10 Healthy recipe substitutions

Sep 28, 2010 at 10:48 a.m. ET

No one can resist the temptation of a sinful dessert and, although it is not a sin to indulge, it may put your health at risk. When cooking, there are 10 healthy recipe substitutions that can significantly reduce the calories, fat, and sugar contents of your dish without compromising the taste.

1. Trade eggs for egg whites

Your taste buds won't be able to tell the difference with this easy switch. This heart healthy alternative slashes the amount of cholesterol and calories you may otherwise consume.

2. Choose the low fat version

If a dish calls for milk, reach for the skim or one percent variety instead of whole milk. This rule also applies to yogurt, cheese, sour cream, buttermilk, coconut milk, cream cheese, and many other products.

3. Go for the low sodium option

Many foods such as soy sauce, soup, taco seasoning, and even deli meats come in reduced sodium varieties.

4. Use unsweetened applesauce instead of oil when baking

Using unsweetened applesauce instead of oil in cakes and other baked goods does not alter the taste, but cuts out the fat and more than half of the calories. For brownies, try using mashed baby prunes in place of oil or butter.

5. Flavor food naturally instead of using salt

Increase the amount of spices, or use salt free seasonings instead of going overboard with the salt.

6. Swap enriched pasta with whole wheat pasta

Whole grains boost the nutritional content by adding fiber.

7. Buy whole wheat bread instead of white bread

White bread is full of empty calories and packs zero nutritional value. Whole wheat bread dances circles around white bread by adding fiber.

8. Opt for Cool Whip instead of whipped cream

A frozen whipped topping such as Cool Whip has far fewer calories and fat than whipped cream and tastes (almost) as good.

9. Use Splenda® instead of sugar

The artificial sweetener Splenda® has a product line designed especially for baking. They make a white and brown sugar substitute for all of your baking needs, reducing the amount of calories by half.

10. Trade in canned items for fresh ones

Unprocessed natural foods are always better and they're environmentally friendly, too. Pick up some fresh produce instead of reaching for the can opener.

The best way to figure out what works in your kitchen is to roll up your sleeves and start experimenting. Make a conscious decision to seek out healthy alternatives and your waistline will thank you.

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