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Healthy Ingredient Substitutions

Trying to cut back on calories and fat? Use this chart to find healthier options for your diet.

Instead of:


Ground beefGround turkey
Cream (for everything except whipping)Evaporated skim milk OR low-fat buttermilk
Cream Cheese Neufchatel OR Light Cream Cheese OR Ricotta Cheese
Butter or margarineLight butter (use less or reduce the liquid elsewhere in the recipe) OR combination of light butter and fat-free cream cheese OR prune puree or baby food prunes OR applesauce
1 egg 2 egg whites OR egg substitute (amount will vary)
Chocolate chipsMini chocolate chips and reduce amount OR use fewer chips
Sour cream Plain yogurt OR fat-free sour cream
Nuts Use less and toast for added flavor OR crispy rice cereal
Peanut butterReduced-fat peanut butter
Whole milkEvaporated skim milk OR skim or low-fat (1 percent) milk
Oil (in baking)Applesauce OR pumpkin puree OR prune puree OR mashed bananas
MayonnaiseReduced-fat mayonnaise OR mustard
Sour cream, mayonnaise, and cheese-based dipsBean dips, roasted and pureed vegetable dips, salsa
Bacon or sausageTurkey bacon OR turkey sausage OR Canadian bacon OR lean ham
Beef chuck or brisketBeef round OR flank steak
Pork butt/shoulderPork tenderloin
Cream-based soupsBroth-based soups
Pepperoni pizza Veggie pizza, light on the cheese
Pasta with cream saucePasta with tomato sauce
Snacking on crackers or chipsSnacking on raw vegetables and fruits
Chicken wings or nuggetsBreaded and baked chicken breast strips
Bagels or muffinsEnglish muffins

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Sep. 9, 2009 8:10 pm
I love a newer product i've found in the dairy case: no fat half and half, no fat cream--it works great for me in most recipes--not for whipping! Cream sauces are a new possibility! Makes my family happy!
Sep. 10, 2009 1:51 pm
I am a potato chip fiend... it is something I love. I have found lately that substituting air popped popcorn spritzed with olive oil and powdered cheese topping really does the job. Instead of having something with 200 calories or more with 8 grams of fat, I have 50 calories and 1 gram of fat. I can also eat more of the popcorn without feeling totally guilty.
Sep. 18, 2009 10:16 pm
Yogurt Cheese to replace cream cheese. Just make it yourself. Take a tub of non-fat greek yogurt and put is in a sieve/colander lined with cheesecloth (I just use a paper towel) and set the sieve in a bowel to catch the water. Leave it in the fridge for a day and ... presto ... yogurt cheese. Can be used in place of sour cream too.
Sep. 22, 2009 9:46 am
I'm going to try the yogurt cheese. Have used no fat half and half but haven't found no fat cream yet. Also, haven't found Greek yogurt in any of our supermarkets. Must be a health food product?
Sep. 23, 2009 7:08 pm
I like to use yogurt as a substitute a lot when I'm baking--plain yogurt works great in place of butter or oil. You can also make it yourself at a fraction of the cost of buying it in the store. It's not complicated--you scald the milk (you know it's ready when it becomes frothy) and then let it cool until it's somewhere between very warm and hot. Then mix in two tablespoons of yogurt that you already have (make sure it contains active cultures like L. acidophilus) and leave it alone in a warm place for 6-8 hours. I've had best results with whole milk; lower fat milk was a little more tart and changed the flavor of my banana bread a bit--so I suppose that the super health-conscious folk out there might prefer no-fat yogurt from the store. But for me, as a college kid with limited baking supplies (and experience)and access to only a small student grocery store, this helps me out a lot.
Sep. 23, 2009 7:09 pm
these sound like really good ideas. i already knew about the applesauce for oil, and i've also just started to encounter mashed bananas for oil (which i find interesting) i'd like to try some of these! VERY HELPFUL!
Sep. 23, 2009 7:24 pm
Good idea, shecooks!
Sep. 23, 2009 8:30 pm
ok this probably sounds absolutely insane, but for the potato chip fiend--that's me too. One time I had leftover KALE.. Yes, Kale, and I found a recipe that claimed it can taste like potato chips and SERIOUSLY it does. What you do is shred it into bite sized pieces then sprinkle with olive oil (I toss it in a bowl). Then spread out on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper, add spice (salt/pepper/chili powder) and bake at 350 for about 10 min. Enjoy.. You won't believe it.
Sep. 27, 2009 9:03 am
Yougart and evaporated milk are great substitutes, but I am lactose intolerant, that makes substituting a bit difficult. Has anyone seen lactose free yougart in the stores.
