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Need a Healthy Treat? 6 Easy Swaps for Your Favorite Recipes

Robyn Openshaw - Updated: March 12, 2024 - - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

Blog: Need a Healthy Treat? 6 Easy Swaps for Your Favorite Recipes

You want to honor your body with good, healthy food, right?

You want the energy, bright eyes, and glowing skin that come from ditching a processed diet in favor of whole foods.

You also want TREATS!  You want your mom’s peanut butter cookies, your favorite chocolate cake, or that sweet-tart key lime pie you make for potlucks.

I've noticed so many people craving some comfort food these days. All that time spent in the kitchen can leave you feeling uncomfortable, or it can be an opportunity to have a lot of fun with new recipes and old favorites.

Luckily, the need for an occasional treat doesn’t have to derail your path to good health. It also doesn’t have to mean hours in the kitchen or finding weird ingredients. You simply need to make some small adjustments that have big payoffs when it comes to your health.

In this post:

Here are my six simple “magic tricks” to transform almost any treat recipe into a healthy treat recipe!

6 Easy Swaps for Your Favorite Recipes

Switch Your Flour

Replace white flour with an equal amount of finely ground soft white wheat flour. Soft white wheat most closely resembles white flour, and you’ll get added nutritional benefits from the germ and fiber from the bran. You also can substitute other types of wheat if you enjoy the taste. If you’re “gluten free,” use another whole grain like kamut or spelt, which include non-hybridized gluten that’s generally safe for people with gluten sensitivities.

Finely ground soft white wheat flour
Finely ground soft white wheat flour

Replace Your Sugar

Replace sugar with raw, organic coconut palm sugar or honey. Research has shown that sugar has negative consequences for our health and can increase risks of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and more.1 By eliminating sugar and using an alternative source of sweetness, you can lower that risk.

If you’re open to experimenting, use half the amount of raw honey or agave as you would sugar, and increase the flour in your recipe by 25% to 33%. If you need powdered sugar, blend coconut sugar in a dry blender jar until it is very fine.

Raw, organic coconut sugar
Raw, organic coconut sugar

Choose Fats Carefully

Replace shortening, margarine, or oil with organic butter or – more preferably – organic coconut oil. Fats like shortening and margarine have high levels of trans-fat, which can be dangerous for your cholesterol. Both butter and coconut oil have been shown to include healthy saturated fats that can raise good cholesterol levels – which is connected to lower risk of heart disease.2,3

If you don’t like the taste of coconut, consider palm oil, which is also rich in medium-chain fatty acids.

Organic Coconut Oil
Organic Coconut Oil

Be Smart About Eggs

Use only organic free-range eggs or substitute whole chia seeds mixed with water for each egg in the recipe. Organic, free-range eggs offer a good balance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. If you prefer to avoid eggs altogether, combine 1 Tbsp. of whole chia seeds with 3 Tbsp. water, and let the mixture soak for 5-10 minutes. Then add it to your recipe as you would the eggs.

Chia is filled with healthy-omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium, and it makes a great egg substitute because of the way it absorbs many times its own weight in water and takes on a similar consistency.

Chia seeds soaking in water
Chia seeds soaked in water can be used as an egg substitute!

Pick a Better Baking Powder

Choose aluminum-free baking powder rather than regular baking powder. Evidence shows that aluminum, like what’s found in commercial baking powder, has negative effects on the brain and nervous system.  Aluminum-free baking powder is readily available and not significantly more expensive, making it a safer and easily-accessible option.

aluminum-free baking powder
Aluminum-free baking powder

Trim Salt

When a recipe calls for salt, cut the amount in half and substitute either sea salt or Original Himalayan Crystal Salt. Most table salt is mined underground and then undergoes significant processing to remove the impurities. Sea salt is created through the evaporation of ocean or other salt water and leaves behind more trace minerals—while Himalayan Crystal Salt is hand-mined, which keeps many of the minerals intact. You’ll reap more benefits from the trace minerals in these whole salts than from processed salt, which has been stripped of nutrition.

Himalayan Crystal Salt
Himalayan Crystal Salt

With just these six simple changes, you can transform your favorite recipes to improve the nutrition in your favorite treats.

If you’re looking for even more ideas for how to indulge your sweet tooth without blowing your healthy eating plan, grab my FREE printable wallet card featuring these 6 Easy Swaps so you’ll always have them on hand.

6 swaps ad

When I send it to your inbox, I’ll also send you a BONUS gift, my Healthy Treat Recipes ebook! It’s filled with yummy recipes in which these swaps have already been made, so all you have to do is get cooking!

Eating well doesn’t mean giving up the foods you love! Make these Six Easy Swaps in your favorite recipes, and feel good about satisfying your cravings and your body’s nutritional needs all at the same time.

Read next: Wheat is Good for You (But Not How You're Eating It)

Photograph of Robyn Openshaw, founder of Green Smoothie GirlRobyn Openshaw, MSW, is the bestselling author of The Green Smoothies Diet, 12 Steps to Whole Foods, and 2017’s #1 Amazon Bestseller and USA Today Bestseller, Vibe. Learn more about how to make the journey painless, from the nutrient-scarce Standard American Diet, to a whole-foods diet, in her free video masterclass 12 Steps to Whole Foods.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that help support the GSG mission without costing you extra. I recommend only companies and products that I use myself.

Need a Healthy Treat? 6 Easy Swaps for Your Favorite Recipes
infographic | 6 Easy Swaps For Your Favorite Recipes

Posted in: Lifestyle, Recipes, Whole Food

4 thoughts on “Need a Healthy Treat? 6 Easy Swaps for Your Favorite Recipes”

Leave a Comment
  1. Susan Dillon says:

    Thank you for sharing what we should substitute for items to avoid. Some people only tell you what not to eat or do. No one is going to follow that without being told what to do.

  2. Liddy says:

    Great but… should you be encouraging the use of palm oil with its environmental and animal impact? Please edit this!! We should all be trying NOT to use palm

  3. Jim Welke says:

    I really enjoy all the helpful tips and nutritional aids you post. Did not know they put aluminum in baking soda, thanks for that tip. Also, why do they put an expiration date on sea salt and Himalayan Crystal Salt? I use honey, instead of sugar, but agave is hard to find, any suggestions you might have will be appreciated.

  4. Randall says:

    Please think about removing palm oil due to animal and environmental impact. Not good. Organic extra virgin olive oil or maybe avocado oil would be much better choices along with coconut oil

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