Here are some of the healthy substitutions and brands I use and the nutritional info on each. Many times I pick and choose to fit my taste and add/reduce calories as needed.
*Nutrition info via: MyFittnessPal*
|1 Tbsp||1 Tbsp||1 Tbsp||1.25 Tbsp|
Sugar: The most highly processed of the four, but the cheapest and most commonly used sweetener.
Honey: I am a huge proponent of local honey. Although it is higher in calories and carbs it is the least processed of the three and has has more vitamins and a higher nutritional value. Local honey is said to be able to help with local allergens, too. (You’ll want to reduce liquids in recipes by 1/4 when using more than one cup of honey.)
Stevia: I rarely, if ever, use Stevia, but included it for comparison. I used the amounts for Stevia In The Raw.
Truvia: A lightly processed sweetener that is sweeter than powdered Stevia. This is probably what I use most often as it’s low in calories and tastes closer to sugar than stevia. It’s also less messy and easier to deal with than honey which can be hard to disolve.
|Peter Pan PB||Natural PB||PB2||Almond|
|2 Tbsp||2 Tbsp||2 Tbsp||2 Tbsp|
Peanut Butter: Peter Pan Creamy is the PB I grew up on which, by the look of their current stats, I think they’ve made healthier now. It is processed, has more sugars and hydrogenated oils. Natural peanut butter is less sweet and some brands you have to stir together, but is less processed and is more about good fats than bad.
PB2: PB2 is an all-natural, powdered peanut butter that is popping up all over the place. It’s pressed to remove most of the fats that you get with regular natural peanut butter. While the fats found in nut butters are good fats, this is a good substitute to use that helps reduce the number of calories. Some people like it as a spread, but I prefer to only use it in cooking, smoothies, and dips.
Almond Butter: Almond butter has more vitamins, protein, and fiber than peanut butter while also being usually equal to or lower in calories and generally lower in carbs. I like to have this around for sandwiches on occasion.
|ALMOND MILK||UNSWEET ALMOND MILK||SKIM MILK||WHOLE MILK||UNSWEET COCONUT MILK||GREEK YOGURT|
|1 Cup||1 Cup||1 Cup||1 Cup||1 Cup||2/3 Cup|
*Almond Milk: Almond milk contains less calcium and more sodium than cow’s milk, but more nutrients. (better comparison here) There is more sodium in almond milks, but I have found my stomach handles almond milk better. I use Unsweetened Almond Milk which, while less creamy, cuts the numbers significantly.When using to make soups and dressings creamier I use a 1:2 milk to yogurt ratio.
Dairy Milk: This is what I grew up on. Skim milk to make chocolate milk, skim milk in cereal, skim milk by the glass and glass and glass. Now I never use it in cooking and only have it when I’m dining out.
Coconut Milk: I’ve never actually tried subbing coconut milk for almond, I only use it in Asian recipes and recipes that call for it.
Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt has so much protein. While the others have 8 grams, Greek yogurt has 24. I love to use it to make creamy soups, shakes, and dressings. I also eat it daily with granola, fruit and honey.
|1 Cup||1 Cup||1 Cup||1 Cup||1 Cup|
Iceburg Lettuce: The basic lettuce commonly used in most restaurant house salads. Very low calorie and cheap, but hardly any nutritional value. I never buy this.
Arugula: I never cook with it, but as far as salads go I prefer arugula. I like the texture and it’s very low calorie while still having some vitamins and minerals.
Spinach: I love spinach. I usually mix baby spinach with arugula for salads and constantly add it to meals. Sauteed as a side. Thrown in with egg whites for breakfast. This is my fave green by far.
Kale: Kale may be king right now -though according to whole foods collards are aiming for the throne- but I don’t really like it. I can’t eat it raw in salads and don’t mind it cooked, but even then I find it so bitter.
Collards: I’ve never tried to use collards in salad, but do enjoy cooking with them. Especially southern side dishes like boiled collard greens. But now that they’re an up-and-commer I’m sure there will be more uses for this one.
Grains (uncooked nutritional info)
|SPAGHETTI||WHOLE WHEAT PASTA||WHITE RICE||BROWN RICE||QUINOA|
|1/4 C=2oz||1/4 Cup=2oz||1/4 Cup||1/4 Cup||1/4 Cup|
Pasta: I love pasta. I could eat it all the time. I get cravings for it constantly. But, I try not to cook it. Occasionally I will make a soup with noodles or a pasta dish, but I try to use a healthier version of the same type of noodle. (dry to cooked conversions)
Rice: I like rice a lot, but I’m now subbing quinoa for rice in cooking. It has so many more nutrients and a great buttery, nutty flavor. Quinoa “fried rice” is something I make a big batch of and eat on all week. (Dry rice doubles in size when cooked.)
Quinoa: It’s not a grain- it’s a seed, buuuut it’s an amazing substitute. Now that that’s out of the way, I have come to LOVE quinoa. The only pain is that you are supposed to rinse it before cooking to get off the bitter coating. I usually buy Bob’s Red Mill brand because they are pre-washed or I’m lazy and just skip the rinse and I don’t really notice a huge enough difference in taste to bother. This seed has so much protein and so much nutritional value compared to grains. I sub it in almost any rice dish and it usually works. (Dry quinoa shrinks in size when cooked by 4)
|1 Tbsp*||1 Tbsp||1 Tbsp||1 Tbsp||1 Tbsp|
Garlic: I use fresh garlic constantly. It makes a huge difference in flavor over the powdered variety and has so many more health benefits. I try to make a heaping amount of fresh minced garlic weekly and occasionally roast it for a snack on its own. It is loaded up with vitamins, antibiotic, anti fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. *1Tbsp=~3 Cloves*
Onion: Another ingredient I use all the time. There are quite a few types of onions, so here is a good infograph of when to use which type. Onions are also really healthy. They are a good source of vitamins, an immunity booster, and can help regulate blood sugar.
Scallions/Green Onion: I used to be nervous using more than the green part of scallions before I educated myself and diversified my cooking. Now I’m glad I don’t let much of it go to waste. I use the green, leafy part for garnish (high in vitamin A) and the whiter, more onion flavored part for when I want a crunchier garnish or only need a very small amount of shallot or onion in the same dish. *1 bunch=1/2 cup*
Shallots: Flavor-wise, shallots are like a mild onion/garlic hybrid. The deciding factor for me in the shallot vs onion decision in cooking is – do I want the crunch? If I do, I go with onions. Otherwise shallots it is. I find myself mostly using them in thinner sauces and dressings. While more expensive than onions, they incorporate their flavor better into dishes and still have many of the same health benefits. *Recipe Substitute: 3-4 Shallots=~1 medium onion*
Leeks: While garlic, scallions, and onions can be tossed into a dish raw, leeks must always be cooked. They look like larger green onions, but the green part is milder and the white part has a stronger onion-y flavor than green onions. They hold up better in cooking than their smaller counter part. I usually sub leeks when green onions would be used IN a recipe, and go with green onions if it’s more of a garnish.