As a mother of two young children, I am very conscientious about the food I prepare for them and when recipe developing, I incorporate wholesome ingredients whenever possible. Our children rely on us to provide them with wholesome foods and a nutritious diet and as parents, we are responsible for encouraging them to acquire an appreciation for a variety of healthy foods and to develop adventurous palates. Providing nutritious meals for the family doesn’t always mean changing one’s lifestyle and attitude completely toward healthy eating. Sometimes, all it takes are a few minor substitutions in order to provide healthier options.
With these 31 healthy ingredient substitutions you can prepare healthier and lighter variations of your family’s favourite recipes:
Breadcrumbs ➪ Fiber-rich oats, protein-rich nuts or gluten-free rice cakes
Bacon ➪ Prosciutto, pancetta or peameal bacon – they contain half the fat and calories
Butter (baked goods) ➪ Applesauce or mashed banana/avocado-they add a creamy consistency without the fat and calories
Butter (frying) ➪ Extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil—contain heart-healthy
omega-3s and less polyunsaturated fat than butter
Canned fruit ➪ Fruit compotes—use naturally sweet pureed fruit as opposed to artificial sweeteners and refined sugar
Canned legumes ➪ Dried legumes—high in fiber/protein and sodium-free
Chocolate chips ➪ Carob chips—they’re caffeine-free and have a light caramel flavour
Cream cheese ➪ Pureed low fat cottage/ricotta cheese
Cream (in soups/stews) ➪ Pureed potato/sweet potato—they add creaminess without the added fat and calories.
Croutons ➪ Cubed fresh bread, toasted in the oven with extra virgin olive oil and spices
Eggs (baking) ➪ Chia or flax seeds—these superfoods have the same consistency as eggs. (Soak 1 tbs. of either one with 3 tbs. warm water and let sit for about 10 minutes until thickened.)
French fries ➪ Zucchini, eggplant, or sweet potato fries (baked or fried)
Flour (baking) ➪ Fiber-rich beans or whole wheat flour, using a 1:1 ratio
Flour tortillas ➪ Corn tortillas—contain half the calories and fat and are gluten-free
Frosting ➪ Substitute butter with equal parts omega 3-rich avocado
Ground beef ➪ Lean ground chicken/turkey—they contain less fat and calories. (For a vegan option, substitute with ground cauliflower).
Iceberg lettuce ➪ Nutrient-dense leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, or arugula
Ice cream ➪ Banana ‘ice cream’-freeze bananas then puree for a dairy-free snack
Marinades ➪ Wine, balsamic vinegar or fruit juice (oil-based)
Mashed potatoes ➪ Mashed root vegetables—a sweeter, more nutrient-dense option.
Mayonnaise ➪ Avocado mayonnaise—vegan option that is packed with omega 3’s and contains less fat and calories than mayo
Pasta (refined) ➪ Whole grains/pastas (brown rice, quinoa, etc.) or for a vegan option, raw zucchini or squash ribbons.
Potato chips ➪ Kale chips—same crunchy texture, fat-free, and packed with vitamin K and iron
Seasoning Salt ➪ Fresh/dried herbs—they add a sodium-free burst of flavour to food and you can experiment with a variety of combinations
Sour cream ➪ Plain Greek yogurt—contains almost double the amount of protein
Sugar (in baked goods) ➪ Vanilla bean, pure vanilla extract, or natural liquid sweeteners (organic maple or brown rice syrup, agave, or raw honey)
Sweetener (in raw desserts) ➪ Protein-packed fresh Medjool dates-blend into smoothies or puree with water until they become a paste and use as a sweetener
Table Salt ➪ Himalayan sea salt, fresh lemon/lime juice, or Parmesan cheese—they bring out flavour and freshness without the additional sodium.
White rice ➪ Roasted or steamed cauliflower (grated)-it has the same crumbly texture as rice and soaks up a variety of condiments.
Whole milk ➪ Skim milk or dairy-free options, such as coconut or almond milk—they contain less fat and calories and are ideal for vegan diets
Yogurt ➪ Plain Greek yogurt with fresh sliced fruit, sweetened raw (fruit-flavoured) honey or maple syrup
Get these recipes with healthy ingredient substitutions:
Blueberry Mini Muffins