When it comes to baking and cooking in general, there are a lot of swaps you can make in the kitchen that will instantly transform your meal to something #leancleangreen that you will LOVE. I began cooking “healthier” years ago, and over that time I’ve come to find my favorite swaps and I’m excited to share them with you today! Please note, though, that these ingredients do not make your recipes calorie free (if only, right?!), but they provide more nutritional value, and better for you ingredients that your body will love!
Spaghetti Squash– This stuff is awesome! I love pasta, but I know eating carb heavy meals for dinner aren’t always the best choice to make. All you need to do is cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds, drizzle with some olive oil (and sprinkle on some salt and pepper, of course!), roast at 375 for 40 minutes or until fork tender. Let it cool, then scrape the sides with a fork, creating some delicious “pasta”. It’s perfect for spaghetti, soups and recipes like this DELISH Taco Casserole I made the other day!
Lettuce Wraps– This another easy swap to make if you’re hoping to cut down on carbs. I love replacing tortillas or wraps with leaves like romaine lettuce or collard greens. Try to go for big leaves that will be able to hold all your fillings without falling apart. Looking for some inspiration? Check out this tasty Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps recipe you will love.
Greek Yogurt– If you love sour cream, you should give Greek yogurt a try instead! It subs perfectly but it has way less fat than sour cream, as well as protein and probiotics. Go with regular, unsweetened greek yogurt and use it as a 1:1 to sour cream or mayo in any of your recipes. I’ve made chicken salad, salad dressings and creamy pasta sauce that were a hit! Check out the delicious Avocado Greek Yogurt dressing recipe at the end of this post that I used on my chopped salad- it’s amazing.
Quinoa– This is a great swap to make when you’re trying to cut down on the grains you consume. Quinoa acts very similarly to a grain (in fact you wouldn’t even know it wasn’t one), but it’s actually a seed. It’s high in protein, fiber and iron, and will be your new best friend. I like to cook 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water or chicken broth until it boils, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Let it simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the seeds begin to “open”. Flavor as you want, and use it to make something like this delicious Quinoa Bowl!
Cauliflower– I don’t even know where to begin with cauliflower! It’s an awesome substitute for starchy veggies and some grains. Boil and mash it up as a replacement for mashed potatoes, or pulse in a food processor to make some cauliflower rice. If you’re looking for a tasty snack, you can season and roast the cauliflower instead of going for chips or cookies in the afternoon. Check out this Taco Soup recipe where I used some cauliflower rice that was ah-ma-zing.
Zoodles– Y’all I love these things. When I’m not in the mood for spaghetti squash, another go-to replacement for pasta is zoodles. If you haven’t heard of them before, they’re literally noodles made from a zucchini. All you need is a spiralizer (which you can use on squash, sweet potatoes and even carrots!) and you’re ready to start making some zoodles. I steam them for about 5-7 minutes, or until tender, then top with my favorite pasta sauce. Yum!
Frozen bananas– When I’m craving a sweet treat, frozen bananas are the way to go. Ever heard of “Nice Cream”? It’s frozen bananas blended with your favorite frozen fruit and a dash of almond milk to make some healthy and oh so delicious “ice cream”. I love adding in some cocoa powder to hit my chocolate cravings, or even some protein powder if I feel like Nice Cream for breakfast. Check out my Smoothie Bowl recipes for some more frozen banana love.
Applesauce– If you’re in a baking mood, try using applesauce to replace the oil in your recipe! It adds a yummy sweetness that you’ll love, and you won’t miss the oil at all. I normally do a 1:1 replacement, but sometimes just reduce the amount of oil and add in some applesauce to balance things out. It works best in foods like muffins and pancakes! Check out this Blueberry Zucchini Muffin recipe to see some applesauce in action.
Infused Water– I actually haven’t drunk very many sodas since high school, but sometimes I do find myself craving something flavored every once in a while. That’s when infused water comes into play! I’ve talked all about the awesome benefits of drinking infused water, so check it out here. It’s something you should definitely give a try! (You can also try out some kombucha, which is fancy fermented tea. I’m currently brewing my first batch and will be blogging about it soon!)
For this week’s recipe, I’m sticking to the month’s theme of Light & Fresh with a yummy chopped salad! It’s full of greens that you will L-O-V-E, like Brussels sprouts and lettuce, and topped with a homemade dressing that is out of this world. It’s the perfect side salad for your favorite dinner dish, or top it with some lean protein for a power-packed meal your body will thank you for.
