We like to eat. Whether it’s trying something new or just indulging in our favorite recipes, we can make a mountain of food disappear faster than David Copperfield. Despite our big appetites, we try to stay pretty health conscious– exploring healthy ways to mix up our favorite recipes. Here’s a different spin of Foodie Friday with four of our favorite healthy alternatives:
This is probably our most used substitute, trading out sour cream, cream cheese, and mayonnaise from recipes with an equal amount of plain greek yogurt (we like Chobani, but Fage has also been pretty good to us). The low-fat, high-protein substitute also adds probiotics, which are believed to be beneficial for your digestive and immune systems. We don’t notice any difference in taste with Greek yogurt in our recipes, but it definitely makes heavy, creamy dishes feel a little bit lighter after eating. We are apparently missing out on some more chances to incorporate it into our cooking, as it is suggested to use in place of oil, butter, and buttermilk as well. If you don’t try any others on the list, give this one a shot – you won’t be disappointed.
A great way to enjoy sweets without getting overloaded with fat and sugar cook with unsweetened applesauce. First, the fats: you can substitute 3/4 to 1 cup of applesauce (no fat) for each cup of oil or butter used in recipes. Applesauce works especially well in things that are moist and dense (muffins, cakes, breads, etc.), and not so much if you want something crispy and chewy (cookies and brownies). Applesauce tends to cook faster as well, so you will want to drop your oven temperature by about 25 degrees and reduce the cooking time by 5 to 10 minutes for best results. If you’re not so sure about making the switch, try doing half and half to start.
For sugar, you can replace with an equal amount of applesauce. Mix it into your recipe with the wet ingredients and reduce the liquid added by 1/4 cup for every cup of applesauce (sugar) used in the recipe. For each cup of sugar you replace, you will cut out about 600 calories as well as add some additional vitamins, minerals, and fiber that sugar doesn’t have.
Another excellent fat substitute is avocado. You can replace butter and oil one-to-one with mashed or pureed avocado. It has significantly fewer calories and less fat than regular oils and butter, and the fat it does provide carries a number of health benefits. Avocado is also packed with vitamins and nutrients which regularly earns it the label of a Super Food. The texture of some recipes may be changed slightly with the switch to avocado, and you may need to supplement with additional liquids to keep the desired consistency. Again, you might start by trading out half of the oil or butter for avocado to start. If you want more ways to work avocado into your diet, try it as a substitute for mayo or as a topping on salads, eggs, sandwiches, and more.
If you love pasta but are looking for something low-carb, gluten-free, or are like us and just want to try something new, give squash a try. Spaghetti squash (winter squash) and zucchini (summer squash) are both great candidates to make the veggie-pasta transformation. Spaghetti squash can simply be halved, seeded, and baked to get a stringy, spaghetti like (as the name implies) alternative to noodles. For zucchini, you can use a fancy slicer or some handy knife work to cut stringy noodles, or just slice it into thin strips to replace lasagna noodles and eliminate the boiling of noodles from the process.
Even Mya is drawn to spaghetti squash… or maybe just the color yellow.
We’ll be sharing recipes with these alternatives in the future. Are you experimenting in the kitchen? What tasty, healthy substitutions do you use?!