Housewarming parties, picnics, backyard BBQs… festive gatherings are magnets for condiments like ketchup and mayo, not to mention desserts loaded with butter and sugar. It’s an unfortunate truth that many of our favorite tasty treats are loaded with calories and unhealthy ingredients.
While you can always reach for low fat or low sugar versions of your pantry staples, often that means skimping on flavor and adding suspicious artificial ingredients into the mix. In an attempt to retain (or boost!) flavor and keep things all-natural, we prefer opting for healthful substitutes. Scroll down to discover our favorite replacements for 8 common, unhealthy ingredients…
1. Trade sour cream for… Greek Yogurt.
Sour cream (even the reduced fat variety) is brimming with calories and fat. Next time you’re craving some with your quesadilla or making pound cake, try Greek yogurt. This stuff is creamier & thicker than regular yogurt because a lot of the whey has been strained, but it’s still lower on fat and calories than sour cream. Bonus: it’s got fewer carbs and sodium than regular yogurt but way more protein!
2. Trade breadcrumbs for…Rolled Oats
Whether you’re making meatloaf, crab cakes or fried chicken, breadcrumbs are often a key ingredient in classic recipes! The only problem: the packaged kind are typically full of corn syrup, sodium, and allergens like wheat. If you’re too busy to make your own breadcrumbs, an easy substitute is the best solution. Kill two birds with one stone by opting for rolled oats; you’ll up your intake of whole grains and cut out all that corn syrup.
3. Trade mayo for… Hummus, Avocado or Olive Oil.
It’s common knowledge that mayonnaise is no good for us, but what to do when so many of our favorite recipes call for it? Find a substitute you don’t have to feel guilty about! If you’re used to coating sandwich bread with mayo, switch to hummus (it’s got 75% fewer calories and packs lots of protein!) or spread on some mashed avocado (half the calories and fat + lots of vitamin E). In salads, replace mayo-based based dressings with olive oil.
4. Trade sugar for…Applesauce, Vanilla, or Cinnamon.
If you’re aiming to cut back on sugar, you’ve got a number of great options for replacements. For baking, try using applesauce instead—it’s got protein and vitamin C and adds a hint of natural sweetness. You can substitute it in a 1:1 ration; just remember to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by ¼ for every cup you add.
For dishes that call for a little less sugar, cut the sugar in half and add a pinch of cinnamon or a drop of vanilla.
5. Trade ketchup for…Salsa.
A hot dog’s not a hot dog unless it’s slathered in ketchup, right? That’s what we thought, until we subbed it for salsa. Turns out it’s just as good on a burger as in a taco! While ketchup is packed with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, salsa has 1/3 the calories and little or no sugar at all. Just like ketchup, it’s a good source of lycopenes—but it’s also got anti-inflammatory properties thanks to chili-peppers!
6. Trade butter, oil and/or eggs for…Applesauce.
If you love baking but want to tone down the calories, cholesterol, and fat, applesauce is your new best friend. You can substitute with a 1:1 ratio for butter and oil (one cup of butter or oil = one cup applesauce). For every large egg, substitute a ¼ cup applesauce. This works for cookies, cakes, breads, muffins…you name it!
7. Trade salt for…Lemon Juice, Vinegar, or Fragrant Oils.
Watching your sodium intake? Put aside the salt shaker and get your hands on a fresh lemon, some vinegar, or fragrant oils (think olive oil, sesame oil, or walnut oil). You can add a little extra something to your meal without sprinkling on any salt—these healthy alternatives will amp up the flavor on their own.
8. Trade chocolate chips for… Cocoa nibs.
What’s so bad about chocolate chips? Well, for starters, they’re highly processed. And just a tablespoon of them packs 70 calories and 8 grams of sugar! Next time you’re baking up a batch of chocolate-chip cookies, replace the chips with cocoa nibs. They’re less processed, less sugary, and contain powerful antioxidants, iron, magnesium and fiber.