Easy Healthy Recipe Substitutions

With these quick and easy ingredient substitutions, cooking heart-healthfully doesn¿t have to be a chore.

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  • 1 of 16

    Use Baby Prunes, Not Butter

    When your recipe calls for: butter, margarine, or oil

    Use this ingredient instead: baby prunes

    Best used for: brownies, dark quick breads

    Why substitute? Substituting baby prunes for oil and butter cuts more than half the fat and calories.

    Tips on making the switch: The color of the prunes will change the batter color, so use this swap when baking dark breads or brownies. The recipe will bake up denser and have more moisture. Also, be sure to snip the tips of the prunes and finely chop them for the recipe.

    Recipe Idea:

  • 2 of 16

    Use Mini Chocolate Chips, Not Chocolate Chunks

    When your recipe calls for: milk chocolate chunks

    Use this ingredient instead: 1/2 the amount of mini milk chocolate chips or finely chopped dark chocolate

    Best used for: baking

    Why substitute? Using mini chocolate chips means that every bite still has the sweet flavor, but by using less overall you cut the calories. If you sub dark chocolate (with 70 percent cocoa and cocoa powder) you gain flavonoids that help keep blood vessels clear and flowing. Dark chocolate also can increase levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, by up to 10 percent, according to a 2006 study in Finland.


  • 3 of 16

    Use Low-Fat Yogurt and Cottage Cheese, Not Sour Cream

    When your recipe calls for: sour cream

    Use this ingredient instead: equal parts low-fat yogurt and low-fat no-salt-added cottage cheese

    Best used for: dips, salad dressings

    Why substitute? The combination of the yogurt and cottage cheese gives your recipe lower fat content with the same consistency. If you choose the no-salt added cottage cheese, your dip will also be lower in sodium.

    Tip on making the switch: Puree the yogurt and cottage cheese in a blender for a smooth consistency.

    The switch has been made in these recipes:

  • 4 of 16

    Use Marshmallow Creme, Not Butter

    When your recipe calls for: butter or margarine

    Use this ingredient instead: marshmallow creme

    Best used for: Frosting

    Why substitute? One serving of marshmallow creme has no fat or cholesterol, compared with the 11.5 grams of fat and 31 mg of cholesterol in one serving of butter. Using the marshmallow creme will also give your frosting a sweetened taste and thicker consistency.

    *Note: The marshmallow creme will significantly sweeten the recipe. Add the creme gradually and taste it as you go. You may not need the entire measurement of creme.

    Make the switch in this recipe:

  • 5 of 16

    Use Lean Ground Turkey, Not Ground Beef

    When your recipe calls for: ground beef

    Use this ingredient instead: lean ground turkey breast or meatless crumbles

    Best used for: meat sauces, burgers, meat loaves, tacos

    Why substitute? Ground turkey breast has less fat than beef. Meatless crumbles are a great vegetarian substitution; they also have four times less fat and zero cholesterol.

    Burgers will pack more tightly and are less likely to crumble when using a 1/2 ground beef, 1/2 lean ground turkey breast ratio.


  • 6 of 16

    Use Evaporated Skim Milk, Not Heavy Cream

    When your recipe calls for: heavy cream

    Use this ingredient instead: evaporated skim milk

    Best used for: custards, desserts

    Why substitute? Use evaporated skim milk to remove the fat and calories of heavy cream while maintaining the consistency.


  • 7 of 16

    Use Applesauce and Buttermilk, Not Butter

    When your recipe calls for: vegetable oil, butter, or margarine

    Use this ingredient instead: 1/2 applesauce and 1/2 buttermilk

    Best used for: muffins, quick breads, cakes from mix

    Why substitute? According to the USDA, 1/2 cup of salted butter contains roughly 900 calories and 92 grams of fat, while a 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce contains about 50 calories and zero grams of fat.

    Tips on making the switch: Use a standard liquid measuring cup and add the applesauce with the liquid ingredients. Reduce the amount of added sugar in the recipe if the applesauce is sweetened. Try not to overbake recipes; low-fat recipes tend to dry out when overbaked.


