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Healthy Substitutes For Cooking

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When you’re trying to eat right, live healthy, or lose weight, there are many times that you’d like to enjoy your favorite recipes, but hesitate to make them because you know that they contain ingredients that will work against your goal.  Worry no more!  There are a number of ingredient substitutions that you can make in many of your favorite dishes that can help to make them much better for you.


Fortunately, many of the substitutions don’t involve having to take a long trip to an exotic market or order ingredients from a website because they’re rare or obscure.  Instead, there are many changes that you can make that taste wonderful and that are readily available at your local grocery store – or even in your own pantry!


The following list of substitutions will help you to reduce the amount of calories, salt, sugar, and fats that you consume in your regular recipes, helping to make those old favorites much more healthy:

  • White bread – substitute with wholegrain bread.  There are many options so get creative and try many different flavors to find out what you like.  Those with ground flax seed or ancient grains such as quinoa can give even more nutritional benefits and will make you feel more full than white bread.
  • Dry breadcrumbs – substitute with crushed bran cereal or rolled oats.
  • Butter, shortening, oil, or margarine in a pan to prevent sticking – substitute with nonstick pans or cooking spray (you use a lot less).  Try to choose a healthy oil spray such as olive.
  • Butter, shortening, oil, or margarine in baked goods – replace half of the butter, shortening, oil, or margarine with prune puree or applesauce. If you do choose to use oil, select one that is a healthy substitute, like olive oil. For recipes that require shortening, you can find vegetable shortening in most stores.
  • All purpose flour – substitute half of the amount in the recipe with whole wheat flour.  This works best in softer items such as muffins. In dense items such as brownies, try canned black beans.
  • Cream – substitute with evaporated skim milk, or fat free half-and-half.
  • Whole milk – substitute with reduced fat milk, such as 2%, 1%, or skim or use a dairy alternative, such as almond milk or soy milk.
  • Eggs – substitute with ¼ cup egg substitute or two egg whites to replace one whole egg.
  • Ground meat – choose the lean or extra lean instead of their fattier alternatives.
  • Seasoning salt (including onion salt, garlic salt, and celery salt) – substitute with herb seasonings, such as onion flakes or onions, garlic powder or garlic, and celery seed or celery.
  • Sugar – in many baked recipes, you can cut the required sugar in half, but add a little bit of vanilla extract, cinnamon, or nutmeg to draw out the sweetness of what you’ve used. You can also use artificial sweeteners, but many of them have their own drawbacks. You can also try using natural sweeteners, such as agave syrup or maple syrup when suitable.