5 Healthy Recipe Substitutions

Eating a healthy diet doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice taste or texture. Enjoying your favorite foods while also making some healthy swaps is possible! Cutting down on calories, saturated fat, and sugar, are just a few ways to tweak your diet. The best part is that most people (e.g. picky kids or spouse) may not even notice the difference.

1) Fruit or vegetable puree for vegetable oil

Swapping fruit or vegetable puree (e.g. unsweetened applesauce, pumpkin puree, mashed bananas, or mashed avocado) for vegetable oil in baked goods is one of the easiest ways to cut calories and saturated fat. This substitution works well with both homemade goods, such as zucchini bread, and box goods, such as whole grain blueberry muffins. The texture remains light and fluffy and the flavor remains sweet!

2) Unsweetened applesauce for sugar

This is a great one for people with type II diabetes or anyone who is looking to reduce the amount of sugar in a baked goods recipe. The applesauce adds just enough sweetness without adding all the extra calories that sugar contains. Just be sure to reduce the amount of liquid by 1/4 cup for every cup of applesauce you substitute. This will help the recipe to maintain the proper consistency. The substitution works greats for oatmeal raisin cookies

3) Rolled oats for breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs usually pack a hefty amount of sodium and added fat. Replacing breadcrumbs with oatmeal not only reduces the sodium and fat, but the oatmeal is a good source of fiber, iron, manganese, B vitamins, selenium, and tryptophan. Make sure to use rolled oats if you want to maintain the crunchy texture of breadcrumbs. Quick oats are more processed and, therefore, cook more quickly……which may lead to a soggy dish. This substitute works great for recipes like meatloaf and casseroles.

4) Mashed avocado for mayo

This recipe swap is a beloved one for many people who have already discovered how delicious it is! If you do a side by side nutritional comparison of avocado vs. mayo, avocado is clearly the champ! Additionally, avocado complements almost any dish!



5) Pureed frozen fruit for ice cream

Whether you’re looking to reduce calories or sugar, or add in more nutrients…frozen fruit ice cream has the same creamy texture as ice cream, without all the “extras”. Simply puree your favorite fruit (e.g. bananas, strawberries, blueberries, or mango). Add your favorite milk (cow, coconut, almond, cashew, soy, etc.) for an even creamier texture. Adding a little pure vanilla extract will make for an even richer, more full flavor. But, rest assured, your frozen fruit “ice cream” will taste delightful even without anything added to it.  


News Roundup: Hidden Sources of Added Sugar

Image Source: livestrong.com

For the first time ever the American Heart Association (AHA) is taking a stand on sugar intake. The AHA reviewed and graded the most recent scientific evidence for studies examining the cardiovascular health effects of added sugars on children. One of the resulting recommendations is that children ages 2-18 should limit added sugar intake to less than 25 grams per day (6 teaspoons). Limiting added sugar intake can help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.

Currently, it can be difficult to decipher added sugar from naturally occurring sugar in foods and drinks. The new nutrition label will have to specify this differentiation, but food manufacturers have until July 26, 2018 to update their labels. In the meantime, it’s important to be able to recognize “hidden” sources of added sugar.

This week’s news roundup brings to you a collection of blogs and articles related to hidden sources of added sugar.

Hidden Sugars may have serious effects on children's heart health. Sugar Science. “AHA recommends the best way to avoid added sugars is to limit foods with little nutritional value and to incorporate more nutrient dense foods like vegetables, whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and lean meat.”

Sugar 101. The American Heart Association. “The major sources of added sugars in American diets are regular soft drinks, sugars, candy, cakes, cookies, pies and fruit drinks (fruitades and fruit punch); dairy desserts and milk products (ice cream, sweetened yogurt and sweetened milk); and other grains (cinnamon toast and honey-nut waffles).

You’re Secretly Eating a Ton of Sugar at Lunch. Greatist. “The good thing about frozen meals is that you have access to a nutrition label. The bad thing is that even the healthiest-looking meals can hide some pretty sketchy ingredients.”

Look for These 46 Ways Added Sugar Can Appear on Your Food Label. PopSugar. “There are more than 200 types of added sugars used in processed foods and beverages. Added sugars are in more than 75% of products sold in supermarkets.”


Scents for Relaxation

It’s no secret that fragrances can have a powerful effect on our mind and body. Maybe a certain perfume or cologne brings on feelings of happiness because it reminds you of your significant other. Or maybe the smell of baby lotion brings back a flood of blissful, happy baby memories (or possibly a screaming infant!). We, as humans, link many memories and emotions with specific fragrances.

Essential oils have been used and studied over the years for their ability to help people relax, reduce anxiety, and sleep better. These naturally occurring, aromatic compounds are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They have a wide range of physical and emotional wellness applications.

Below, we discuss a few of the most studied and effective essential oils. 


When inhaled, jasmine scent has been found to help people experience greater sleep efficiency, less movement during slumber, and overall better quality sleep. One study found that jasmine oil exhibits a calming effect and can act as a natural sedative by reducing heart rate and bringing on feelings of calm and relaxation.


