In my opinion, one of the best things about home cooking is that you know exactly what you’re eating. You can decide the protein and fat content and you can decide how healthy your meal is going to be. Today, I’m going to talk about how you can make eating healthier easier by incorporating some of these simple substitutions.

These simple alterations to your cooking can make your meal twice as healthy (if not more) and can cut fat content and calorie content by 50 – 70%. So why not give them a try…

  1. Unsweetened Applesauce instead of Sugar

    If you really want to cut calories when you’re making sweet treats and baking, why not try applesauce instead of sugar? Applesauce has about 100 calories per cup and is good, natural sugar whereas refined sugar has about 770 calories per cup and spikes blood sugar and promotes fat storage. You can use a cup of apple sauce for every cup of sugar you would have used previously, but if you do this reduce the amount of liquid in the overall recipe by about ¼ cup for every cup of apple sauce you use.

    If the unsweetened apple sauce isn’t sweet enough for you, try adding a little honey. You’ll still majorly cut calories and have a healthier treat overall.

  2. Plain Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream

    Sour cream has a whopping 220 calories per half-cup and full of unhealthy preservatives and additives. Fortunately for us, there is a great substitute – Greek Yogurt. By switching to a natural unsweetened greek yogurt you will cut your calories in half and pack your meal with more goodness. Greek yogurt has about 24g of protein per cup and is full of living probiotics. Yay! Try greek yogurt instead of sour cream on baked potatoes, in salad dressings and with homemade Mexican dishes. It’s so tasty and healthy too.

  3. Lean Ground Beef or Lean Ground Turkey instead of Ground Beef

    If you’re a red-meat lover but don’t want to be consuming high volumes of fatty red meat numerous times per week, opt for lean ground turkey or extra-lean ground beef instead of the regular ground beef. Look at the labels and search for ground beef that is at least 90% lean.

    Lean red meat is a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids and iron and contains about a quarter of the fat that is in regular ground beef. If you want to rule out red meat altogether, lean ground turkey is a great substitute and still high in protein and B-vitamins for promoting metabolism and energy. Try using these lean ground meats to make meatballs, burgers and meatloaf.

  4. Kale, Spinach or Arugula instead of Iceberg Lettuce

    Iceberg lettuce is delicious and very healthy, but it doesn’t provide the same nutritional value as the darker leafy greens. All dark leafy greens have high antioxidant properties and high calcium content.

  5. Avocado Puree instead of Butter

    They’re both fats and have pretty much the same consistency at room temperature making this the perfect switch. Try avocado puree in such recipes as healthy fudge brownies or vegan chocolate mousse. Usually about 1 cup of avocado puree per cup of butter will work for this substitution.

  6. Cacao Nibs instead of Chocolate Chips

    Chocolate chips before all the processing and hydrogenation start out as cacao nibs! Try substitute your chocolate chips for these unprocessed nibs which are free from additives and added sugar. Cacao nibs are also high in antioxidant properties to fight off those roaming free radicals.

  7. Brown Rice instead of White Rice

    White processed rice is actually brown rice stripped down to a fine, unhealthy grain completely void of nutrients and fiber. Brown rice has a much healthier nutritional profile and will actually help you stay fuller for longer after your meal.

  8. Quinoa instead of Couscous

    Cous cous may be tasty, but it’s made from processed wheat flour which is void of all nutritional value. Quinoa however is a whole-grain superfood with all 9 essential amino acids present and bursting with incredible health benefits. Both are almost the same texture so they are the perfect swap in any dish.

  9. Mashed Turnips instead of Mashed Potatoes

    One cup of mashed potatoes can be high in calories and fat – especially when you consider the added salt, butter and whole milk. Turnip mash on the other hand is the same creamy texture but without the calories and fat and really doesn’t need the added milk or butter at all for that same creamy mash. Add some fresh herbs and you’re in for a real treat here!

  10. Grated Steamed Cauliflower instead of Rice

    The texture is virtually the same and you’re cutting back on a load of calories, not to mention carbohydrates.

  11. Mashed Cauliflower instead of Mashed Potatoes

    Another substitute for mashed potatoes is cauliflower mash. It’s nearly impossible to taste the difference! Try mixing in some fresh herbs and natural sea salt or alternatively, you can even do half potatoes and half cauliflower. You’ll still majorly cut down on calories.

  12. Chia Seeds instead of Eggs

    Believe it or not, combining 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 1 cup of water and leaving this to sit and absorb for 15 minutes, actually yields a perfect 1-to-1 egg substitute for baking.

