Weight Management

Lightening up your favorite recipes: A guide to recipe substitutions

Everyone has a favorite recipe or meal.  Unfortunately, sometimes those foods do nothing to help your heart or your waistline. Recipe substitutions can help you enjoy your favorite foods while decreasing the amount of fat, sugar, salt and calories.  When changing your recipes, you may want to eliminate, reduce or replace.  Ask yourself, “Which of these ingredients is essential?”  For example, salting or adding fat to water before cooking pasta, rice or vegetables is not essential to the finished product. 

Sometimes you can reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt in a recipe without affecting taste and texture.  For example, you can sauté vegetables or meat in cooking spray in a non-stick pan instead of using oil.  You can decrease the salt in baked goods by at least half without affecting the final product, and fat can often be decreased by at least one-third without affecting taste or texture.

Try substituting a healthier ingredient for one that is higher in fat and salt.  For example, you can use canned vegetables with no salt added in place of regular canned vegetables, and use fat-free or “light” versions of sour cream and cream cheese in most recipes.  When seasoning your foods, try using low-salt or salt-free seasonings, lemon juice, vinegar and herbs.  When you are making baked goods, you can often substitute applesauce or prune puree for at least one-half of the fat.

Here are some more ideas to replace fat, sugar and salt in your favorite recipes:

Instead of this: Try this:
Sour cream

Plain Greek yogurt

Heavy cream Fat-free evaporated milk
Fat in baked goods Applesauce or prune puree for 1/2 of fat in recipe
Salt at table

Salt-free seasonings / Lemon juice / Dried and fresh herbs

Cream cheese Fat free cream cheese or "light" cream cheese (Neufchatel)
Salad dressing Fat free or reduced fat salad dressing
1 cup sugar 1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 cup Splenda®
Canned vegetables Canned vegetables with no salt added
Chicken broth Fat-free low sodium chicken broth