The MediLodge Whole Person Wellness Program is focusing on healthy cooking this month.  We have provided healthy recipes and tips on healthy cooking techniques in previous posts.  Today we look at some of the ways to prepare food with healthy substitutes.


Just because a recipe calls for a specific ingredient doesn’t mean you must use that ingredient.  Your favorite recipes can be modified to make them more nutritious or lower in fat or sugar by reducing or substituting ingredients that are more acceptable.  The following post will highlight a few ways to increase the fiber and decrease the amount of fat, calories, sugar and salt in your recipes to make your food more nutritious.  Remember that recipes are only guidelines – not rules – for preparing food.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.



  • Instead of white rice or enriched grains:  Use whole grain, brown rice, wild rice, whole cornmeal, not (degermed), white barley, bulgur, kasha, quinoa, or whole wheat couscous.
  •  Instead of all purpose flour:  Substitute whole wheat flour for up to 1/2 of the flour. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups flour, try 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon whole heat flour. Use “white whole wheat flour” or “whole wheat pastry flour” for total amount of all purpose flour.
  • Instead of traditional pastas, crackers, cookies, cereals:  Choose whole grain products in these categories.
  • Instead of white bread:  Select 100% whole wheat and 100% whole grain bread.
  • Instead of iceberg lettuce:  Use Romaine lettuce, endive and other leafy lettuces or baby spinach.
  • Instead of meat:  Use more dried beans and peas.  Add legumes and lentils to many different dishes. Try adding lentils to your spaghetti sauce.
  • Instead of peeling fruit and vegetables:  Add extra fruits and vegetables to recipes and include the peel when appropriate, such as adding carrots to spaghetti sauce, leaving apple peels in apple crisp, zucchini bread, etc.



  • Salt:  Omit salt or reduce salt by 1/2 in most recipes, except in products with yeast.
  • Frozen or canned vegetables:  Choose frozen vegetables without sauces or use no-salt-added canned goods.  Rinsing canned vegetables will help reduce sodium.  Buy low-sodium versions when possible.
  • Seasoning salt or spice mixes with salt:  Use salt-free seasonings and spice mixes. Use herbs, spices, lemon juice or vinegar to flavor food instead of salt.  Seasonings high in sodium include ketchup, chili sauce, chili powder, bouillon cubes, barbeque sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and meat tenderizers.



  • Sugar reducing:  Reduce sugar by 1/4 to 1/3 in baked goods and desserts.  If recipe calls for 1 cup, use 2/3 cup. Cinnamon, vanilla and almond extract can be added to give impression of sweetness.  Do not remove all sugar in yeast breads as it provides food for the yeast.  Baked goods with less sugar may not brown enough.
  • Sugar replacement:  Replacing sugar with amounts of sucralose (Splenda), works well for most baked products. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in addition to each cup of Splenda used.  Baking time is usually shorter and product will have a smaller yield.  Try using aspartame, saccharin or acesulfame potassium in other products that are not baked.  The sweet taste will vary with product combination or amounts of each sweetener used.  Add artificial sweetener to the liquid ingredients for even distribution.
  • Instead of fruit-flavored yogurt:  Use plain yogurt with fruit slices or use light versions of yogurt.
  • Instead of Syrup:  Use pureed fruit like no sugar added applesauce or sugar-free syrup.
  • Canned or frozen fruits:  Buy unsweetened frozen fruit or fruit canned in it’s own juice, water or light syrup.



  • Instead of shortening, butter, margarine or solid fat:  Use 1/4 less liquied oil or solid fat called for in a recipe.  If recipe calls for 1 cup use 3/4 cup.  If recipe uses 1/4 cup shortening, use 3 tablespoons oil.  Use equal amounts of oil for melted shortening, margarine or butter.
  • Instead of shortening, butter or oil in baking:  Use fruit puree for half of the butter, shortening or oil.  Maybe need to reduce the baking time by 25%. Use peaches in muffins and spice cakes, prunes in chocolate based recipes, pears and bananas for quick breads and coffee cakes and unsweetened applesauce works well in almost any baked good.
  • Instead of whole milk, half and half or evaporated milk:  Use skim milk, 1% milk, evaporated skim milk, fat-free half and half or plain soy milk with calcium.
  • Instead of butter, shortening, margarine or oil to prevent sticking or fat to saute or stir-fry:  Use cooking spray, water, broth or nonstick pans.
  • Instead of full-fat cream cheese:  Use low-fat or nonfat cream cheese, Neufchatel or low-fat cottage cheese pureed until smooth.
  • Instead of full-fat sour cream, cottage cheese, or Ricotta cheese:  Use non-fat or reduced fat sour cream or fat-free plain yogurt (yogurt is not heat stable). Use 2% or fat-free cottage cheese.  Use part-skim Ricotta cheese.
  • Instead of Cream and Whipping Cream:  Use evaporated skim milk.  Use nonfat whipped topping or cream.
  • Instead of eggs:  Use egg whites (usually two egg whites for every egg) or 1/4 cup egg substitute.
  • Instead of whole fat cheese:  Use reduced fat cheese, but add it at the end of the baking time or use part skim mozzarella.
  • Instead of  frying in fat:  Use other cooking methods such as baking, boiling, broiling, grilling, poaching, roasting or by stir-fry or microwave.
  • Instead of regular mayo or salad dressing:  Use low-fat, reduced-fat or non-fat mayo or salad dressing.
  • Instead of canned fish in oil:  Use water-packed canned products or canned products packed in light syrup.
  • Instead of fatter cuts of meat/skin on:  Use leaner cuts of meat or ground lean meat. Remove skin before eating.
  • Instead of ground beef:  Drain the fat, use leaner beef or try lean ground turkey or chicken instead.
  • Gravy, stews and soup:  Chill until the fat hardens then remove the fat layer.
  • Instead of mild flavored cheese:  Use sharp flavored cheese and cut the amount in half.




The goal of the MediLodge Whole Person Wellness Program is to recognize the unique individuality of everyone.  This approach to wellness is an active process in which everyone is encouraged to make choices towards personal growth in seven dimensions of wellness: physical, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, occupational/vocational and financial.  Most workplace wellness programs focus entirely on physical health.  With a whole person wellness approach, the physical needs will not be downplayed, but will be held in equal importance as the dimensions that involve mind and spirit.  In whole person wellness a high priority is placed on prevention, individual involvement and the responsibility we each have for achieving optimal wellness of body, mind and spirit.


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