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Be Choosy with Recipe Ingredients

Patrice Powers-Barker, OSU Extension, Lucas County

The Truth Contributor


Give your meals a makeover by lightening your recipes with healthier ingredients. The Ohio State University Extension has a fact sheet titled, Modifying Recipes to Be Healthier. You do not have to count every calorie that you eat but take a moment to think about your favorite recipes. How you can increase amounts of healthy food options and decrease extra amounts of high sodium, high fat or high sugar ingredients?  How many of these substitutions can you try?



To decrease total fat and lower the calories of a recipe:


Try this:

To replace this:

Use cooking methods such as bake, boil, broil, grill, poach, roast, stir-fry or microwave

Frying in fat

When frying foods, use cooking spray, water, broth or a nonstick pan

Frying in fat

Use unsweetened applesauce, fruit puree, mashed bananas or canned pumpkin when baking muffins, brownies or quick breads

Half of the butter, shortening or oil in a baked good. You might need to reduce the baking time of the item by 25 percent

Fat free milk, 1% milk or half and half

whole milk, half-and-half

Neufchatel, low-fat cottage pureed until smooth

Full-fat cream cheese

Plain Greek Yogurt

Sour cream (yogurt is not heat stable so don’t substitute for a baking recipe). The Greek Yogurt will offer more nutrients including calcium compared to the sour cream.

Extra-lean ground beef, ground turkey breast or ground chicken breast (without the skin)

Ground beef

User leaner cuts of meat and remove any skin before cooking

Fatter cuts of meat, with the skin on

Canadian bacon, lean ham




Decrease the sodium (salt) in a recipe:


Try this:

To replace this:

Omit salt or reduce by half in most recipes (except when baking foods that include yeast). Don’t store the salt shaker on the table.


Frozen vegetables without sauces, no-salt added canned goods. Rinsing canned vegetables with water will reduce the amount of sodium

Frozen vegetables with added sauces and canned vegetables

Use herbs and spices. Look for garlic powder instead of garlic salt.

Seasoning salt or spice mixes with added salt



To reduce sugar in a recipe:


Try this:

To replace this:

Unsweetened frozen fruit, fruit canned in its own juices, or plain fresh fruit

Sugar in frozen or canned fruits

Reduce sugar by one-quarter to one-half in baked goods and desserts. If a recipe calls for 1 cup, use ⅔ cup or less. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla or almond extract to give impression of sweetness. (Do not remove all sugar in yeast breads, as sugar provides food for the yeast.)


For most baked products, replace sugar with equal amounts of sucralose (*Splenda). Add ½ teaspoon baking soda in addition to each cup of sucralose used. Baking time is usually shorter, and product will have a smaller yield. Try using aspartame (*Nutra Sweet), saccharin or acesulfame potassium in other products that are not baked. The sweet taste will vary with product combination or amounts of each sweetener used.




To increase fiber in a recipe:


Try this:

To replace this:

Whole-grain rice, brown rice, wild rice, whole cornmeal, whole barley, bulgur, quinoa

White rice or enriched grains

Substitute whole-wheat flour for up to half of the all-purpose flour in a recipe. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups all-purpose flour, try 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour.

All-purpose flour

Use “white whole-wheat flour” or “whole-wheat pastry flour” for the total amount of all-purpose flour.

All-purpose flour

100% whole-wheat bread and 100% whole-grain bread

White bread

Add extra fruits and vegetables to standard recipes such as shredded carrots. Leave on the apple peel. Add extra fruits and vegetables to recipes and include the peel when appropriate.

Peeled fruits and vegetables

Use more dried beans, peas and lentils to many different dishes. For instance, add cooked lentils to spaghetti sauce.

Using just ground meat as a protein ingredient in a recipe (use half of the ground meat and add half cooked beans or lentils)


If you exchange gifts this time of year, give a gift of good health to friends and loved ones.  Schedule a time to walk together, participate in a healthy cooking class or prepare a meal that can be eaten later, during a busy week.  Look for books by authors with medical or nutritional backgrounds or subscriptions to a health magazine.  Purchase kitchen appliances for stir-fry, grilling or juicing.  To encourage physical activity give dance music, sports equipment or pedometer, t-shirts or gift certificates for shoes.  For outdoor play, don’t forget lip balm, gloves and a sled!




Copyright © 2017 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:38 -0700.

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