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Easy Thanksgiving Ingredient Swaps To Save Calories

Easy Thanksgiving Ingredient Swaps To Save Calories


Who doesn’t love the sweet aroma of pumpkin muffins, apple pie, and sugar cookies filling the house during these crisp, autumn days?   But most of us don’t love the resulting inches on our waistlines and pounds on the scale.   A few simple ingredient swaps will not only decrease fat, sugar, and calories but will increase fiber and other nutrients.  Learning to make some simple ingredient substitutions will give us room to enjoy some goodies during the holidays without sabotaging our weight management. And the best part is your taste buds will never notice the difference. 


Substitute all or part of the butter or oil in a recipe with pureed fruit.

Pureed fruit is a very tasty way to add color, moisture, and texture to your baked goods without the added fat and calories that come from butter and oil in recipes.  While a tablespoon of butter contains 120 calories and 14 grams of fat, banana puree has only 15 calories and prune puree only 45 calories per tablespoon, and both are fat-free and rich in potassium, an important bone-building nutrient.  Fruit puree works well in brownies, muffins, and cakes.  Substitute one cup of fruit puree for one cup of butter or oil in recipes.



Substitute Stevia for sugar.

The use of the natural sweetener, Stevia, is a great way to reduce sugar and ultimately total calories in your baked goods.  Stevia is made from the extract of leaves from the Stevia plant, a plant native to South America.  Baked goods do need some sugar for browning, texture, and flavor, so you must use a combination of Stevia with sugar.  There are sugar and Stevia baking blends available on the grocery store shelf that have already done the work of combining for you or you can do the blending yourself.  Replacing sugar with Stevia works well with any type of cooking or baking, including sauces, dressings, pies, cookies, cakes, and breads.


Substitute oat bran for enriched flour

You can boost the nutrition, taste, texture, and moisture of your baked goods by swapping some of the flour for oat bran.  Oat bran is rich in fiber (3.5 grams per ¼ cup) and protein (4 grams per ¼ cup).   Both fiber and protein provide satiety, making you feel more full and satisfied.   In addition, oat bran has been shown to lower LDL, harmful cholesterol levels.  You can use oat bran to replace up to ¼ of the flour in a recipe.  So if your recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, try substituting ½ cup of oat bran.  Oat bran works well in muffins, spice or carrot cakes, and breads. 


Other Simple Substitutions:

In your baked goods that call for sour cream use plain low-fat yogurt.

Make pumpkin in custard cups using evaporated skim milk, Stevia in place of half the sugar, and omit the pie crust.


Bake an apple sprinkled with a blend of brown sugar, Stevia, and cinnamon in place of apple pie.


Use fresh cranberry relish in place of canned cranberry sauce.


Top a baked sweet potato with a mix of Stevia and cinnamon and sprinkle with a tablespoon of pecans in place of traditional marshmallow topped sweet potato casserole.


Roast fresh green beans and sprinkle with slivered almonds in place of green bean casserole.

Nancy Hintze

About the author

Nancy Hintze, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, began her career as a Foods and Nutrition teacher in Lehi, Utah in 2003. At the time she began teaching middle school students about nutrition, she weighed 286 pounds. She quickly became aware that if she expected her students to believe her, she had to be an example of what she taught. Over the course of the next several years, as she eliminated 125 pounds by changing what she ate and how she cooked, Nancy became passionate about sharing her healthy lifestyle keys with her students and their families. Along the journey of her transformation, she also became an avid chef with a zest for good old fashioned food preparation with a modern twist – healthy ingredients and ease of preparation.

Nancy is a licensed Family and Consumer Sciences teacher as well as a certified L.E.A.N Health Coach. She has developed and produced Community Nutrition Fairs, mentored students in the Fuel Up to Play program and accompanied one of her students to represent Utah in the National Fuel Up to Play summit in Washington, D. C. In addition, she has coached individual clients to achieve greater levels of personal wellness. And now we have the privilege of announcing Nancy as our very own Culinary Nutritionist here at Reams.

When she’s not sharing her passion for great eating with others, you can find her in her vegetable garden, or knitting or sewing, reading a great novel, hanging out with one of her 21 grandchildren or on the road in the RV that she and her husband love to travel in.