Cutting Calories Through Ingredient Swaps

Sometimes, cutting hundreds of calories out of your diet can be as simple as altering a few basic ingredients in your favorite dishes.




Cutting calories can be extremely hard – if you make it hard. In reality, it is often as easy as forgoing some calorie-dense ingredients in favor of homemade or low fat substitutes. Other times, it is as simple as recognizing that what you buy in the store isn’t always made with your health in mind. To cut as many as 300 calories from your diet a day, replace the following items whenever possible.

Caesar Dressing

A Caesar salad should be one of the healthiest things that you can eat. Not only is the protein source extremely lean grilled chicken, but the rest of the meal consists almost entirely of vegetables. Even the croutons get a pass because they add some carbohydrates to an otherwise carb-devoid salad. Yet the devil is in the details, and in this case the details are in the dressing.

Just two tablespoons of Caesar dressing can contain over 150 calories and 18g of fat. That is astronomically high for any food, much less a dressing on a salad. Instead, ditch the dressing and replace it with one low in fat or make your own Caesar dressing (there are plenty of homemade, natural Caesar recipes online).

Candied Sweet Potatoes

This holiday favorite should send red flags flying as seen as you read the word “candied”. Often times, the recipe will call for sweet potatoes drenched in butter and brown sugar. This results in a dish that can pack over 400 calories a serving. Instead, sweeten the potatoes with maple syrup (which is rich in antioxidants) and flavor it with spices such nutmeg and clove.

Macaroni and Cheese

Few things are as delicious and rewarding as homemade macaroni and cheese. It is the very essence of a comfort food. Unfortunately, however, all of that dairy can pack a whopping serving of saturated fat. To combat this, use low-fat cheddar cheese and 1% or skim milk in your recipe. Add some whole-grain bread crumbs to the top when you are done, and you’ll have a dish that contains 150 calories less a serving and sacrificed little, if any, flavor.

Homemade Pie

Here’s the problem with most homemade pies; they often use store-bought, pre-shaped crusts. By replacing the store bought crust with one made out of crushed graham crackers, wheat germ, and flax seed, you can reduce the calorie count by 50% in some pies all without changing what you put in the middle. Even better, flaxseed provides Omega-3’s such as ALA whilst wheat germ contains Vitamin E, a potent blood sugar regulator.


Let’s be honest. As much as we love meatloaf, by the time the finished product comes out, it is an unrecognizable hunk of protein that often times derives much of its flavor from the sauce that it is drenched in. Given this, why not replace ground beef with extra-lean ground turkey? Add breadcrumbs and some herbs for texture, and you’ll have a dish with hundreds of less calories and 95% less saturated fat.

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