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Healthy Substitutions That Aren't Sick: A Guest Post by Karlee RDN, CD

"Hello, hello, hello children." Name that reference. Also, if you know what it's from, are you enjoying it as much as I am? If you don't know what it's from, do you like how vague I'm keeping this? 

I want to address something quickly before we get to the main part of today's post. 

Be good humans. Be awesome. Be loving and kind. 

 There is so much negativity online and hate towards people of different opinions and beliefs, and towards someone whose name rhymes with "crump" (which is a super awesome dance style I'd like to learn someday. Anyone want to teach me?). I want to be uplifting, fun, funny, and helpful so I'm going to try to only share uplifting, fun, funny, and helpful stuff on my blog. I encourage you to do the same on your social media sites. It's okay to have an opinion, it's not okay to hurt others.
Don't post mean comments online to anyone for any reason. Would you say that to their face if you were standing in front of them? You might think yes, but I don't think that you would. I have made this mistake more than once (unintentionally) and I have hurt friends and family members. I still feel horrible about it. Not worth it. If you disagree with someone's choices or opinions, do it in a respectful way. 

On the flip side, you can choose to be offended or not if someone says something mean. In the wise words of Taylor Swift, "Shake it off, Shake it off, oh oh oh."

Also, last thing, here's a public apology to anyone else that I've hurt. I'm sorry. If you have a beef with me, please please tell me (and thanks for reading my blog anyway). I would like to make it right with you and also give you a treat.
Speaking of treats, we have a real treat today (I definitely wasn't planning on using that as a lead-in, but it kind of worked). My cute friend Karlee reached out to me and said that she would like to write a guest post! 
This is Karlee! She's a babe in every way.

She's awesome, so of course I said yes! She's a fancy Registered Dietician, and I asked her to share with me some substitutions that are healthy but not gross. She used her superpowers and delivered the goods. She even included a recipe! Hurray for that! Here are said goods and recipe:

Healthy Recipe Substitutions That Aren't Sick
By Karlee Adams RDN, CD

I am a Registered Dietitian, which basically means I went to school for four years, took a lot of biology, chemistry, anatomy, and nutrition classes to become an expert on what food and nutrients do to the human body. More info found here.

Having a healthy diet to me means that instead of trying to cut foods out of my diet (i.e. sugar, butter, fried chicken, cookies, etc.), I try to make sure I am including as many good foods into my diet as often as possible.  Sometimes cooking substitutions are a great way to do that. Cooking substitutions can also help modify a recipe if you are cooking for someone who has food allergies but would like to be included in the eating fun! Here are a few of my favorites that aren't sick, why the food chemistry works with that substitution, and maybe when that substitution might not work in a recipe.

Chia Seeds- These little beauties are full of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals and as fun fact their name actually means "strength" in Mayan. If you want to learn more visit this science review of this fun seed.  You can add these to all sorts of recipes but as a substitute they are great for replacing eggs in baked goods.  Eggs are great, but sometimes you just ran out. Or your nephew through them all on the floor or your cousin is allergic to them. In that case, chia or flax seeds (similar health benefits to chia seeds but need to be ground up to release the nutrients from their protective shell) are your option. Because of the way that chia seeds absorb liquid and swell to create a gel, they are great substitutes for eggs.  All you have to do is add 3 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds for each egg you are going to sub out, then let sit for 5 minutes before adding to recipe.  I’ve had the most success with pancakes, donuts, muffins and other baked goods where a “poppy seed look” doesn’t really matter. 

Avocado- I love using mashed avocado in replace of mayo as a spread or even when I’m making egg salad, tuna salad, or chicken salad for sandwiches. Avocados are loaded with fiber and monounsaturated fats which are fantastic for your heart. Fats are also great for keeping you satisfied with a smaller amount of food. There are also a number of recipes out there for avocado ice cream that people seem to really like. I haven’t tried any yet but it’s on my to-do list.

Zucchini and Spaghetti Squash- I love making zoodles.  If you haven’t heard of these they are basically zucchini cut into a noodle shape by a spiralizer or even shredding them (shredding doesn’t give long noodles though).  I love using both of these as a lower calorie and lower carbohydrate substitute for pasta.  Zucchini is also great at becoming lasagna noodles as well. My favorite recipe though is sautéing the zoodles in a little bit of garlic and butter and throwing some lemony cooked shrimp on top for a 15 minute skinny shrimp scampi dinner. The amount of ways to use zoodles or spaghetti squash is as infinite as actual pasta.  Remember though, our bodies (especially our brains) still need carbs to function so don’t cut those out of your diet altogether; this is just a way to reduce calories in one place so you can use your carbs and calories in another place in your diet!

Fat Replacers- Sometimes you just want to reduce the overall calories of a recipe by cutting down or replacing the fat (which is the highest calorie macronutrient we consume at 9 calories/gram. Protein and carbs are at 4 cals/g). Fat is important for a lot of body processes, so I don’t recommend trying to cut fat out of your diet altogether or else you may get some unexpected consequences... But if you are watching overall calories or want to add other nutrients to your recipe, then these might be a good idea:
·         Applesauce: This can be used to replace half of a fat in baked goods. Benefits are that it increases fiber, moisture, and sweetness of a recipe. The downside is that it can make a recipe spread more than you want (cookies, for example). I like to use this for cakes or quick breads most of the time.
·         Bananas: similar to applesauce
·         Pureed Beans: This can replace all of the fat in a cookie recipe very easily and you can’t even tell that you are missing butter or shortening.  This bumps up the fiber content of anything you add it to. Here is a tried and true recipe that you could be pleasantly surprised by!

Yield: 3 dozen

¾ cup mashed white beans
3 tablespoons canola oil
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup egg substitute or 1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees. Mash up the cooked beans* with a potato masher or a blender. In a large mixing bowl combine the beans, oil, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla.  In a separate bowl mix the oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the bean mixture, add any other mix-ins you’d like (Chocolate Chips, Nuts, Dried fruit). Mix together until all ingredients are incorporated.  Note: If you let the mixture sit for 10 minutes or so the oats absorb some of the liquid and it will be easier to form into balls. Drop onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Let cookies cool slightly and set up before transferring to a cooling rack.

*You can use canned beans but the flavor will be more noticeable than when using dry beans. To prepare them, soak overnight then rinse them underwater in the morning. Put them in a crock pot and cover them with water. Cook on low for 6 hours and they will be nice and soft. Drain and mash. 

Those are just a few fun ways to change up the things you use and incorporate a greater variety of nutrients into your diet! There are many more out there but these are just a few of my favorites that I have actually tried and aren't disgusting. 


She's awesome! Tina asks me for plain butter on the daily if that's any indication of how things are going at our house... I have a lot of work to do. But in all seriousness, I'm really excited to try some of these substitutions and definitely those cookies!

Comment on what other fun substitutions you’ve done! If you have any questions for Karlee, go ahead and post them! She's got a "lifetime of knowledge." Name that movie. 

If you're interested in writing a guest post for my blog, hit me up! 

Thanks for reading, and see you on the flip-flop!



  1. My best guesses: Series of Unfortunate Events and (I know this do you have a blog titled "Chew like you have a secret" and not know this one) She's the Man.
    Chia seeds...who knew???
    Also, zoodles...I'm hesitant... lol
    I'm off refined white flour, eating more than 3 fruits a day, and all but 15g of 'treat' sugars a day until Baby comes, so the zoodles are something I should give a try....


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