Recipe Substitutions Make for Healthier Meals
It's easy to make delicious, healthy meals with smart recipe substitutions.

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Recipe Substitutions Make for Healthier Meals

Healthy food sometimes has a reputation as being bland, tasteless and boring. However, it doesn't have to be that way - making simple, smart substitutions in every day meals can go a long way. Removing unnecessary sugar, sodium and unhealthy fats from your meals can help cut calories and boost nutritional value, all while maintaining the flavor of your most-loved recipes.

A healthy eating plan is one that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free milk and whole grains. It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and beans. Also try to consume less saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, added sugars and sodium.

Here are some easy ways to make your favorite recipes fit into a healthy eating plan:


What the recipe calls for:


Whole and 2% milk

Low- or fat-free milk


Vegetable oil

White bread or flour

Whole-wheat bread or flour

White rice or pasta

Brown rice, quinoa, barley, bulgur or whole-wheat pasta

2 Tablespoons full-fat dressing

½ Tablespoons full-fat dressing or
2 Tablespoons low-fat dressing

Whole-milk ricotta cheese (1 cup)

Part-skim ricotta cheese (1 cup)

Full-fat cheese or yogurt

Low- or fat-free cheese or yogurt

Full-salt vegetables, beans, broths and sauces

Reduced sodium or no salt added vegetables, beans, broths and sauces

Fried or breaded meats

Baked or grilled meats

More great ways to eat healthy:

  • Have cut-up vegetables ready for snacks. If you want to serve them with a dip, go for yogurt-based dressings or hummus.
  • Add dark green, red and orange veggies to soups, stews, casseroles and stir-fries.
  • Top cereal and pancakes with fruits instead of sugars, syrups or sweetened toppings.
  • Eat fruits in season!
  • Order cappuccinos or lattes with fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • Pick fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt more often than cheese.
  • Choose sparkling water instead of sweetened drinks or alcoholic beverages.
  • Use a non-stick cooking spray for sautéing instead of frying with butter.
  • Eat smaller amounts of higher-calorie foods like cakes, cookies, desserts, pizza.
  • Add beans to soups or entrees for extra protein and fiber.


By Riley Beggin, Contributing Writer
Created on 03/27/2006
Updated on 11/05/2014
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy eating for a healthy weight.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture. Healthy eating tips.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2010.
Copyright © OptumHealth.
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