Everyone has their favorite recipes and go to meals that never fail. They’re easy to make and
tend to be on the rich side and very calorie heavy. There are many substitutions you can use
in those recipes that will help cut the calories, add more nutritional value and keep you fuller
longer. By swapping out the ingredients that are lacking in nutrients and replacing them,
you’re getting rid of the bad and adding more of the good.
One of my favorite healthy swaps is almond meal for all-purpose flour. Almond meal is simply
pulverized almonds until they are a meal or flour-like consistency. For example, if I am making
chicken parmesean, I will not use traditional flour, bread crumbs or panko to use as the breading.
I dip the chicken in a beaten egg (or egg beaters) and coat it with the almond meal. It’s
crucial to then refrigerate then chicken so the coating will adhere to it when pan searing or
baking. It will give the same crisp crust as regular flour, but you’re gaining more of a nutritional
punch with the almonds.
Another ingredient swap I like to use is small curd cottage cheese. If you do not enjoy the
texture you can puree it in a small food processor or blender. The mixture replaces tradition
ricotta cheese when I make vegetable lasagna roll-ups. Cottage cheese is low-fat and in addition,
you are adding protein to a vegetarian dish.
One of my other substitutions I like is using unsweetened applesauce when baking. Baking is
more of a science, so it’s important to make sure your measurements are accurate. Using unsweetened applesauce can take the place of oil and sugar. For example, if the recipe calls for
1 cup of sugar, you can sub in 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce. It helps keep the baked
good moist and helps mellow the sweetness of the original recipe.
You do not have to replace an ingredient fully. If I want to reduce the carbohydrate load of a
meal, I might make mashed potatoes using half cauliflower and half potatoes. Extra bonus for
all the moms out there, If you have picky eaters this is a way to sneak some extra goodness
into their diets without them detecting a thing.
These might seem like small changes, but they will improve the quality and nutritional value
of your meals. They will help you feel more satisfied and leave you feeling fuller longer. Small
changes will add up to big results.
Happy & healthy cooking!
-Written by Erin Tripi, Fitness Nutrition Specialist