Making your favorite holiday dishes healthier isn’t as difficult as you may think. By making simple ingredient substitutions, you can cut fat, calories and sugar content without sacrificing the flavors you love.
Use this substitution guide to make your favorite dishes even healthier this holiday season.
- Black beans for flour in brownies. Swap one cup of black bean puree (about one can) for one cup of flour for a protein-packed, gluten-free option in brownies.
- Whole-wheat flour for white flour. Wheat flour contains extra fiber, which helps lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Sub 7/8 cup of whole-wheat flour for every one cup of white flour the recipe calls for.
- Almond flour for white or wheat flour. For a gluten-free option, swap almond flour for white or wheat flour. Baking with almond flour takes some time to perfect, because almond flour is much heavier than other baking flours. As a general rule of thumb, increase the amount of rising agent by about 1/2 teaspoon per cup of almond flour.
- Coconut flour for flour. Coconut flour is another healthy substitution option for wheat flour. It’s high in fiber and low in carbs. However, since coconut flour can quickly change the taste and consistency of your recipe, it’s best used as a partial substitution. When swapping coconut flour for flour, use an equal amount of extra liquid. In baked goods, a general rule to follow is 1/4 to 1/3 cup coconut flour for one cup of wheat flour.
- Applesauce for butter. In place of butter, margarine, shortening or oil in baked goods, use unsweetened applesauce for half of the called-for butter, shortening or oil.
- Prunes for butter. In dark-colored baked goods such as brownies, prune puree also works as a butter substitution. Swapping prune puree for butter cuts calories and fat nearly in half. Sub equal amounts of prune puree for butter in dark baked goods.
- Stevia for sugar. Stevia is a natural sweetener that contains fewer calories than sugar. It is also much sweeter than sugar, so you only need to use about one teaspoon of liquid stevia or two tablespoons of stevia powder for one cup of sugar in baked goods.
- Marshmallow fluff for frosting. Marshmallow fluff contains far less sugar than regular frosting, so use this in place of frosting on cookies, cakes and other baked goods.
- Oats or bran for bread crumbs. Rather than topping your favorite casserole with bread crumbs, use rolled oats or crushed bran cereal for a healthier option.
- Avocado for butter. In creamy recipes that call for butter, use avocado puree instead. Avocado is a healthy fat that is rich in omega-3s.
- Brown rice for white rice. White rice is more processed and doesn’t include the bran layer of the rice, which cuts out nutrients like fiber.
- Quinoa for couscous. Quinoa is a whole-grain food packed with protein and nutrients, while couscous is made from processed wheat flour.
- Zucchini pasta or spaghetti squash for pasta. Zucchini can be cut into thin strips or ribbons that make a low-carb substitution for pasta. Simply sauté the zucchini for a few minutes until soft rather than boiling it. Spaghetti squash can be roasted and pulled apart with a fork to make a low-carb, reduced-calorie substitute for pasta.
- Mashed cauliflower or turnip for mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are delicious, but they are also packed with calories. Cut carbs and calories by substituting mashed turnip or cauliflower. Steam until very tender and then mash. In place of salt, use fresh herbs.
- Lettuce leaves for tortillas. Whether you’re making tacos or sandwich wraps, lettuce makes a great no-carb switch for bread or tortillas.
- Greek yogurt for sour cream. In dips and other recipes calling for sour cream, make the switch to Greek yogurt for a lower calorie, higher protein option.
Enjoy your favorite recipes the healthy way with these simple substitutions. For more information on nutrition, contact our nutrition therapy experts.