  13. Flax Meal instead of Eggs

    This can do the same trick and is commonly used by Vegans. Mix one tablespoon of flax meal (ground flax seeds) with 3 tablespoons of warm water and whisk this with a fork. Then, let the mix sit in the fridge for 5-10 minutes and voila, use instead of eggs for baking! 1 serving of this mixture = 1 egg.

  14. Rolled Oats instead of Breadcrumbs

    Using organic rolled oats (seasoned with herbs) is another great sneaky swap. Rolled eats are rich in fiber and nutrients and a much better healthy substitute for breadcrumbs in any meal.

  15. Bison instead of Beef

    Bison is an amazing substitute for beef: It’s lower in fat and higher in B-vitamins and it’s a change too, something different to get your mouth watering!

  16. Corn Tortilla instead of Flour Tortilla

    Corn tortillas usually contain about 70 calories and 1 gram of fat, whereas flour tortillas usually have double the calories and 3.5 grams of far. Whole wheat flour tortillas are the better choice but still in comparison to Corn, they contain more fat and calories per serving. Also, corn allergies are pretty rare whereas flour tortillas contain gluten.

  17. Raw Nuts instead of Croutons in Salads

    Rather than getting the extra carbs, fat and sodium as well as unnecessary processed wheat that come with croutons, why not add in some heart-healthy nuts instead? Try some raw almonds, pecans or walnuts. Always a welcome addition to a salad.

  18. Avocado Mash instead of Mayonnaise

    Half a mashed up avocado is a fantastic healthy substitute for mayonnaise on any sandwich. Avocado packs your sandwich with a big dose of vitamin E and heart healthy monosaturated fats. Alongside it being a healthier option, it also contains half the calories and fat.

  19. Swap Sliced Tomatoes instead of Tomato Sauce (on pizza)

    Try sweet, juicy, natural raw sliced tomatoes on your pizza base instead of the tomato jar sauce. This way, you’ll cut out extra unnecessary sodium, sugar and preservatives. You’ll also notice a nicer, fresher and more vibrant taste from this switch.

  20. Frozen or Fresh Fruits instead of Canned Fruit

    This will enable you to cut down on excess sugar and preservatives. Definitely an all-round healthier option.

  21. Kale Chips instead of Potato Chips

    Kale chips are so delicious and will definitely fight that salty craving that normal chips would too. Lightly tossed in some olive oil and natural sea salt, bake the kale for 20 minutes or so until they’re curly and crunchy. Then add some paprika or chilli powder. These are such a nice treat and so much healthier than potato chips.

  22. Banana Ice Cream instead of Regular Ice Cream

    It is so simple and yet so divine. No milk, no cream, no sugar but the same, delicious consistency and texture. How do you make this delightful treat? 2 steps… Freeze bananas, then puree.

  23. Sweet Potato Fries instead of Regular French Fries

    Opting for sweet potatoes fries rather than the traditional white potato fries means you’ll get more fiber and more vitamins A,C and B6. Plus, it cuts out about 20 grams of carbohydrates per cup serving. Just be careful and don’t overdo it.

  24. Cinnamon instead of Cream and Sugar in your Coffee

    Cinnamon is a great addition to a cup of coffee and can cut out 70-100 calories per cup! Not only this, cinnamon also boosts metabolism.

  25. Red Wine instead of White Wine

    White wine is usually lower in calories but red offers many more health benefits such as cancer-fighting compounds, an abundance of antioxidants and natural cholesterol checks.

That’s it! 25 easy substitutions to make your meals healthier.

Thank you for reading!

Megan O'Neill

Megan O'Neill is a musician, psychologist, nutrition advisor and an absolute health-nut! She currently resides in London, but - as you may have guessed from the name - is originally from Ireland. Six years ago, following an incredible trip to Asia, she suddenly became very ill with IBS, food intolerances and chronic fatigue. No-one could have predicted how that fateful trip would... Read More

2 Responses to “25 Ingredient Swaps to Make Your Meals Healthier”

  1. Darla

    Sorry but for the egg chia seed swap- are eggs not healthy already? I thought the yolk had lots of good fats?

    • FitBodyHQ

      @Darla, eggs can be healthy, but surprisingly for many people they are also a food allergen. Also, for vegans (or people who just don’t like eggs) chia seeds can be a great healthy option – give ’em a try and let us know what you think! 🙂

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