Healthy Living: Strange Food Replacements You Wouldn’t Expect


Is the winter weather outside making you crave your coziest comfort food? Us too. It wouldn’t be the holidays without a bit of indulgence, but there’s no reason that your waistline should suffer. We’ve gathered some of our favorite ingredient swaps that reduce calories but taste great. Before you proceed, keep an open mind. Some of these substitutions may sound strange, but they’ve been enjoyed by the palettes of some very discerning StyleCasters!

And trust us, we love food–especially delicious holiday recipes!



Applesauce is an old housewife staple of waist-savvy moms who love to bake. It’s used as replacement for oil and works best in treats that are traditionally moist. Cookies won’t work, but cupcakes absolutely will. If this is your first time trying applesauce in your baking endeavors, one source recommends replacing no more than 3/4 of the oil, butter, or shortening in any recipe. Those more familiar with this saucy method may find they prefer an almost complete substitution, with just a tablespoon of butter or oil for texture.


Cottage Cheese

Some people hate the thought of this curded cheese, but if you learn to think of it like mild ricotta, your dress size will thank you. With half the fat and calories of ricotta, cottage cheese tastes almost exactly the same. If it’s the texture that freaks you out, try putting it in the blender for a few seconds. Next time you make your favorite lasagna dish, try our recommended swap and you will be pleasantly surprised. We swear.



You may only think of pumpkin as a filling for everyone’s favorite holiday pie. Pumpkin can become your new best friend, which we discovered thanks to Hungry Girl. She substitutes pumpkin almost every chance she gets, and for only 30 calories a cup, we’re jumping on the bandwagon. Try her idea of mixing two cups of canned pumpkin (we love the brand Libby’s) with an 18.3-oz sized box of brownie mix. Bake in an 8 x 8 pan for about 35 minutes. Hungry Girl notes that it will look slightly underdone, but looks complete once it’s cooled. Cut into 36 squares and enjoy each piece for only 63 calories. (We ate about four and felt no guilt.)


Diet Coke

Yup. You read it right. You can bake with diet coke, and it is insanely simple. Ready? Buy a box of chocolate cake mix. Pour in a bowl, then mix in one can of Diet Coke. Put it in the oven as the instructions suggest, but be sure to keep an eye on your cooking prized possession. The result is fluffy, moist, and completely delicious. We dare you to try the swap, then see if your boyfriend suspects this tricky bait and switch.

Tofu Shirataki Noodles

Put down that eyebrow you just raised in suspicion, dear reader. Tofu Shirataki noodles, while being a little weird to handle, are a godsend. Hungry Girl turned us on to these bizarre tofu “noodles.” One entire bag (yes bag) of them are only 40 calories. Rachel Ray featured one of HG’s most popular recipes for fettuccine alfredo, so you know it has to be good. Try the recipe tonight! (Hint: Tofu Shirataki can be found in almost every major grocery store these days. If you have trouble finding it, however, you can purchase the noodles online!)

1 package House Foods Tofu Shirataki, Fettuccine Shape
1/2 wedge The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese, room temperature
2 tsp. reduced-fat Parmesan-style grated topping
1 tsp. fat-free sour cream
Salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Use a strainer to rinse and drain shirataki noodles well. Pat dry. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 1 minute. Drain excess liquid. Dry as thoroughly as possible, using paper towels. Cut noodles up a bit.
2. Add cheese, grated topping, and sour cream. Mix well.
3. Microwave for 1 minute, and then stir.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Your mouth will be too full to thank us, so we’re saying “you’re welcome” in advance. Enjoy!

[Hungry Girl, Examiner, Rachel Ray]