Bowl of cauliflower rice as a food substitute for rice

Recipe substitutions for a healthier holiday

Trying to eat healthier doesn’t have to mean missing out on your holiday favorites. Some of your traditional recipes can be made healthier with a minor recipe change.

If increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is on your holiday diet wish list, resolve to try these simple recipe swaps:

  1. Go Green! Avocados are not just for guacamole. Unwrap the benefits of this versatile fruit by using pureed avocado as a substitute for butter, shortening, eggs, mayonnaise and sour cream. Avocados are high in fat, but it’s the good fat (monounsaturated). Their rich vitamin and mineral content renders them a nutritional star. If avocados are used in light-colored products, the result may be a slightly green, holiday friendly hue. To substitute avocado for butter or shortening in baking, make a cup for cup trade, add a little extra liquid to the recipe and decrease the oven temperature by 25 degrees. Decorate your sandwiches and salads with avocado “mayonnaise.” It can be made by blending the avocado with a small amount of lemon juice and salt. For an alternative to traditional sour cream, blend avocados with lime juice, water and olive oil to a sour cream-like consistency.
  2. Lean into beans.  Black beans can be a stand-in for flour in brownies and chocolate cakes. Chick peas may be used as a substitute for white flour. The beans should be drained and pureed and then can be substituted (1 cup beans for 1 cup flour) to add fiber, protein and other nutrients. The great taste and texture of these sweet treats will keep you in the holiday spirit.
  3. Grapple with apples. Something as simple as applesauce can replace the sugar in many baked goods. When making this switch, substitute cup for cup and reduce the liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup per cup of applesauce. Another option for calorie reduction is replacing the fat with applesauce. In baked goods, oil or butter may be interchanged with applesauce cup for cup. Using applesauce as a replacement for both the sugar and the fat in the same recipe is not recommended.                                                                                                            
  4. No monkey business. Mashed bananas are another gift in your recipe substitution repertoire. By virtue of their creamy texture, bananas are a perfect fat substitute, and a sweet flavor makes them a candidate for replacing the sugar. When making an exchange, replace either the fat or the sugar cup for cup. Swapping both fat and sugar for bananas in the same recipe is not recommended, and decreasing the liquid slightly is necessary if using bananas as a sugar substitute.
  5. Flower Power. Using cauliflower as a substitute is a jolly good way to decrease calories and increase nutrition. Riced cauliflower can be used in recipes calling for rice. You can purchase frozen or fresh riced cauliflower. You can also make your own by putting fresh cauliflower in a food processor. Add your favorite spices for a festival of flavor. “Mashing” cauliflower yields a product so similar to mashed potatoes that you won’t notice the difference.