How to Make Any Recipe Healthier

If you’re anything like me you often see AMAZING recipes on Pinterest and your mouth waters and you check it out—it’s full of oil, sugar, and other not so great stuff so you pass and cry a little in your coffee. But no more crying in your coffee! I’m here to telll you how to make any recipe healthier!

How to make any recipe healthier

 Although you can swap any of these products 1:1, you may want to substitute half healthier and keep half regular as you transition into healthy cooking and baking. For example, in a recent pumpkin bread recipe it called for 1 cup butter. I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce. The result was fantastic—no difference at all!

My favorite tricks to make any recipe healthier:

  • Substitute oil (margarine, shortening, butter, vegetable oil) for applesauce (unsweetened or adjust your sugar as well), Greek yogurt, or pumpkin puree.
  • Swap whole milk or heavy cream for evaporated milk, 2%, skim, almond, or coconut milk like in my healthy potato soup.

Healthy potato soup recipe

  • Change sour cream for Greek yogurt.
  • Switch white flour for whole wheat flour.
  • Trade sugar for less sugar. Sugar is sugar. Some are less processed than others, but the best trade for sugar in my opinion is less sugar. There are so many things that you can reduce the sugar by half and they still taste fantastic, if not better.
  • Substitute fattier cuts of meat for leaner. 80/20 beef for 93/7 or even lean ground turkey. I love these Buffalo Turkey Burgers and I swear you can’t tell the turkey from beef in things like chili or tacos. Switching to organic, grass fed beef is ideal if you can make it work in your budget.

Yum! Amazing burger that reminds me of eating buffalo wings!


  • Switch white for brown—pasta, rice, and bread.
  • Swap eggs for a flax egg. I don’t do this for the health benefits, but due to my dislike of eggs I often run out or they go bad before we eat them (true confessions here!). Mix one tablespoon ground flaxseed and 3 teaspoons warm water with a whisk. Let sit for a few minutes and then use just like an egg! Brilliant!
  • Add finely diced veggies to anything you can. I like to use my food processor to add spinach to spaghetti and extra green peppers to my chili.
  • Swap fresh fruits and veggies for canned.  If you can’t do fresh then go for frozen.
  • Swap spaghetti for spaghetti squash
  • Use 100% whole wheat bread or oats for regular bread crumbs—panko breadcrumbs are great too! I use whole wheat bread crumbs for my boneless buffalo wings!

Boneless Buffalo Wings made healthier! Perfect for game night!

With just a few of these easy swaps you can drastically reduce the calories, sugar, salt, and fat in your recipes. Stay light and positive when talking about these changes to your family or don’t even mention it at all–you’ll be surprised what you can sneak in!

[tweetthis]Keep Calm & Cook Healthy! Love these swaps to make ANY recipe healthier! [/tweetthis]

What healthy substitutes do you want to try? Any favorite tips or tricks to share? 

P.S. One more little thing, from me to you, especially as we approach the holiday season: some recipes really shouldn’t be tweaked. If you’re making your granny’s pecan pie for Thanksgiving don’t put agave syrup and almond flour in it– it will be crap and make everyone cry. Just make it as it’s supposed to be, serve yourself a slice, and enjoy it. Then get back on the treadmill tomorrow. 🙂

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  1. Great tips! I work with beef a lot and often rinse my ground beef in a colander after cooking to get off any remaining fat! This is also a good trick for people who can’t afford 93/7 ground, just get the 80/20 and rinse it!

  2. Great suggestions! While there’s definitely a time and place for more indulgent treats, I’ve found that I actually prefer the healthier stuff on a daily basis. Using Greek yogurt in my baking is easily one of my favourite subs — I love the texture it gives my baked goods.

    1. I don’t use greek yogurt as often as I do applesauce but it is incredible how easy it is to make the swaps without sacrificing the flavor or texture!

  3. Love these! This is pretty similar to what I follow. Apple butter is my very favorite butter/oil alternative in cookies. It’s not as healthy of an alternative as applesauce (and you generally want to reduce the sugar in the recipe with it), but the taste and texture are spot on. You can also use cornstarch as an egg replacement–not as many benefits as flax seeds, but I find it makes the texture of the baked goods even better than if you had used a real egg!

  4. Great suggestions! I agree if you are going to eat sugar eat the real stuff, none of that fake crap and just cut it in half. My aunt taught me at a young age to always halve the sugar, things taste just as good!

    1. There are a few recipes that it doesn’t work well in (sometimes you need sugar to make the science of recipe building happen, like to be the “food” for the yeast in regular bread) but overall yes, less sugar is the way to go!

  5. This sounds really weird, but I substitute 1/2 of the butter in a recipe for pureed white beans. It works for almost anything, and none of my friends can tell the difference. it works best when the other flavors are really rich (i.e. chocolate cake). It has the consistency of whipped butter- and adds protein! I’ve even use it without fail in a butter cream chocolate frosting!

    1. Wow! This is brilliant! I have heard of that with black beans maybe in like a chocolate cake or brownie recipe, but never white. Super-smart!

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