Recipe Hacks: Cut Calories – Not Taste!
Many people give up on their diet far before they reach their goals because they lack creativity in the kitchen. After all, eating healthy is no small task, and it certainly can be tricky at first. In this article, we’ll break-down some simple recipe hacks you can use to drastically reduce calorie content — without losing the taste!
Arguably one of the biggest obstacles to overcome when trying to maintain a healthy diet is learning how to make your food taste good. Many people give up shortly after they embark on a new, healthier diet because they miss eating the foods they’re used to enjoying.
Thankfully, eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice taste, nor does it mean you have to stop making the recipes you love. After all, pretty much any recipe can be quite healthful if you make a few adjustments; even things like chili and banana bread, which are quite high in calories, fat, and sugar when made with traditional recipe ingredients, can be made significantly more “fit friendly” with simple ingredient swaps.
With that in mind, read on as this article details some simple recipe hacks to make traditional recipes healthier without taking away from their taste.
(Replaces: Oils & Butter)
Applesauce, when unsweetened, is extremely low in calories and high in vitamin C. It adds moisture to recipes that would typically call for oil and/or butter to provide that moistness. Better yet, even unsweetened applesauce is still plenty sweet and gives quick breads, cakes, and many other recipes a natural flavor.
In most recipes, applesauce can be swapped for oil(s) and butter in a 1:1 ratio, meaning ¼ cup of vegetable oil or butter could be swapped for ¼ cup applesauce. Swapping out ¼ cup of vegetable oil for ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce will save you 455 calories and 56g of fat! Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
Note: Swapping out a large amount of butter for applesauce may alter the consistency of the final recipe a bit, so some experimentation will be needed in that regard.
FLAX SEED MEAL
(Replaces: Oils, Flour, & Eggs)
Flax seeds are one of nature’s richest sources of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, which are great for promoting healthy cardiovascular function, reducing inflammation, and a variety of other benefits. Most people overlook flax seeds when it comes to cooking and baking, despite it being a very versatile ingredient and gluten-free.
In particular, flax seed meal, which is just flax seeds that have been milled into a coarse powder, can replace oils, flour, and eggs in pretty much any quantity that a recipe calls for. In general, flax seed meal can be swapped in a 3:1 ratio for oils (i.e. 3 Tbsp flax seed meal = 1 Tbsp vegetable oil). It’s important to note that baked goods made with flax seed meal instead of cooking oils will cause the recipe to brown more rapidly.
When substituting flax seed meal for flour, it is advised to reduce the flour by 1/2 to 3/4 cup and add the equivalent in flax seed meal. Since flax seed meal is high in fiber, more liquid than the original recipe calls for will be needed.
Substituting flax seed meal for eggs is a little trickier; mix 1 tbsp flax seed meal in 3 tbsp water and let it sit for a few minutes until it thickens – this mixture can replace one egg and will give the final product a chewier texture with a little less volume.
While recipes like banana bread and pumpkin bread often call for unbleached, enriched flour, oats can serve the same purpose (and are much healthier). Oats are exceptionally high in fiber and iron, helping to keep your body regular and more satiated than processed flours ever will.
When a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, for example, try swapping out 1 cup of flour for quick-cooking oats. Quick-cooking oats are generally much finer and smaller than old fashioned rolled oats, making them closer to a flour consistency. You can also try grinding up oats into a powder (just toss them in a blender to do so). This powder ultimately resembles a form of flour that can be used for many cooking/baking recipes.
NON-FAT PLAIN YOGURT
(Replaces: Oils & Butter)
Nonfat yogurt, much like applesauce, is very nutrient-dense and low in calories compared to cooking oils and butter. In fact, 1 cup of nonfat, plain yogurt typically only contains about 120 calories, most of which come from protein. Moreover, yogurt is rich in active cultures that help promote digestive function, as well as being a great source of calcium.
When substituting yogurt for oil or butter in a recipe, use a 1:1 ratio; so 1 cup of butter could be swapped out for 1 cup of nonfat plain yogurt instead.
(Replaces: Sugar & Sweeteners)
Stevia contains some of nature’s sweetest chemicals, called steviosides. Stevia, much like artificial sweeteners, is sweeter than sugar but has zero calories and carbohydrates. Sugar is a staple in seemingly every recipe out there, so having an option to replace it with stevia can significantly reduce calorie and carbohydrate content of certain recipes.
If you’re using pure stevia, roughly 1/8th tsp is equal to the sweetness of 2 tsp of table sugar (sucrose). Thus, if a recipe calls for 4 tbsp of sugar (which is equal to 12 tsps), then you would want about 2 tsp of pure stevia.
There you have it! Five simple recipe hacks to help you get the body of your dreams without the need to eat bland foods. Try these ingredient swaps out in most any recipe and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how little difference in taste there compared to the original recipe. In fact, we’ll bet you can’t even tell a difference at all, that’s how confident we are.