Smart & Healthy Cooking Substitutions

Grandma's Recipes Get a Makeover

I am the lucky recipient of tons of wonderful recipes my grandma has collected her entire life. Some of these recipes came from my great-grandparents (and some of those were passed on from their parents), some were created and/or tweaked by my grandma throughout the years, while others were bribed and blackmailed out of grandma's friends and acquaintances.

Just as cooking equipment has evolved, so must our ingredients!

Cooking in 1943, Library of Congress
Cooking in 1943, Library of Congress

Most of these recipes were passed on to me on the premise that I wouldn't reveal them to anyone but my own children. You see, grandma is quite proprietory about her stash of tried and true recipes. When she and her friends used to throw dinner parties, they always attempted to outdo one another--this led to everyone guarding their recipes like they were gold (this is where the necessity of bribery and blackmail came in).

One thing grandma particularly enjoyed doing was generously passing on a recipe for a dish everyone loved, but leaving a key ingredient out. This way, the recipe only turned out right for grandma and she was hailed as a superiour cook (which, of course, she was).

While I cherish these recipes, and keep them well-guarded, I find that they aren't exactly healthy. With this in mind, I've put together my favorite subsitutions. I've tried these, and they work. Please feel free to let me know about any substitutions that have worked for you and I'll add them to the list!

When you are cooking...

Substitute creams to thicken soups with pureed veggies or potatoes

stick margarine → small amounts of olive oil or vegetable broth

white rice → brown rice, quinoa, or couscous

ground meat → chopped vegetables (& use less meat), crumbled tofu, beans

ground beef → ground turkey breast

oil based marinades → orange juice or flavored vinegar

mayonaise → mustard

cream → evaporated milk

whole milk → skim milk

sour cream → plain yogurt

When you are baking...

Substitute chocolate with cocoa powder

oil, butter, or margarine → apple sauce

two eggs → 1 egg and 1 egg white

one egg → 2 egg whites

sweetened condensed milk → nonfat sweetened condensed milk

evaporated milk → evaporated skim milk

sour cream → pureed lowfat cottage cheese

chocolate chips → mini chocolate chips, chopped dried fruit, or chopped nuts

frosting → light coating of powdered sugar

More Smart & Healthy Choices

Buying non-stick pans helps eliminate the need for oil and butter.

If you want to use sugar, instead of a substitute (I like honey), try using lesssoooo sweet. sugar--often, you will find a recipe tastes even better when it isn't

If you need to use oil or butter, use less. Often, recipes call for more than is needed. Also, try deglazing your pan with broth, water, or wine instead.

Comments 34 comments

Carol Bogart profile image

Carol Bogart 9 years ago from California

Yum! What useful tips! Thanks, Stacie!

cgull8m profile image

cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

Stacie, I thought you will reveal one recipe at least :), but I understand the secrecy, the food must have been excellent. But I will keep this as a bookmark, excellent tips. I also use ground turkey instead of ground beef, even though I like the latter the more. Thanks.

Stacie Naczelnik profile image

Stacie Naczelnik 9 years ago from Seattle Author

I will be revealing some recipes (with healthy substitutions, of course), so stay tuned.

Maddie Ruud profile image

Maddie Ruud 9 years ago from Oakland, CA

Hooray for healthy cooking tips. I have a hub with more baking substitutions at:

Bob 8 years ago

What useful tips!Thanks

shira profile image

shira 8 years ago from U.S.A

Great healthy cooking tips. I love it and became your fan! waiting for more!

brandon 8 years ago

mem ! I think you should insert interesting picture of cakes to attract attention to your blog

BreckRealEstate profile image

BreckRealEstate 8 years ago from Breckenridge

What useful tips. I will use it. Thanks

secretscp profile image

secretscp 8 years ago

I like to substitute one oreo cookie for broccoli. lol. These are good cooking ideas though.

RandomUser profile image

RandomUser 8 years ago

thanks, rated excellent:)

Hectic Capiznon Bloggers 2009 7 years ago

Nice hub article...

Jeniferr profile image

Jeniferr 7 years ago from United States

The list of substitutions will come in quite handy. Thanks.

adsensemaster profile image

adsensemaster 7 years ago from India

wow really an wonderful hub i am really a fan of your hubs thanks

mysoberlife profile image

mysoberlife 7 years ago

Thanks and i came to the right place to know about recipies and i can learn too!

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Kambakkht Ishq 7 years ago

Hey great hub ,cooking is one of my hobbies,

club penguin 7 years ago

I understand the secrecy, the food must have been excellent. But I will keep this as a bookmark, excellent tips. I also use ground turkey instead of ground beef, even though I like the latter the more.

FrancieJoy profile image

FrancieJoy 7 years ago

Great tips! I really wish I could learn to like brown rice. I know how good it is for you but I just can't do it.

Edmund 7 years ago

Great recipe. Perhaps I should try my mum to look at it.

GoldCoastAnnie profile image

GoldCoastAnnie 7 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

Some great ideas here. I also use maple syrup as a sugar substitute, use less sugar and use some maple syrup. I agree recipes often taste just as good without as much sugar in! Well done, great idea.

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hulinking 7 years ago

I understand the secrecy, the food must have been excellent. But I will keep this as a bookmark, excellent tips. I also use ground turkey instead of ground beef, wholesale iphone cases though I like the latter the more.

computer for us 7 years ago

great useful tips. thanks

ลงประกาศฟรี 7 years ago

Wow!! I'm so hungry

Thank you for your sharing

Murilion profile image

Murilion 7 years ago from @nuriramadhan

before woman get married and rise a children they suppose to read this hub and make some trial

lav007us profile image

lav007us 7 years ago

wow this hub smells delicious!

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Very nice!

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kingn0thing 6 years ago

Great tips thanks! Really like the tip to thicken soups with pureed veg.

forwow profile image

forwow 6 years ago


very nice!

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suukmiie 6 years ago

Thank for hubs

reviewadon profile image

reviewadon 6 years ago

I like the way you write, this was a nice read! :)

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edmundos 6 years ago

good tips,thanks

iskoban profile image

iskoban 6 years ago


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evefan profile image

evefan 6 years ago

good article

Jim Strutzin profile image

Jim Strutzin 6 years ago

Very interesting tips! I've printed it out and tucked it into the recipe book for future excursions. Great hub Stacie.

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