How To Substitute Healthy Ingredients Into Your Favorite Recipes

Even simple recipes can be a challenge if you’re trying to stay healthy and work toward a balanced lifestyle. Although many home-cooked, familiar favorites may have less-than-nutritious ingredients, there are ways to boost the flavor of your beloved dishes without the extra fat, calories and sugar.

The Mayo Clinic gave some great ideas for healthy ingredient substitutions that could help you and your family enjoy cooking with a nutritious twist:

Bacon: You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t love the salty, smoky flavor of bacon. However, this pork staple is loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol. To liven up your dishes, try implementing lean prosciutto, smoked turkey or turkey bacon.

Bread crumbs: If you want a low-carb option, try using rolled oats or bran cereal as a substitute.

Oil-based marinades: To cut back on calories, try using wine, balsamic vinegar, fruit juice or fat-free broth.

White rice: A common staple in many ethnic cuisines, white rice is not exactly low in carbs. if you’re trying to lose weight. Instead, try purchasing brown or wild rice, bulgur or pearl barley next time you’re at the supermarket.

Seasoning salts: These are common additions to cooking dishes like soup, but are typically high in sodium. For a more natural flavoring option, try using chopped onion and celery or fresh herbs.

Sour cream: Often used as the base for sauces or toppings, sour cream is chock-full of fat and calories. However, it can be switched out for plain fat-free or non-fat Greek yogurt in most recipes.

Sugar: If you want to make your desserts more healthy, most recipes for sweets will still function just fine in the oven with half the amount of sugar. Instead, amplify the flavors of your cakes and cookies with cinnamon, vanilla or nutmeg.

Table salt: It’s easy to pile on the salt once you sit down to dinner, but too much sodium is known to cause a variety of health problems. Instead, use fresh herbs and spices, citrus juices, rice vinegar or salt-free seasonings to amplify your favorite recipes.

Iceberg lettuce: Although all lettuces have nutritional value, some are better contenders than others. Next time you’re looking to shop healthfully, pick up leafier greens like kale, spinach, arugula, collards or watercress.

Go veg: One easy and simple way to reduce calories is to make your favorite recipes meatless, according to the Vegetarian Times. Substituting beans, seitan, tofu and sturdier veggies like squash and potatoes can bring down fat and cholesterol without sacrificing flavor.

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