8 smart cooking swaps from a dietitian
Enjoy your favorites without the guilt. (For Spectrum Health Beat)
Enjoy your favorites without the guilt. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Do you ever wish you could have one of your favorite indulgences without feeling guilty about the nutrition facts?

Or actually have one of your favorite foods and make it healthy for you?

Sometimes we just have a hankering for certain dishes, but with small tweaks you can bump up the nutritional benefits of your favorites.

There are many substitutions that can be made both in baking and in cooking that can really have an impact on the caloric and nutritional value of certain recipes.

Think of your favorite dish or treat and look for alternatives.

Consider, for instance, a chocolate malt or milkshake. There aren’t many benefits in all the fat and sugar, so how could this be made in a healthy way?

Well, you could use a frozen banana, 1 cup of skim milk (or almond, soy, or coconut milk), and a few tablespoons of unsweetened baking cocoa with stevia to sweeten (or other sugar substitute as preferred). You can also use dark chocolate to bump up the flavonoids and antioxidants.

A normal 16-ounce shake can have up to 500 calories with 15 grams of fat and 80 grams of carbohydrates. But, by using these substitutions, you can enjoy a healthy shake for only 200 calories, zero grams of fat, and about 45 grams of carbohydrates.

Cauliflower is another versatile substitute. Mashed cauliflower can be used in place of your mashed potatoes at the dinner table (a great way to sneak in more vegetables for your kids). You can also grate it up and use it for rice, try this cauliflower risotto or create a cauliflower pizza crust.

Other swap ideas:

  • Baking:
    • Unsweetened applesauce for oil or butter in baking
    • Chia seeds for eggs
  • Meals:
    • Zucchini ribbons instead of pasta
    • Lettuce leaves for tortilla wraps
  • Condiments:
    • Greek yogurt for sour cream
    • Mashed avocado instead of mayo
  • More great healthy substitutions