How to lighten up your favorite recipes

I love to cook, as you can see by the dozens of cookbooks on my kitchen shelf! Most of them are filled with healthy recipes, but a few of them are not, so I had to learn how to lighten them up.
I’m all about ingredient substitutions as long as the food still tastes great – I do not eat food that tastes like cardboard! Besides using lots of herbs and spices for flavor, here are some general healthy recipe substitutions I’ve found over the years:

Instead of: Substitute:
1 cup cream 1 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1 cup butter, margarine, or oil ½ cup apple butter or applesauce
1 egg 2 egg whites or ¼ cup egg substitute
Pastry dough Graham cracker crumb crust
Butter, margarine, or vegetable oil for sautéing Cooking spray, chicken broth, or a little olive oil
Bacon Lean turkey bacon
Ground beef Extra lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
Sour cream Fat-free sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips ¼ – ½ cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup sugar ¾ cup sugar (this works with most everything except yeast breads)
1 cup mayonnaise 1 cup reduced-fat or fat-free mayonnaise
1 cup whole milk 1 cup fat-free milk
1 cup cream cheese ½ cup ricotta cheese pureed with ½ cup fat-free cream cheese
Oil and vinegar dressing with 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar 1 part olive oil + 1 part vinegar (preferably a flavored vinegar, like balsamic) + 1 part orange juice
Unsweetened baking chocolate (1 ounce) 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or margarine

Source: National Institutes of Health

Anybody else have some favorite healthy ingredient substitutions? Do share!


  1. MizFit September 12, 2011
  2. Jody - Fit at 53 September 12, 2011
  3. Dr. J September 13, 2011
    • FatFighter September 15, 2011
  4. Alison Caldwell-Andrews October 18, 2011
  5. Kay October 18, 2011
  6. Marty October 18, 2011
    • FatFighter October 22, 2011
  7. Marty October 18, 2011
  8. Brandie October 18, 2011
  9. Obeazt October 19, 2011
  10. Anas Younus June 25, 2013