Tuesday Ten: Healthy Ingredient Swaps

Tuesday Ten: Healthy Ingredient Swaps
When it comes to comfort food, there is really nothing quite like your mom’s spaghetti and meatballs or a batch of freshly baked sugar cookies. The only thing about these delicious guilty pleasures is that they aren’t exactly the healthiest choices. Don’t get me wrong—I fully endorse indulging in your favorite foods when you get an undeniable craving. But nowadays, with so many healthy recipes surfacing, there’s no reason not to have your cake and eat it too. Literally.

Today I’m going to share 10 healthy recipe swaps you can use to make your favorite foods much healthier. Whether your weakness is pasta or pancakes, here are my favorite Bikini Boot Camp-approved ingredient swaps…

  1. Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream when you’re whipping up a spinach dip or French onion dip as an appetizer. This swap will make any chip dip healthier, and plain, nonfat Greek yogurt is a much better source of protein. If you’re feeling really ambitious, swap the chips for fresh veggies too!
  2. Use olive oil instead of butter when you’re cooking anything on the stovetop, like sautéed veggies or scrambled eggs. Unlike butter, olive oil doesn’t have cholesterol. In fact, it is known to help lower bad cholesterol while increasing levels of good cholesterol, according to Mayo Clinic. Just be sure to use extra virgin olive oil and keep it at a minimum since too much oil makes for a high-fat diet.
  3. Use a banana instead of an egg when you’re making a Sunday morning pancakes or a birthday cake. The banana will give provide sweetness and moisture, and it’s a great way to make your dish vegan-friendly. You can also use applesauce instead of a banana as another vegan-friendly replacement.
  4. Use 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and 3 tablespoons of water instead of an egg to add moisture to muffins or baked goods. Similar to using a banana or applesauce, chia seeds are a low-fat, high fiber alternative that will make your recipe vegan friendly.
  5. Use spaghetti squash instead of pasta when you’re craving carbs. Spaghetti squash is a vegetable, so one serving can provide your body with the recommended daily intake of potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C (Healthy Eating). Whole-wheat pasta is a great way to satisfy your comfort food craving if you need it, but if you’re wanting to ditch the carbs (and a few pounds) go for the squash. Click here for a delicious spaghetti squash recipe from one of our very own LaurenConrad.com members.
  6. Use date sugar instead of Splenda and other artificial sweeteners to make your recipes 100% more natural. Most artificial sweeteners get their sweet taste from the chemical aspartame, which has been linked to scary side effects like heart palpitations, seizures, birth defects and cancer, according to Livestrong. On the other hand, date sugar is simply ground up dates, and it is not processed or refined. Use it the next time you go to sweeten your coffee and you will get a good dose of vitamins and minerals as well.
  7. Use almond milk instead of cow’s milk for your cereal, oatmeal and coffee. According to Fit Day, almond milk is one of the most nutritious milk substitutes out there, and it’s free of saturated fats. It’s also a great vegan source of protein, and has less calories per serving than cow’s milk.
  8. Use mashed cauliflower instead of pizza crust the next time you plan a romantic pizza-making date at home. This is one of my favorite ways to make homemade pizza when you’re spending the night dining at home with your special somebody because it’s healthier than pizza dough and low carb too. You can recreate my favorite recipe for “doughless pizza” by clicking here.
  9. Use 1 cup of soy milk + 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar instead of 1 cup of buttermilk if you’re trying to make vegan versions of recipes that call for buttermilk such as pancakes and biscuits.
  10. Use avocado instead of mayonnaise for a sandwich spread. Besides the fact that avocados are a nutrient-rich food that come packed with omega-3s and good fatty acids, I actually think they taste better than mayonnaise!

While these swaps are healthier options in my own opinion, I know everyone has their own specific dietary needs. If you know what works for your body and what feels healthiest to your body, stick to what you’re doing. But otherwise, give these ingredient swaps a try and let me know what you think!

Do you have any ingredient swaps that have made your recipes better?

Share them below—I’d love to see them.

