9 healthy cooking substitutions

Trying to cut calories without cutting flavor? These easy baking and cooking substitution help you create a healthier, and equally flavorful dish!

Black Beans for Flour
It may sound crazy, but this money-saving substitution is perfect for those trying to go gluten-free. Simply swap a can of black beans (rinsed, drained, and puréed) for 1 cup of flour. This trick cuts up to up to 200 calories and adds protein to a sweet treat. Since the color of the beans will alter the color of your dessert, try with a chocolate cake or brownie on the first try.

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Greek Yogurt for MayonnaiseIt’s the oldest trick in the book, but that’s because it works! Even light mayonnaise still has over 3 times the calories and 11 times the fat of Greek yogurt. (You probably don’t want to know the comparison for the full-fat stuff!). Next time you whip up a pasta or potato salad, truly lighten it up by substituting an equal amount of Greek yogurt for mayonnaise.

Rolled Oats for Bread Crumbs
Breadcrumbs may not seem like a huge calorie culprit, but ½ cup of this typical breading has over 200 calories. Cut the calories in half and add some extra fiber by using rolled oats instead. And since oats are bigger than breadcrumbs, you’re sure to use less in a recipe.

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Bananas for EggsLooking to cut cholesterol from your diet? Then you’ll want to remember this simple swap. Replacing one egg with 1/3 cup of ripe mashed banana will cut the fat from 5g to less than 1g in a recipe. Not to mention it’s a great way to sneak some fruit into your baked goods.

Unsweetened Applesauce for Oil
When it comes to baking, using applesauce over oil provides a perfect consistency and a hint of sweetness without all the added fat. Not to mention you can save over 100 calories! If you’re hesitant to try this trick, only swap out half the fat your first time (so if a recipes calls for 1 cup of oil, use 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce). Once you get used to it, you can go for the full substitution.

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Prune Purée for Butter
This swap proves that prunes aren’t just for the elderly! When you replace butter with an equal amount of prune purée, you cut the calories in half, eliminate almost all of the fat and add a little fiber. You can by purée or make your own by blending 1 cup of pitted prunes with 6 tablespoons hot water until smooth.

Vanilla Extract for Sugar
If you love vanilla and less calories, you’ll love this substitution. Since baking is such a science, you can’t completely cut out the sugar. But you can cut it in half and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract for the same results. Assuming a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, this swap takes the sugar calorie count from 775 calories to about 400.  Not a bad number in our opinion.

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Milk and Lemon Mix for Buttermilk
Unless you’re a professional baker, you probably don’t fill the fridge with buttermilk. And at 150 calories and 8g of fat a serving, who would want to! So if a recipe calls for it, try this trick instead: combine 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a small bowl and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. You save both money and calories by doing so.

Puréed Sweet Potato for Cream
We couldn’t believe it either, but puréed sweet potatoes can create a creamy soup just as well as, well, cream! Your lactose intolerant friends will love this dairy substitution and your weight conscious friends will also appreciate the effort (130 calories for ½ cup compared to 400). Replace the cream with an equal amount of sweet or regular potato purée for a flavorful and creamy bowl of soup.