Just because a recipe calls for a specific ingredient doesn’t mean you must use that ingredient. Your favorite recipes can be modified to make them more nutritious or lower in fat by reducing or substituting ingredients that are more acceptable.
This fact sheet will show you a few ways to decrease the amount of fat, calories, sugar and salt in your recipes. It will also tell you how to increase the fiber in your recipes to make your food more nutritious. Remember that recipes are only guidelines – not rules – for preparing food. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Instead of modifying your existing recipes, you can also find other recipes that are similar to your recipes but have less fat or sugar and more nutritious ingredients. Another way to control the amount of fats you consume is to reduce the amount of food you eat. Remember: fat should be 30% or less of your overall calorie intake.
To decrease your total fat and calories
Reduce fat in baked products
Reduce the amount of fat in baked products by 1/4 to 1/3. For example, if a cookie, quick bread or muffin recipe calls for 1 cup oil, use 2/3 cup instead. (Do not use this method for yeast breads and pie crusts.)
Use vegetable oil instead of solid fats
Instead of using solid fats such as shortening, lard and butter, use vegetable oil in your recipes. Types of vegetable oils include corn oil, canola oil and peanut oil. To substitute liquid oil for solid fats, use about 1/4 less than the recipe calls for. For example, if a recipe calls for 1/4 cup shortening or butter (4 tablespoons), use 3 tablespoons oil instead.
Use plain lowfat or nonfat yogurt instead of sour cream
In baking, use plain lowfat or nonfat yogurt in the same proportion as sour cream and save on saturated fat calories. You can also substitute buttermilk or blended lowfat cottage cheese. This method produces a savings of 44 grams of fat!
1 cup sour cream = 495 calories = 48 grams total fat = 30 grams saturated fat
1 cup lowfat yogurt = 145 calories = 4 grams total fat = 2.3 grams saturated fat
Use skim or 1% milk instead of whole milk or half and half
Another way to decrease the amount of fat and calories in your recipes is to use skim milk or 1% milk instead of whole milk or half and half. For extra richness, try evaporated skim milk. This method produces a savings of 25 grams of fat!
1 cup half/half = 315 calories = 28 grams total fat = 17.3 grams saturated fat
1 cup 1% milk = 100 calories = 3 grams total fat = 1.6 grams saturated fat
To decrease sodium
Use low sodium or unsalted ingredients
To decrease the amount of sodium in your foods, use low sodium or unsalted ingredients in your recipes. Sodium intake for adults should be 1,100 – 3,300 mg per day. This equals about 1/2 to 11/2 teaspoons salt. (Do not omit salt in yeast breads because it controls the rising action of yeast.)
1 teaspoon salt = 2,130 milligrams sodium
1 teaspoon soda = 820 milligrams sodium
1 teaspoon baking powder = 330 milligrams sodium
To decrease sugar
Reduce sugar in baked goods and desserts
Reduce sugar by 1/4 to 1/3 in baked goods and desserts. Cookies, quick breads and cakes can be successfully baked this way. Substitute flour for the omitted sugar. (Do not decrease sugar in yeast breads because sugar feeds the yeast.)
Increase the use of some spices for flavor
In addition to reducing the amount of sugar in your recipes, you can increase the use of some spices for flavor. Adding cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla to your recipes will enhance the impression of sweetness.
To increase fiber
Choose whole grain for part of your ingredients instead of highly refined products
Use whole wheat flour, oatmeal and whole cornmeal. Whole wheat flour can be substituted for up to 1/2 of all purpose flour. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, try 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour.