5 Easy Nutrition Swaps for Home Cooking

Lemon Basil Dressing
Lemon Basil Dressing – 2 Guiding Stars

There are few ways we can modify, enhance, and boost a recipe to make it more likely that a developed dish will earn Guiding Stars. As you may know, a food earns one or more stars when it offers vitamins and minerals and is higher in fiber and heart healthy fat (including omega fats), while also being low in added salt, sugar, trans fats, and artificial colors. Making a recipe from ingredients that reflect these attributes means the recipe is more likely to earn Guiding Stars.

While you can’t rate your home recipes, there are simple swaps you can make that increase the chances that if you could rate it, it would earn a Guiding Star. Here are five of those easy nutrition swaps that I recommend making to boost the nutritional quality of your dish the next time you’re using your home chef skills.

Level up your grain.

Pass on the all-purpose flour. Try using whole grain or whole grain white flour instead to increase the vitamin, mineral, and protein content of your dish. Keep in mind that you may need to adjust the amount of flour to maintain the texture you’re seeking. These heartier flours can impact the density of a bread, cake, or other baked item.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough – 2 Guiding Stars

Avoid heavy cream.

Creamy chowders, casseroles, soups, and stews are often thickened with heavy cream. This means a recipe that is higher in saturated fat. Saturated fat is one of the negative attributes that results in a product not earning Guiding Stars. Why not thicken your dish with pureed beans, vegetables, or even nuts instead? Not only will you skip saturated fat, but you’ll add fiber, antioxidants, and heart-healthy fat instead.

Tomato Lentil Soup
Tomato Lentil Soup – 3 Guiding Stars

Make your own dressing.

This one isn’t so much a swap as a substitute. While it may be easy to grab a bottled dressing off the supermarket shelf, it’s surprisingly simple to make your own too. You choose the ingredients and can create a salad dressing that’s likely lower in salt, sugar, and some other negative attributes found in bottled dressing. Keep olive oil, vinegars, citrus, herbs, mustard, and different spices on hand to easily create different dressings.

Lemon Basil Dressing
Lemon Basil Dressing – 2 Guiding Stars

Use non-fat plain yogurt in place of sour cream or other fats.

Rich in protein, low in sugar, and with a tangy taste that makes it a blank canvas for so many dishes, non-fat plain yogurt is one of those foods that just needs to be in your fridge. Whether it’s creating a creamy dip, sauce, or even baked goods, plain, non-fat Greek yogurt is a versatile ingredient. Choose it in place of those that add saturated fat and additional calories to your recipe.

Yogurt Guacamole
Yogurt Guacamole – 3 Guiding Stars

Use pure cocoa powder with just enough sweet.

Cocoa may be bitter on its own. When partnered with just enough sweet from honey, agave, or fruit, however, cocoa powder brings rich chocolate flavor to many different dishes. Use it in place of sugary chocolate syrup or chips in baked goods. Blend it with avocado for a unique frosting. Stir it into your sweet smoothies to add chocolate flavor.

Chocolate Avocado Frosting
Chocolate Avocado Frosting – 3 Guiding Stars

For more ideas, see how my colleague Kit Broihier swaps out fats and bakes with fruits and veggies instead or check out how these surprising decadent recipes earn Guiding Stars.