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Smart & Healthy Cooking Substitutions

Updated on October 13, 2007

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.


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    • Jim Strutzin profile image

      Jim Strutzin 

      8 years ago

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

    • evefan profile image


      8 years ago

      good article

    • profile image

      coach for sale 

      8 years ago

      Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth;

    • iskoban profile image


      8 years ago


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      good tips,thanks

    • reviewadon profile image


      8 years ago

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

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank for hubs

    • forwow profile image


      8 years ago


      very nice!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

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

    • buy zovirax profile image

      buy zovirax 

      8 years ago from


      Very nice!

    • lav007us profile image


      8 years ago from India

      wow this hub smells delicious!

    • Murilion profile image


      8 years ago from @nuriramadhan

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

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow!! I'm so hungry

      Thank you for your sharing

    • profile image

      computer for us 

      8 years ago

      great useful tips. thanks

    • profile image


      9 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.

    • GoldCoastAnnie profile image


      9 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.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

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

    • FrancieJoy profile image


      9 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.

    • profile image

      club penguin 

      9 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.

    • profile image

      Kambakkht Ishq 

      9 years ago

      Hey great hub ,cooking is one of my hobbies,

    • mysoberlife profile image


      9 years ago

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

    • adsensemaster profile image


      9 years ago from India

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

    • Jeniferr profile image


      9 years ago from United States

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

    • profile image

      Hectic Capiznon Bloggers 2009 

      9 years ago

      Nice hub article...

    • RandomUser profile image


      9 years ago

      thanks, rated excellent:)

    • secretscp profile image


      9 years ago

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

    • BreckRealEstate profile image


      9 years ago from Breckenridge

      What useful tips. I will use it. Thanks

    • profile image


      10 years ago

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

    • shira profile image


      10 years ago from U.S.A

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

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      What useful tips!Thanks

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 

      11 years ago from Oakland, CA

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

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      11 years ago from Seattle

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

    • cgull8m profile image


      11 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.

    • Carol Bogart profile image

      Carol Bogart 

      11 years ago from California

      Yum! What useful tips! Thanks, Stacie!


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