Many people believe cooking healthy means giving up flavor. Instead of sticking to the butter- and fat-laden recipes you know, try making your favorite meals healthier by changing ingredients.
Here are a few effective ingredient swaps that will make your dishes healthier without losing the flavor you love. Try these six nutritious ingredient hacks when cooking or baking your favorite meals or desserts.
Apple sauce or prune puree instead of butter, margarine, shortening, or oil
Love making cookies, brownies, cakes, pies and more? Instead of the fat and sugar your recipe calls for, swap them out for apple sauce or prune puree instead. These ingredients are virtually fat free, rich in potassium and add a naturally sweet flavor, texture, and moisture to any dessert.
Greek yogurt instead of sour cream
When whipping up a quick appetizer like spinach dip or French onion dip, substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream. This provides the rich taste of sour cream with a fraction of the calories and saturated fat. If you're feeling really ambitious, swap the chips for fresh veggies, too.
Avocado instead of mayonnaise, butter or oil
Many enjoy the taste of mayonnaise as a sandwich spread but it's not the healthiest choice. Try swapping out bad fats with good fats by using avocado. The fat in avocados is unsaturated, making it a great substitute for foods or ingredients high in saturated fat. To top it off, avocados can be swapped for butter or oil in your favorite baked goods making your desserts nutrient-rich and packed with omega-3s.
Date sugar instead of Splenda or other artificial sweeteners
You can make your recipes 100 percent more natural by using date sugar instead of artificial sweeteners. Most artificial sweeteners get their sweet taste from the chemical aspartame, which has been linked to health problems like heart palpitations, seizures, and more. Date sugar is simply ground up dates and is neither processed nor refined. The next time you go to sweeten your coffee, use date sugar and you will get a good dose of vitamins and minerals.
Cauliflower, zucchini or spaghetti squash instead of pizza crust or pasta
When craving carbs, substitute mashed cauliflower or zucchini for pizza crust, and spaghetti squash for pasta. This ingredient swap makes your favorite Italian dishes healthier and lower in carbohydrates. Whole-wheat pasta may be a good way to satisfy your comfort craving, but if you want to ditch the carbs all together go for the spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is a vegetable, so one serving can provide your body with the recommended daily intake of potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.
Quinoa instead of rice
While brown rice is healthier than white rice, quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse and the perfect substitute all around. Quinoa is not only loaded with protein, fiber, and iron but has a lower glycemic load and substantially more amino acids. By swapping out rice for quinoa, you'll get a delicious and healthier meal.
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