General cooking substitutions for easy healthy recipes.

Milk/Cream/Sour Cream

  1. Cook with low fat (1 percent fat) or fat free dry or evaporated milk, instead of whole milk or cream.
  2. Instead of sour cream, blend 1 cup low fat, unsalted cottage cheese with 1 tablespoon fat free milk and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, or substitute plain, fat free or low fat yogurt or sour cream.


  1. Use a variety of herbs and spices in place of salt.
  2. Use low-sodium bouillon and broths, instead of regular bouillons and broths.
  3. Use a small amount of skinless smoked turkey breast, instead of fatback to lower fat content but keep taste.
  4. Use skinless chicken thighs, instead of neck bones.


  1. Use cooking oil spray to lower fat and calories.
  2. Use a small amount of vegetable oil, instead of lard, butter, or other fats that are hard at room temperature.
  3. In general, diet margarine are not well suited for baking. Instead, to cut saturated fat, use regular soft margarine made with vegetable oil.
  4. Choose margarine that lists liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient on the food label.


  1. In baking or cooking, use 3 egg whites and 1 egg yolk, instead of 2 whole eggs, or 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup of egg substitute,instead of 1 whole egg.

For Meats and Poultry

  1. Choose a lean cut of meat and remove any visible fat.
  2. Remove skin from chicken and other poultry before cooking.

For Sandwiches and Salads

  1. In salads and sandwiches, use fat free or lowfat dressing, yogurt, or mayonnaise, instead of regular versions.
  2. To make a salad dressing, use equal parts water and vinegar, and half as much oil.
  3. Garnish salads with fruits and vegetables.Move Out

For Soups and Stews

  1. Remove fat from homemade broths, soups, and stews by preparing them ahead and chilling them. Before reheating the dish, lift off the hardened fat that formed at the surface. If you don’t have time to chill the dish, then float a few ice cubes on the surface of the warm liquid to harden the fat. Then, remove and discard the fat.
  2. Use cooking spray, water, or stock to saute onion for flavoring stews, soups, and sauces.

For Breads

  1. To make muffins, quick breads, and biscuits, use no more than 1–2 tablespoons of fat for each cup of flour.
  2. When making muffins or quick breads, use three ripe, very well-mashed bananas, instead of 1/2 cup butter or oil. Or, substitute a cup of applesauce for a cup of butter, margarine, oil, or shortening—you’ll get less saturated fat and fewer calories.

For Desserts

  1. To make a pie crust, use only 1/2 cup margarine for every cups flour.
  2. For chocolate desserts, use 3 tablespoons of cocoa, instead of 1 ounce of baking chocolate. If fat is needed to replace that in chocolate, add 1 tablespoon or less of vegetable oil.
  3. To make cakes and soft-drop cookies, use no more than 2 tablespoons of fat for each cup of flour.

Source NHLBI Health Information Center

Tips to Cooking Healthier

  1. Use Smart Fats. Not all fat is bad. Opt for unsaturated (e.g., olive oil) over saturated fats such as butter. But still use them in moderation because all fats are loaded with calories.
  2. Go Unrefined Pick whole grains over refined grains. Whole grains like brown rice and Bulgar have their bran intact and thus have more fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and other nutrients.
  3. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables Most people don’t get enough! Aim for 4 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Pick produce in a variety of colors to get a range of antioxidants and vitamins. A serving size is 1/2 to 1 cup depending on the fruit or vegetable.
  4. It’s Not All About the Meat Meat is a great source of protein but it’s also a big source of saturated fat in many people’s diets. So eat small amounts of lean meat, fish and poultry. Fill up the rest of your plate with healthy vegetables and whole grains.
  5. Choose Low-Fat Dairy Dairy products like milk, sour cream and yogurt are a good source of calcium. Replacing whole-milk dairy products with low-fat or nonfat is an easy way to cut saturated fat in your diet.
  6. Keep Portions Reasonable Even though we would all like a magic bullet for weight control, it really boils down to calories. One of the easiest ways to manage calorie intake is by eating healthy portions.
  7. Use Sweeteners Judiciously Sugars of any kind, whether corn syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, honey or maple syrup, add significant calories without any nutritive value.
  8. Keep an Eye on Sodium Whether you have high blood pressure or not, it’s wise to watch your sodium intake. The USDA’s dietary guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 2,300 mg (about 1 teaspoon salt) daily.
  9. Go For the Flavor Enhance food with bold flavors from healthy ingredients like fresh herbs, spices and citrus. When your food has great flavor, there’s no reason to feel deprived.
  10. Be Mindful and Enjoy Make conscious food decisions rather than grabbing for what is most convenient. Make sure it is something delicious and savor it. When you enjoy what you eat, you feel satisfied.

Source NHLBI Health Information Center

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