It's one thing to need to substitute something when you're cooking or baking because of a lack of an ingredient in your pantry or refrigerator, but if you want to eat healthier, there are superfood baking substitutions you can make as well. These substitutions will help make your meal healthier, and they'll even make it taste better.
What Is a Superfood?
Basically, any food that is rich in vitamins and minerals is a superfood. If it's not refined and not full of unnatural sugars or salt, it's a superfood. Most fruits and vegetables are superfoods, as are some grains (but not all of them), and even some meats (like venison and elk).
Adding these foods to your diet in any way boosts the amount of vitamins and nutrients that you get in your system. Swapping them for less healthy options will increase your overall health (and some of them can help with weight loss).
Superfood Baking Substitutions
Whether you're baking a cake or baking a dinner, there are all sorts of healthy baking substitutions. Many of the substitutions in this list can aid in making your meals gluten-free, dairy-free, and sometimes even vegan or at least vegetarian.
If you want to eat healthier and make sure that you're getting all of the healthy nutrients your body needs for optimal wellness, introducing more superfoods into your diet is a great way to do it. These are food substitutions that are easy to make and will make your meals taste even better.
1. Olive Oil instead of Butter
While butter is better for you than fake butter spreads made from hydrogenated
vegetable oil, it's still not a heart-healthy choice. Olive oil is an underrated superfood that makes a heart-healthy butter replacement, especially in sauteing. It's also the perfect non-dairy choice for vegans and people with lactose intolerance.
2. Black Beans instead of Flour
While black beans aren't going to replace all the flour in your kitchen, they are a perfect substitution for flour in brownies and chocolate cake. One cup of black beans (drained and rinsed) replaces one cup of flour. Puree the beans in your food processor.
Black beans are rich in protein, among other things. It's a great way to make dessert healthier.
3. Nuts instead of Croutons/Breading
Whether you're gluten-free, cutting down on carbs, or you just want to cut the unhealthy parts of your salad out – nuts make a great replacement for croutons. Of course, what does that have to do with baking?
Instead of using dried breadcrumbs for breaded chicken or pork chops, try tossing some nuts in your food processor and using them instead. You get a little boost of healthy protein and some healthy oils that are good for brain and heart health.
4. Coconut Milk instead of Cream
Whether you dread the dairy in recipes that call for heavy cream, or you just can't seem to find some in the stores when you need it, coconut milk is a great replacement. It can be used in soups and in baking. And note that coconut milk isn't sweet like the shredded flakes you buy for baking.
5. Veggie Noodles instead of Pasta Noodles
Zucchini is one of the most popular vegetable items to spiral into noodles, but it's not the only vegetable that works great for this. If you have a spiral maker, you can turn squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and more into noodles that are healthy for you, pretty much fat-free, and full of nutrients.
They work perfectly for cooked and baked noodle meals. You can also use zucchini slices in place of lasagna noodles.
6. Unsweetened Applesauce Instead of Sugar
Apples, like most fruit, have their own natural sugars that lend sweetness to baked goods. So, if you're trying to curb your refined sugar addiction, unsweetened applesauce is the perfect replacement.
You can use equal amounts of applesauce in replacement of the sugar, but that will also add more liquid to the recipe. To rectify this issue, cut a quarter of a cup of additional liquid (water, milk, or whatever liquid the recipe calls for) per cup of applesauce.
7. Nutritional Yeast instead of Cheese
Replacing cheese is one of the most difficult things to do, and Americans eat a lot of cheese. You can buy dairy-free cheese brands, but most of them taste like a spoon full of salt. Nutritional yeast offers a flavor that resembles cheese, as well as a texture that is similar to Parmesan cheese.
This is a great replacement for cheese in things like baked macaroni and cheese (there are plenty of recipes online) and as a topping for tacos, spaghetti, and even salad.
8. Cacao Nibs instead of Chocolate Chips
Cacao nibs are simply roasted pieces of the cocoa bean, the same thing that is used to make chocolate chips. However, in this early state, you get the deliciousness of chocolate without the added sugar (and other unhealthy additives) that are in processed chocolate. This is a great baking option for people that want less sugar, less processing, more antioxidants, and something that is dairy-free.
9. Grated Cauliflower instead of Rice
Cauliflower offers you a great way to cut down on carbs in many different meal types. It's being used in place of not only rice, but also as pizza crust, mashed potatoes, and even for breadsticks.
If you're baking a rice dish, why not steam a head of cauliflower and grate it? With the right combination of seasoning, you won't be able to tell the difference. The texture is so close to rice that you will not want to go back.
10. Garlic Powder Instead of Salt
When it comes to seasoning your meals and increasing flavor, you should pass on the salt. Salt isn't healthy, and it increases your risk of heart disease. Instead, use garlic powder (not garlic salt) as your replacement – it will add both flavor and the health benefits of garlic (which includes natural antiviral and antibiotic properties).
11. Greek Yogurt Instead of Sour Cream
Whether you're baking a cake or looking for something to top your taco with, Greek yogurt is the healthier choice, and it makes a perfect sour cream substitute. Not only does it offer gut-loving active cultures, but it's also packed with lean protein (and has a sour enough taste to make it mimic sour cream perfectly).
For those of you that can't do dairy, there are Greek yogurts available on the market that are made with your choice of almond, soy, or coconut milk.
12. Almond Milk Instead of Dairy Milk
If you've done the healthy thing and gone dairy-free, or you can't have lactose, almond milk is the ideal replacement for milk in recipes. It has a similar consistency to cow's milk, so it's great for baking (unlike rice milk, which is too thin).
13. Lettuce Leaves Instead of Tortilla Wraps
Flour tortillas aren't gluten-free, and corn tortillas break apart too easily. Pass them both up for a smarter and healthier option – lettuce leaves. Use something like Romaine (instead of nutrient-free iceberg lettuce). You can use them when baking your favorite enchilada recipes, or even for burritos.
14. Sweet Potato Fries Instead of French Fries
Pass the starch, and opt for fries that will give you an array of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and B6. Sweet potato fries have a little bit of a sweetness to them, compared to regular french fries. Instead of frying your sweet potato fries (and even French fries when you do indulge), bake them in the oven until crisp.
15. Avocado Instead of Mayo
If you're planning on baking a casserole, substitute mayo with avocado. You can easily get avocado to a similar consistency as mayo with your food processor. Not only is this a great vegan option (mayo has eggs in it), avocado is also rich in heart-healthy fats.
16. Bison, Elk, or Venison Instead of Beef
Bison meat and meat from wild game are all far healthier than any typical farm-raised meats, especially cow beef. You'll get more B vitamins, you'll still get your protein kick, and you'll get more flavor too.
Many grocery stores carry bison and elk meat. If you have any friends that hunt, consider buying fresh venison off them.
17. Fish Instead of Chicken
While white meat might be a healthier option over beef if you're eating it every single day you're still getting more of it than you need. Start swapping out fish for your white meat meals from time to time (no more than three times a week though, due to mercury content in fish). Fish is great in stir-fry meals and more, and it's rich in omega fatty acids.
Superfood Baking Substitutions and Why They're a Must
If you want to eat healthier, nix the gluten, cut back on sugar and dairy, there are tons of healthy baking substitutions that you can make. Baking doesn't have to be a pain when you don't have a certain ingredient. With these baking substitutions, you'll be sure to enjoy your dining and cooking experience.