Healthy Cooking Substitutions Everyone Should Know

Black beans in brownies is a classic healthy substituting trick.

Black beans in brownies is a classic healthy substituting trick.

Substituting healthy foods for other, less-than-desirable ingredients is an ever-popular dieting trick. Sometimes this leads to culinary disasters (remembering the time I tried to make ice cream with tofu still makes me gag), but there are also some well-vetted substitution tricks that can save calories and maintain flavor. Try one of these quick swaps next time you’re in the kitchen.

  • SugarUnsweetened Applesauce
    • Making the switch to applesauce maintains sweetness while drastically cutting calories. Substitute applesauce in a 1:1 ratio (1 cup of sugar=1 cup of applesauce), but cut the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup for every cup of applesauce you use.
  • Flour = Black BeansOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    • This works best in chocolate-flavored baked goods, because the brown color of the cocoa will help to mask the added color of the beans. Using beans is a great way to add protein and cut gluten. Use 1 cup of black bean puree (approx. a 15 oz can) for 1 cup of flour.
  • Butter and Oil = Avocado Puree, Applesauce, or Banana
    • Avocado on whiteAvocado: Avocado is a great switch for butter since both are fats and have a very similar consistency. Although generally using 1 cup of avocado puree for 1 cup of butter works fine, you may have to add a little more or less to get the right consistency, depending on the recipe. Avocado works particularly well in fudge brownies.
    • Applesauce: Another great use for this versatile snack! It gives the right consistency without any of the fat. Try using applesauce for half the given amount of fat in a recipe (1 cup of butter becomes 1/2 cup of applesauce and 1/2 cup of butter). Note that you can also use applesauce as a substitute for oil.
    • Banana: Like applesauce, mashed, ripe banana can be used instead of butter or oil. Substitute it 1:1Banana (1 cup butter or oil will be 1 cup of banana) and you’ll introduce nutrients like potassium as well as a subtle sweetness to any recipe.
  • Sour Cream = Plain Yogurt
    • Plain yogurt and sour cream are a perfect match in tartness and consistency. Use a cup of plain yogurt in place of sour cream in any recipe to reduce fat content.

Ready to try a healthy makeover on a classic? Black bean brownies are always a good place to start. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, try this delicious chocolate zucchini cake.

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