3 Healthy Cooking Substitutions

3 Healthy Cooking Substitutions

On busy evenings when you have little time to plan dinner, having a recipe to follow can help you along even if your mind is elsewhere. If you're trying to eat healthy, however, it may seem like you need to plan meals yourself since most recipes use standard ingredients and don't list healthy substitutions. To help you eat healthier, here are three healthy substitutions for common ingredients that you can use to cook a variety of healthful meals.

1. Substitute Lettuce Leaves for Tortillas

Lettuce leaf wraps may not provide the same taste, but they are a fun and healthy alternative for preparing tacos, burritos or fajitas. Simply wrap the ground meat, beans, cheese or whatever fillings you like in a few large lettuce leaves for a tortilla alternative without the carbs. Plus, lettuce leaf wraps provide a satisfying crunch that you don't get from a tortilla.

2. Use Ground Poultry for Ground Beef

Ground beef is an extremely popular ingredient, being the key to cooking burgers, tacos and burritos, certain stir-fry dishes, and more. However, ground beef is high in fat and, like most red meat, shouldn't be eaten in excess. For a healthier alternative that doesn't sacrifice taste, use ground turkey or chicken breast as a substitute in recipes that call for ground beef. While ground poultry may not be as juicy as ground beef, the taste is similar and it is much lower in fat while retaining a high protein value.

3. Swap Out Chocolate Chips for Cacao Nibs

All chocolate chips start out as cacao nibs, which are the roasted part of the cocoa bean that is ground and processed to make semisweet chocolate. By using unprocessed cacao nibs instead of traditional chocolate chips when baking, you won't be putting any of the additives or extra sugar that is present in chocolate chips into your body. Besides, cacao nibs still have a strong chocolate flavor, and they are also a natural source of antioxidants.

By using these substitutions for common ingredients, you can prepare meals while sticking to your commitment to eating healthy. Next time you see a recipe calling for tortillas or ground meat, swap them out for lettuce wraps and ground poultry, and you can use cacao nibs in place of chocolate chips for baking. Your modified recipes may not taste exactly like the original, but they're much healthier and still approximate the taste.