Sep. 27, 2009 11:54 am
I don't know much about lactose intolerance; some people cannot drink milk but are still capable of digesting yogurt and cheese because the process used by the bacteria to transform milk into either of these products takes care of some of the lactose. Sounds like you're not one of these lucky people. Um, does it still bother you to have dairy products mixed in with baked recipes? Intense heat can transform proteins; I have no clue whether or not it can transform them enough to prevent a reaction. If you're looking for lactose-free yogurt, I found a website that looks like it might have some helpful information for you: .
Oct. 2, 2009 6:43 pm
I am lactose intolerant too and have never seen lactose free yogurt at the grocery store. They have lactose free cottage cheese. I wish they would make yogurt and sour cream!
Oct. 17, 2009 10:18 am
this is my first time on this website to as for info. i love all your responses.will try JMolnar's 9/27/09
Nov. 4, 2009 5:18 pm
For those of you who are lactose intolerant, the company Tofutti makes both non-dairy cream cheese (called "Better than Cream Cheese") & non-dairy sour cream (called Sour Supreme). I have used both in many recipes. The only problem is that some of the containers have hydrogenated oils -- you have to check the ingredients. I don't know why they make two different versions, but they do. Their products are also kosher, if that's an issue for you.
Nov. 4, 2009 5:44 pm
For Marion: I recently found a Greek yogurt at WalMart...I think the brand was Oikos. It didn't come in many flavors, but was thick and creamy. Hope you find it's what you want and it's in your area.
Nov. 4, 2009 5:54 pm
I just want to point out that turkey bacon isn't necessarily better than pork bacon. It's loaded with sodium and still usually has just as many calories and fat grams. Read those nutrition facts to be sure!
Nov. 4, 2009 6:57 pm
For cream based soups, just take some of the veggies in the soup, or beans, or whatever kind you are making and puree some of them in a blender. It gives you the creamy texture of a rich soup. Don't use all the veggies, as you want some texture to it.
Nov. 4, 2009 7:08 pm
I am always looking for ways to sub out for healthier options...which usually end up tasting better as well. When baking, try subbing out up to half of the butter/oil for pureed fruits/veggies/milled flax. Carrots, squash, prunes, plums, applesauce, can even use baby food as a quick fix! Get creative and be prepared to make adjustments.
Nov. 4, 2009 7:53 pm
To make yogurt cheese, I use any plain yogurt as long as it doesn't contain gelatin. Astro makes a fat free one with no gelatin. It works like a charm in dips as a substitute for the cream cheese or sour cream.
Nov. 4, 2009 9:04 pm
Try making your own yogurt using the recipe here called "Homemade yogurt". I make it it a 4 quart mixing bowl with a lid, using powdered milk and water and and some active yogurt from my last batch and put it in my oven with just the light on overnight. That is just enough heat to incubate the yogurt. You could try that with soy milk to make a lactose free version. Very easy and cheap. I use it in place of sour cream - the longer you let it incubate the tangier it is so if you like it mild, stop it sooner. Then I strain it for yogurt cheese in place of cream cheese - and all this starts with cheap powdered milk purchased in bulk.
Nov. 4, 2009 9:04 pm
To thicken soup or a casserole, try red lentils (simmer 15 mins) or stir in some refried beans or pureed tinned beans. Butterbean spread makes a good substitute for butter in savoury sandwiches: puree a drained tin of butterbeans with 5 tablespoons of skim yoghurt, a teaspoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of olive oil and salt, pepper, garlic powder and herbs/spices to taste. It works well as a dip, too.
Nov. 5, 2009 6:21 am
I also make the yogurt cheese with Plain Low-fat yogurt (in New Jersey Shop Rite brand is the best and are 8oz not reduced ounces as other products have done). I just had a thought why not try using low fat fruit based yogurt as a yogurt cheese!
Nov. 5, 2009 7:27 am
What? No sugar subsitute? I use Agave Nectar instead of sugar when baking.
Nov. 5, 2009 8:15 am
As someone with food allergies (tree nuts, soy, sunflower/safflower, peanuts) and intolerances (gluten and dairy), I would love to see some (you know, a couple!) articles, charts and recipes that list alternatives, especially for baked goods. I know I'm in the minority with my extensive list, but there are many people who have at least one of these issues. Thanks!
Nov. 5, 2009 11:28 am
You can use any yogurt (without gelatin) for yogurt cheese. It's easier to use a coffee filter, if you have those hanging around. Just put the stirred up yogurt in your coffee filter and let it drain into your coffee pot all night. I haven't been able to do this lately as I am now lactose intolerant, and no I can't digest yogurt without a lot of Lactaid. Sigh.