For most people, the smell of vanilla evokes a sense of warmth and coziness. Research tells us that it can also help you to relax and feel happy, therefore, helping you to sleep better. In one study, people who smelled vanilla while completing a stress test had more stable heart rates and better blood pressure readings than those who took the stress test in an unscented room.


Valerian essential oil is one of the most studied oils in relation to sleep improvement. One study showed that valerian oil reduced sleep latency and wake time after sleep onset, for healthy adults in the home setting. Another study showed that rats who smelled valerian oil fell asleep faster and slept longer than those who didn’t. Additionally, valerian oil can also improve mood and reduce anxiety, which are often related to insomnia and other sleep disorders.


Many people appreciate the smell of lavender. Moreover, scientific evidence suggests that aromatherapy with lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation, and reduce stress in people suffering from sleep disorders.

Studies also suggest that massage with essential oils, particularly lavender, may result in improved sleep quality, more stable mood, better concentration, and reduced anxiety. In one study, people who received a massage with lavender felt less anxious and more positive than those who received a massage without lavender.

Try it!

If using therapeutic grade essential oils, try diluting with a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) and rubbing directly onto your skin. You can also dilute the essential oil, rub in on your hands, and take deep breathes while inhaling the aroma. Other ways to enjoy oils include diffusing them in an oil diffuser or placing a few drops in your bath water.  

* It is important to note that essential oils aren’t for everyone. They are simply one option that has been found effective to help some people sleep better. Some people may be especially sensitive to their strong smells, which can lead to headaches or nausea. Pregnant women are also advised to discuss essential oils with their doctor before beginning use.



News Roundup: Recommendations for Added Sugar Intake for Teens and Children

Image Source: The American Heart Association 

Last week the American Heart Association (AHA) announced their recommendations for daily added sugar intake for children and teens. The AHA recommends that children and teens between ages 2 and 18 should limit added sugar to less than 25 grams, or about 6 teaspoons, per day. Children younger than 2 years old should not consume any added sugar.

The AHA guidelines come on the heels of last year’s recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) that adults and children should limit their daily added sugar intake to less than 10% of total calories.

This week’s news roundup brings to you a collection of blogs and articles related to the new AHA guidelines on added sugar intake.

Children should eat less than 25 grams of added sugars daily. American Heart Association. “Eating foods high in added sugars throughout childhood is linked to the development of risk factors for heart disease, such as an increased risk of obesity and elevated blood pressure in children and young adults… Overweight children who continue to take in more added sugars are more likely to be insulin resistant, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.”

New guidelines on added sugar for kids. CBS News. “Added sugars are often a trick for parents who want to convince their kids to eat foods they might otherwise refuse… it’s best to try to limit added sugar intake to foods that also come with other nutrients, such as milk and whole grains, rather than sugary sodas, for example, which have no nutritional value.”

American Heart Association Issues New Recommendations for Kids and Sugar. ABC News. “We’re talking about added sugar, not the naturally occurring sugars found in dairy products or fruit and really there is mounting evidence that sugar is the major culprit, probably more so than fat and salt, in our diets… We know it triggers addiction centers in the brain. It triggers inflammation in our body, the stimulation of fat around our organs”.

How Much Is Too Much? The growing concern over too much added sugar in our diets. Sugar Science.com. “It's easy to exceed those limits. With as many as 11 teaspoons (46.2 grams) of added sugar in one 12 oz. soda, a single serving is close to double most people's daily sugar allowance. But sugar also is pervasive in our food supply. A leading brand of yogurt, for example, has 7 teaspoons (29 grams) of total sugars in a single serving, most of it added.”





What are microgreens?

As the name suggests, microgreens are vegetable and herb seedlings less than 14 days old. They are younger than baby greens (i.e. baby spinach, baby kale) and older than sprouts (i.e. bean sprouts). They have been gaining in popularity in recent years due to their high nutrition content and ability to garnish many dishes with bright colors.

Health benefits

These tiny, vibrantly colored greens, pack even more nutrients that their adult versions. One research study measured the amount of four groups of vitamins and other phytochemicals – including vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene in 25 varieties of commercially available microgreens (i.e. daikon radish, arugula, cilantro, and basil). The results showed that microgreens had four to six times more nutrients than their adult counterparts.

Phytonutrients are known for their beneficial health-promoting properties, such as including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Thus, incorporating them into a healthy diet could be beneficial for Americans. Especially since only 1 in 10 Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables to meet the daily recommended amount of vitamins and minerals.

Where can I buy microgreens?

Some stores like Whole Foods sell microgreens. However, unless you live in a larger city, you will likely have trouble finding them at your local supermarket. Many people like to grow their own microgreens. Given this, microgreens are showing up more frequently at local farmer’s markets these days. The short germination and life span make it easy to grown them in small spaces, and indoors. You can also order them online.

Ways to incorporate microgreens into your diet

Microgreens make an excellent ingredient or garnish for soups, salads, and sandwiches. Try one of these easy recipes:

Three-ingredient Pea Soup. An excellent source of protein, fiber, and Vitamin A.

Microgreens with Strawberry-Lime Vinaigrette. An excellent source of protein, fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron.

California Club Sandwich. An excellent source of protein, fiber, unsaturated (healthy) fat, Vitamin C, and Iron.

Check out our Pinterest board for more ideas.