Healthy Substitutions


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

Simple Swaps

Instead of:

Air popped popcorn
Potato chips

Baked sweet potato fries
French fries

Plain yogurt
Sour cream

Greek yogurt
Mayo (in tuna/chicken salad)

Croutons (in salad)

Avocado spread

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

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

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

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. 

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

Ranch salad dressing

Chicken fajitas, bean burritos, or fish tacos
Crispy tacos or deep-fried dishes

Salad or grilled vegetables on the side

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.