We talk about making healthier choices around here quite often. All those healthy choices add up and can make a big difference. Today let’s talk about healthy substitutions while cooking and baking. Some will be pretty surprising!

First let’s talk whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour can be used instead of white flour in everything. Whole wheat flour contains all of the grain and it doesn’t develop the gluten as well as white flour so some ratios need to be adjusted a little bit. If you are baking try replacing half of the flour with whole wheat flour and then add the white flour slowly until you have it just right.Whole wheat noodles are always better than white noodles! Extra bonus points if you grind your own whole wheat flour!

If you are concerned with saturated fats you can use unsweetened applesauce in a recipe instead of butter or oil. The ratio for substituting for oil is 1:1. So 1/4 cup oil equals 1/4 applesauce. Make sure it is unsweetened though!!

Another fun substitute that adds a lot of nutrients is flax seed for eggs. For each egg you combine one tablespoon of GROUND flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water. Stir it up and let it sit in the fridge for 15 minutes. When you pull it out it will be sticky and eggy! You could also use chia seeds too!

Another great one to add some more heart healthy foods into your diet is to use greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Make sure you have plain greek yogurt and squeeze some lemon juice in it. It is a great substitute anywhere you would use sour cream. Plus you get all those good probiotics for your gut!

If you like cheese and mayo on your sandwiches try subbing avocado. Avocados are creamy and full of heart healthy fats! If you don’t like avocados hummus is also a great substitute on a sandwich! Also on that sandwich switch our that iceburg lettuce, which has no real nutrition value, and use a dark leafy green like spinach or kale.

If you have a recipe that calls for cream cheese try using cottage cheese instead. Puree it to get the lumps out and use it in place of cream cheese to cut some fat and add some protein.

If you are looking to replace cow milk any other kind of milk will do. Soy and coconut milks are better for rich desserts while rice and almond milks are good for drinking and using on cereals and in smoothies.

There are so many great substitutes out there and they are just a google away!! Try some out and see what you like. Remember, every healthy step adds up!!

Whole Wheat Banana Bread
  • 6 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about a heaping 1 and 1/4 cups)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Lowering the oven rack prevents the top of your bread from browning too much too soon. Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
    In a medium bowl, whisk the applesauce, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and milk together until combined. Then, whisk in the eggs and bananas until combined. The mixture should be smooth. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and walnuts together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly whisk until *just* combined. Absolutely do not overmix this batter. I like to add the walnuts to the dry ingredients rather than mixing them in last because it helps avoid overmixing. Overmixing = too heavy tasting.
    Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60-65 minutes, making sure to loosely cover the bread with aluminum foil halfway through to prevent the top from getting too brown. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with only a few small moist crumbs. This may be before or after 60-65 minutes depending on your oven, so begin checking every 5 minutes at the 55 minute mark or so.
    Allow the bread to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before slicing.