make any recipe healthier

I’m always looking for ways to make a recipe healthier.

Well, I take that back – there are times to make a recipe healthier and there are times when you should leave it be. Some recipes aren’t meant to be healthy.

But when the time is right to make a recipe a bit healthier – here are my favorite tips:

How to Make any Recipe Healthier: 

  • reduce an ingredient! This can work with cheese or dairy products, mayonnaise, oil, sugar, etc. Play around with the amount to find the best result.
  • swaps grains: Using whole grains (bread, pasta, tortillas) in place of white flour versions can help increase fiber and protein and can sometimes even decrease calories.
  • reduced-fat products: In my opinion there isn’t much of a flavor difference between the full and reduced-fat versions of cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise. (Reduced-fat cheese is NOT ok with me!) :)
  • add veggies! This is a favorite of mine – if a recipe calls for 1/2 an onion or bell pepper, use the whole thing! Veggies add bulk to your meal for very few calories. Serve entrees over lightly steamed spinach instead of pasta, and always add more greens and lettuce to salads.

How do you alter recipes to make them a little healthier? 


  1. says

    All fantastic tips! I love to sneak in as many veggies as I can and try to substitute plant-based fats for animal fats. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with an insanely UNhealthified dessert recipe now and again – I’ve learned better than to try to mess with perfection!

  2. says

    Swap some veggie puree for cheese or mashed potatoes. I love using butternut squash or cauliflower purees to stretch a cheese sauce for mac ‘n cheese and use 1/2 cauliflower in place of potatoes for things like shepherd’s pie.

  3. says

    Love your ideas! I use applesauce in place of oil (for granola, baked goods, etc), have been using 1/2 sugar, 1/2 stevia in baked goods and usually swap greek yogurt for sour cream. I’ve also been swapping zucchini ‘noodles’ for pasta. That way I can eat more bread. :)

  4. says

    When baking bread, i always decrease the sugar (who needs that much?) and I have started using Turbinado or Raw sugar. I sub in some whole wheat or spelt flour and have begun using Safflower oil or applesauce instead of regular oil. I’m also a big fan of adding in flax. I just did this for a Zuchhini bread that turned out amazing (which reminds me I need to get that post up!).

    Great suggestions and a great idea! I love when Cooking Light and Rachael Ray lightne up a recipe!

  5. says

    Love this list! I try to incorporate many of these techniques into my cooking (which is partially why I don’t let Shaun cook…he doesn’t reduce anything! :)) My favorite is the more veggies part – love adding volume that way!

  6. says

    Useful tips as usual Em! One of my favorite swaps is greek yogurt for mayonnaise in dips and spreads! I made a pizza dip for book club this week and it called for sour cream, mayo and cream cheese, but I substituted 0% greek yogurt for the sour cream and mayo and used light cream cheese and wasn’t missing any of the flavor!

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