Meal Substitutions: 6 Ways to Cut the Calories, Save Flavor

Are you watching your calories?

Have you taken up cooking for yourself and you wish you could find healthier ingredients?

Do you want to sneak in healthier alternatives for your family meals?

Tried and true ingredients may not always be the healthiest options if you’re trying to burn fat or improve your cardiovascular health. Thankfully, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for less calories. Let’s review the 6 ingredient substitutions that are inexpensive, tasty, and healthy.


Coconut has been in the food spotlight for years now with an emphasis on the Paleo Diet. Aside from being delicious, coconut provides you with a number of nutrients and it’s a great source of plant-based saturated fats.

If you have to get some baking done but you want to avoid using grain-based flour due to allergies or lifestyle preference, try coconut flour.

IMPORTANT: You CANNOT replace coconut flour at the same measurements as grain-based flour. For example, if it calls for one cup of whole wheat flour, you will NOT use one cup of coconut flour.

How much should I use?

  • Use 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup coconut flour for 1 cup grain-based flour.

You may not enjoy eating it plain but when it comes to ingredient substitutes, nothing beats plain yogurt. It’s packed with protein and healthy gut-friendly bacteria. Here are a few ways that you can use it as a substitute:


  • A quarter cup of yogurt equates to one egg.


  • Reduce half of the oil you use.
  • Exchange it with three quarters the amount of yogurt.

Sour Cream

  • Use a one for one exchange of plain yogurt for sour cream.
  • E.g. – One cup of yogurt replaces one cup of sour cream.

REMEMBER: Buy PLAIN yogurt. You don’t want your dinner dishes tasting like blueberry or vanilla by mistake.


Look what’s back on the list. Coconut oil is an amazing food. As an ingredient substitute, you can use coconut oil in place of any of the following:

  • Butter
  • Margarine / Shortening
  • Oils (vegetable, canola, etc)

Best of all, you can replace it as a one for one exchange. If the recipe calls for one cup of butter, use one cup of coconut oil.


Like coconut oil and coconut flour, applesauce comes to the rescue when it’s time to bake. It’s able to replace oil and butter at a one for one exchange. However, if you’re a bit nervous about ruining your recipes, you can start by simply exchanging half.

For example:

  • Instead of using a full cup of butter, use a half cup of butter with a half cup of applesauce.

You can also use it on your pancakes and French toast in place of sugar-based syrup.


You may not enjoy the taste of it raw but when it comes to swapping ingredients, cauliflower is one of the most versatile foods out there. You can use it for ALL of the following (and yes, they all taste amazing):

  • Pizza crust
  • Rice
  • Mac n’ Cheese
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soup base
  • Bagels

Check out this article on BuzzFeed for some clever recipes.


The consistency of a banana is what makes it ideal for substituting ingredients in a variety of different recipes. You can swap the following items out for a banana:


  • Use one ripe mashed banana for one egg


  • Mash a banana to form the consistency of butter and swap it accordingly as a one for one exchange. Due to its sweetness, you’ll have to cut back on the sugar you use in the recipe. (Unless you like really sweet baked goods!)

Ice cream

  • You can make your own ice cream by using frozen ripe bananas. Learn how to do it here.


Have you tried any of these ingredient substitutions? How did your meals turn out?

Do you have your own healthy substitutions?

Share them with us in the comments section!

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