Simple Swaps for Fewer Calories

One of the things that I do on a regular basis to save on calories is swap healthier foods in for more calorie dense foods. The simple swaps will help you save calories through out the day without skimping on flavor.

Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream

Plain, low fat Greek yogurt is a great, healthy alternative to sour cream. This is one of the simple swaps that I make on a daily basis. You can sub in yogurt for sour cream ounce for ounce and save 44 calories, 53 calories from fat and gain 2 grams of protein! This is especilly true with uncooked recipes such as dips and dressings. My trick is to add extra flavorings to lighten the density of the yogurt and add something extra to your dish. Yogurt is actually a great alternative to a variety of heavier ingredients such as mayonnaise, cream cheese and even ice cream.

My favorite flavor combos:

  • Lemon juice + garlic + dill
  • Sriracha + honey
  • Salsa + chunks of avocado
  • Maply syrup + berries

Avocado instead of Mayonnaise

Avocados are one of my all time favorite foods and they are a wonderful substitute for mayonnaise. Ounce for ounce, you save over a hundred calories. Avocado contains fat but the amount is negligent in comparison to that of mayo and the fat that you get from avo is actually amazingly healthy for you! It’s actually the fat content in avocado that makes it such a wonderful swap from a texture standpoint. You still get that creamy decadence but for heart-healthy reasons.

Typically, I don’t bother going any further then scooping out the avocado and smearing it on bread with a pinch of sea salt but you can actually puree the flesh and add lemon, salt and cayenne to make it pop.

Easy Diet Simple Swap

Perfect avocado-for-mayo swaps:

  • on sandwiches and wraps
  • in dips and dressings (avocado Caesar anyone?)
  • Deviled eggs

Cauliflower instead of Potatoes

First, I’m a fan of potatoes. They are a healthy carb choice with plenty of nutritional merit to hold their own. But some nights I’m just not in the mood for potato heaviness. Cauliflower is a great substitute if you are looking for a lower calorie, lower carb swap.

I know plenty of folks that think “cauliflower, bleh”. But hold on. When done right, cauliflower is so much more than the mushy, steamed vegetable that you pushed around your plate as a kid.

Easy Diet Simple Swap

How to serve it to love it:

  • Mashed: steam it, mash it, add salt, pepper, smoked paprika, a touch of milk and a sprinkle of cheese.
  • Roasted: chop it, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, herbs, roast till crispy.
  • Pickled: chop it, cover jar with vinegar brine, garlic, herbs.

Carrots instead of Chips

Okay now before you say “For real, Julia?!”, this does not have to be an all-or-nothing swap. But if you close you eyes and imagine how easy it is to open and finish a bag of Scoops in one sitting, you might acknowledge that it’s time to lighten up your pre-dinner app. Carrots, or cucumbers, red pepper slices or celery sticks for that matter, are tasty, fresh, healthy substitutes for at least a few handfuls of chips.

Easy Diet Simple Swap

Tips to make veggies a better sub:

  • Use a mandoline to make even slices on a bias. Better for dipping.
  • To keep that crisp texture, soak carrots in ice water or bake with a bit of olive oil.
  • For an array of veggies that look as appetizing as they taste, grab beets, carrots, zucchini, radishes and even squash for your dip.

Zoodles instead of Noodles

Zoodles, or zucchini noodles, are getting more and more popular, and for good reason. There are only 21 calories in an entire cup of zucchini, but that cup is packed with vitamins and minerals. Next time you are in the mood for pasta, try swapping in zoodles for half of your serving of regular noodles.

Top ways to make zoodles:

  • Spiralizer: the fastest and easiest way to make zoodles (or carrot noodles or peel apples).

  • Peeler: not the easiest method but most of us have a peeler in our kitchen so this is perfect if you want to try zoodles say, tonight.


Believe it or not, these small, simple swaps, when done daily, add up to a lot of saved calories without having to sacrifice flavor!

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