Six substitutions you should make in your cooking now

Many shun away from the idea of healthy cooking, but it’s easier and possibly tastier than you think. With simple ingredient substitutions in your daily meal preparation, you won’t need to sacrifice flavour to cut some calories. Here are some healthy cooking substitutions to start you off with:

1 Organic raw virgin coconut oil instead of vegetable oil

You may think you’re spoilt for choice, what with the extensive range of cooking oils available today, but be careful which you use. When cooking with omega-6–loaded polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as those made with canola, corn, and soy, the heat causes the oxidation of their antioxidants, adding more toxic burden to your body. Trans-fats are introduced when these oils are hydrogenated, increasing your risk of breast cancer and heart disease.

Virgin coconut oil is highly recommended for cooking because it is almost a completely saturated fat, making it stable enough to withstand heat-induced damage. It’s more easily digested, and do not get stored as fat. Almost 50 percent of its fat is made of lauric acid, which has antibacterial, antiviral, and antiprotozoal properties. Be sure however, to get certified organic coconut oil because then the nutrients are intact and there aren’t any harmful additives and solvents. 

Introduce coconut oil to your breakfast with this kale sweet potato scramble.

2. Extra-virgin live oil-based vinaigrette instead of cream dressing

Salads are the go-to quick and healthy meal, but the truth lies in the dressing. Many drown their salads with cream-based dressings, such as Thousand Island and Ranch. These dressings are often mixed with fat-laden mayonnaise, and are high in calories and sugar. Just two tablespoons of Thousand Island dressing, for instance, contain a whopping 194 calories and 20 grams of fat. Opt instead for low-fat or fat-free vinaigrettes such as olive oil and vinegar, and balsamic vinegar, which are high in important omega-3 fats, low in saturated fat and calories, and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

Drizzle this garlic-herb vinaigrette over your next salad.

3. Avocado instead of mayonnaise dressing

If you must have your salads coated in a rich dressing, reach out for an avocado instead of a jar of mayonnaise. Easily digestible, rich in omega-3, loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and equally creamy, a ripe avocado is one of the tastiest healthy substitute for a mayonnaise-based salad dressing.

Give mayonnaise-laden potato salad a twist with this creamy avocado potato salad.

4. Greek yoghurt instead of mayonnaise / sour cream / buttermilk

Delicious on its own, Greek yoghurt is the perfect substitute for mayonnaise, sour cream or buttermilk. Greek yoghurt may contain fewer calories and fat, but its similar consistency and tanginess makes it an easy one-to-one substitution without much difference in the resulting taste and texture. With lower fat and added probiotics, try swapping Greek yoghurt into your next salad, pasta or pancakes. Just be sure that the Greek yoghurt you use is all-natural, plain, with no or little added sugar. 

Make these fluffy wholewheat oat pancakes for brunch this weekend.

5. Puréed potato instead of cream

It may seem impossible to cook a hearty soup without cream as a thickener, but there is a healthier alternative with lower fat and calories. Adding puréed or mashed potato to your soup adds a lovely creaminess and neutral flavour, and the potassium in the potatoes will help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke.  You can cook the potatoes separately, puree with hot stock and add to the soup as a final step, or simply cook potatoes with the soup and use an immersion blender to purée it in the pot.

Serve a warm bowl of this potato and bean soup on a chilly evening.

6. Rolled oats instead of breadcrumbs

Not just restricted to your breakfast platter, rolled oats come in handy when you’re baking croquettes or preparing breaded chicken. Heart-healthy and full of iron, fibre and vitamin B, try rolled oats in place of salt-laden dry breadcrumbs for a healthier choice. Simply pulse rolled oats in your food processor, and use them to coat your chicken cutlet, or add crunch to your macaroni and cheese topping. You can barely taste the difference, particularly if you add some seasonings like dried rosemary or oregano to the pulverised oats.

Bake parmesan oat-crusted chicken for a change.

Top photo: Huffington Post

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