Altering Recipes for Better Health

As a mom, I want to make foods for my family that taste good and are good for them. Sometimes I do this by altering a recipe to make it a bit healthier but still taste good.  For some recipes, I reduce the amount of an ingredient. In others, I substitute one ingredient for another. Small changes can make a big difference in the amount of fat, salt, sugar and fiber in a dish.

Here are some ways I alter recipes to make them healthier:

  • Reduce the amount of sugar by 1/3.
  • Replace ¼ to ½ of refined flour with whole-wheat flour.
  • Use plain yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • Substitute skim or low-fat milk for whole milk.
  • Use whole grains in place of refined grains.


For more ways to alter recipes for better health, use this guide by Purdue Extension.  Try making one change at a time so you can see what works best for your recipe and what your family likes. And some recipes, like family traditions, might be best to enjoy as they are!

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Resource for using up ingredients

I don’t have a large kitchen which means I don’t have room to store ingredients I won’t use (or keep until they are so old I have to throw them out). In a fit of organization, I went through my cupboards and pulled out 9 items I needed to to use or get rid of. One internet site I like to use to search for recipes with specific ingredients is You can put in the ingredients you want, those you don’t, and you have the choice to search all the recipes or by category. The only thing that is annoying is the pop-ups that ask if you want to become a member or a supporting member. Here are the 9 items and what I decided:

  1. Salsa Picante Hot Sauce—Try to use instead of Tabasco in the marinade I make frequently.
  2. Raspberry Jalapeno Ambrosia Sauce—Pour over lite cream cheese for an appetizer I need to take for New Years Eve Party.
  3. Canned Savory Beef Gravy—See if my daughter wants.
  4. Fish Sauce—Give away.
  5. Maraschino Cherries—I think I bought these to decorate yeast rolls. Give away.
  6. Guacamole Mix— Just add avocado and serve the night we have #8. Maybe next time I have dinner club I can do a Mexican theme.
  7. Hoisin Sauce—The Allrecipe search came up with 67 recipes. To narrow my choices, first I sorted by rating, then I looked at the number of reviews. There is one that I think would be good: Super-Simple, Super-Spicy Mongolian Beef. Since super spicy doesn’t appeal, I will omit or reduce the red pepper flakes in the recipe.
  8. Roasted Tomato Taco Sauce—The Allrecipe site came up with 31 recipes that included taco sauce. Chicken Enchiladas I has 1,139 reviews and 4+ stars. Beef and Bean Chimichangas has 479 reviews and 4+ stars. I will look at these recipes and choose one to make.
  9. Fajita Marinade—The bottle says to marinate chicken or beef in half a bottle for 15 minutes, then cook.

I feel better knowing I don’t have to look at those items in the cupboard. Do you have any organizing tips you would like to share?

-pointers by Peggy

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