How to Make a Recipe Healthier

Good morning!

Today I will be sharing how to make a recipe healthier. As you guys know, I love to make recipes healthier with simple ingredient substitutions. Give me normal tuna/chicken salad or deviled eggs, and I will make Tuna Salad with a Healthy Twist, Autumn Chicken Salad, and Healthy Deviled Eggs.

Healthy Tuna SaladHealthy Deviled Eggs

Give me sugar-laden, white flour, calorie bomb muffin recipes, and I will turn them into healthy, whole grain Sweet Potato Cranberry Coconut Muffins, Almond Butter Banana Breakfast Bars, and Carrot Cake Muffins.

Almond Butter Banana Bars

Even previously decadent dips can simply be made healthier (but stay just as delicious) — for example, one of my favorites: Healthier Seven Layer Dip.

seven layer dip

Last week at my dietetic internship, I was asked to create an informational nutrition-related handout/flyer for use at a bunch of the community cooking and nutrition events we’re hosting this summer. Given that I’m a healthy recipe modification fiend, you can probably guess what I created. :)

Introducing the fANNEtastic Healthy Cooking Substitutions printable flyer!


Click here to download the full, printable PDF file!

I hope you guys find it helpful! Obviously the version I made for my internship has their logo on the bottom of it, but they were cool with me swapping it out for my logo here on the blog, since I created it and all ;)


And clearly there are a lot of other ways to make recipes healthier, too, but these are just some of the major ones that I use all the time. I didn’t include anything too out of the ordinary (like a vegan flax egg, for example), because I wanted to make sure the flyer was useful for all demographics — I realize that not everyone can shop at Whole Foods and get obscure ingredients!

Happy recipe health-ifying! Let me know if you try any of my tips — I’d love to hear how it goes!


  1. 1

    I just made muffins similar to your Carrot Cake ones last night. I can’t wait to share the recipe. I used two bananas, walnuts, orange zest among other things. I think I’m going to call them “jam packed” muffins. Ha! Love this :)

  2. 3

    That’s a great list. I love using (whole milk) Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. My husband has started requesting it in egg salad instead of mayo too!

    I’m always hesitant to replace fats with applesauce after tasting many gummy, too-moist, “healthy” baked treats. I noticed that for butter though, you did half and half instead of a full replacement. I’m going to try this!

    • 4

      Try one of my recipes – they totally aren’t gummy! I find things get gummy when people use all whole wheat flour (not whole wheat pastry flour, which is softer) in a recipe.

      Or give the half oil, half something else idea a try, that would work, too!

  3. 5

    Just printed it to keep on my fridge. This is a great resource!

  4. 7

    Great substitutions :)

  5. 8

    Those tips are great! I use some of them all the time, and I should forward it to family members who always ask me how to cook healthier.

    • 9

      You definitely should!

      While these tips are all utilized in my recipes, I realized it would be really helpful to share how others can healthify their own recipes, too!

  6. 10

    Great list of substitutions! I never knew for heavy cream you could do half cream half yogurt, or evaporated milk. I’ll have to try that one!

    • 11

      I’ve also had good luck using a combo of whole milk and nonfat greek yogurt! Especially in curry dishes that tend to simmer for a long time to thicken anyway :)

  7. 12

    That’s great Anne! To us food bloggers the information may seem pretty basic, but to most of the world those are extremely helpful tricks!!

  8. 13

    What a handy sheet. I’d also add that using prune baby food in chocolate baked desserts works well as a replacement for part of the butter. I came across that in a cooking light recipe once and now find it works like a charm. I’m also a huge fan, like you, of using yogurt & mustard in place of mayo, though I usually add in just a tablespoon or two of light mayo to the overall mixture. It gives it that hint of egginess while still keeping the calories in check.

  9. 15
    Karin Carmack says

    Hey Anne can you come up with a easy healthy homemeade pie crust recipe or perhaps you already have… :-)

    • 16

      I’ve actually never made a pie from scratch! :( I don’t usually cook anything that’s too long winded or complicated, hehe. Maybe for the next big holiday I’ll give it a try…

  10. 17

    Thanks for sharing! Have bookmarked the PDF!

  11. 18

    Such a great idea!

  12. 19

    Anne, thanks for making this awesome list! I always read tips like these in magazine or articles, but never have them handy when I’m actually making something. This is going on my fridge! Yay! Yippee!

  13. 21

    I love your Healthy Substitute Cooking page. Thank you so much. I love it.I am sure this will be most helpful. Just printed it and put in my fannetastic cookbook.

  14. 23

    It amazes me what some people consider to be a healthy recipe. Sometimes I am reading a recipe on a blog and it will say “healthy” in the title and the first ingredient in ap flour, then white sugar, then butter, then brown sugar… and I keep reading, looking for the healthy part. None to be found.

    I like you recipes, because they are truly healthy.

  15. 24

    Love the tips! I knew most of them already, but a reminder is always nice!

  16. 25

    That flyer is awesome. I love subbing in apple sauce. Everything tastes the same, but BAM, so many fewer calories.

  17. 26

    I just presented this topic at a Women Go Red event. Unlike last year during my internship, I get paid to do this stuff (about time!).

  18. 28

    So cute! You and your ff logo – ha, love it! :)

    Greek yogurt is BY FAR my favorite “health” food to use in recipes – it makes anything creamy and you can never taste the “plain yogurt” flavor. It’s like magic!

  19. 29

    I love the advice, since I always substitute healthy, low carb and lower fat when I cook.

    One of your bloggers asked for a healthy suggestion for pie crust:
    I usually use grape nuts cereal, or corn flakes cereal, or crushed Graham crackers (all depends on the pie filling) as a healthy, but tasty, substitute for fattening pie crust
    Hope my suggestion helps!

  20. 31

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing! Very helpful!

  21. 32

    This is really impressive, Anne. Great stuff — and wonderfully presented. Very well done!

  22. 33

    OH my gosh, I LOVE THIS!

    I am JUST LIKE YOU, I healthify EVERYTHING! I’m doing a healthy-cooking night at my church for the other girls my age and I was going to make a flyer JUST LIKE THIS to hand out to them, so it’s perfect! THANK YOU SO MUCH it’s fabulous!

  23. 35

    this is really helpful! thanks!

  24. 36

    Thanks for the healthy substitutes! I’m on my way to a healthier body!

  25. 37

    What a great tool! I will definitely be tacking your flyer to our fridge. I am always trying to make recipes healthier, whether they are patently unhealthy to begin with and need some serious redemption, or even a little extra kick to make an already healthy recipe even better (think adding chia seeds, etc) Thanks, Anne!

  26. 39

    Just printed it out – so awesome!

  27. 40
    Isabelle Le Court says

    Thanks so much for these tips! I think this is the first blog where HEALTHY recipes can be found, usually the recipes are not that healthy. I will definitely try these, and your picture, I don’t know if you took them on Google or if it was your food, but they look very nice. I am now printing your ‘healthy cooking substitution’ Great thing! thank you!! I think I’ve found what i’ll be eating tonight! ;)

  28. 41
    Cassie Nespor says

    I just read this post (and printed the handy chart!). My problem is that my mom’s recipes (my comfort food) use a lot of condensed cream soups as a base- cream of mushroom or chicken mostly. I haven’t been able to find a substitute for those. Any suggestions?

  29. 43

    These replacements look really good-I’m always baking for my family but sometimes not the healthiest things, hopefully this will help get them into better shape!

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