Reduce Your Waistline by Following these quick tips for healthy cooking to help lower the caloric content of your recipes.

While trying to follow a meal plan to reduce your waistline and a workout plan, you don’t have to completely eliminate all of your favorite foods from your eating plan. You want a plan that you can reasonably stick to and that allows you to enjoy the foods that you eat while allowing you to get weight loss results. This feature provides some ideas for healthy cooking substitutes for some commonly used ingredients that can be used in healthy cooking to reduce the caloric and fat content.

Healthy Cooking – Milk, Eggs, and Dairy

Many recipes call for milk or milk products as ingredients. It’s important to consume dairy products to obtain your daily calcium requirements. By choosing lower-fat versions of milk or dairy products, you can reduce the fat content of your recipes without compromising taste or consistency.

Instead of Try Using
Whole milk Skim milk or 1% milk
Butter or margarine Butter replacement or butter flavor buds, or replace the fat in a recipe such as muffins with equal amounts of applesauce or mashed bananas
Sour cream Low-fat sour cream
Cottage cheese Low-fat cottage cheese
Whipped cream Low-fat or light cream
Yogurt Low-fat or light cream
Ice cream Low-fat frozen yogurt or sherbet
Cheese Low-fat or skimmed cheese (cheese with reduced milk fat)
Full egg Egg whites with 1 egg yolk
Creamy soup substitutes Broth-based or low-fat creamy soup
Regular cream cheese Non-fat or light cream cheese

Healthy Cooking – Meat and Poultry

Meat is often accused of having a high fat content. And although this can be the case, if you choose your meat choices wisely, they can still be part of your healthy cooking plan, as they are a great source of complete protein. It’s important to choose the leanest varieties and to remove any skin before serving because this is the part that often contains the fattiest part of the meat.

Instead of Try using
Regular ground beef, turkey, or chicken Extra-lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken
Sausage Fat-free sausage or turkey sausage
Chicken Boneless and skinless chicken breasts
Hamburgers Veggie burgers or salmon burgers
Hot dogs Turkey dogs

Healthy Cooking – Condiments and Salad Dressings

Many condiments and salad dressings are full of hidden fats and creamy ingredients that can significantly increase your daily caloric intake. There is a wide variety of calorie- and fat-reduced options for many common condiments. Try switching to them, but if you still choose to use the regular versions, do so sparingly.

Instead of Try using
Regular mayonnaise Low-fat or calorie-reduced mayonnaise
Regular salad dressing Low-fat or light salad dressing or olive oil with balsamic vinegar
Syrup Sugar-free syrup
Vegetable oil or sunflower oil Cooking spray
Regular peanut butter Natural light peanut butter or cashew butter
Jam Sugar-reduced or diabetic jam
Sugar No-Calorie sweetener

Healthy Cooking – Choosing Beverages

Many people can consume hundreds of extra calories each day from all the drinks that they consume without even realizing it. If you’re feeling thirsty, try to meet your daily water requirements by drinking water. If you’re going to drink soda or juice, try to switch to these calorie-saving options.

Instead of Try using
Juice Flavored water
Regular soda Diet soda or water with a splash of lime or lemon juice
Chocolate milk and milk Skim or 1% chocolate or regular milk


Healthy Cooking – Bread and Grains

Whenever possible, choose the whole-wheat or multigrain version of breads, rice, or pasta over the white. The whole-wheat or multigrain versions naturally have less sugar and more fiber than the white version. They are also generally less processed, more filling than the white, and more satisfying for a longer period of time.

Instead of Try using
White bread Whole-wheat or multigrain
Pita Whole-wheat or flaxseed pita
Flavored oatmeal packs Natural oats
Pasta Whole-wheat pasta and noodles
White rice Brown or wild rice and couscous
Sugary cereals Bran or oat versions of cereals (be sure to check the sugar content on label)

Healthy Cooking Sample Recipe – Chicken Quesadillas

The following sample recipe will demonstrate how making simple substitutions can easily reduce the caloric and fat content.

(without modifications)
(with healthy substitutions)
4 chicken breasts
1 package taco seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
8 flour tortillas
¼ cup salsa
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
4 tbsp. sour cream
½ cup lettuce, shredded
4 boneless, skinless 4 oz. chicken breasts
1 package taco seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
8 whole-wheat flour tortillas
¼ cup salsa
½ cup low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
4 tbsp. low-fat sour cream
½ cup lettuce, shredded


  1. Preheat large skillet.
  2. Cut the chicken into smaller bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together taco seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  4. Sprinkle both sides of chicken pieces with taco mixture.
  5. Cook chicken on skillet until cooked through (about 10 to 12 minutes).
  6. Spread chicken evenly over tortillas. Cover chicken with salsa and cheddar cheese. Place second tortilla over top.
  7. Warm in microwave for 1 minute, and then cut in fours. Serve with a spoonful of sour cream and lettuce on top.
Recipe Summary Nutritional Facts
per Serving (without modifications)
Nutritional Facts
per Serving (with healthy substitutions)
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cooking Time: 15 min.
Servings: 4
Total Calories: 302 Total Calories: 268
Protein: 15g (60 cal) Protein: 34g (136 cal)
Carbs:20g (80 cal) Carbs: 24g (96 cal)
Fat: 18g (162 cal) Fat: 4g (36 cal)
Values are approximate Values are approximate

Want more great recipes like this?

For a collection of delicious, low-cal recipes, check out our healthy recipes section

Getting the body you want takes regular exercise and a balanced eating plan. Substituting healthier ingredients for common ones is one step in the right direction to achieving your goals. The suggested healthy cooking substitutions are quick and easy adjustments to your eating plan that’ll make a substantial difference in your overall daily caloric intake but don’t make much of a difference of the overall taste of your meals. Before you know it, you won’t even know the difference – except in the way you look!

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