Healthy Recipe Substitutions & Swaps

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Healthy eating.  I talk a lot about it, you hear a lot about it.  You groan and roll your eyes as the phrases “Eat healthy! Eat clean!” prod and pester you.  These phrases once sounded genuine in our ears and were meant to aid us in our fitness journeys — but now they go in one ear and out the other.  We tune them out like a pop song on repeat.  The phrase “Eat healthy” has grown meaningless, stale like the white bread in our pantries.
And in the new year, it seems like all we hear about from advertisements, articles, and products is to “better ourselves.”  Follow the latest diet!  Workout all day every day! Lose 10 pounds in 10 days!  Eat salads only!
Well, I’d like to point out two things.  One: you are beautiful and perfect and awesome just the way you are.  Learn to appreciate your body at every stage and shape.  A thinner you is not a better you.  Two: you can’t lose 10 pounds in 10 days.  Remember that advertisers thrive on tugging at your insecurities and making false promises.
With that being said, taking steps to become healthier is amazing.  Remember that there is so much to health than your outer appearance.  Filling your body with nutritious foods helps improve your heart health, cholesterol, digestion, and energy.  Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated, either.  Start by adding a handful of spinach to your morning smoothie, serving yourself a side salad with lunch, a bottle of water instead of a can of coke.  You don’t have to quit your “junk food diet” cold turkey.  Simply substituting certain nutritious foods for junk foods can help in your health journey.
But we all know that giving up sweet, sugary baked goods can be quite difficult.  Below, I’ve listed easy substitutes to make your favorite muffin/cake/brownie/cookie recipe a little bit healthier!
Eggs
1. Applesauce
2.  Ground flaxseed plus water
*Replace 2 tablespoons of flaxseed plus 1/3 cup of water for one egg or 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce for 1 egg
Butter
1. Pureed avocado
2. Coconut oil
*Replace 1 cup pureed avocado coconut oil for 1 cup butter
*To make a recipe lower fat, substitute 1 cup butter for 1/2 cup mashed banana or 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree plus 1/2 cup pureed avocado or 1/2 cup coconut oil
White sugar 
1. Coconut sugar
2. Date paste
*Replace 1 cup sugar for 1 cup coconut sugar or 1 cup date paste
*To make date paste, blend together 1 cup soaked, pitted dates with a tiny bit of water until smooth and creamy
*Both coconut sugar and date paste are refined-sugar free!
Buttermilk
1. 1 cup unsweetened almond milk plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
*You can use soy milk in place of almond milk and lemon juice in place of apple cider vinegar, if desired
*Substitute 1 cup buttermilk for the 1 cup of the above mixture
Add-ins you won’t be able to taste: 
1. Grated zucchini
*Add one grated zucchini to banana bread or chocolate muffins for a secret ingredient you won’t know is there
2. Black beans in brownies
*Check out the article I wrote earlier this year for The Clutch to get a full recipe!)
Happy New year!  Leave a comment if you’ve tried any of these healthy substitutions, or one I haven’t listed.

Gigi Nally
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