Last week I made tomato pie for dinner. This usually calls for mayonnaise, in other words, 100 calories in 1 Tablespoon—one hundred, you read that right!! Considering tomato pie is also loaded with cheese (hey, we had broccoli and salad on the side), the dietitian in me used my go-to substitute: plain Greek yogurt. It has just 13 calories in a Tablespoon, as well as a considerable amount of protein. Using Greek yogurt as a substitute in a mixed concoction, or as a topping (like on tacos, instead of sour cream), is a much healthier choice that typically goes unnoticed. There are many substitutes out there: I have created this table as a guide for you to consider how to make your ingredients more healthful.

Keep in mind, these are just suggestions and ideas to how you can improve every day ingredients. What works for someone may not work for another. Substitutions typically work best in cooking rather than baking, and if you make yourself cookies with applesauce instead of oil, you may tend to eat more because you tell yourself they’re healthy (when they’re only healthier). If you want to make some healthful baked goods, avocado or black bean brownies are always fun for experimentation purposes. For me, though, I’ll stick with my rich, gooey brownies filled with butter, sugar and dark chocolate–I’ll eat a few and then give the rest to neighbors! I hope these help you Balance Like A Mother!

Instead of

Use Comments


Sour Cream

Greek yogurt

It is hard to notice a difference in taste between the yogurt and sour cream. Mayo has a different taste but the substation works in many recipes.

Russet Potato

Sweet Potato

When it comes to baked, mashed, or even French fries, sweet potatoes are always the healthiest choice.

Heavy Cream

Half & Half

Plain Cashew Nut Milk

Cashew milk is an easily substituted dairy-free option, plus it’s lower in calories than milk.


Mashed Potatoes


Cauliflower is full of vitamins and is delicious when using the right seasonings.

Pasta Noodles

Spaghetti Squash

Sweet Potato Spiralized

Buy yourself a spiralizer and get wild! Zucchini works, too!

White Sugar


Maple Syrup

This isn’t always the best for baking cakes, but when it comes to muffins or say an addition to your oatmeal, it works.

Ground Beef

Ground Turkey This works in things like sloppy joes and tacos, but if you love your burgers traditionally, choose a lower fat beef instead of the turkey sub.

Pork Sausage

Turkey Sausage

Works every time.

Bottled Dressings

Homemade Dressings

Homemade dressings are cleaner, tastier, and typically a lower-calorie choice.



Avocadoes can make up for the lack of cheese on a deli sandwich, but I wouldn’t suggest avocados in place of cheese on pizza.



As a baker, I don’t typically substitute for oil because it can change the consistency (depending on the baked good). Instead, I believe in moderation.

Flour Tortillas

Corn Tortillas

Romaine Lettuce

Corn tortillas aren’t my favorite texture wise, but they are the healthier option. Using a leaf of lettuce, though, adds a nice crunch and a tiny bit of fiber.

Iceberg Lettuce

Mixed Greens

Baby Spinach


If you’re still using iceberg, that is not okay. Try romaine and then work your way up to the other leafy greens.

Vegetable Oil


Olive Oil

Coconut Oil

When it comes to baking, using oil in place of butter may not always work, but for cooking, it works every time and is a healthier option.