OK In Health - Nutrition

Easter Healthier Ingredient Substitutions - April 2017

By OK In Health's Articles

Holidays, Birthdays, Easter fare usually means rich foods, desserts and beverages, but many substitutions are available to create healthier versions.

Cream cheese -  Substitute low or fat-free versions or use low-fat cottage cheese (less fat, fewer calories, and more protein). Puree the cottage cheese using a food processor.

White sugar - a number of alternatives are available for white sugar.
  • Add vanilla, nutmeg, or cinnamon (start with one teaspoon and experiment with the amount) for cookies, and reduce the sugar by half.
  • The Greatist website suggests using 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce for 1 cup sugar, but reduce the amount of liquid by ¼ cup. The difference in calories is significant – one cup of sugar is about 770 calories while one cup of unsweetened apple sauce is about 100 calories.
  • For baking, EatRight Ontario suggests substituting powdered milk for up to ¼ of the granulated sugar in baking recipes For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, use ¾ cup of sugar and ¼ cup powdered milk.
  • The artificial sweetener sucralose (Splenda) can be used at the ratio of one-to-one. With brown sugar Splenda, however, use ½ a cup in lieu of 1 cup of brown sugar. Note that sucralose is the only artificial sweetener that should be used for baking. EatRight Ontario notes that Health Canada regulates all sweeteners that are used and sold in Canada and those available have been deemed as safe. If you have particular concerns about artificial sweeteners, speak to a dietitian by contacting 8-1-1 or emailing on the HealthLink BC website.
  • Cut back on the sugar you use. EatRight Ontario reports that up to 1/3 of the sugar in most recipes can be taken out without a noticeable difference. They caution that you should not eliminate sugar completely, as it is still required for taste and texture.
Chocolate icing - Substitute avocado for some of the butter in a chocolate icing recipe. The creaminess will remain along with added vitamins, minerals and monounsaturated fats.

Sour cream (full-fat) or mayonnaise - Use the low or fat-free version or low or fat-free plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt.

Croutons in salad or granola in yogurt - Use nuts instead, such as walnuts or almonds, but remember that a small handful (1/4 cup) is one serving.

Bread crumbs - Use rolled oats with a little seasoning. They are better nutritionally as they contain fibre, iron and B vitamins.

Syrup - Use pureed fruit e.g., apples, as they add fiber while cutting calories and sugar.

Whole milk - Use reduced fat or fat-free milk.

Evaporated milk - Use evaporated skim milk.

Cream - Use fat free half-and-half or evaporated skim milk. When making a soup that asks for cream, use pureed beans or nuts. For example, for ½ cup high-fat cream use ½ cup pureed cannellini beans and ¼ to ½ cup broth for a thick broth. Another option is to use pureed sweet potato.

Flour (all-purpose) - For baked goods, substitute whole-wheat flour for half of the required all purpose flour. Note that whole-wheat pastry flour is less dense and is a better choice for cakes and muffins. The Greatist website says any baking can replace white flour with whole wheat flour at a ratio of 1 cup whole wheat for 7/8 cup white flour. For flour in brownies, you can substitute 1 cup pureed black beans for 1 cup of flour.

Butter, margarine, shortening or oil - For baked goods, substitute half of the amount with unsweetened applesauce or prune puree. The Greatist website also suggests 1 cup mashed banana for 1 cup oil or butter in brownies and cookies. To prevent sticking, use cooking spray or nonstick pans as opposed to greasing pans.

Ice cream - Try frozen bananas with cocoa powder. Cut the peeled frozen bananas into one inch pieces and throw into a food processor or blender along with 2 to 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. Process for a few minutes until smooth.

Eggs - Use two egg whites in place of one egg, or ¼ cup egg substitute for each egg.

Soda water for tonic water - Soda water contains almost no sugar and can be added to fruit drinks to decrease the sugar. Another great alternative is plain water, which can be enhanced by adding a splash of cranberry juice, a slice of lemon, or mint leaves.

Chocolate chips - Use coco nibs

Pasta - Use zucchini ribbons (also known as zoodles) or spaghetti squash. Instead of boiling you can bake or saute these substitute noodles. A comparison shows you the difference between pasta and zoodles - one cup of cooked spaghetti has about 220 calories and 43 grams of carbohydrate. while a small zucchini made into zoodles has a mere 20 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrate.

Canned fruit - Use fruit packed in water rather than sugar syrup.



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