Making Recipes Healthier

Most recipes can be made healthier without changing the taste or texture of the food.

Here are some ideas:

1. Reduce the amount of fat and sugar: With most recipes, an easy way to cut calories is to reduce the amount of fat and sugar.

  • In baked goods use half the butter, shortening, or oil and replace the other half with unsweetened applesauce, mashed banana, or prune puree.
  • Choose lower fat meats, such as skinless poultry, fish, lean cuts of beef or pork, and extra lean ground turkey instead of ground beef.
  • Reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe by 1/3 to 1/2. When you use less sugar, add spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg or flavorings like vanilla extract or almond extract to enhance the sweetness of the food.

2. Increase the amount of fiber: Boosting the fiber content of your food will reduce cravings to snack by helping you feel full longer and more satisfied.

  • Choose 100% whole wheat pasta or bread instead of items containing refined grains. Substitute ½ whole wheat flour for white flour when baking.
  • Add extra fruits and vegetables to salads, soups, sauces, and main dishes.
  • Try beans – this healthy alternative to meat is naturally high in fiber and protein.

3. Change the method of preparation: Healthy cooking techniques such as sautéing, braising, broiling, grilling, or steaming can capture the flavor without adding extra calories.

  • Instead of frying in butter or large amounts of oil, try sautéing with little oil, baking, broiling, or poaching.
  • If the directions say to baste meat products in oil or drippings, use wine, fruit juice, vegetable juice, or fat-free vegetable broth instead.
  • Use non-stick pans to reduce the amount of oil needed for cooking.

4. Change the portion size: No matter how much you reduce or substitute ingredients, some recipes may still be too high in sugar and fat. In these cases, reduce the portion size you eat.

Healthy Ingredient Substitutions

Ingredients can also be changed in some recipes to make them healthier!

Cream-based soup •Fat-free or low-fat milk-based soups 
•Thickening agents: potato flakes, pureed carrots, bread, or tofu
Sour cream •Fat-free or low-fat sour cream 
•Plain low-fat yogurt (don’t use in baked goods, it makes them too watery)
Regular cheese •Low-fat cheese (less than two grams of fat per ounce)
Enriched White Flours •100% whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour
White Rice •Brown rice, 10-minute brown rice
Enriched Spaghetti •Whole wheat spaghetti noodles
•Brown rice noodles
Ground beef or pork sausage •Ground turkey breast (breast meat only, lean, no skin)
Eggs •Flax seed
Whole Eggs •Three egg whites, 1/4 cup egg substitute
Out of season •Frozen fruit and vegetables without added sodium or sugar (they have the same nutrient value)
•Canned fruit in juice or light syrup 
•Canned vegetables without added sodium
Margarine, shortening, or butter •Light, non-hydrogenated margarine or shortening
•Vegetable oil spray 
•Oils in moderation 
•Applesauce or fruit puree (in baked goods)
Regular mayonnaise or salad dressing •Non-fat or low-fat mayonnaise or salad dressing 
•Low-fat plain yogurt