Ingredient Substitution Guide for Healthy Recipes

By making some changes to your favorite recipes, you can still enjoy the foods you love while taking steps to improve your health. Try these tips to modify your favorite recipes to be more healthy.

If your recipe calls for this ingredient:


Bread, white

Bread crumbs, dry

Butter, margarine, shortening or oil in baked goods

Butter, margarine, shortening or oil to prevent sticking


Cream cheese, full fat


Flour, all-purpose (plain)

Fruit canned in heavy syrup

Ground beef

Lettuce, iceberg


Meat as the main ingredient

Milk, evaporated

Milk, whole

Oil-based marinades

Pasta, enriched (white)

Rice, white

Salad dressing

Seasoning salt, such as garlic salt, celery salt, or onion salt

Soups, creamed

Sour cream, full fat

Soy sauce



Table salt

Yogurt, fruit-flavored

Try substituting this ingredient:

Canadian bacon, turkey bacon, smoked turkey or lean prosciutto (Italian ham)

Whole-grain bread

Rolled oats or crusted bran cereal

Applesauce or prune puree for half of the called-for butter, shortnening or oil; butter spreads or shortenings specially formulated for baking that don’t have trans fats
Note: To avoid dense, soggy or flat baked goods, don’t substitute oil for butter or shortening. Also don’t substitute diet, whipped or tub-style margarine for regular margarine.

Cooking spray or nonstick pans

Fat-free half-and-half, evaporated skim milk

Fat-free or low-fat cream cheese, Neufchatel or low-fat cottage cheese pureed until smooth

Two egg whites or ¼ cup egg substitute for each whole egg

Whole-wheat flour for half of the called for all-purpose flour in baked goods
Note: Whole-wheat pastry flour is less dense and works well in softer products like cakes and muffins

Fruit canned in its own juices or in water, or fresh fruit

Extra-lean or lean ground beef, chicken or turkey breast (make sure no poultry skin has been added to the product)

Arugula, chicory, collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach or watercress

Reduced-calorie mayonnaise-type salad dressing or reduced-calorie, reduced-fat mayonnaise

Three times as many vegetables as the meat on pizzas or in casseroles, soups and stews

Evaporated skim milk

Reduced-fat or fat-free milk

Wine, balsamic vinegar, fruit juice or fat-free broth

Whole-wheat pasta

Brown rice, wild rice, bulgur or pearl barley

Fat-free or reduced-calorie dressing or flavored vinegars

Herb-only seasonings, such as garlic powder, celery seed or onion flakes, or use finely chopped herbs or garlic, celery or onions

Fat-free milk-based soups, mashed potato flakes, or pureed carrots, potatoes, or tofu for thickening agents

Fat-free or low-fat sour cream, plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt

Sweet-and-sour sauce, hot mustard sauce, or low-sodium soy sauce

In most baked goods you can reduce the amount of sugar by one-half; intensify sweetness by adding vanilla, nutmeg or cinnnamon

Pureed fruit, such as applesauce, or low-calorie, sugar-free syrup

Herbs, spices, citrus juices (lemon, lime, orange), rice vinegar, salt-free seasoning mixes, or herb blends

Plain yogurt with fresh fruit slices