12 Favorite Substitutions for Healthy Cooking

12 Favorite Substitutions for Healthy Cooking

I have been experimenting with recipes for decades now in an effort to get delicious meals into my day that are also really good for me. There's just no way around it these days; we must learn to cook for ourselves so that we can control our consumption, and our health. Even if you're no gourmet, with a little creativity, you can create tasty meals that will feed you well and keep you robust. 

Healthy cooking is easier than you think!

Here are some of my favorite ways to get rid of the not-quite-so-good ingredients in favor of the better-for-me versions. Try these substitutions in your recipes for close to the original flavor without the health down-sides.

1. Replace 1 whole egg with 2 egg whites. While it may not have quite the same unctuousness as the yolky egg, it is a good balance of health and usefulness. If you are baking, whip the egg whites really well before adding to mix to increase the volume and moistness. You can also make your own flax egg, which is 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed soaked in a tablespoon of warm water (it will eventually thicken and resemble an egg in consistency.)

2. Use non fat yogurt instead of sour cream, or mix your cream cheese with 50% yogurt for all of the flavor with half the guilt (works with mayonnaise too.)

3. Replace sugar with stevia. Pure leaf stevia is an excellent substitution, even in baking. Yes, it has a slightly bitter aftertaste, but that is a small compromise to get rid of the unhealthy sucrose.

4. Try almond milk instead of dairy milk. Depending on what I am using it for, I will either replace my regular milk with almond, coconut, or rice milk (some baking recipes work better with the 3 different milks.)

5. If you need to use a cream, try using evaporated skim milk instead. If you are thickening a soup or a sauce, use whipped potatoes instead of cream.

6. If you need chocolate, replace the full version with 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil (has no overwhelming flavor of its own.)

7. Fruit purees are an excellent replacement for fats or binders. Fats like butter, oils, or eggs are often used to keep cakes and such foods moist, but replacing them with apple or pear puree can retain moistness and reduce calories. You can also use vegetable purees in some baking and lots of savory recipes. I sometimes puree green peas to add to guacamole to give body without more fat calories.

8. Replace processed white flour with whole brown rice flour to avoid the dangers of a high glycemic, unhealthy food, as well as to avoid gluten, and to increase the fiber content (reducing blood sugar spikes.) You can also try coconut, or nut flours, or just go with whole grain if you really like your wheat.

9. If you must use sugar, depending on the food, try reducing the amount and adding nutmeg, cinnamon, or allspice to the recipe. These spices give the perception of sweetness, allowing you to lower the sugar content without compromising taste. Vanilla works well too.

10. If you must use oils, stay with the healthier one's that are high in monounsaturated fats like olive, canol

11. One of my personal favorites is mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. The taste is so delicious and you get less calories, carbs and blood sugar spikes. You can also try using half sweet potatoes, turnips, or yams in your regular mashed potatoe recipe to up the fiber and lower the glycemic load. You can also grate the steamed cauliflower to replace rice. It is almost the same consistency and flavor.

12. And finally, to offer the perfect snack to replace potatoe chips, try baked kale chips instead. All you have to do is lightly toss in olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, onion, and a little chili powder, and bake. They are actually amazing, even if you don't normally like kale.

With a little creativity you can still create delicious meals and treats but without much of the unhealthy aspects. I have found that with just a bit more effort, I can make food that really satisfies my cravings and that I can eat without guilt or reservation. Let us know your own favorite substitutions so we can bulld a shareable list.

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The opinions expressed in this article are of the author. Content and other information presented on the site are not meant to be medical advice or any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider.

 

1 Comments

    • Avatar
      Davey R
      May 2, 2015

      I use pureed avocados instead of butter. I learned it from a Chilean friend who introduced me to avocado butter on toast (just avocados, salt, and toast.) It works in a lot of recipes too. Delish.

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