Nov. 5, 2009 6:04 pm
the lady who found fat free half and half should check the calorie/sugar content.Apparently they add corn syrup to it which makes it higher in calories but of course less fat. It depends on what you are watching in your diet.
Nov. 8, 2009 6:40 am
Beware that just because it's made with TURKEY or chicken for that matter, doesn't mean it's healthier. There are different types of meat cuts, some leaner than others. Check the labels and don't make any assumptions. Yes, turkey BREAST is lean, but you can be sure that ground turkey is not made from the breast. It's made from the cheapest, fattest cuts (thighs & wings). Turkey bacon is usually loaded with salt and preservatives so it's not "healthier" than normal bacon, it's just an alternative if looking for a change.
Nov. 14, 2009 4:33 am
It would be nice to see the entire chart and not have all the advertising covering it up! I would like to print it, but not all the advertising on it!
Nov. 18, 2009 5:43 am
Thanks for all of this great information...I have circulation problems resulting from heavy metal poisoning....if anyone knows any good raw or nude cooking recipes I sure would appreciate your input. Have a great Thanksgiving!
Nov. 18, 2009 8:12 pm
I love agave necter! The toasted hazelnut flavor is great in oatmeal!I like cooking with Whey Low too ! If you haven't heard about it go to There are several different types. Also,alot of Wal-Mart superstores carry Greek yogurt,along with gourmet or health food stores.Believe me, I live in a small town,so if my Wal-mart superstore carries it,others do too.
Nov. 18, 2009 9:37 pm
you can substitute tofu for eggs... it works best for quiche or frittata, but you can swing it even in a cookie recipe if you only need one egg. When it comes to cream cheese, I usually use the real thing (NOT fat free) just using half of what the recipe calls for and blending in skim milk... i find most recipes call for waaaaaaay to much cream cheese....
Nov. 19, 2009 5:33 am
For Cindy-- You can right-click and hold to mark all the text you want to print, and then paste it into an email to yourself, then print thr email. No ads!!
Nov. 19, 2009 7:21 am
First time on this site. When I don't have a ripe banana on hand to make muffins, I use a small jar of strained banana baby food. Always keep one in my cupboard. Or try other flavours of baby food for muffins, etc.
Nov. 19, 2009 8:16 am
I found fat free croutons work well for alot of things. Marie Callendar's Caesar are great as a substitute for chips with a sandwich or soup.
Nov. 19, 2009 8:50 am
@Cindy - You can also copy and paste to Word and select "Keep text ony". There are so many good ideas on here. I am bookmarking and checking back for more! Thanks everyone! :-)
Nov. 19, 2009 9:41 am
I have noticed that anything that advertises low fat, has extra sugar. Without the fat, flavour is lost and therefore the addition of extra sugar. Why are we fat, check the sugar content.
Nov. 19, 2009 10:22 am
I am not a fan of "fat free" and "low fat". There is a lot of research showing it is worse for you. I like the idea of using less of something (like chocolate chips!)
Nov. 19, 2009 9:09 pm
I like Butterball turkey bacon and not Jenni O. I like to cook it in the microwave til crisp. It has less fat & sodium
Nov. 19, 2009 10:23 pm
For Maria: My family has issues with food allergies as well, although not quite the same. My sister was allergic to dairy, though, and we usually used goat's milk or goat cheese (goat cheese has a creamy texture, but it has a sharper flavor than cream cheese). This was before the days that soy milk was big, so the other thing that we used was Mocha Mix, a non-dairy creamer. My dad is allergic to walnuts and pecans, so when I cook something for him I usually substitute almonds, or just omit the nuts. Have you tried cashew butter or almond butter in place of peanut butter?
Nov. 21, 2009 4:32 am
for those making yogurt cheeze... don´t throw out the liquid that drains out of the yogurt. this is whey and can used as a nutriet rich (it´s high in protein) substitute for milk or water in cake, muffin, or bread recipes. i add it to my smoothies... for those interested in cooking with yogurt check out stonyfield farms´ website for cooking tips and recipes. as far as sugar substitutes go... try erythritol. while it sounds like a chemical, it isn´t. really. it´s as natural as sugar. it is fermented sugar alcohol. it is 70 to 80% as sweet as sugar, works just like sugar, is granular, does not promote cavities, and is safe for diabetics. and it has no calories. this isn´t like splenda - which is really evil. and don´t forget stevia, as well. check out THIS CRAZY VEGAN LIFE by christina pirello...
Nov. 21, 2009 5:44 am
For those of you who are lactose intolerant, you can make yogurt from lactose free milk. I have done it using LF 2% milk. 1 quart LF milk with 2 tablespoons honey and half a packet of plain gelatin. If you are wanting cheese from the yogurt, leave out the gelatin and incubate for a longer time to thicken. I use avocado as a substitute for eggs and oil in chocolate cupcakes. Also, you can mash the avocado and mix with powdered sugar to make the icing. Add some food coloring if you don't like the green icing. No one will ever know if you don't tell them.
