Smart Substitutions

Updated:Dec 16,2016

smart substitutionsHealthy eating doesn’t mean giving up all the foods you love! Smart substitutions can help you maintain an overall healthy eating pattern, even when dining out.

For Recipes

You can make many of your favorite recipes healthier by using lower-fat or no-fat ingredients. These healthy substitutions can help you cut down on saturated or trans fats, while noticing little, if any, difference in taste.

  • Instead of whole milk (1 cup), use 1 cup fat-free or low-fat milk, plus one tablespoon of liquid vegetable oil.
  • Instead of heavy cream (1 cup), use 1 cup evaporated skim milk or 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt and 1/2 cup plain low-fat unsalted cottage cheese.
  • Instead of sour cream, use low-fat unsalted cottage cheese plus low-fat or fat-free yogurt; or just use fat-free sour cream.
  • Instead of cream cheese, use 4 tablespoons soft margarine (low in saturated fat and 0 grams trans fat) blended with 1 cup dry, unsalted low-fat cottage cheese; add a small amount of fat-free milk if needed.
  • Instead of butter (1 tablespoon), use 1 tablespoon soft margarine (low in saturated fat and 0 grams trans fat) or 3/4 tablespoon liquid vegetable oil.
  • Instead of unsweetened baking chocolate (1 ounce), use 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder or carob powder plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or soft margarine; since carob is sweeter than cocoa, reduce the sugar in the recipe by 25%.

For Snacks

You can snack healthier by substituting snacks that are high in saturated fats and/or trans fats with these sensible snacks:

  • Instead of fried tortilla chips, enjoy baked tortilla chips (reduced sodium version).
  • Instead of regular potato or corn chips, enjoy pretzels or low-fat potato chips (reduced sodium version).
  • Instead of high-fat cookies and crackers, enjoy fat-free or low-fat cookies, crackers (such as graham crackers, rice cakes, fig and other fruit bars, ginger snaps and molasses cookies).
  • Instead of regular baked goods, enjoy baked goods, such as cookies, cakes and pies, and pie crusts made with unsaturated oil or soft margarines, egg whites or egg substitutes, and fat-free milk.
  • Instead of devil’s food cake, enjoy angel food cake.
  • Instead of ice cream bars, enjoy frozen fruit bars.
  • Instead of pudding made with whole milk, enjoy pudding made with fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • Instead of ice cream, enjoy sherbet, ice milk or frozen, fat-free or low-fat yogurt.
  • Instead of a doughnut, enjoy a bagel or slice of toast.

For High-Fat Items at Restaurant

You can eat sensibly when you eat out by choosing lower-fat foods instead of “the usual."

  • Instead of cream-based soups, try broth-based soups with lots of vegetables
  • Instead of quiche and salad, try soup and salad.
  • Instead of buffalo chicken wings, try peel-and-eat shrimp.
  • Instead of bread, muffins, or croissants, try melba toast, pita bread, or whole-grain rolls.
  • Instead of a fried chicken sandwich, try a grilled chicken sandwich.
  • Instead of chicken fried steak, try a veggie burger.
  • Instead of french fries, try baked potato, brown rice, or steamed vegetables.
  • Instead of potatoes and gravy, try potatoes without gravy or a baked potato.
  • Instead of creamy coleslaw, try sautéed vegetables, steamed vegetables or a tossed salad.
  • Instead of a hot fudge sundae or ice cream, try nonfat yogurt, sherbet or fruit ice.

For Fast-Food Restaurants

You can eat sensibly at fast-food restaurants by choosing lower-fat foods instead of “the usual."

  • Instead of a danish, try a small bagel.
  • Instead of a jumbo cheeseburger, try a grilled chicken sandwich, a sliced meat sandwich or a regular hamburger on a bun with lettuce, tomato and onion.
  • Instead of fried chicken, try a grilled chicken and a side salad.
  • Instead of fried chicken pieces, try a grilled chicken sandwich.
  • Instead of french fries, try a baked potato with vegetables and/or low-fat or fat-free sour cream or margarine on the side.

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