How to Build a Better Recipe for Healthy Eating


In this post, we will be talking about different substitutions that can be used with your favorite recipes while baking or cooking to create a lower-calorie, healthier meal.

By By Anna Zilinskas, BS, DPP-GLB Lifestyle Coach and Elizabeth Venditti, PhD

The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) found that lifestyle changes including healthier eating, physical activity and weight loss were more effective in reducing the incidence of diabetes in persons at high risk compared to participants who received the drug metformin. Group Lifestyle Balance is a comprehensive lifestyle behavior change program adapted from the DPP, which focuses on making healthy food choices, meal planning, and increasing physical activity levels. Self-monitoring and self-awareness are key to making behavior changes and achieving success.

Many participants of the GLB program tell us they are interested in healthy baking and cooking substitutes. There are many options that can put a healthier twist on favorite recipes. Try these nutritionally-sound substitutions and see how they work for you. Enjoy!

Healthy Baking and Cooking Substitutes

 Instead of: Substitute:
1 cup cream 1 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1 cup butter, margarine, or oil ½ cup apple butter or applesauce
1 egg 2 egg whites or ¼ cup egg substitute
Pastry dough Graham cracker crumb crust
Butter, margarine, or vegetable oil for sautéing Cooking spray, chicken broth, or small amount of olive oil
Bacon Lean turkey bacon
Ground beef Extra lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
1 cup chocolate chips ¼ or ½ cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup cream cheese ½ cup ricotta cheese pureed with ½ cup fat-free cream cheese
Oil and vinegar dressing with 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar 1 part olive oil + 1 part vinegar (preferably a flavored vinegar, such as balsamic) + 1 part orange juice
Unsweetened baking chocolate 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or margarine


Your favorite recipes can be improved without sacrificing taste or flavor! When you try one of the options suggested next time you cook or bake, comment below to document your experience.

Group Lifestyle Balance Lifestyle coaches are trained to deliver a healthy lifestyle change curriculum and to provide support for their patients/participants as they make these healthy lifestyle changes – including keeping a food diary. Interested in becoming a GLB-DPP coach? Learn more here.