Cooking 101: Healthy Recipe Substitutions

Probably the most common type of question I get in my email and comments involves asking for healthy recipe substitutions.

Healthy Recipe Substitutions by Lacey Baier, a sweet pea chef

While I do enjoy eating healthy, I’ll be the first to admit that several of my recipes aren’t the healthiest they can be. What can I say? I like my butter and bacon.

That being said, healthy eating is a great idea in theory!. So, I figured it’d be helpful to share what I have found to be great, easy-to-find and consistently tasty ingredient substitutions.

Healthy Recipe Substitutions by Lacey Baier, a sweet pea chef

Feel free to use this list if you’re looking to lower the calories in a particular recipe or even if you just might not have something in your pantry.

Healthy Recipe Substitutions by Lacey Baier, a sweet pea chef

This list is by no means all-inclusive, but it shares some of my most common healthy recipe substitutions.

And, of course, please feel free to contact me if you have a specific question or ingredient not found on this list.

I’m always happy to help!

Ingredient Called For In Recipe:

Healthy Recipe Substitution(s):


Whole-grain bread

Butter, margarine, shortening or oil (in baked goods like breads and muffins)

Applesauce or mashed bananas for half of the called-for butter, shortening or oil; olive oil


Fat-free half-and-half, whole to low-fat milk


2 egg whites

Flour, all-purpose

Whole-wheat flour

Fruit canned in heavy syrup

Fruit canned in its own juices or in water, fresh fruit

Ground beef or chuck

Extra-lean or lean ground beef, chicken or turkey breast

Lettuce, iceberg

Arugula, spinach, romaine or mixed baby greens


Reduced-fat mayonnaise

Milk, whole

Reduced-fat or fat-free milk


Whole-wheat pasta, zucchini noodles

Peanut Butter (Regular)

Natural Peanut Butter

Rice, white

Brown rice, wild rice, quinoa or pearl barley

Salad dressing

Balsamic vinaigrette

Seasoning salt (garlic salt)

Garlic powder, fresh herbs or fresh garlic with a small amount of kosher or sea salt

Sour cream

Fat-free or low-fat sour cream, plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt

Soy sauce

Low-sodium soy sauce


Usually, you can reduce the amount of sugar by one half and intensify the sweetness by adding vanilla, ground nutmeg or ground cinnamon


Lettuce leaves

There you go! Feel free to add your favorite (healthy) food substitutions in the comments!

Lacey Baier

Hey there! I’m Lacey Baier and I’d like to welcome you! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, as well as cleanish, my clean-eating supplement brand. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

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