide the main flavors.

Olive oil instead of butter. I really don’t use butter for pan cooking any more. I use olive oil almost exclusively. It has a great nutty flavor and is easy to cook with. Olive oil has a few more calories than butter (248 per ounce versus 200 per ounce for butter), but the key here is that the calories come from unsaturated fats which are much better than the saturated fats found in butter.

Whole grain pasta for regular pasta. I almost never use regular pasta any more. I use whole wheat pasta in most recipes and it tastes great. Most markets carry a wide variety of whole grain pastas including whole wheat spinach or artichoke noodles, as well as other “flavors.” One added benefit of using these flavored pastas is that you can use a simple pesto sauce or plain olive oil rather than the traditional tomato sauces.

Reduce sugar. This isn’t really a substitution, but it can make a big difference. I regularly cut the amount of sugar called for in recipes like sauces and desserts by one half, and nobody seems to notice! If the recipe calls for one cup of sugar then I’ll use one half cup, if it calls for one half cup, then I’ll use just a quarter cup. You may notice just a bit of difference at first, but once your taste buds get used to it, you’ll forget all about the full sugar version.

Well, there you have it; my favorite healthy substitutions. Of course, there are lots more. If you would like to learn more about substitutions, as well as nutrition and healthy cooking, take a look at our eBook, The P.O.W.E.R. of Health Eating. It’s loaded with great ideas for eating healthier!

Remember, healthy choices each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?
You may also want to read: 6 Tips for Enjoying Dessert Without Feeling Guilty, Healthy Shortcuts in the Kitchen, Less Housework Equals Weight Gain

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