7 Healthy Cooking Substitutions as Delicious as Their Originals

Fitness Tips

7 Healthy Cooking Substitutions as Delicious as Their Originals

Most of us want to be able to eat more food for fewer calories – so until science invents the miracle calorie-free cupcake, we’ll need to cut culinary corners where we can.

You've probably heard of substituting mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes, applesauce for butter, and wheat flour for white. But you may not be as familiar with some of the substitutions below.

Note that not every substitution will work for every recipe, but with a little experimentation, you should be able to render many of your favorite dishes healthier – and in certain cases, even better tasting.

1. Avocado for butter

It should come as no surprise that butter isn't especially good for you. Luckily for us, there are “good” types of fat in a variety of ingredients including avocados.

According to Time Magazine, “Like olive oil and nuts, avocados are high in monounsaturated ‘good’ fats, which help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels and stave off heart problems. In contrast, solid fats like butter are high in saturated fats, which raise your cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Replacing butter with avocado can preserve the creamy goodness without the negative health effect.

2. Meringue for frosting

There are few things on this earth worse for your arteries than globs of buttercream frosting. Next time you’re looking for something sweet to top off a cake or cookie, consider meringue. It’s still high in sugar, but the fat is cut to zero. For an easy meringue, whip white sugar with egg whites and cream of tartar.

3. Herbs for salt

To the novice cook, spices can be intimidating. However, they’re the best friends of the chef trying to add flavor without piling on the pounds.

And while we definitely need salt in our diets, we require far less than the amount typically consumed. In order to flavor more bland foods, try herbs like rosemary on potatoes, basil on salmon, and pretty much any herb on chicken.

Herbs Cooking SubstitutionsPhoto courtesy of Flickr user Jonas Weckschmied.


4. Non-fat Greek yogurt for sour cream

In addition to being the trendiest member of your dairy section, Greek yogurt has another great use: as a substitution for sour cream. Their similar consistencies allow cooks to cut the fat without sacrificing taste. In fact, some cooks even prefer Greek yogurt due to its moisture and taste.

5. Pureed potato for cream

For thickening a soup, consider using pureed potato in place of the heavy cream!

6. Nuts for croutons

To keep the crunch but not the carbs, replace croutons with the good fatty nuts. Nuts are also a terrific substitution for granola in your morning yogurt.

Nuts Cooking SubstitutionsPhoto courtesy of Flickr user Steffen Zahn.


7. Spaghetti squash for pasta

There’s a reason it’s called “spaghetti” squash – it replicates the popular flour-based pasta in image and consistency… and for a fraction of the calories! For example, there are about 30 calories in a cup of spaghetti squash as opposed to 220 for traditional pasta. Toss your spaghetti squash with some tasty sauce and you may not be able to tell the difference.

What are some of your favorite healthy cooking substitutions? Feel free to share your best recipes in the comments and check out our own low-calorie recipes!

Cover photo courtesy of Flickr user Lisa Williams.