Nov. 22, 2009 5:25 pm
Hey, you guys. You are making me hungry. I already been thru a carton of Greek yogurt, 2 slices of cheese and now eating a bag of popcorn since someone mention popcorn. LOL I think that my thyroid med is not working. :-)
Dec. 8, 2009 4:16 am
Try copy and paste to make a copy of chart w/out advertisement
Dec. 17, 2009 5:25 am
I'd really like to print the suggestions listed at the top, but there are too many ads on top of them on the far right side!
Dec. 17, 2009 6:45 am
Linda: Highlight everything you want to print, right click and choose print. When the print box comes up, choose "selection." I just printed the chart and all the comments, and it worked great.
Dec. 21, 2009 9:04 am
I have the same problem as linda re: having the suggestions overlaid by commercials. Will try some of the suggestions but thus far have been unable to get the information I would like to print without all the excess making it impossible to read.
Dec. 21, 2009 9:11 am
Reporting back--I was able to copy and then paste onto a "new document" Word. Had to laugh, though. Half of the information seems to be related to meat, and I am a vegetarian! Again, thanks to those who shared their strategies on how to get the information. Happy Holidays.
Jan. 14, 2010 7:31 am
use one heaping Tablespoon of sour cream per egg in a recipe.
Jan. 23, 2010 12:05 pm
Jan. 30, 2010 8:10 am
wow what an amasing group of suggestions. I am a foody through and through but cooking healthy for my family and keeping our weight in check is important too. I will try to make the yogurt cheese today. As I hate baking with oil I will try the applesauce. I am just not too sure how much to use to you substitute equal amounts? What if I use whole wheat flour to substitute for half the flour? any ideas here as I am also trying to get our fiber up. I have a 15 year old who we are trying to get weight on (he is on growth hormones) I hate all the chemicals in store brought snacks so I bake for him (cookies, cupcake) that I freeze so he can take out for himself. If I keep out the rest of us eat them and we do NOT need to gain weight :-)
Mar. 13, 2010 11:08 pm
nuts is actually better for you than crisp rice b/c crisp rice has a high glymic index. As for nuts, they are high in fiber and protein. They are also good sources of monounsaturated fats.
Dec. 31, 2010 4:40 am
Replacing Potato chips with Pop Chips. If you end up eating a whole 3.8 oz bag, you only eat 360 calories. These things can be found in Wegmans and on for cheap.They come in six awesome flavors: Salt & Pepper, Cheddar, Salt and Vinegar, BBQ, Parmesan, and Sour cream and Onion!
Jan. 2, 2011 5:11 am
What a great thread of suggestions! The one time I tried to substitute applesauce for oil it was disastrous, but I really like the idea of substituting yogurt in place of oil. I will be sure to pick some up and try it next time. My friend is lactose intolerant and substitutes Greek yogurt in place of all sour cream in recipes. They are all delicious and healthier. While this doesn't have anything to do with baking - bagel lovers out there, have you had the new bagel thins? You get the same chewy goodness, with only 110 calories. Very tasty!
Jan. 4, 2011 6:10 am
I have used low fat(1%)butter milk as a substitute for butter in cornbread. Tasted good,texture was nice and soft. I tend to just try things,to experiment. They usually turn out pretty well.
Jan. 5, 2011 9:55 am
I too am trying to eat in a more healthy way, and I'm adding 2 tablespoons of wheat germ to my cereal in the morning.This provides extra B vitamins and nutrients.
Jan. 5, 2011 9:58 am
You can also use plain yogurt as a sour cream or mayo substitute!
Jan. 5, 2011 10:00 am
Also, Sneena, yogurt shouldn't give your lactose intolerance any problem: yogurt has enough probiotics to counter the lactose allergy, so you can eat it. Give it a try :)
Jan. 5, 2011 11:03 am
To thicken soups without milk and flour, sprinkle in Potato Buds a little at a time until you get the consistency you want.
Jan. 11, 2011 7:27 pm
for mayo, u can also sub yogurt. for cream or half & half sub pureed silken tofu thinned with a bit of skim or 1% milk
Jan. 11, 2011 9:24 pm
Thanks everyone for the Awesome tips. I specially love the "Agave Nectar" substitution tip. I hope it will help me in my effort to get rid of my muffin top.
