By Beth Knoll
Eating healthy can be difficult — especially when a nutritious recipe calls for something unhealthy. With simple ingredient substitutions, however, recipes can be both healthy and savory.
Try these easy ingredient swaps to reduce a recipe’s caloric content while retaining the taste:
1. Replace sugar with unsweetened applesauce
- The bad: According to WebMD, researchers have found connections between sugar and high levels of blood fat. Sugar is believed to contribute to obesity, with the average American consuming more than 20 teaspoons of sugar a day. One cup of sugar  equates to more than 770 calories, said Kate Morin from Greatist.
- The good: Applesauce contains both protein and vitamin C, sweetened by naturally occurring fructose from the apples and containing only about 100 calories per 1 cup, said Lauren Whitney from LIVESTRONG. In addition, applesauce aids in digestion.
- How to switch: Substitute the sugar for applesauce in a 1:1 ratio, Morin said. Also, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup for every cup of applesauce substituted.
2. Replace sour cream with Greek yogurt
- The bad: Sour cream is high in fat and calories, said Diane Lynn from LIVESTRONG. Ninety-three percent of the calories come from fat calories, and 60 percent of the fat calories come from saturated fat — which some believe can raise the risk of heart disease.
- The good: Greek yogurt is lower in both fat and calories, Morin noted. Greek yogurt has twice the amount of protein than regular yogurt. It also contains calcium, protein, potassium, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12.
- How to switch: Substitute equal parts sour cream with yogurt.
3. Replace store-bought butter or margarine with bananas
- The bad: Margarine is processed and unhealthy. And while butter is now believed to contain health benefits, Jill Corleone from LIVESTRONG suggests consuming it in moderation. Most store-bought conventional butter also comes from cows fed diets primarily consisting of genetically modified organisms, said Vani Hari from Food Babe.com.
- The good: Bananas contain potassium, vitamin B6 and fiber, Morin said. Bananas also are believed to reduce the risk of asthma, cancer and high blood pressure, said Medical News Today.
- How to switch: Use one cup of mashed banana for one cup of butter or oil, Morin said.
4. Replace chocolate chips with cocoa nibs
- The bad: Chocolate chips are the processed version of cocoa nibs. One tablespoon of chocolate chips serves up to 70 calories and 8 grams of sugar, said Deila Taylor from LIVESTRONG.
- The good: Cocoa nibs are less processed, Morin said, which cuts the added ingredients — including sugar. Cocoa nibs also are high in antioxidants, fiber, magnesium and iron, said Terri Coles from the Huffington Post Canada.
- How to switch: Use cocoa nibs for chocolate chips in a 1:1 ratio.
5. Replace mayonnaise with avocado
- The bad: One tablespoon of mayonnaise contains 100 calories and 11 grams of fat, according to FitDay.
- The good: Avocados contain about half of the fat and calories as mayonnaise in a serving, Morin said. She added that avocados contain vitamin E and monosaturated fat, which is believed to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
- How to switch: Mash half of an avocado to replace the mayonnaise on a sandwich, Morin said.
With these six steps, you’ll find that eating healthy is easier – and more delicious — than you thought.
What are your tips for eating healthier? Let us know in the comments section below.
This article first appeared at Off The Grid News: 5 All-Natural Recipe Substitutes For Unhealthy Processed Food