by Brandy Abalos

Many people associate tasty foods with being unhealthy. However, that doesn’t have to be true. There are many ways to make family favorites healthier, whether the original recipe is wholesome or not. Skip the fryer and carb-loading and try some of these creative alternatives.

Substitute Applesauce for Oil

In many baking recipes, it is possible to substitute applesauce for vegetable oil at a 1:1 ratio. That means if a recipe calls for ¼ cup oil, the cook can use ¼ cup applesauce instead. Mashed banana or other moist purees, such as pumpkin or butternut squash, can also work.

Use Substitutes for Eggs

Eggs can be high in fat, like oil. Many of the same substitutes for oil will work for eggs. For example,¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce can replace one large egg. Other substitutes for eggs include mashed banana, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, silken tofu and commercial egg substitute. A teaspoon of baking soda mixed with one tablespoon of vinegar can replace an egg. Most of these substitutes are best for baked goods.

Use Yogurt Instead of High Fat Ingredients

In many recipes, plain low-fat yogurt is an excellent substitute for higher-fat ingredients. Many people use low-fat plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise for meat-based salads like ham salad or chicken salad. Low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt is also a suitable replacement for sour cream in dips. Check nutrition labels to make sure the yogurt is not high in added sugar. Yogurt is not a good substitute for cottage cheese or cream cheese.

Use an Air Fryer Instead of Deep Frying

Many traditionally fried foods are delicious in an air fryer without oil. Omitting the oil reduces unnecessary fats and calories. An air fryer can bake, broil or fry many different products and create a crispy exterior.

Shop For Frozen Vegetables and Fruits

While many people focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, that can be problematic year-round. Some people think all frozen food is unhealthy. That’s not the case. Frozen fruits and vegetables are excellent options and maintain nutrients for an extended period of time.

Use Seasonings Instead of Sauces and Dressings

Sauces and dressings have many hidden calories. They are often heavy with added sugars and fats. Instead of creamy sauces and dressings, opt for lighter seasonings instead. Simple ingredients can pack extra flavor and health benefits into meals, like detoxification and digestive support.

Steam Vegetables for Health Benefits

Steaming is often considered the healthiest way to cook vegetables because it retains the most nutrients. However, over-steaming can make the vegetables lose their flavor. Vegetables should be crisp and tender.

Stir-Fry Vegetables and Meats

Sometimes, a small amount of oil is necessary to lubricate the pan and add flavor. When that is the case, stir-frying vegetables with meat is an excellent way to avoid unnecessary fat. Many nutritionists consider extra virgin olive oil the healthiest oil. Adding plenty of seasonings can add flavor without the extra added fat oil contains. Stir-fried foods are quickly seared and have a depth of flavor.

Use Substitutions When Frying Foods

Instead of frying foods in a deep layer of oil, consider using cooking spray, water, broth or a nonstick pan. These substitutions may eliminate the need for oil or butter. Although cooking spray is oil in a can, it reduces the oil needed to lubricate the pan. Instead of pouring oil into the pan, cooking spray will evenly coat the surface and keep food from sticking.

Rinse Canned Vegetables to Reduce Sodium

Canned vegetables are packed with sodium to improve flavor and maintain shelf life. However, too much sodium is detrimental to a person’s health. A creative way to enhance these foods is to rinse them with water before cooking. Then, add low sodium seasonings and serve.

Use Creative Solutions to Make Food Healthier

Food that tastes good does not have to be unhealthy. There are creative ingredient substitutions and cooking methods that boost flavor and make foods healthier. While fresh and unprocessed foods are often the healthiest, there are creative ways to make any food work in a well-balanced diet.