Jan. 12, 2011 3:56 am
I'm a pasta lover but don't go near it anymore. I substitute Shirataki (made from tofu) noodles instead. Only 40 cal. for 8 oz. You have to rinse it several times to get rid of the fishy smell of the water it comes in. But, there is none of that taste when combined with soup or stir fried veggies and broth. Very filling. I get the noodles at a local Asian food store but have seen it sometimes at grocery stores in the refrigerator section. Try it!
Jan. 12, 2011 5:21 am how serious is this?
Jan. 12, 2011 6:41 am
For Jenna's comment about turkey bacon. It is better than pork bacon if people eat the recommended serving which is one slice. There are 35 calories and the sodim is a lot less than in regular bacon. The fat content is also less. I have found that when people read nutrition labels, they dont' read the serving size and assume you can eat as much as you want which definitely is not the cas.
Wayne G. 
Jan. 12, 2011 7:04 am
Love the tips for reducing fats, but we need a way to print them without the comments. How?? i.e. one page in lieu of 10+ pages.
Jan. 12, 2011 7:06 am
Beware, Agave Nectar is processed a lot and not much better for you than sugar. Nice healthy NATURAL sweeteners are Xylitol and Stevia. Xylitol measures just like white sugar when baking and has a very low glycimen (sp?) index. Xylitol works great with cold things (beverages) but doesn't taste too great with anything heated.
Jan. 12, 2011 7:49 am
My kids are allergic to milk proteins. Their eyes swell shut and have trouble breathing among other things so your posts are great. My 2yr old really misses yogurt and the rice yogurt is not too good. Tried to make it from a post from almond milk without success. Any ideas? Going broke trying to find a good "cheese". Thanks!!!
Jan. 12, 2011 8:03 am
Last time I checked, turkey bacon had more fat than regular bacon. Could have been the products I compared, but it may be wise to check the listed package values before substituting.
Jan. 12, 2011 9:42 am
Baked kale really IS a wonderful substitute for potato chips.
Jan. 13, 2011 6:13 am
Pickles or jared red peppers on sandwiches or burgers.
Jan. 13, 2011 3:03 pm
Low fat sour cream to replace mayonnaise. I have used this in everything from dips to deviled eggs and tuna salad. Just taste test to see if you need to add a little lite mayo for flavor before serving.
Jan. 13, 2011 3:56 pm
Use low fat mayonnaise. Kraft easy Squeeze is great! OR Instead of heavy mayo dressings, try olive oil, lemon juice and GARLIC SALT! Garlic salt is the trick for delicious salads. (This dressing is FANTASTIC over plain diced veggies:cucumber,pepper, tomato, onion)
Jan. 16, 2011 5:48 pm
Jan 16 2011. Use 1 tbsp of ground flax to 2 tbsp of water = 1 egg. LP
Jan. 22, 2011 11:57 am
The Low fat theory is a sham, and trying to find replacements for fat in cooking is worse than a waste of time. Fat equals flavor. Fat also keeps your appetite satisfied longer so you are less likely to snack on sugary low fat snacks.
Jan. 28, 2011 5:04 pm
also instead of cream cheese greek yogurt can work.
Feb. 23, 2011 10:11 pm
FYI on the lactose intolerance, yogurt contains live bacteria cultures (before baking) that actually aid in the digestion process, including dairy. I'm not saying it will work for everyone but it is good to know. These are all great suggestions. I'm a huge popcorn fan myself since I'm a snack o holic :) and I've already done the big turkey switch. OSCAR MYER makes the BEST TURKEY BACON. trust me, I've tried em all. Ball Park also makes great turkey dogs that are super healthy and low cal for a hot dog. They make two kinds and one is much healthier than the other so read the label :)
Feb. 23, 2011 10:18 pm
If I want a ham flavoring for dried beans, green beans, steamed cabbage, etc., I use a packet of goya ham seasoning mix. Tastes just like bacon drippings for fat but no fat calories. Yummy!
Feb. 24, 2011 1:51 am
I saw someone mention using canned beans to thicken soups, and I just want to advise people that a very large percentage of canned vegetables and soups are packed in cans that are lined with BPA, Bisphenol A, the chemical found in plastics #7 and the cause of so many food containers and baby bottles being recalled. Also, BPA is often coating the paper receipts used by most stores (thermal type, not usually the old fashioned paper kind used in old registers)and should be treated with the same care as BPA laced cans and plastics. For more info, you should read this website that contains info put out by the national institute of health, a government department:
Feb. 24, 2011 1:54 am
A safer alternative to BPA lined cans and plastics is to use fresh or frozen vegetables instead. They do not lose as much of their nutritive value as canned products do because they are either fresh, or flash frozen within 8 hours of harvesting rather than subjected to the intense heat of canning processing. They taste so much better, too!
Feb. 24, 2011 5:49 am
I have found Greek yogurt in Kroger in their organic section.
