Nutrition Articles

Healthier Ways to Follow a Recipe

Smart Substitution: Baking Ingredients


It’s dinner time again and all of your tried and true recipes your family loves call for cups of oil, sticks of butter, and several ounces of whole milk. But you have the solution – smart substitutions.

For starters, invest in a good set of non-stick pans and skillets. These alone will help cut down the amount of oil you use to cook. Most of the time, you won’t even need to coat the pan with oil to achieve perfectly good food items. Another substitution is to avoid frying. Methods such as baking and broiling will greatly diminish, if not eliminate, the amount of oil or butter you need.

Eliminate the Oil
A lot of recipes call for an unnecessary amount of butter and oil, so just cut back. When cooking up some vegetable or meat, and the recipe demands oil, try instead some vegetable broth, or even some wine. If you absolutely need oil, use olive oil, a healthier alternative than vegetable oils. Read more about olive oil.

Eggs are bursting not just with protein, but with vitamin D and other minerals as well. However, they are also full of cholesterol. More specifically, the yolk is full of cholesterol. An easy way around this pitfall, especially for those concerned about high levels of cholesterol, is to toss the yolk. If a recipe calls for 2 eggs, keep the yolk of one and pitch the other. This alone will cut your cholesterol in half.

From the cow
Dairy products are also ingredients that can be easily substituted. Instead of regular sour cream, try a low fat version. Another option is yogurt. If you feel the flavor isn’t quite right that way, combine the two. You’ll hardly notice a difference.

Before you pour in the cup of whole milk, take just a second. You’ll be reducing the fat by simply using a low or non-fat version instead. (Hint: you can do this all of the time, not just when baking!)

Cheeses are a little bit trickier. Sample some low fat versions, but depending on the type of cheese that you are using, it might not melt as well as the full fat variety. Different cheeses behave differently when you cut out the fat. Some work and some do not.

Ditch the meat
Substitute vegetables for meat. If a recipe calls for 2 pounds of chicken, reduce this to 1.5 pounds and add in some extra veggies. Chances are that nobody will even notice a difference in the meal. In the end, be creative! Don’t be scared to try out new things in the kitchen, even if it might take a few attempts to get it right.

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Member Comments

  • GREAT article as usual
  • Love eggs - all of the egg and will never use olive oil - I don't like olives and it carries over. Imagine. I did like the idea of using less meat/poultry in a recipe and adding more veggies. For somethings tho' a small plate and smaller servings are better (to us) than compromising the taste.
    "Liz is a journalist who often writes about health and fitness topics."

    Liz knows little if anything about cooking, and/or nutrition!!!
    I'm disappointed to see that the egg yolk cholesterol = blood serum cholesterol fallacy is alive and well on Sparkpeople. Also, the latest metastudies have high consensus: there is no significant correlation between saturated fat intake and CVD, even when there is a correlation between saturated fat and raised cholesterol. There is growing consensus that the dangerous lipid is serum triglycerides, which are raised by intake of excessive amounts of simple carbohydrates. This recent study is just one in a series: http://www.foodan

    There's also the hard-to-swallow fact that up to 75% of people who have heart disease also have normal to low blood cholesterol. Eat the butter and eggs, ditch the sugar and flour!
  • Eggs: Theyíre just one of those foods. Seems like every other week thereís an egg controversy.

    Are they good for you, bad for you, or somewhere in between?

    A large egg contains about 185 mg of cholesterol. And since the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a limit of 300 mg per day, eat two eggs and youíve exceeded that limit.

    According to John Berardi, PhDA Founder, Precision Nutrition, www.precisionnutr There happens to be a problem with the AHAís recommendation. It assumes that when you eat more cholesterol (from eggs and other animal foods), your blood cholesterol increases. BUT your body doesn't work that way. (Thereís only one possible exception here: diabetics and the 0.2 percent of the population with familial hypercholesterole
    mia. More research has to be done to confirm this.)

    Your body makes cholesterol. Lots of it, in fact. Every single day you produce between 1 and 2 grams of it on your own. (Thatís 5-10 times the cholesterol in a large egg.) Cholesterol happens to be one of the most important nutrients in your body. Itís in every cell membrane (outer layer). Itís a requirement for growth (in infants and adults). And itís required for the production of many hormones.

    The interesting twist? When you eat more cholesterol from foods like eggs, your body produces less of it. And when you eat less cholesterol from foods like eggs, your body produces more.

    Thatís because you have a cholesterol ďset point.Ē Think of it like a thermostat thatís largely determined by your genetics, exercise habits, and stress. Funny enough, diet plays a surprisingly small role.

    Bottom line: ó for most people ó eggs wonít increase blood cholesterol or the risk of heart or artery disease.
    So much bad information in this article, I have to wonder what the writer's expertise is, because it certainly isn't in the nutrition or culinary world!
  • To quote from today's Trivia Question (which I got wrong, because I had read this article first, so I'm returning to post this):
    Approximately 64% of the 5 to 6 grams of fat in one large egg is unsaturated fat. Most of this fat is found in the yolk, leaving the egg white virtually fat free. Just one whole egg will give you almost 1 gram of heart-healthy linoleic acid.
  • Excellent article! I can see a lot of egg lovers getting defensive, but it doesn't change the fact that eggs are high in cholesterol and yes, eggs DO raise cholesterol levels in the body! Don't believe it? Have your blood drawn and levels of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides measured. Go without eggs for a couple months and measure again. And to those saying we need fat in the diet, yes, we need small amounts of healthy fats. We do NOT need sticks of butter, cups of oil, etc. This article does NOT recommend ditching all fats completely, just learning to prepare food with LESS fat. Coconut oil is loaded with saturated fats. It can be eaten in moderation, like all things, but it is irresponsible to suggest heavy use of coconut oil, fashionable "paleo" ideas aside. This article is correct to suggest moderation. People making negative comments here have the cooking habits of Paula Dean ---which leads to the health status of Paula Dean! How did those sticks of butter and over-consumption of eggs work out for her? Enough said!
    This article is not good. We have NO reason to not eat egg yolks people!!! Eating egg yolks does NOT raise your body cholesterol. Also why not cook with fat? Our bodies need healthy fats! And there are much better options for high temp cooking other than olive oil (which should be used for low temp like salad dressings etc.) High temp oils are coconut or grapeseed. If you are going to ditch any kind of oil I would suggest losing the canola oil. Which is NOT good for you and if you research it in depth you will see that it is made from RAPESEED which is toxic to our cardiovascular system and it is BANNED from being used in baby formulas etc. There is no such thing as a "canola" plant. Just FYI.
  • Some points to consider.
  • I agree with TINCEY2001 and others. Use some fat. It'll keep you full longer. Eggs? Cholesterol in eggs doesn't raise your blood cholesterol unless you eat a dozen a day! Come on. Balance. Taste, satiety.
  • Cholesterol in food does not make cholesterol in the body. This is a terrible, fat-phobic article.There are much better articles and other sources on healthy substitutions that actually ARE healthy and well-considered. I agree, it's a shame to see such ill-considered nonsense on Spark, but they do somehow get through sometimes.

About The Author

Liz Noelcke Liz Noelcke
Liz is a journalist who often writes about health and fitness topics.