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18 Easy ingredient swaps you can make for healthier meals (INFOGRAPHIC)

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

Make healthier, more balanced meals with these simple ingredient substitutions

Diets always seem so daunting, especially if you're not really trying to lose weight. Sometimes making simple, healthier substitutions can jump-start you into a healthier lifestyle, giving you the encouragement you need to start that diet, make permanent changes, hit the gym or just stay inspired to make healthier choices overall.

These simple substitutions may be just what you need to make it happen. Maybe you add one new substitution a week, maybe you make them all at once — or maybe you just pick and choose which ones you think you can make permanent. Every little bit helps (and some of them are tastier than what you've been doing anyway!).

Stay tuned for bonus tips after the graphic.

Make healthier, more balanced meals with these simple ingredient substitutions

Delicious tips for healthy eating

  • You can substitute avocado for mayo in dips if the flavor profile works, especially if you do half avocado and half plain, nonfat yogurt.
  • For dishes like casseroles and nachos that you really want to be cheesy, try mixing 1 part extra-sharp cheddar with 3 parts part-skim mozzarella.
  • Making mac and cheese? Use high-flavor cheeses combined with lower-fat versions and squash puree to make Ellie Krieger's reduced-fat mac and cheese.
  • When it comes to fruit purees, feel free to mix flavors or add spices and herbs: Strawberry-banana, apple-cinnamon and cherry-clove are good examples. And on your pancakes, don't be afraid to use a thin schmear of reduced-fat or natural peanut butter with your puree for extra protein.

More ingredient substitutions

In a pickle: What to do if you're out of an ingredient
Cooking substitutions to keep New Year’s diet resolutions
In a pickle: What to do if you’re out of eggs

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