Feb. 24, 2011 5:52 am
Great help thanks. Can't wait to try the baked kale.
Feb. 24, 2011 5:59 am
How much apple sauce do you use when substituting it for oil?
Feb. 24, 2011 3:57 pm
Hi,some of these tips are good BUT please be careful with all those non-fat, low fat products out there. They add more sugar and chemicals(preservatives) in those products which is not healthier for you and in fact, make it more difficult for you to lose weight. 90% of a person's body fat comes from sugar so read those labels. It's better to add less of something or use other products that are naturally lower in fat/sugar. Every thing in moderation.
Feb. 24, 2011 5:00 pm
When I substitute applesauce for oil, I usually just substitute half in an equal amount, otherwise you can taste the applesauce. You can also use mashed pumpkin, mashed sweet potato, or grated zucchini to replace some of the oil in recipes as well.
Feb. 24, 2011 5:31 pm
To answer the applesauce question, it's an equal substitute for the oil. Also, when baking, you can play around with a whole wheat flour substitute for the all purpose white called for. I usually start with 1/3 to 1/2 wheat and the rest white. If that didn't change the flavor or texture I will go up a little more the next time until I can get to the highest possible ratio of wheat to white.
Feb. 26, 2011 11:14 am
A great substitute for mayonnaise is "Follow Your Heart", Flaxseed & Olive Oil Vegenaise. There is a reduced fat product. This product is egg free, so no cholesterol. It tastes very good, and I use it anywhere I need mayonnaise.
Mar. 31, 2011 11:16 am
Center cut pork bacon is healthier for you than turkey bacon
Apr. 14, 2011 7:09 am
Very true. Thought turkey bacon would be better till' I did a lil' research.
bcjs's mom 
Apr. 18, 2011 7:39 pm
I'm wondering about a substitute for buttermilk/milk in recipes. My children have severe allergies to all dairy products. So far i have been using water, but wonder if i need to use something else to accomodate the acidity of the buttermilk. Any suggestions would be famtastic! Thanks!
Nov. 3, 2011 7:13 am
I use pureed cannellini beans as a substitute for white sauce or ricotta. Add a squeeze of lemon, a little fresh nutmeg and some black pepper to pump up the flavor.
Jan. 19, 2012 11:36 pm
Best way I found to thicken soups and make them "creamy" is to add dried potato flakes. Shelf stable mashed potatoes have come a long way the last few years so good to have on hand. Just sprinkle in a little at a time until you get the thickness you want.
Jan. 19, 2012 11:41 pm
To bcjs's mom, I feel your pain. A good friend had a son with severe dairy allergies and it's tough. In a pinch, I've used sour cream mixed with milk as a buttermilk substitute. Someone earlier mentioned Tofutti makes non-dairy sour cream (& cream cheese). You might try that mixed with soy milk for buttermilk substitue. Just a thought.
Feb. 23, 2012 6:46 pm
Well the notion that reduced fat peanut butter is a light substitution for regular is simply ridiculous. The calorie content is exactly the same 9 times out of 10, and the only difference is more salt and sugar have been added to account for the lower fat content.
Mar. 2, 2012 3:05 pm
I've always substituted low fat milk for buttermilk and never had a problem. I doubt there would be a big difference between using soy milk or almond milk for milk or buttermilk
Mar. 13, 2012 10:47 am
Trader Joe's makes a non-dairy cream cheese that is better than Tofutti's, although Tofutti's dairy-free sour cream is good. You can use rice milk in place of milk for recipes but be aware that it is sweeter and thinner, so adjust the amounts accordingly. Also, honey and agave nectar have as many calories as sugar. A delicious product I just discovered at Kroger is chicken bacon. It tastes like pork bacon but with a much lower calorie count!
Mar. 14, 2012 7:55 pm
In my muffins I substitute applesauce for eggs and they come out very moist! It is a half a cup for every egg.
Mar. 14, 2012 9:23 pm
Just want to say that pureed cauliflower makes a great thickener for soups/sauces. Just steam or simmer & puree in your food processor! I use it all the time to make "creamy" type soups, without all of the fat & calories. It also makes an awesome, healthy alfredo-type sauce that my family LOVES. Here's how: Sautee 2-3 garlic cloves in 1 TB. of olive oil for a minute or so, careful not to burn! Add 1 head of chopped cauliflower and enough fat free, low sodium chicken broth to barely cover cauliflower. Cover & simmer 'til tender and puree with an immersion blender. Add a little FF evaporated milk or lowfat milk to help get the right consistancy for your dish. Add 1/2 c. (or so)of low fat grated parmesan cheese, a few grinds of blk.pepper, a dash of nutmeg and check to see if it needs any salt. This is super yummy and you can serve it over whole wheat pasta & add steamed fresh broccoli and some sort of protein if you'd like...chicken or shrimp are favorites. You can't tell it's made with
Mar. 14, 2012 9:26 pm
You shouldn't substitute nuts with crispy rice cereal, nuts are full of things that are good for you. Reduced-fat peanut butter should not be substituted for peanut butter, they take out the healthy fats and add a bunch of sugar.
