Simple recipe swaps can improve overall nutrition without sacrificing food
quality. While there may be some foods that you just prefer to make as
the recipe calls for, there are other foods where you might be able to
make an easy switch to get more nutrition out of your portion. Consider
these changes to help you get more nutrition:
Whole grain products instead of refined grain products. By subbing in whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, and brown rice for
the white versions of bread, pasta, and rice, you get more fiber, B vitamins,
and a nuttier flavor in your meal. You can even use whole-wheat all-purpose
flour in place of white flour in baking by using half the volume of flour,
or trying whole-wheat pastry flour for a less-dense, but nutritious swap.
Plant proteins instead of animal proteins. Replacing the meat in a meal with a combination of plant proteins, you
can get the protein you need with more fiber and less saturated fats.
Try a combination of beans and brown rice in place of taco meat, or a
salad topped with nuts or seeds instead of cheese and meat.
Neufchatel cheese instead of full-fat cream cheese. Neufchatel cheese has 1/3 less fat than cream cheese, without a sacrifice
in flavor or texture. You can use Neufchatel cheese in the same quantity
as full-fat cream cheese.
Spinach, watercress, arugula, kale, collard greens, or romaine lettuce
instead of iceberg lettuce. While iceberg lettuce is certainly not “bad” for you, you can
get more nutrition like iron, calcium, and vitamin K from darker green
leafy veggies. Think salads, sandwich toppings, and warm sides for places
to use these dark green leafy veggies.
Herbs or spices in place of table salt. An easy way to trim salt out is to use herbs and spices instead. Not sure
what might be a good flavor combination? Your grocery store has shelves
full of salt-free seasonings for a variety of foods.
Low-sodium canned products instead of regular canned goods. Soups, casseroles, or other dishes that call for canned goods like veggies
or cream soups can use low-sodium or “No Salt Added” versions
instead of the regular. This helps drastically cut down sodium in the
recipe. Not sure if you can stomach the low-salt finished product? Try
replacing even one can of canned goods with a low-sodium version to help
gradually scale back.
Half-and-half or reduced-fat milk instead of cream. Use at a 1:1 ratio to make a big difference in the amount of saturated
fat in your recipe. Expect the final product to be a bit less rich, but
still delicious and creamy.
Jamie Marchetti, MS, RDN, LD, is a Registered Dietitian at Campbell County Health. For
a one-on-one nutrition counseling session, call 307.688.1731. Learn more at