XO Lauren

Photo: Kohl’s

Sources: Life Currents, Healthy Eating, Mayo Clinic, Livestrong, Livestrong, Fit Day

Categories: Dine, Health, Lauren Conrad, Tuesday Ten
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  • Monica_in_Heels

    Amazing ideas!!! Thanks!!!


  • Ashley

    These are great! Saw a few on Pinterest! :) http://dreamliveandrepeat.blogspot.com/

  • WhitneyB

    Love these! I haven’t tried the chia seed swap, so I’m looking forward to using that one.

    Hummus is my FAVORITE healthy alternative to mayo for sandwich spread. I also use maple flavored vinegar from a local olive oil tasting store as salad dressing. Sounds odd – but it’s amazingly good, with no fat or calories. The website is here: https://olivemyheart.com/


  • Emma Acomb

    OMG! The no-pizza dough is genius! The last thing I would have thought of is using cauliflower as an alternative but I can’t wait to try it.

  • Emma Acomb

    Btw ur outfit at the top is really cute;) the blouse it adorable

  • Lynn Mendelsohn

    USE KALE instead of LETTUCE for all your sandwiches…Kale is one of the most NUTRIENT RICH FOODS! ~Get That Healthy Feeling (My Health coaching business)

  • jiturka

    You Americans are sometimes weird. Really. Like noone I know would use mayo as a spread for a sandwich. and neither avocado. Non-fat Greek yoghurt isn’t Greek yoghurt. And banana won’t hold your pancakes together — there I would rather opt to change plain white flour for whole grain, plus eggs are nutritionally very rich. Spaghetti squash and pasta aren’t substitutes (come on!) And the other substitutes (well except for the olive oil) are making me sad and who would normally use sweetener except for those who have diabetes? I love to eat, I love to cook and altogeather I think you should stop posting any recipes. Greetings from Czech.

  • Lindsay Wheeler

    I’ve done the cauliflower as pizza crust a few times and it’s a great alternative but sometimes it falls apart. So recently I tried a paleo recipe and used ground chicken as a pizza crust, it was AMAZING! Also, I always substitute mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes, you can’t tell the difference!

  • N

    Thanks for this post, I always read your advice and they are awesome, but now I have a question, I have read that olive oil is not for fry, you said here to use it for saut

  • Caseyslife365

    the almond milk facts are incorrect, it’s great if you have a lactose problem but you get more protein, less fat, and less calories by drinking an ultra-pasteurized organic skim (fat-free)milk

  • suzanne

    I think healthy eating is so important! I love these little tips and tricks to make my meals healthier :)
    Suzanne from http://www.writtenbysuzanne.com

  • Deanne Castro

    Thanks! I lvoe eating healthy!

    For more fashiona dn beauty tips and inspiration, check out my blog: http://myfashavenue.com/ 3 contests on the blog right now!

    Twitter / Instagram /Pinterest: @MyFashAvenue

    Deanne Castro

  • Deanne Castro

    Thanks! I love eating healthy!

    For more fashiona on beauty tips and inspiration, check out my blog: http://myfashavenue.com/ 3 contests on the blog right now!

    Twitter / Instagram /Pinterest: @MyFashAvenue

    Deanne Castro

  • Meg

    You can buy bagged broccoli slaw and cook it as a substitute for pasta, too!

  • Emma Acomb

    I’ve never thought of using broccoli slaw that’s a great idea and it tastes delicious too!

  • Flor Garcia

    Love the pizza crust substitute


  • bballin129

    I love almond milk in coffee! Mmm, thank you for this post.

