Guide to Healthier Baking & Cooking

You can easily make your favorite recipes healthier just by making a few substitutions. These healthy substitutions can help you cut down on saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and added sugar while noticing little, if any, difference in taste. Use my substitution chart and tips below to help guide you in making healthier dishes!

Baking Substitution Chart

Flours 

When a recipe calls for All-Purpose (white) flour, try first subbing at least 1/2 the amount it calls for with whole wheat flour. This will make for a slightly denser product, but will boost the fiber & nutrient content. Other great substitutions include oat flour, coconut flour, or almond meal/flour. 

$$ SAVING TIP: Don't waste the extra money buying oat flour, it's so simple to make your own at home! I throw a few cups of rolled oats (old-fashioned oats) in my food processor and pulse until finely ground. Store in a tightly sealed container until ready to use. 

Mayonnaise or Sour Cream

When recipes call for either of these ingredients, substitute with plain low-fat or non-fat yogurt in equal amounts. (i.e. 1 Tbsp mayo = 1 Tbsp plain non-fat yogurt). My favorite way to use this substitution is when making chicken salad or egg salad sandwiches. It's an easy swap! Check out this healthier tzatziki sauce recipe, which typically calls for sour cream.

Vegetable Oils 

Depending on the recipe, substitute with either coconut oil or olive oil. Coconut oil works great for recipes involving high-heats or baked goods...and it's a great substitute for butter in recipes! Check out the chart above for more healthy oil/butter substitutions!

Heavy Cream / Cream-Based Soups

Cream-based soups are usually always the highest in fat content. Instead of using heavy cream, you could use evaporated skim milk or coconut milk. Check out this delicious, creamy lentil soup using coconut milk. 

Eggs

Eggs (especially the yolks) are so nutritious and one of my absolute favorite foods of all time. They're packed with Vitamin D, protein, and antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin which are important for eye health. But if you're baking something, such as a cake, and it calls for several additional yolks along with oil, it really ups the fat content. One way to reduce the fat is to use one full egg and for the rest use whites. Example: if a recipe calls for 3 eggs, use 1 full egg, and 4 egg whites (2 whites per 1 egg).

Buttermilk

Reduce the unhealthy fat content by subbing this ingredient out for low-fat milk and lemon juice or vinegar. For example, 1 cup buttermilk = 1 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar + 1 cup low-fat milk.

Semi-Sweet or White Chocolate Chips

Semi-sweet chocolate chips are typically very high in added sugar and lose all the antioxidants that are naturally found in cocoa during processing. White chocolate chips often contain trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils), the worst fat for you!! Sub these two types of chips out in recipes for dark chocolate chips (choose dark chocolate that is 70% or higher cacao/cocoa for highest antioxidant content).

Sugar 

There are so many excellent ways to sub out refined, processed, white sugar in recipes! The first and easiest alternative is to simply reduce the amount of sugar it calls for. Surprisingly, you won't notice much of a difference and it won't affect the recipe if you reduce it slightly! For example, if it calls for 1 cup, try using just 3/4 cup. You could also swap with fruit, which is naturally sweet, such as mashed, ripe bananas or dates. Check out these recipes where I use bananas instead of sugar: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins, Oatmeal Casserole, Whole Wheat Pancakes.

You could also use honey or maple syrup, which even though yes it is still sugar, you can use less of it and it will still taste just as sweet! For every 1 cup sugar, use 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup. Here's some other dessert recipes using these two swaps: Granola Bars, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cranberry Pistachio Cookies

Another alternative is using coconut sugar or date sugar...use 3/4 cup for every 1 cup sugar! Extracts, such as vanilla, almond, butter pecan, make for great additions to enhance the flavor of your recipes without adding excess sugar!

Add in more Fruits & Veggies!

What better way to increase the nutrient content of a recipe than by adding in fruits and veggies! If you have a hard time eating enough veggies during the day, or you're looking for ways to get your kids to eat more veggies, try these recipes! You can add veggies to desserts such as Almond Zucchini Muffins, savory snacks such as Baked Broccoli Tots, or use them in place of starchy carbs, like in these two recipes: Cauliflower Fried Rice or Turkey Bolognese & Zucchini Noodles.