If you spend a significant amount of your time daydreaming about creamy pasta dishes, buttery baked goods, and crispy breaded things, we feel you big time. Rich and decadent, your favorite dishes are beloved for their undeniably seductive qualities—but what if you could make simple substitutions to lighten up these recipes without sacrificing taste? Oh, yes. By harnessing the wonderful science of cooking (and baking), it’s possible to recreate the flavors and textures you crave by using ingredient swaps you most likely already have in your fridge or pantry. Below are 5 substitutions we make good use of when the belly wants what it wants—minus the guilt.
1. Greek Yogurt for Mayo or Sour Cream
Greek yogurt is the perfect sub wherever mayo or sour cream are called for. This is terrific news if you have a soft spot for creamy, comforting (traditionally mayo-laden) foods like chicken salad, coleslaw, or deviled eggs. Instead of heavy sour cream, Greek yogurt adds the same richness and tang to cheesecakes, ranch dressing, crema (pictured above) and guacamole.
2. Bananas for Eggs
Bananas are delicious on their own, but they’re also a perfect replacement for eggs if you want to eliminate a bit of cholesterol or go vegan. They can easily stand in for eggs in pancakes, muffins, breads, and cakes. Try using about 1/3 cup of mashed bananas for every egg required.
3. Applesauce for Oil
If you love to bake, there’s no need to deny yourself the indulgence. Unsweetened applesauce is a time-honored sub for oil. It lends subtle sweetness minus the fat. With this handy trick, you can whip up brownies and cakes all the livelong day and not feel too bad.
4. Milk and Lemon for Buttermilk
We often wake up wanting fluffy pancakes for breakfast, but seldom have buttermilk in our fridge. Unless you bake frequently, you probably don’t have it in stock at all times either. The good news is that the lighter alternative happens to be super easy to make. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of milk and let the mixture sit for about five minutes. Voilà! You have yourself enough buttermilk to make your pancake dreams come true.
5. Oats for Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs add savory crunch to many dish elements—think fish and veggies—but you can achieve the texture and eliminate some of the calories by using rolled oats instead. This sub is a useful one for the times when you want eggplant Parmesan (aka all the time) but would rather skip the heavy breading. Try coating your eggplant slices with rolled oats instead.