Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Simple Substitutions

Two weeks after Christmas I'll be headed to Key West for a long weekend on the beach with my girlfriends.  I am so excited about having some time in the sun, but quite concerned about what my post-Christmas figure is going to look like in a bathing suit.

I'm trying to stay as healthy as I can during the weeks, and also make wise choices at all of the holiday parties this season.  Easier said than done, but I am making a conscious effort.

When it came time for menu planning for the shower that we hosted this weekend, my mom and I picked two recipes that could be made a little bit healthier.  Both recipes called for a lot of mayo (like all good recipes do) and we decided to half the amount of mayonnaise in each recipe for Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt.

The first recipe that we made was a Cheesy Hearts of Palm Dip.  {see original recipe here}  The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of mayonnaise and 1/4 cup of sour cream, but we cut down the mayo to 1/2 cup, and then added a 1/2 cup of yogurt.  I've had the recipe the original way so many times, and could not tell a difference with the yogurt added.  Substituting the Greek yogurt for the sour cream and part of the mayonnaise saved 450 calories and 60 grams of fat, and doubled the amount of protein in the dip.  Pretty crazy when you can't even taste a difference.  Here's the recipe for the healthier version:

Cheesy Hearts of Palm Dip 

1 (14 ounce) can hearts of palm, drained well and chopped finely
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons minced green onions
Paprika for dusting top

      Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a pie plate or baking dish with non-stick spray. Combine hearts of palm, mozzarella, mayo, Parmesan, yogurt, and  2 Tbsp green onions. Spoon into prepared dish and sprinkle with paprika. (May be made several hours ahead to this point and refrigerated, covered.) Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly, top with remaining green onions. Serve with crackers.

The second recipe that we tried the Chobani Greek Yogurt in was a lemon garlic aoili.  I've been making this Sweet Potato Squares recipe for years, and never thought about subbing out some of the mayonnaise for a healthier option. Substituting half of the mayonnaise for yogurt in this recipe reduced the fat and calories by 50% and increased the protein from 0 grams to 11 grams.  Here's the recipe for the healthier version: 

Sweet Potato Squares: 

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 32 (1-inch) cubes 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon pepper 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 pound spicy smoked sausage, cut into 32 (1/2-inch) pieces 
32 wooden picks 

1. Preheat oven to 450°. Place sweet potato cubes on a lightly greased 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Drizzle potatoes with 2 Tbsp. oil, and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Toss to coat.
2. Bake at 450° for 15 to 20 minutes, turning cubes twice.
3. Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Drain on paper towels.
4. Place 1 sausage slice on top of 1 sweet potato cube; secure with a wooden pick. Repeat with remaining sausage slices and potato cubes. Serve with Lemon-Garlic Aioli.

Lemon Garlic Aioli: 

1/2 cup mayonnaise 
1/2 cup Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons minced garlic 
1 teaspoon lemon zest 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
1/2 teaspoon pepper 
1/4 teaspoon salt 

Stir together all ingredients. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 7 days.

It's amazing how just making one simple substitution can change the nutritional value of a recipe.  Once I did the math, I was shocked at how many calories and fat grams you save by just taking out a little bit of the mayonnaise and sour cream.  I'm now intrigued at what other recipes can be made healthier with just a few simple smart substitutions.  You can find other recipes using Chobani yogurt here


  1. that heart of palm dip looks sooo good! i will definitely be trying that soon

  2. That is a great idea! These all look sooo good. I also find this time of year to be so tough. Part of me wants to just blow it off and start fresh in January, but I do not want to loose all the hard work I did going to barre this entire semester.

  3. We will definitely be making the cheesy hearts of palm dip! Looks great! Cooking wise, I often find Fage Greek yogurt is a bit thicker and healthier with less sugar... The barefoot contessa recommends that too, I think! Maybe I could make 2 and taste test ;)


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