  • 8 of 16

    Use Reduced-Fat Cheese, Not Regular Cheese

    When your recipe calls for: cheese

    Use this ingredient instead: 2% milk, low-fat, or fat-free cheese

    Best used for: sandwiches, salads, melting

    Why substitute? Choosing low-fat cheese will save you fat and cholesterol. Be sure to look for a low-fat cheese that's also low in sodium.


  • 9 of 16

    Use Fresh Herbs, Not Seasoning Salt

    When your recipe calls for: seasoning salt

    Use this ingredient instead: salt-free dried herb blends, fresh herbs, garlic, or fresh peppers

    Best used for: entrees, side dishes, dips, sauces

    Why substitute? Seasoning salt is high in sodium, which can increase your blood pressure. Add salt-free blends and fresh herbs to enhance the flavor of your dish without worrying about your numbers.


  • 10 of 16

    Use Trans and Saturated Fat-Free Margarine, Not Shortening

    When your recipe calls for: shortening

    Use this ingredient instead: trans and saturated fat-free shortening or margarine

    Why substitute? Having a diet high in trans and saturated causes total cholesterol blood levels and LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels to go up.

    Tip for making the switch: Trans fat-free margarine may not last as long as shortening made with artificial trans fat. Be sure to check the packaging for proper storage and for the product's expiration.


  • 11 of 16

    Use Cooking Spray, Not Butter

    When your recipe calls for: butter

    Use this ingredient instead: cooking spray and/or nonstick cookware

    Best used for: baking, sautéing

    Why substitute? When making this substitution, you're cutting out the fat from the butter.

    Tip to make the switch: Add a flavor-booster like garlic when sautéing vegetables, or marinate your meat in an apple cider or fruit juice to bring back some of the taste lost without butter.


  • 12 of 16

    Use Fat-Free Ricotta Cheese, Not Cream Cheese

    When your recipe calls for: cream cheese

    Use this ingredient instead: fat-free ricotta cheese or yogurt cheese*

    Why Substitute? Fat-free ricotta cheese has less sodium than cream cheese. Yogurt cheese has the tang and texture of a soft cream cheese, but it's a healthier option. A tablespoon of cream cheese has 50 calories and 5 grams of fat. A tablespoon of yogurt cheese (made from nonfat yogurt) has 11 calories and no fat. And it can be easily made at home.

    *To make yogurt cheese:

    1. Line a coffee filter or strainer with cheesecloth.
    2. Spoon in plain low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
    3. Place over a bowl and refrigerate for several hours.
    4. The whey will drain off and yogurt will thicken—the longer you leave it in, the thicker it will become.


  • 13 of 16

    Use Egg Substitute, Not Whole Egg

    When your recipe calls for: a whole egg

    Use this ingredient instead: 1/4 cup egg substitute or 2 egg whites

    Best used for: baked goods, omelets

    Why substitute? Whole eggs are high in cholesterol, containing 2/3 the daily recommended total. Choose an egg substitute that contains no fat or cholesterol. For baked goods, check to see that the substitute contains added lecithin, which can act as an emulsifier or thickener.


  • 14 of 16

    Use nonfat plain yogurt, not sour cream

    When your recipe calls for: sour cream

    Use this ingredient instead: nonfat plain yogurt

    Best used for: sauces, some baked goods

    Why substitute? Nonfat plain yogurt has no fat, plus has nearly no cholesterol per serving. The consistency remains the same as sour cream for your cooking needs.


  • 15 of 16

    Use skim milk, not whole milk

    When your recipe calls for: whole milk

    Use this ingredient instead: fat-free (skim) or low-fat milk

    Best used for: beverages, sauces, baked goods

    Why substitute? Skim milk has more calcium and protein and less than 1 gram of fat. However, making the switch can change the richness of your beverage and sauces.


  • Next Slideshow Fresh and Light Dinner Recipes

    Fresh and Light Dinner Recipes

    From salads to pastas to sandwiches, we've compiled a list of our favorite easy and light dinner recipes. We even have ideas for making steak into a light and refreshing meal! Plus, these recipes are filled with fresh ingredients, making them extra tasty and nutritious. These recipes prove that dinner doesn't have to be a covered in mounds of cheese and dripping with butter to be satisfying!
    Begin Slideshow »

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