I know you love those chocolate chip cookies your mom makes all the time, but what if I told you could have the same satisfaction from a similar cookie without all the unhealthy ingredients? I have more recently become conscious of what I am using to help fuel my body, and the results weren’t pretty.
A big reason why, I think, I love what I eat is because it satisfies cravings — sweets, junk food, salty chips, the list goes on. However, starting to use substitutes to satisfy my cravings without all the icky additives has really turned my way of life around. Here are some of the best substitute ingredients I keep stocked in my fridge and pantry that have helped me embrace a healthier food regime.
I’d wager that avocado reigns supreme as the best substitute ingredient to help establish a healthier food regime. Avocados are jam-packed with all of the good kinds of fatty acids and help to cut calories when you are baking.
I used to hate avocado because of its rich texture; it never felt good on my palette. However, I have since seen the light and would devour an avocado a day if I could. Plus, its rich texture is precisely what makes it an excellent, healthier substitute for butter in baking and cooking recipes. Avocados replicate the kind of rich, buttery texture and consistency of butter without all of the calories or unhealthy fats.
Use avocado as a base to make vegan avocado pudding, or put in your brownies or cookies; because avocado doesn’t have a lot of taste it functions as the perfect substitute without sacrificing your baked good’s flavour. Now, I’d give them some serious brownie points! 😉
2. Alternative Milk (Coconut, Almond)
This has been a more recent transition in my food regime, but one that I believe has had a positive impact. I’ve started to consume fewer dairy products, save for the one class of milk once in a while and yogurt, and having alternative milk, primarily almond and coconut milk. I’m partial to almond milk, unsweetened and in either vanilla or original flavour. I love the nuttiness of the milk.
I remember going off of dairy milk at one point and even after merely a few days, having only almond milk, I was quite turned off of the taste of dairy milk. I also noticed that my skin started to clear a little bit, making it even more of the best substitute ingredient for my own health regime.
If you’ve never had coconut or almond milk, I recommend giving it a try. It’s vegan, so you can be confident that no animals were harmed in the process of making said milk. Plus, it’ll give your recipes added flavour without the unwanted fats. Add coconut milk to your coconut curry recipe for that velvety taste and texture, or some almond milk to your morning smoothie or baked good recipe.
3. Whole Wheat
This made a HUGE difference in my food regime. I’ve walked strongly away from most foods that are white (flour, bread, pasta) and ran towards anything and everything whole wheat. Whole wheat is more nutritious, richer in fiber, vitamins B6 and E, magnesium and zinc. Nowadays, because I am so used to whole wheat products, when I have white pasta or bread, I instantly feel heavier, like its stuck to my ribs and weighed down my tummy.
There has been pushback against whole wheat being healthier than white, but I’ll leave it for you to decide. I can only speak of my own experiences comparing the two, so see whether you have a similar experience. See if it makes you feel fuller (within a healthy proportion), lighter, and all around healthier. Regardless, I don’t think you could go wrong if you’re looking for a substitute ingredient.
Opt for whole wheat flour instead of white flour for your baked goods, whole wheat bread over white bread, whole wheat pasta rather than white pasta. You’d be surprised to see the difference it makes after you make the switch.
4. Greek Yogurt
I love my greek yogurt. The day I made the switch was the day I didn’t look back. Mostly. Like avocados, greek yogurt has many uses, both on its own and as a substitute for less healthy ingredients. I often have greek yogurt with honey and blueberries for an evening treat, getting my sweet craving without all of the bad sugars.
When it comes to baking, greek yogurt is an excellent sub for oil, helping to cut both fats and calories from your diet. It also just tastes so good. Even the zero cal, unsweetened greek yogurt, which has a bitter taste, tastes better in the long run. Imagine eating 3/4 cup of greek yogurt and then 1 cup of oil; the two measurements equate to the same thing, yet eating oil doesn’t sound appealing at all. If you don’t want that stuff in your mouth without the mask of the end meal, you don’t even want it in your food.
Use Greek yogurt in your cakes, bread, and pancakes, or even when you make savoury dishes. Substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream to make yummy chip or veggie dips (think ranch or spinach!) or even, wait for it, fettuccine alfredo without the artery-clogging fats! Because of its versatility, greek yogurt might just be the #1 on my best substitute ingredients list. Click the link for a yummy Sunday Brunch Greek Yogurt Pancake recipe!
Similar to both avocado and greek yogurt, applesauce is an excellent substitute ingredient for either butter or oil. It cuts fats, as well as calories, making it a wonderful addition to muffins and sweetbreads. You can get applesauce sweetened and unsweetened; yet, even the unsweetened is just sweet enough and no doubt the healthier option of the two. Its natural sweetness will add the perfect touch to your recipes, making the texture and taste just right.
As a bonus, applesauce is also a perfect substitute for white sugar. In fact, approximately one cup of applesauce is equivalent to one cup of sugar. Can you believe that? Which would you prefer? A cup of tasty applesauce, balanced perfectly between sweet and tart from the apples, or a cup of sugar, likely so sweet you’ll feel as if you get cavities just by looking at it?
Imagine that you can change your diet so dramatically by replacing one ingredient for another. Sugars are a main cause of serious health problems, so imagine that you can take control of your health by making simple changes like replacing sugar with applesauce. Not only will you feel better but it will taste better; you won’t have the same sugar cravings as you would if you merely added sugar in your recipes. Now that’s sweet!
6. Coconut Oil
If I could rank any of these products on this best substitute ingredients list, or among any and all other healthy substitute ingredients, I think coconut oil would be #1. Coconut is not only used for your food; rather, it’s become the all-around natural beauty product making its round in all your favourite essential oils, beauty products, masks.
It’s, essentially, the miracle ingredient, the magical elixir that promotes hair growth, clears and brightens skin, removes makeup, moisturizers your body. Its powerful effects are endless, boundless.
As for coconut oil in your food, it’s a great addition to energy bars or fat bombs (for those on the keto diet), baked goods, as a substitute for butter. If you add coconut oil to your pantry, I guarantee you’ll find more uses for it than one. Click the link below for a Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe! Need I say more?