Ingredient Substitutions For Healthier Recipes

Although there are countless delicious savory meals and sweet desserts, sometimes they can contain too much fat, sugar, and other ingredients unsuitable for particular diets or someone’s dietary restrictions. In any case, many individuals believe they cannot have the food they want as often as they would like, or even at all because it is not as healthy as it should be for their wants and needs. However, this is a mistaken belief. There are many ways to incorporate these indulgent desserts and comforting meals into diets more often. It comes down to key ingredient substitutions to help make each meal a little healthier.

Instead Of Ground Beef

Ground beef is an incredibly popular ingredient in many savory dishes, from pasta sauces and meatballs to shepherd’s pie and tacos. However, it often packs in more fat than strictly necessary. Furthermore, red meat is considered a controversial food and many believe it can cause quite a bit of harm to those who eat it in excess. 

The good news, however, is everyone can still consume their favorite recipes that call for ground beef without actually using ground beef if they want to boost the meal’s health. Specifically, they can substitute ground chicken or turkey in for the ground beef. Although some may claim it will taste different, the majority of the time it comes down to spices. With the right spices, most will be unable to tell the difference between ground chicken or turkey and ground beef.

Instead Of Eggs

Even in a dish as simple as scrambled eggs, many recipes do not require the whole egg or even any egg at all in many instances. For scrambled eggs, individuals can use just egg whites and leave out the yolk. For baked goods such as muffins, cakes, and cookies, chia seeds, bananas, applesauce, and even ground flaxseed can be used instead of eggs. Specific amounts are one tablespoon of chia seeds and one cup water, one tablespoon flaxseed and three tablespoons water, ¼ cup of mashed banana, or ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce for each egg you may wish to substitute. Savory dishes with egg are harder to substitute, but the usual standby is to use egg whites instead of the whole egg or even try flaxseed and water in small amounts.

Replacing Butter

Just about every recipe for baked goods contains some butter in it, as do recipes for savory pastries and many loaves of bread. Unfortunately, butter has a lot of fat, and there is very little individuals get out of it when it comes to health. The good news, however, is there are many different ways to replace butter in a wide variety of recipes. For every cup of butter that needs replacing in cakes, breads, muffins, and similar, bakers have a variety of choices when it comes to substitution. 

For every cup of butter try one cup of mashed banana, one cup pureed avocado, ¾ cup of prunes and ¼ cup of boiling water, two tablespoons of chia seeds and one cup of water, or three tablespoons of ground flaxseed and one tablespoon of water. It should be noted, however, to avoid substituting both eggs and butter for chia seeds in the same recipe, and it is also advisable to only replace half the butter with chia seeds and go from there.

Reducing Sugar

Sugar is often what packs in the most calories without any nutritional benefit in recipes like muffins, cupcakes, cakes, and more. In fact, it can make even beneficial drinks like tea not incredibly healthy if individuals pour in a lot of sugar. Thankfully, there are many ways to dramatically reduce the amount of sugar in favorite recipes. Tea drinkers, for instance, can use natural sweeteners, such as honey, agave, or even skim milk or milk alternatives to help flavor their tea instead of sugar. Of course, the best solution is to gradually reduce all sweeteners until they can drink it without any.

When it comes to baked goods and others, ingredient substitutions to make the recipes healthier include vanilla extract, unsweetened applesauce, or spices such as nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon. Start with half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom for every two tablespoons of sugar that needs replacing. One cup of unsweetened applesauce can be used for every cup of sugar, as long as the other liquids in the recipe are reduced by ¼ cup per cup of applesauce.

Switching Out White Flour

The easiest switch to make when it comes to white flour is to simply use whole wheat flour instead. For the most part, the switch can be done in equal parts. Nut flour and coconut flour can also be used, however for every cup of white flour, individuals will need ⅓ cup of coconut flour plus one egg per ounce of coconut flour as well as a dash of water. For nut flour, one cup plus two tablespoons of a rising agent, or ¼ cup nut flour plus ¾ cup of wheat flour. These additions are necessary as nut flour is denser and the extra weight must be compensated for, and coconut flour is quite a bit more absorbent. However, when frying or sauteing is on the table, and the vegetables or meat must be coated in white flour, coconut flour can be used in the same amounts.

Not only are all of these substitutions packed with the nutritional benefits white flour lacks, such as protein and fiber, but coconut flour is also gluten-free and packed with healthy fats. Finally, if individuals want to avoid all types of flour, black beans are a great option in recipes for brownies at one cup of pureed black beans per cup of flour.

The Substitution Power Of Greek Yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt is a nutritional powerhouse; there is no denying it. Though the exact amounts and benefits can vary between brands, one of the constants is the fact Greek yogurt is full of healthy nutrients such as protein, probiotics, calcium, potassium, and vitamin B12, often in higher quantities than regular plain yogurt. Greek yogurt can replace oil, mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, and even buttermilk in many baked goods. It is replaced in equal parts (one cup for one cup) for mayonnaise, sour cream, and cream cheese. However, use ¾ cup of Greek yogurt for every cup of oil and ⅔ cup of greek yogurt plus ⅓ cup skim milk for every cup of buttermilk.