Mar. 14, 2012 9:29 pm
bjcs mom, my sister in law's kids are all allergic to milk. She substitutes buttermilk by using 1 c almond milk and adds 1 tbls vinegar for a cup of buttermilk. This sours the milk. She says it works great!
Mar. 14, 2012 10:55 pm
I take a couple of cups of lowfat cottage cheese and puree it with some fat free feta (for salty goodness) and some chives and I use it like a cream cheese spread on pretty much everything. Dip for veggies, mashed into baked potatoes, dolloped into fresh spinach before putting it into the microwave for 2 minutes (faux creamed spinach), and mixed into pureed cauliflower (faux mashed potatoes.) Sometimes I spoon in a little low fat cream cheese for some stickiness. It's awesome. Not for the lactose-intolerant. Sorry guys.
Mar. 15, 2012 3:28 am
A caution about using carob - it does not react well with some perscription drugs.
Mar. 15, 2012 4:12 am
Rice Bran Oil is the healthiest oil anyone can use. It is the only oil that can help you reduce calories and lose weight check out Dr. Oz videos on it and also this web site: bran oil It can also be used in baking, stir fries (high temperatures)It is better than olive oil.
Mar. 15, 2012 6:00 am
What a thorough article! Marion, Greek yogurt is in the health food section AND the regular dairy section at my local store. Dannon even makes it now, it's called Oikos- the strawberry flavor tastes like cheesecake. Seriously. The "fruit" part contains a lot of sugar, but at least I can feel a little less guilty about eating yogurt rather than actual cheesecake!
Mar. 15, 2012 7:58 am
I just saw a lactose free yogurt--YoPlait makes it. However, I did not see a plain version, just flavored.
Mar. 15, 2012 8:20 am
Wax Orchard's Oh Fudge! A great substitution for Fudge over ice cream or on it's own. Heats up amazingly. Absolutely delicious dark chocolate. I keep it in the fridge and take Tablespoons at night when I am craving chocolate. Also 1 T is 45 calories, ZERO fat and 2g fiber!!
Mar. 15, 2012 12:59 pm
Thanks for the tips, someof them I knew some I did not.
Mar. 15, 2012 1:01 pm
utex blend cottage cheese until smooth, substitute for mayonaise in almost any recipe, especially chicken and tuna salad type. Can add a Tablespoon lemon juice for tang, if desired.
Melba osborn 
Mar. 15, 2012 2:18 pm
Please add to my recipe box. Thanks
Mar. 16, 2012 6:48 am
To print without the ads, I just copied and pasted the chart to Notepad (can do that and leave the ads out), did a little tabbing to line it up, print, and it's just the text.
Mar. 16, 2012 3:53 pm
Reduced fat peanut is actually not better for you. It's made reduced fat by taking out the oil which is what is actually good for you. When you take out the oil it takes down the nutritional value.
Mar. 16, 2012 4:18 pm
A couple of things I have found. Ground beef is actually better for you than ground turkey in some cases. If you stick to ground round/ground sirloin, or really anything 90/10 or better you have lower fat and a much higher protein/fat ration with the added benefits of Iron and Creatine. If that is something you are concerned with. The cost is higher, but 3 oz of 90/10 is nutritionally equivalent to around 6-8 oz of a fattier cut. You always want to avoid anything with nitrates for added color. You are better off at the Butcher/Carniceria counter. Also, because the biggest health hazard with ground beef is food borne illness. A risk significantly reduced at the butchers as oppose to the commercial meat packers.
Mar. 16, 2012 4:21 pm
Also, watch too much soy as with Tofu substitutes. It can reinforce hormonal imbalances expecially in Men. And remember without fat we can't digest vitamins!
Mar. 17, 2012 6:34 pm
Lots of really good info here for someone like me trying so hard to make healthy choices.
Mar. 17, 2012 6:44 pm
Does anyone have a suggestion for a substitute for coconut in recipes for granola bars? I can't eat coconut & was thinking of something with a similar texture....maybe puffed rice?! I have a lot of dietary restrictions so nothing dairy or wheat.