  • Ana Sofia

    I didn’t know that it was so easy to make our recipes healthier :)


  • Emma Yoder

    thats not true…. you can get Silk’s unsweetened almond milk (vanilla)- Skim cow dairy comparison in parentheses- for 30 calories (80 cals), barely 2.5 total fat, more calcium of 45% DV (30%DV), no cholesterol (5mg), no sugar (12g!!), and more vitamin E… Pastuerized milks are okay for you, but what Lauren is saying is try to avoid Cows milk. Cows milk is bad for our bodies because it is for the infant calf and has more protein and fat in it for the calf to grow and be healthy. Also, it is more mucus causing and thats why people are lactose intolerant. I suggest avoiding cow dairy products and drinking almond, coconut, or goat/sheep milk. I only drink goats milk, eat goat cheese, and almond milk. You will look and feel better. Its nice you said organic, but most milks today that say they are organic aren’t. I know this because i work with an all organic dairy and meat farm. So, in conclusion, buy goat products and plant based products. This info is cited from USDA National Nutrient Database.

  • Katherine S

    Since almonds get sprayed with tonnes of pesticides, you may want to go with either organic almond milk, or coconut milk.

  • Katherine S

    I agree with you. The only thing I would worry about is the hormones and antibiotics in USA milk. Because of that, it would be worth going organic. Luckily for me, in Canada you can’t sell the milk from a cow on hormones and antibiotics.

  • kitty

    Soy milk and soy products are actually extremely unhealthy for you. Mostly all soy products contain GMO’s, it is one of the biggest “”healthy”” frauds out there. Know what you’re eating before you eat it!!

  • Sarah @ Sequin Doll

    I absolutely love swapping greek yogurt for sour cream! I don’t even buy sour cream anymore. It tastes exactly the same to me.


  • Zoe g. Bullard

    I love substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream, and I also use it in place of mayo in coleslaw and potato salad! One of my favorite swaps is applesauce instead of oil in baking. It keeps things moist and lighter.


  • Emma Acomb

    Kale definitely works!

  • Katherine S

    It’s true. There is a different stigma around food in North America than in Europe. In Europe it’s more about eat well, eat natural but don’t over do it (portion wise). And I completely agree, Eggs are whole foods and super good for you!
    Personally, I like to use balkan yogurt instead of sour cream because it’s so damn tasty.
    But you should try avacado in a sandwich sometime. It’s really yummy. Or on a burger.

    I like some of Lauren’s recipes, but usually when she’s not trying SOOO HARD to be over the top healthy. My thoughts are if you eat natural foods, you’re doing ok. Portion control, so you don’t over do it. But there isn’t really a need to go crazy with substitutes to the the point that it compromises taste.

    Cheers from Canada!

  • Katherine S

    Thank you for saying this, Kitty! I completely agree!

  • Mac

    These are such great tips, some I haven’t heard before so I’m excited to try them out! I love sandwiches so I will substitute hummus for mayonnaise depending on the type of sandwich.

  • Shoegal Out In The World

    Great tips, to keep calories off our plate but still indulge in our favorite comfort foods… I have already replaced sour cream & mayonnaise with low fat Greek yogurt for my dips & cooking in general & I must say the results are equally yummy yet healthier & with less calorific…

    Have a great day!!!

    xoxo Violeta, your Shoegal Out In The World


  • Britt Gonter

    The banana tip blew my mind! I like bananas but they always seem to turn before I get around to eating all of them. With this method they serve a new purpose and I can actually get the nutrients from the yellow fruit. It’s a win-win.

  • Raven Locks

    You can also use coconut oil instead of butter :)

    I love the cauliflower idea for pizza crust is amazing. Thanks for sharing these!

    xo Azu


  • Diamenrose

    I will try the banana pancakes :) By the way youuu look soo fab on the latest issue of Marie Claire! I seriously love that picture which you have also posted on instagram.It has something!

  • Ashley Hayne

    not to mention its screws with your hormones causing breakouts and increased PMS.

  • Ashley Hayne

    if you squeeze out all the water from your cauliflower mash. It wont fall apart. :)

  • Ashley Hayne

    I always use almond milk. I love how creamy it is! I agree with the comments about the eggs. I think they’re healthy.
    try using coconut sugar instead of the date sugar. Its really low GI so it will keep your blood sugar from spiking!

  • Jen Bottom

    I use quinoa instead of rice, especially for yummy Indian dishes

  • kitty

    yes! thank you! and to the person who disliked this FACT. you need to do some research.