That salad and dressing look delicious. We do many of these food swaps! I’m all about getting more bang nutritionally. I love all your recipes!
Thanks Jessica! And yes yes yes. If I’m gonna eat something, it better be loaded with vitamins, minerals, protein and everything else my body needs.
that chopped salad looks great!
Thanks Jessi! I ate it ALL week and it was so so good. I’m sure you’d love it!
I needed this! We are starting to eat healthier. We already do a couple of these swaps =)
Awesome! Which is your favorite swap to make?
That salad looks amazing–I’m always looking for healthy and different salad ideas, because I tend to make the same one over and over and BORING! Thanks for sharing this–can definitely benefit from some of these healthy food swaps :)
Girl I am right there with you!! I can get stuck in an eating rut so easily, and sometimes all it takes is a simple post or idea to spark the creativity again. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post!
Becca, these are great swaps. My favorite are the zucchini noodles which I probably make once a week. All I need is butter and salt and I am good to go. My husband will even eat them! Oh, and your photos are looking top-notch lately! I love the one with the food in the bowls
Thanks Sarah! Those zucchini noodles sound amazing. I could eat them all day, girl!
And thank you so so much. I’ve been really working at my photography, and I love that you noticed :)
Love these! I’ve been doing well with my healthy choices but I was feeling my creativity starting to die down lol
Awesome! I’m so glad I was able to help out. Which swap do you want to try out first?
I just need you to move in with me and make all my meals.. that would be best.
Deal!! Haha, but for real, these swaps are SO easy girl. You barely even have to think about them! :)
That salad looks so yummy!!! I am hungry now! I just made zoodles the other day. So good!!!
Aww thanks Mistle! How did your zoodles turn out? They are one of my favorite ways to substitute pasta.
These are such great healthy swaps!! I use Greek yogurt and zoodles all the time. Love the chopped salad recipe too!
Thanks Krissie! Those are some of my favorite swaps. You don’t even miss the foods they are replacing.
This is the perfect healthy post. I don’t want to give up a lot of taste when I am trying to eat healthier, so thank you for posting this!
I’m glad you liked it! That is definitely one of my goals when cooking… I want to enjoy the flavor without suffering the consequences of the high-calorie foods that I crave haha.
I always love to find a healthy food swap! We love spaghetti squash and zoodles!
Yes! And the best thing is that a lot of these food swaps can be done with barely any thought or prep work. Eating healthy CAN be easy!
I am in love with infused waters! I want to try spaghetti squash because I have heard so much about it I just haven’t had a chance. Your graphics are gorgeous!
Yes!! Infused water is my FAVORITE. You should give spaghetti squash a try. It’s so tasty and oh so easy to make- right up my alley! And thank you so much :)
all of these swaps are great ideas!!!! for some reason i cant get on board with spaghetti sqaush. i have heard great things about pureed prune for baking as well.
Thanks Dixya! <3 And really?? I LOVE spaghetti squash! It's so easy to make, and the flavor is delish. I've never cooked with (or even eaten) prunes before, but that sounds interesting!
This looks delicious! The only one I just can’t do is spaghetti sauce…I think it is just too different from pasta!
I getcha girl! I just like that it has a similar appearance and feel to pasta, so i don’t miss it as much :)
That chopped salad looks delicious. I’m definitely going to be referencing this post a lot as I’ve been trying to make substitutes with healthy foods.
That’s awesome girl! I’m glad it was helpful for you :) It’s so cool how easy these swaps are, isn’t it?
I am totally pinning this post because it is on point for my goals right now!! I have never seen packaged cauliflower rice/pearls… that is SUPER handy!!
Yay! I am SO glad you enjoyed the post, and that it was helpful for you. I found that big package at Sprouts, but I’ve seen bags of it at Kroger and Trader Joe’s as well. It’s usually in the refrigerated pre-cut veggie section!
I am totally in love with zoodles and I want to try the cauliflower mash! Another new love is roasted beets!
I made some cauliflower mash the other day and it was SO good. We paired it with some homemade BBQ chicken, and it hit the spot. My hubby went back for seconds!!
Great post! That salad looks amazing! I love using applesauce in recipes- makes things moist too!
Thanks Annie! And YES. That’s another reason I love love love using applesauce when I bake!
Oooh I LOVE taco salads instead of tacos with tortillas. I’m so glad this helped you make some smart food swaps!