There's a right way and a wrong way to make your favorite dishes healthier. I'm all for cutting fat and calories from a dish, but only if the final dish is still delicious and any substitutions you make are with real food. I love this list of simple ingredient swaps. You'll still have a delicious finished dish, but with less fat, fewer calories and in many cases, more nutrients like fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Mashed avocado for butter or oil in baking. Replace saturated fats with an unsaturated choice like avocado (or even olive oil). Start with a 1:1 swap and adjust the amount as needed for your recipe.
Nonfat Greek yogurt for mayonnaise or sour cream. You'll get the same consistency as mayonnaise and the tanginess of sour cream, but with a reduction in fat and calories.
Mashed bananas for sugar or fats. Swap out some of the sugar and fat in your next baking recipe by adding in some ripe mashed banana. You'll want to adjust any liquid ingredients, too, because bananas bring in some moisture.
Apple sauce for oil, butter or sugar. Naturally sweet, apple sauce is a great stand-in for some of a recipe's oil and sugar. Bonus: an added dose of fiber from the apples.
Soda water for tonic water. Cut the calories of your favorite mixed drink by swapping no-calorie soda or sparkling water for sugary tonic water. Sparkling water is also my favorite substitute for soda itself.
Zucchini ribbons or spaghetti squash for pasta. I love this suggestion and have used it for years with my roasted red pepper sauce. It's a great way to boost your veggie intake, while reducing what could be empty carb calories in the pasta.
Nuts for croutons in salads or granola in yogurt. I hate to break it to you, but having a salad with croutons is not really a healthy choice. Add crunch, texture, healthy fat and other nutrients by swapping in unsalted nuts. Do the same for granola in your yogurt. Most granolas are made with lots of butter and sugar, so you'll automatically eat healthier by subbing in nuts.
Pureed sweet potato for cream to thicken a soup. A great suggestion for a wintery, vegetable-based soup. You can cook the sweet potatoes yourself and whiz them up in a food processor for a thicker consistency, or buy jars of sweet potato puree baby food. I always have a few on hand because they also make great substitutes for fat in baking, like lower-fat corn bread.
Whole-wheat flour for white flour. Boost your whole grain intake by replacing some of the white flour in recipes with whole wheat. Whole wheat has a heartier texture, so play around with the amount to find what works for you. It's a welcome addition to muffins, cookies, quick breads, pizza doughs and so on.
Rolled oats for bread crumbs. Sneak in a little fiber, B vitamins and iron by replacing regular bread crumbs with rolled oats. Whiz these up in a food processor along with some fresh or dried herbs to create more flavor.
Lisa Corrado can be reached at Lisa@LisaCorradoNutrition.com or visit www.LisaCorradoNutrition.com.