  • Megan Elliott

    I love this! Especially the vegan-friendly options :)

    xo Megan, http://www.LushtoBlush.com

  • Mary

    Great advice, Lauren! I’m loving the vegan options you suggested. Truly appreciated it! There are so many swaps that I can do that I had no idea about. I just want to start baking away now!

  • Carla Azevedo

    Hi Lauren! I attended your booksigning last night in LA and I mention to you how I’ve lost 20lbs using your boot camp and diet/food tips and still have 20lbs to go and you told me to leave a post on your website so your team can get a hold of me. I told that one lady that my username is roxysk8trgirl but I guess I changed it in the past and didn’t realize it so I hope you still get this post. Anyways, it was a real pleasure to have met you and spoke to you and I hope to see you again in your future book tours =) <3

  • Bunny Golightly

    Stevia is also a great substitute for sugar. Read more about it on my blog : PurePowerPanda.blogspot.com


  • jiturka

    Thanks! It is hard to get your hands on a ripe avocado around here, but I like it in sushi :-)

  • jiturka

    You are right! Especially extra virgin olive oil is too tasty to use in warm kitchen, plus it has lower tolerance for the heat and it will change its smell and taste to worse (heat breaks the molecules). But “”saut

  • N

    thanks for your answer!!! really helpful!!! take care!! :)

  • Azalyn Vallee

    How much applesauce do u use? The amount of oil it says?

  • Kayla Marie

    I know bread and other carbs have been my biggest enemy. So instead, I swapped it for lettuce. I make tuna fish sandwich wraps, grilled chicken and buffalo sauce wraps, pretty much anything you’d put on a sandwich, just change the bread out for an big piece of a leafy green!

  • Zoe g. Bullard

    I usually sub applesauce for the same amount of oil that the recipe calls for, but when you try it the first time, do 50% applesauce and 50% oil and then you can gradually change from there. Some baked goods are more fickle than others but I haven’t had any catastrophes!

  • Azalyn Vallee

    Thank you! I will be trying this next time I make muffins.

  • Sofia Alleyne

    Amazing tips. Thanks for sharing!!


  • Siiriliinu

    I love your recipes and tips, my personal favorite is the spinach swap, it tastes so good and I actually prefer it to pasta, yummy! Thank you for these :)


  • Charlie Perez

    Thank you Lauren for sharing, I will defiantly give these tips next time Im in the kitchen :)

  • Casey Zack

    I love swapping out diet soda for club soda and adding fruit- or instead of sugary juices just use plain water and add fruits!!! Thanks to k&k from Tone It Up for that trick 😉

  • cosmogrl25

    Great tips! I like to use salsa instead of salad dressing, and I flavor water with fruit instead of using Crystal Light.
    The Grass Skirt

  • Jordyn Fender

    Thank you so much! I will SO use these! :) i would have never thought about a banana instead of an egg! :)

  • Katy Allaire

    These are some great ideas to make comfort food healthy! I LOVE avocado – so much better than mayo and it is really delicious on a sandwich.


  • Dr. Floras

    Excellent way of explaining!Glad to find this amazing post here… Thanks for sharing this knowledgeable content. You are a great author!!

  • Anne Montemayor

    1tables spoon ground flax and two tablespoons water instead of and egg

  • Rachel Vartanian

    LC is so gorgeous <3 thank you so much for this helpful article!

  • SUzannah, Adventures in Dressmaking blog

    Thanks for sharing some “”health”” tips for cooking. I always want to make healthy, nutritious, delicious food!

    Some of these are good tips, but you’ll definitely want to learn more about saturated fats and maybe revise some of them! Butter is an incredibly dense source of nutrients and heart-healthy saturated fats, particularly when it’s from a grassfed cow. Incredible article about that here http://chriskresser.com/for-a-healthy-heart-stick-to-butter and great summaries here http://www.foodrenegade.com/why-butter-health-food/ and here http://www.bulletproofexec.com/butter-infographic/. Full-fat dairy is much healthier than processed low-fat products, and eggs are another incredible source of vitamins and Omega-3 fats.

