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Healthy Substitutions

Healthy Substitutions for Cooking and Baking

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Looking for ways to substitute healthier ingredients? Try our easy tips to include better-for-you foods.

Olive Oil

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).
Pork Tenderloin

Cooking

  • 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.
Cookies on cooling rack

Baking

  • 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.
cooking sauce with fresh herbs

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.
beans and chili

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.
quick bread

Add Fiber

  • 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.
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