Applesauce for Oil, Butter or Sugar – Applesauce is a healthy cook’s best friend. Not only does it add sweetness to recipes, but it does it with fewer calories than sugar. And without butter, you’re cutting the saturated-fat content of things like muffins, breads and brownies. Not to mention the added dietary benefits of the fiber in apples.
Nonfat Greek Yogurt for Mayo or Sour Cream – Nonfat Greek yogurt has a lot less calories and fat than mayonnaise or sour cream, but its consistency is very similar. Next time a recipe calls for either of those fattening ingredients, try using the yogurt instead. You can cut the fat while adding an extra punch of protein.
Mashed Bananas for Sugar, Butter and Fats – Sliced bananas are yummy in cereals and oatmeal, but they can also be used in the kitchen as a sugar, butter and fat substitute in baking. Bananas are also high in potassium, which helps lower blood pressure. NOTE – if you’re switching mashed bananas for sugar, cut down on the moisture in your recipe by using less milk or water.
Nuts for Croutons in Salads or Granola in Yogurt – Unsalted nuts pack flavor and crunch and give salads a nice boost of protein. Instead of high-fat, salty croutons in salads or super-sugary granola in yogurt, substitute a handful of nuts. Don’t go overboard — a small handful is high in calories, so be sure and measure.
Rolled Oats for Bread Crumbs – Craving breaded chicken? Instead of using bread crumbs (which can be high in salt), opt for rolled oats with a little seasoning. Oats are high in fiber and healthy carbs and they’re packed with B vitamins, iron and fiber.
Zucchini Ribbons or Spaghetti Squash for Pasta – Use a vegetable peeler or a mandolin to make long, thin noodle-like slices of zucchini or scrape spaghetti squash noodles out with a fork. Skip the boiling and simply bake or sauté the “noodles” for a few minutes. You can use the veggies in side dishes or to replace pasta in dishes like lasagna. It’s an easy way to cut the calories in your favorite pasta meals and sneak more vegetables into your dinner. (See recipe later in this newsletter)
Lisa Lewis, author of Healthy Happy Cooking, available in the First Place 4 Health online store.