    Another very concerning recommendation is to substitute soy milk. Soy products contain a number of anti-nutrients and hormone compounds that really disturb our hormones and metabolisms. It is also commonly genetically modified and highly processed. There are a million great articles about why we should avoid soy, too–http://paleodietlifestyle.com/dangers-soy/, and http://www.peertrainer.com/health/why-is-soy-bad-for-you.aspx are a couple. Minimally processed coconut milk with no additives is a much healthier substitute for milk.

    Thanks again for sharing. I hope you can look to some other sources for future tips and think about whole, unprocessed foods and healthy fats!

  • kalamityray

    We recently made lasagna using eggplant in place of noodles. SO. Delicious! I’m always looking for healthier ways to eat,thanks for this post! http://makeyourhairgrowfaster.net/

    • http://beyondtheclothing.com/ Katie @ Beyond the Clothing

      There’s a local restaurant near me that does that! Such a great swap and the texture actually really works out well. So good right?


  • Melissa Litchfield

    I love swapping pasta for spaghetti squash and I’ve recently been adding chia seeds to my morning smoothie (it’s also a great substitute for egg).

  • Tash

    As a vegan, I am soooo happy to see the word flowing so freely! :) Love these tips! Xo

  • rachel

    I have noticed that you have two suggestions for swapping out eggs. I thought eggs were a healthy food? So why would you swap that ingredient out when cooking/baking?

    • http://beyondtheclothing.com/ Katie @ Beyond the Clothing

      They’re high in fats, they are also high in protein which makes them a great meal option, but with baking, where you’re also often using butter and other fats, it doesn’t hurt to swap them. I’ve actually found i really like the banana swap, it provides a little different texture.


  • lisanicole22

    yummy! How funny, i usually use 7 of these ingredients and I have it on my blog, similar list. thats funny!

    Love it


  • Valerie Chavez

    I thought the same thing, but I read something about egg yokes being as bad for you as cigarrettes!

    • Dawn Krueger-Sherin

      It depends on the type of eggs you are using. Organic is best.

    • Mikaela Baker

      That is an absolute lie, Animal activists and people who pretend to be nutritionists without having any formal education make up statements like this to get your attention, in thinking they know more than everyone else and to stop you using animal products. Eggs are a fantastic source of omega 3s and vitamins, they contain healthy fats and although they do contain cholesterol, it only Mildly affects around 30% of the population who are hyper sensitive. There is absolutely no way you can compare eggs and cigarettes.. I strongly suggest using google scholar as a simple way to look up scientifically supported statements! I do it all the time. To get an article published and peer reviewed it has to be read and approved by academics that the information is legitimate.

  • Nicole Marie

    Wow can’t wait try these!

  • Meghan Lozada

    These are perfect! Thank you!

    • http://www.smart-twenties.com/ Samantha Brown

      I agree! I am really interested to hear that chia seeds and water can substitute an egg! (though I don’t really need to substitute eggs as I’m not vegan and eggs are a great source of protein – but I’m still really interested for when I run out!)

      Sam xx
      http://www.smart-twenties.com – how to make the most of your twenties

  • LaserCap

    Glad I caught this post, great tips. I like the way to post, It is a very effective article and easy to understand the things with your posts. Well done, Congrats!


  • Dawn Krueger-Sherin

    I use coconut oil for both cooking and baking. It is a monounsaturated fat that helps kill bad bacteria, assists in weight loss and boosts the metabolism.

  • Alisa B

    Sugar is sugar is sugar!

    • http://beyondtheclothing.com/ Katie @ Beyond the Clothing

      Very true, but your body processes natural sugar better than chemical sugar. I feel that if I’m not skipping the sugar, it’s nice to have a more natural version.

  • Fiona Barnes

    A better substitute for butter is coconut oil, which is delicious on both sweet and savory dishes.

  • Ashley

    Cucumbers instead of bread for tuna!! Pinterest tuba boats!! Yummmm! :)

    • Ashley

      * tuna :)


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