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4 Food Substitutions for Healthier Cooking


By Holly Simmons

What’s the worst part of dieting?

Dieting, right?

You want to take off a few pounds, get some increased energy, maybe not have so much pressure on your joints. It’d be nice to climb the stairs or run for a bus without getting winded, yes?

But dieting can be the worst. Plain grilled chicken. Salad with no dressing. Steamed vegetables. No sugar. No dairy. No gluten. No, no, no.

Instead of cutting calories with punishing foods, think more holistically, and make small changes with healthy food substitutions in cooking to make meals more nutritious. These four healthy alternatives can help you cut calories and add nutrients. Of course, be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any weight loss or exercise program.

Healthy Substitutes for Heavy Cream in Soup

Healthy baking substitutes

Fan of creamy, bisque-style soups? Add a cup of pureed cannellini beans as a healthy substitute for heavy cream to add more protein  and turn an appetizer into a hearty meal. For a similar effect that cuts even more calories, use pureed roasted cauliflower as a healthy alternative to the beans.

Healthy Baking Substitutes

Healthy baking substitutes

If you love your cakes or muffins, there’s no need to give them up entirely. We’re trained to think baking recipes can’t be messed with at all, but the truth is, healthy baking substitutes and recipe modifications can often be used without compromising flavor and texture. You can cut sugar in a recipe by as much as 1/3 to 1/2 and still be completely fine. Add some spice or citrus zest to enhance flavor. Alternatively, you might choose to use sugar substitutes , especially if diabetes is a concern. Cut the fat by replacing oil or butter with unsweetened applesauce, or add mashed pumpkin for fiber or banana for potassium. Lower cholesterol by swapping egg whites out for whole eggs.

Healthier Cooking Without the Salt

Cooking without salt

Too much salt can be bloating, and can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Instead, enhance your flavors with herbs, spices, lemon or lime juice, or a splash of vinegar or hot sauce.

Recipe Substitutions for a Burger & Fries

Healthy burger hacks

Love a burger and fries? Trade the high-fat ground beef patty topped with sugary ketchup and pickles for a lean, ground turkey burger (you can even mix in some chopped spinach!). Top with a swipe of Dijon mustard, and a slice of avocado and roasted red pepper on a toasted whole-wheat bun. Whole grain breads have a lower glycemic index than white breads, which, in addition to aiding in weight control, may help reduce acne. Swap out your greasy French fries for baked sweet potato fries sprinkled with a tasty mixture of cumin, cinnamon, a little cayenne for heat, and just a pinch of sea salt and brown sugar.

Some simple changes can be part of a lifelong journey toward living more healthfully, without sacrificing taste or the joy of sharing delicious meals with loved ones.

In collaboration with National 4-H Council. Visit to download the Spring Activity Guide with tips and activities for your family.

©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2019

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