When white rice is processed, the “brown” bran layer gets stripped away, cutting out essential nutrients (like fiber). Opt for brown rice for a fuller nutritional profile.
2. Quinoa for couscous
While couscous is made from processed wheat flour, quinoa is a whole-grain superfood packed with protein and nutrients— and they have almost the exact same texture.
3. Zucchini ribbons for pasta
Thin strips or ribbons of zucchini are a great stand in for carb-packed pastas. Plus, it’s one excuse to skip the boiling— simply sautee for a few minutes until soft.
4. Olive oil for butter
When cooking eggs, this simple switch is a great way to cut down on saturated fats while getting a healthy dose of essential omega 3 fatty acids.
5. Turnip mash for mashed potatoes
While 1 cup of mashed potatoes made with whole milk racks up about 180 calories (before the inevitable salt and butter), a cup of mashed turnip (which doesn’t need milk or butter to get that creamy consistency) has only 51 calories. Add some fresh herbs in place of the salt and it’s a much healthier version of the classic mash.
6. Grated steamed cauliflower for rice
Cut both calories and carbs with this simple switch. The texture is virtually the same, as is the taste.
7. Mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes
Just like the turnip mash, mashed cauliflower has only a fraction of the calories of potatoes and it’s nearly impossible to taste the difference.
8. Rolled oats for breadcrumbs
While breadcrumbs can pack extra sodium, using rolled oats seasoned with herbs is a great way to sneak another whole grain into any meal.
9. Dry beans for canned beans
Canned beans are convenient, sure. But they also tend to have excess sodium and plenty of preservatives. Plus, even though the canned versions are dirt cheap, the dried are even cheaper! It may take a little more work (some simple soaking and boiling), but this switch is still worth it.
10. Prosciutto or pancetta for bacon
Bacon is often the go-to for that smoky flavor in savory dishes (and in some sweet ones). But opting for a few slices of prosciutto or pancetta can help cut both calories and fat. While bacon has about 70 calories and 6 grams of fat per 2 slices, prosciutto (where 1 slice equals about 2 slices of bacon, size wise) has just 30 calories and 4 grams of fat per slice.
11. 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg
One egg yolk holds more than half the recommended daily cholesterol for the average adult. Trading out the yolk for a second white will cut out the cholesterol while doubling the protein. If making a dish that requires more eggs, keeps 1-2 yolks for their rich vitamins A, E, D, and K content, but consider swapping the rest out.
12. Whole wheat pasta for regular pasta
Just as with bread, whole wheat pasta beats regular with a higher fiber content and about 50 fewer calories per serving (depending on the brand).
13. Crushed flax or fiber cereal for bread crumbs
Crushing a fiber-rich cereal and mixing it with some herbs makes a lower-sodium substitution for traditional breadcrumbs.
14. White meat skinless poultry for dark meat poultry
The biggest chicken debate to date: white meat vs. dark meat? The white meat has it beat— lower in calories and fat, higher in protein and iron.
15. Olive oil spray for olive oil from the bottle
Oil glugs out of the bottle, leading to overly-greasy dishes. Using a spray bottle is a great way to cut down on oil while still getting the non-stick benefits. A little mist is all that’s needed!
16. Egg Beaters for egg yolks
A solid substitution for many egg dishes (like omelets or frittatas), this switch is especially rewarding in Hollandaise sauce. To get the richness of the yolk without all the added cholesterol, use an equal amount of Egg Beaters instead when blending up this classic sauce.
17. Bison for beef
Higher in B vitamins and lower in fat bison is a great substitute for the ol’ beefy standard (when available, of course).
18. Ground Turkey for ground beef
Ground turkey (or chicken) is a great substitute for ground beef to cut down on saturated fat and calories. A reminder: because of the lower fat content, ground poultry often ends up drier than beef, but a few tablespoons of chicken stock can solve the problem.
19. Quinoa and ground turkey for rice and ground beef (in stuffed peppers)
More protein and antioxidants in the quinoa and less fat in the ground turkey make this an all-around healthier option for this popular side dish.
20. Coconut milk for cream
Coconut milk is a great substitute for heavy cream in soups and stews. And don’t be turned off by the word “coconut”— it doesn’t taste like the sweetened shredded kind!
22. Spaghetti squash for pasta
Roasted and pulled apart with a fork, spaghetti squash is a great low-carb and lower-calorie substitute for pasta.