Healthy Ingredient Swaps

woo hoo it’s holiday season which means parties, potlucks, presents, cakes, and…..cookies. Lots and lots of cookies.

Picture this: you are invited to a party and you decide to bring a little something to say “thank you for the invite.” You’re thinking of bringing your signature chocolate chip cookies, you know, the ones that call for 2 full sticks of butter. But you don’t want to be the one to “do the damage” for the dieters out there (or feed them straight up fat).  Should you try to make it healthier? Will it still taste like “the real deal?”

These are my first thoughts to every holiday party invitation I get (crazy dietitian brain?). With many hours spent in the kitchen playing around with ingredients, I have discovered some easy swaps and tricks to make classic crowd pleasers healthier without compromising flavor. I’ve also found that swapping just one or two ingredients at a time and just half of the called for ingredient is the best way to go.

1) Mashed Potatoes– many recipes call for heavy cream or half and half. It’s easy to use 2% or a quarter of the heavy cream and replace the rest with 2% milk. Instead of using all the potatoes called for in the recipe, you can give your mashed potatoes a little veggie boost by replacing half with mashed celery root (celeriac) or mashed cauliflower. Yea, it’s a thing.

2) White Flour- This is probably the easiest and least noticeable swap you can do for baking. Replacing half of the indicated amount of white flour with whole wheat flour will give your end product some fiber without it tasting too “wheaty.”

3) Butter-  Surprise! You can actually replace butter with mashed ripe bananas, using  a 1 to 1 ratio. Sounds a little off but trust me, this swap works very well in baked goods. I’ve actually made cookies and banana bread with sans butter before and they all turn out great. You can start out with replacing half the amount. It is just a matter of time before my friends begin to question why all my baked goods are banana flavored….

4) Unsweetened applesauce-  This is probably my favorite swaps for baking. You can swap out sugar for unsweetened applesauce which I swear, works like magic. I played around with this pumpkin zucchini banana bread and managed to replace all the sugar with just applesauce.. no one noticed 🙂

5) Chickpeas- You can actually replace flour with chickpeas in cookies or brownies (you can use black beans for darker baked goods). I recently made these yummy banana bread chocolate chip blondies  (I omitted the sugar and turned out great) with chickpeas and brought them out during a party and to my surprise, none of my friends picked up on the chickpeas! However, I do recommend replacing just half versus the entire portion of flour with chickpeas to really retain its blondie texture.

Have you tried substituting ingredients to make things healthier? What has worked for you?

Happy and healthy holidays,



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