Healthy Substitutions


Making easy swaps can keep the flavor in your meal without all the calories. 

Simple Swaps

Choose: Instead of:
Air popped popcorn Potato chips
Baked sweet potato fries French fries
Plain yogurt Sour cream
Greek yogurt Mayo (in tuna/chicken salad)
Nuts Croutons (in salad)
Avocado spread Mayo
Sliced tomatoes Tomato sauce (on pizza)

Mom tip

“I started eating salsa on my salad one time when we were out of salad dressing, and I liked it so much I kept doing it.” –Nancy


Healthier Salad Dressing 

Salads are a great way to get your vitamins and fill up your family. But bottled salad dressing can have lots of fat, sodium, and calories. Try using salsa instead of dressing. Or squeeze lemon or lime juice over your salad. If you use bottled dressing, choose a light one made of oil and vinegar and use 2 tablespoons or less per serving.

Make Your Own Dressing

In a small bowl, combine and whisk:

  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar or juice (lemon, lime, or orange)
  • 6 tablespoons of oil (olive oil, vegetable oil)
  • Your favorite herbs and seasonings. Try:
    • Garlic powder
    • Ginger
    • Fresh or dried herbs
    • Chili powder or cumin
    • Dijon mustard
    • Honey or maple syrup
  • Add some Greek yogurt or low-fat buttermilk to make a creamy dressing

Southern Food Swaps

Choose: Instead of:
Smoked turkey or turkey sausage (90% lean or more) Bacon or pork sausage
Low-fat milk, buttermilk, almond milk, or coconut milk Whole milk
Herbs and spices, healthy options: garlic powder, onion powder, salt-free Cajun seasoning, smoked or sweet paprika, and crushed red pepper Salt
Hot sauce Ketchup or high-sodium condiments
Low-sodium stock Regular stock
Roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes and okra Fried veggies
Olive oil or canola oil Butter or lard to season or sauté foods
Unsweetened applesauce Butter, shortening, or oil in baked goods
Oven or pan-frying Deep-frying

Want to make your Southern cooking healthier? Try these swaps! 

Mexican Food Swaps

Whether you are eating out or cooking at home, little changes add up to make a big difference. 

Choose: Instead of:
Pico de gallo or salsa Queso or shredded cheese
Baked tortilla chips or veggie dippers Fried chips
Soft tortillas Crispy fried shells
Corn tortillas White flour tortillas
Black or pinto beans Refried beans
Salsa Ranch salad dressing
Chicken fajitas, bean burritos, or fish tacos Crispy tacos or deep-fried dishes
Salad or grilled vegetables on the side Rice
Fresh fruit for dessert Desserts full of sugar

Mom tip

“I always put applesauce in my cakes. It makes them moist, and I use less oil.” –Trisha


Choose This, Not That

Food substitutions are an easy way to eat healthier.