Looking for ways to substitute healthier ingredients? Try our easy tips to include better-for-you foods.
Focus on Fat
- Fats are calorie heavy with 9 calories per gram, while carbohydrates and protein have just 4 calories per gram.
- Read labels to find low-fat and fat-free options for favorites like milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, half-and-half, ice cream and whipped topping. To adjust more easily, make a gradual switch from reduced-fat to low-fat and then on to fat-free ingredients.
- Use part-skim cheeses, like Mozzarella, instead of higher fat counterparts, or use sharper-flavored cheeses like Cheddar, Parmesan, feta or Gorgonzola since their more pungent flavors allow you to use less.
- Canola, soybean and olive oils are good fats to use for stir-frying, cooking and some baking because they have less saturated fat than many other options.
- Egg substitutes can replace eggs at a savings of 5 grams of fat each (1/4 cup = 1 large egg).
- Choose lean and extra-lean ground meats or ground turkey breast.
- Choose loin and sirloin meats and skinless white-meat poultry.
- Trim fat from meats before cooking.
- Cut bacon or sausage amounts in half, or switch to turkey bacon, low-fat sausages or vegetarian alternatives.
- Cut meat amounts in chilis and casseroles in half; add beans for extra protein and fiber.
- Blend or process 1/4 to 1/3 of a soup to make it creamy instead of adding cream or thickeners; stir into remaining soup.
- Try replacing butter with no-trans-fat vegetable oil spread. Or, replace half of the butter with canola oil.
- Try replacing half the fat with applesauce. Next time, go further if you like the results.
- Cut chocolate chips in half and use miniature chips to make the flavor go further.
- Toast nuts for fullest flavor, then use half the amount and chop.
- Use cooking spray to grease pans; spray cupcake liners to release muffins easily.
Punch up the Flavor
- Fat carries flavor. When fat is reduced or removed, foods can become bland, so it's important to increase flavorings and/or seasonings to compensate for that lost fat.
- Use grated or shredded lemon, lime or orange peel, or squeeze fresh juice to heighten flavor.
- Add high-flavored ingredients like Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, garlic, gingerroot, chili peppers, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, hoisin sauce or other full-flavored condiments.
- Sprinkle or stir in chopped fresh herbs just before serving to enhance flavors.
- Double or triple the amount of vanilla, and increase spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg when baking.
Check the Sodium
- Buy low- or reduced-sodium instead of regular chicken broth, soy sauce, canned foods and prepared pasta sauces.
- Rinse canned veggies and beans before using.
- Cut added salt in half or leave it out completely.
- Instead of salt, use a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice or a splash of high-flavored vinegar.
- Check the ingredient list on dried herb mixtures to avoid added sodium.
- Double the amount of veggies and/or legumes in stir-fries, casseroles, soups, stews and salads to help fill you up.
- Switch to whole grain pasta, rice and grains.
- Mix oatmeal or other cereal into burgers and meatballs.
- Crush high-fiber cereal such as Fiber One® cereal to coat chicken breasts and fish fillets or use as a topping for baked dishes like casseroles or muffins.
- Replace half the amount of all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour when baking.