When you’re on a plan to get healthier or lose weight, you try to find different ways to make food healthier. You still enjoy cookies and mac and cheese, but you wish you could still eat them and not worry about what’s inside them.
While not everything can be made healthier and still taste like the original, you can make a few healthy food swaps here and there and feel good about what you’re eating. Whether it’s hiding veggies or outright replacing a type of food, I’ve tried all the ways below to make foods healthier. These are my favorite healthy food swaps that you can implement on your next shopping trip:
Applesauce is an excellent replacement for oil in baking recipes. It has zero fat and lowers the calorie content of whatever you’re making significantly. In fact, I use applesauce in almost all of my baking. I can get a large jar of unsweetened applesauce at Aldi for $1.89 and it’ll last me awhile (if I don’t eat it all first).
I have two favorite ways to use bananas to make my recipes healthier. One is with energy bites- Use a little less peanut butter and honey and add two mashed bananas, and now you can make energy bites with less calories. Here’s my favorite recipe for Banana Oat Energy Bites!
My other favorite is Banana Ice Cream. Put two frozen, cut up bananas in a food processor with a tiny bit of milk and some peanut butter or cocoa powder, and blend for a few minutes until it has the consistency of ice cream.
Seriously, I could eat that every night. You get a huge bowl of ice cream for a fraction of the calories; not to mention you get two servings of fruit!
Cauliflower seems to be super popular when it comes to replacing carbs. What with cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower rice, etc. While I think it’s a fantastic idea to get in more veggies, I prefer to add more veggies TO my carbs instead of outright REPLACING them.
So if you make cauliflower rice, mix it up with your rice and maybe use less rice if desired. If you want to make a soup more creamy, cook and puree a head of cauliflower and mix it in with your soup.
This is more of an addition than a substitution, but pumpkin goes well in most baked goods. Open up a can of pumpkin puree and add it to muffins, bread, and even pancakes. I like knowing that Allison is getting at least a small amount of vitamins when she eats my pumpkin items. Here are some of my favorite recipes:
After trying chicken sausages for the first time, I totally prefer them over regular pork rope sausage now. They’re lower in calories, have less fat, and have more protein.
You can use chicken sausages in place of almost any kind of sausage. I put mine in soups, jambalaya, sheet pan dinners, and even as hot dogs. Here are some recipes to try:
Greek yogurt is one of those weird but good foods that can be either sweet or savory. You can add fruit and granola to make a standard yogurt parfait; but you can also use the plain-flavored yogurt in place of sour cream in just about any recipe.
I like to use Greek yogurt to top burritos or baked potatoes, and even use it in place of sour cream for dip recipes. You can eat a lot more of it for less calories!
It might sound weird, but the nonfat Greek yogurt has less calories than sour cream and you get a nice protein boost to your meal. Most of the time I don’t even buy sour cream anymore!
Peanut butter powder
Have you ever tried peanut butter powder? Now, nothing beats regular peanut butter when it comes to making a sandwich. But peanut butter powder, like PB2 or PBFit, can be used in place of peanut butter in certain recipes. Whereas a 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter has 190 calories and a lot of fat, PBFit is only 50 calories per 2-tablespoon serving, and has less fat. And it’s still made from peanuts.
My favorite ways to use PBFit are adding them to smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt. I get an amazing peanut butter flavor, a nice protein boost, but with less calories. I don’t know the conversions if you’re trying to use PBFit instead of peanut butter in recipes; I suggest looking for recipes that actually use peanut butter powder for correct measurements.
Taking small steps like this- adding healthier foods to what you cook- can make a big difference in your health. Whether it’s adding veggie purees to your mac and cheese or hiding an extra banana and spinach in your child’s smoothie, I hope you can implement a few of these ideas for extra nutrition!
Do you have any other favorite healthy food swaps? Share in the comments and give us ideas!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.