Substituting Ingredients for a Healthier Meal

Healthy IngredientsHealthy cooking can seem overwhelming for people who manage busy schedules and tight budgets. Fortunately, you can significantly improve the nutritional content of everyday meals by making a few simple ingredient substitutions.
Easy Swaps
Numerous recipes call for common ingredients that can negatively impact our health. Before adding these to your next breakfast, lunch or dinner, try some healthy substitutes that can lower sugar, fat and calorie content, while upping nutritional value.

  • White bread: Whole-grain bread
  • Dry bread crumbs: Crushed bran cereal or rolled oats
  • Butter, shortening, margarine or oil in baked goods: Applesauce or prune puree
  • Cream: Evaporated skim milk or fat-free half-and-half
  • Plain flour: Whole-wheat flour
  • Canned fruit in heavy syrup: Fresh fruit
  • Ground beef: Ground turkey or chicken breast
  • Iceberg lettuce: Chicory, collard greens, arugula, dandelion greens, mustard greens, kale, spinach or watercress
  • Oil-based marinades: Fruit juice, balsamic vinegar or wine
  • Salad dressing: Flavored vinegars
  • White pasta: Whole-wheat pasta
  • White rice: Pearl barley or brown rice
  • Soy sauce: Low-sodium soy sauce, hot mustard sauce or sweet-and-sour sauce

Sugar Substitutes
There are numerous sugar substitutes on the market; however, few perform well during baking. In most cases, you can reduce the amount of sugar you add by half and replace the lost sweetness with cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla. You can also replace syrup with applesauce, pureed fruit or low-calorie, sugar-free syrup.
A Few Changes Can Make a Big Difference
Even a few substitutes can make a big difference in your general health and happiness. Over time, you can drastically reduce the amount of calories you consume, while doing away with excess sugar and saturated fat. By making a long-term commitment to changing the way you cook, you can promote better long-term health for your family. You can also improve your physique, and lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes and a number of other chronic ailments.

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