Mar. 26, 2012 9:24 am
HeidiMN, where is all this so-called "research" claiming fat-free and low-fat products are worse for you. That's news to me. I've never seen or heard any of it, therefore, I don't believe it. When eating healthier, there are more factors to consider than just fat. There are calories, cholesterol, and sodium to consider, too. Also carbs, if you want to take it that far. Fat, Calories, Cholesterol, and Sodium, what I call "The Four Horsemen of the Nutritional Apocalypse." Locke1682, what you said about "...without fat we can't digest vitamins," is only half correct. There are two categories of vitamins -- fat-soluble (i.e., Vitamins A, D, E & K), and water-soluble (i.e., B complex, Vit. C). There are some good subs on the list in this article. I like ground turkey as a sub for ground beef. I love buttermilk, for drinking and baking. But "low-fat" buttermilk? Is there any other kind? The highest fat content buttermilk I've ever seen is 1%, which is what I use. However, buttermilk is a t
Mar. 30, 2012 4:22 pm
As for thickening soups, I am very surprised no one has mentioned the easiest way to do it. IMMERSION BLENDER! Granted, it might not work on all soups, but for quite a few soups, all you need to do it to blend/puree at least part of the soup to get a thicker, less brothy texture. Nothing added! I make a potato soup that involves no cream or dairy at all, just potatoes, carrots, celery, spices, veggie broth, and everything is simmered till tender. When done, I just stick in my immersion blender and blend, leaving some chunks....and viola! I admit though, that I will usually add some shredded cheese when serving though;)
Apr. 5, 2012 1:53 pm
when cooking or backing can i replace sour cream with plain yogurt?
Apr. 13, 2012 8:03 pm
From what is flavour derived? Is it not possible that one would over-eat looking for the good taste? When I saw the title "substitutions" I expected for example sweet milk and vinegar for sour milk. Do we still not know that overweight is caused not by what you eat but by how much.
Apr. 18, 2012 7:34 pm
I am looking for healthier ways to eat. Thank you!
Apr. 26, 2012 5:22 am
This article was really good, especially with all the related articles. Just as informative, however, are all the comments made by others here! Thanks for the ideas!
May 14, 2012 2:39 pm
Love this article!
May 16, 2012 6:30 pm
In many recipes low-fat or fat free sour cream can be substituted for cream or creme fraiche. For anything that calls for sour cream, try plain yogurt. It gives dishes a wonderful rich flavor.
May 17, 2012 4:34 am
very helpful. thank you!
May 17, 2012 8:41 am
What is the best non dairy cheese out there? Daiya is the best I've found without added whey or caesin. Any suggestions?
May 20, 2012 11:35 pm
This list is great!!! It sure helps when you are missing something or want to make a healthier meals. Wish I could put the in my recipe box. I'll use it a lot. Thanks
d ray 
Jun. 16, 2012 11:21 am
So happy for all the suggs. on dairy subs. I've actally documented them all. Will definitely try the yoghurt cheese. Thanks all:-)
Dec. 20, 2012 7:12 am
Ditto Sodiumpolice... Like your thoughts. FYI: I will never buy ground turkey again. I have bought it twice and both time I have found tiny bones in it. I think when they grind the turkey they grind it with bones for weight to charge more and for filler... I will stick to my lean ground beef or ground my chicken/pork myself with my kitchen aid grinder.
Dec. 20, 2012 11:16 am
In place of sour cream use GREEK yogurt as it will increase the proteins to carbs ratio which will help diabetics. Fage, Oikos, and Chiobani brands are good. Be sure to stir in any liquid, that is whey and is protein. Only a minor difference in taste from sour cream.
Dec. 20, 2012 11:46 am
To I'mabakernotacook, all you have to do is spend time reading labels and you will see for yourself that low fat and fat free foods are not healthier. More artificial ingredients, higher sugar and higher sodium in most cases. It is better to learn to use a smaller plate or bowl and eat smaller portions than to ingest these other things. A friend was having trouble getting his diabetes under control when one day while eating breakfast read the side of the milk carton and saw the high lactose content. Switched back yo whole milk...problem under control now. That is just one example.
Dec. 21, 2012 7:45 am
This is all great information. I want to save in my recipe box.
Dec. 24, 2012 12:10 am
Actually, nuts are high-calorie, yes, but are also very healthy for you. And low-fat peanut butter isn't a great substitute for regular; it has more sugar.
Jan. 12, 2013 7:22 am
This list was written in 2009. Since then there have been many changes. Whole eggs, for example, have been proven to be perfectly healthy. Low fat and fat-free foods generally contains additional sugar. I try to eat healthfully by consuming unadulterated foods.
Feb. 5, 2013 1:31 pm
hi i want to start cooking healther. i want to try using ground turkey instead a beef. but am apprensive to do it. Do you use more seasoning to give it same flavor like in tacos n burgers?
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