Eat These and Not Those: Nine New Healthy Food Substitutions

Food substitutions are something that bakers and home chefs have been doing since the dawn of time. From allspice to baking powder to yeast, there are books, blogs, and websites dedicated to helping you cook that dish without a trip to the grocery store. But what about food substitutions for health reasons? Many people have been cutting gluten out of their diet recently because of a recent uptick in diagnoses of celiac disease. What avenues exist for them to enjoy their favorite foods? Whether it’s to lose weight or to eat the foods that you love while struggling with food allergies, here are nine healthy food substitutions to keep in mind next time you’re in the kitchen.

1. Ground Turkey

Instead of the high-fat content of ground beef, which many scientists have associated with a heightened risk of heart disease, try ground turkey! Ground turkey also has slightly fewer calories than ground beef, coming in with 193 calories in one serving (four ounces) for turkey and 225 for one portion of ground beef.

2. Greek Yogurt

One of the jacks-of-all-trades in the kitchen, you can use Greek yogurt to substitute for the sugary yogurts available on the market, as a substitute for sour cream, or even instead of mayonnaise! If you are using Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream, include one cup of sour cream and a freshly-squeezed lemon for that tang associated with sour cream.

3. Zucchini and Spaghetti Squash

Are you looking for the comfort food of spaghetti without the stomach-turning aftermath? You can use both zucchini and spaghetti squash as a substitute for the classic, gluten heavy spaghetti noodles. To make zoodles (zucchini noodles,) slice thin strips of zucchini and sauté them for a few minutes. For spaghetti squash noodles, scrape out the inside of half of a spaghetti squash with a fork and cook as you would regular pasta noodles. One squash makes between two and three servings of noodles.

4. Seltzer Water and Citrus

Want to kick that soda habit but don’t have enough money for that expensive new drink trend LaCroix? Try seltzer water and a slice of a citrus fruit! Lemon, limes, and oranges all work well. You’ll be cutting costs and calories at the same time.

5. Applesauce

Commonly fed to children and those suffering from the stomach bug, you can use applesauce for a new purpose: cutting the levels of saturated fat in baking dishes or even baking vegan dishes. Combine half applesauce and half canola oil in the place of butter to reduce the saturated fat in your baked goods.  You could also try substituting applesauce for sugar in a direct, one-to-one ratio. But heads up– for every cup of applesauce you use in place in butter, you must use 1/4 cup less of liquid in the overall recipe.

6. Quinoa

From breakfast dishes to quick dinners, quinoa can be a safe, gluten-free alternative. Instead of oatmeal, try making quinoa with milk instead of water. A pinch of cinnamon and a few minutes later, you have an excellent oatmeal alternative with high levels of protein, fiber, and iron. Looking for a substitute for the fluffy couscous that’s in salad or pilaf? Try quinoa!

7. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

A favorite substitution for health nuts, you can use extra-virgin olive oil in place of butter, canola oil, or even vegetable oil. Be careful to only use it while cooking, though, as it may give baked goods a distinctive aftertaste.

8. Garlic Powder

A simple way to give a punch to any meal, garlic powder can sate your salty cravings without the sodium. Garlic powder goes excellently on meats, salads, and nearly every other savory dish.

9. Cinnamon

Instead of adding refined sugar to your coffee, why not try cinnamon? Cinnamon packs an antioxidant punch while also spicing up your coffee. Cinnamon can even go over popcorn instead of butter for a new, unique punch of flavor. Plus, it tastes great in oatmeal with some no-sugar-added dried fruit and a little bit of milk.

Have you tried any of these substitutions or have any more to share? Leave a comment below!

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