Cooking replacements, alternatives


Brittany Moon/Iowa State Daily

An avocado, sliced and pitted has a multitude of uses beyond being chopped up in a salad. Substituting it for mayonnaise is one beneficial option.

Brittany Moon

Food tends to be a hot topic for many college students. Whether talking about breakfast, lunch, dinner or taco Tuesday, it is on everyone’s minds from time to time. One obstacle many face when deciding what to cook or order at a restaurant is how to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle without forfeiting taste.

This can be very difficult, especially when dining out, because the nutritional information about different foods and entrées is not always readily available. With this in mind, it might be better to cook at home more frequently.

Although an obstacle found when staying in and cooking is the items required in a recipe. These range from butter to whole milk to mayo to canola oil, none of which are overly healthy. However, alternatives are available to using these products in recipes that can be substituted without losing taste. Almost all of these alternatives also make the dish healthier, which is a plus.

The first replacement one can make is cooking quinoa instead of white or brown rice. Although brown rice is better for you than white rice because it is not bleached, quinoa is still a healthier option.

While quinoa presents many health benefits, the main one is that it is gluten free and incredibly high in protein. It has nearly twice the amount of protein than what is found in rice. It also provides a variety of antioxidants and fiber, is very high in minerals that some may not consume enough of on a daily basis and as simple to cook as rice; simply boil for the instructed length of time.

Another easy substitute one can make in daily consumption is almond milk instead of cow milk. Whether you drink skim or whole, almond milk contains significantly less sugar than cow milk and even more calcium. Although many people believe it is incredibly more expensive, it is usually less than a dollar more than the cow milk alternative. The key is to get an unsweetened almond milk rather than vanilla or chocolate to avoid added sugar.

Mayonnaise is used in many different recipes and even paired with regular sandwich fixings. An alternative to this would be mashed avocado. Avocado has been growing in popularity the last few years, and for good reason. The fat in mayonnaise is mostly saturated, which is the worst kind of fat for you. On the other hand, the fats in avocado are mono and polyunsaturated fats; these fats are the healthier types of fats humans need day to day. Avocado also has 21 grams of total fat in a cup, while mayo has 10 grams per tablespoon.

Adding a few slices of avocado to a sandwich instead of mayonnaise is a much healthier idea. A tip when shopping for avocados, depending on when you want to consume the avocado, is knowing how soft it should be. The softer, the sooner you should eat it. If you plan to cook with the avocado in a few days, a more firm avocado is best.

Greek yogurt flavored with different fruits has been popular for quite some time. Unflavored, plain Greek yogurt can be used as a substitute for sour cream or ranch for many different recipes. In a baked potato, for instance, it would cut the amount of fat considerably. Adding a powder ranch packet to a cup of plain Greek yogurt can also be a fine alternative to bottled ranch dressing.

Other options include using a food processor to make mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, almonds instead of croutons for a salad, vinaigrette instead of heavy cream-based dressings, spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti noodles and olive oil instead of canola oil.

These small substitutions can have a large impact on one’s health and help one make better dining decision in small steps. Below is one way to use a substitution listed above for a healthy snack one might share with friends.

Deviled avocado eggs


  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • The juice of ½ fresh lemon
  • Paprika
  • Cumin (if you like spicy)


1. Once eggs have been hard boiled and peeled, slice them all in half and remove yolk. Set yolk aside for later (in mixing bowl)

2. Place halved egg whites on plate and refrigerate until needed

3. Slice the avocado in half, remove pit and dice while still in the skin

4. Remove from skin and place avocado pieces in mixing bowl with yolks

5. Add ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt along with the juice of ½ fresh lemon

6. Use electronic mixer to blend all ingredients together until smooth (puree texture is best)

7. Remove halved egg whites from the fridge and scoop desired amounts into each half

8. Top with a dash of paprika and/or cumin

9. Refrigerate (covered) for 2 hours and serve