Let’s take a look at some typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals and discuss how they could be improved with the addition of healthy fats.

healthy substitutions

Healthy Substitutions: Breakfast

Oatmeal with fruit

  • Mix in 1-3 TBS of chia or flaxseeds per cup of oats towards the end of cooking
  • Top oatmeal with hemp seeds for and/or nuts like walnuts or almonds
  • Mix in a 1 TBS of a nut or sunflower butter

Yogurt with fruit and granola

  • Top with ~1 TBS of hemp, flax or chia seeds
  • Cut out or reduce the granola and add unsalted nuts

Bagel with cream cheese

  • Choose a whole grain bagel or toast and spread with ½ mashed avocado. For extra flavor, sprinkle with a small amount of salt and pepper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil or lemon juice.
  • Goat cheese is also a good substitute for spreadable cheese with ~25% less calories and fat than standard cream cheese.

Eggs and cheese with toast

  • Try scrambled tofu or reduce the egg yolks to one mixed with extra whites. Try mashed avocado spread on whole grain toast and topped with nutritional yeast.

Healthy Substitutions: Lunch

Salad bar chef salad with ranch dressing

  • Select all the greens and veggies you’d like and top with grilled chicken, beans or a hardboiled egg and nuts, seeds or olives. Drizzle with vinegar and olive oil and use a little bit of cottage cheese to sub for a creamy dressing.

Turkey and cheese sandwich with mayo and chips

  • Make a sandwich with tuna mixed with mashed avocado, celery and onion on whole grain bread or in a pita with lettuce.
  • Substitute fresh veggies or whole grain/seeded crackers with hummus for the chips.

Fried buffalo chicken sandwich with French fries

  • Try an open-faced grilled chicken sandwich and ask for buffalo sauce on the side. Have the sandwich with a cup of a broth-based vegetable soup or a side of greens/salad.

Healthy Substitutions: Dinner

Supreme pizza with breadsticks

  • Order a whole wheat thin crust pizza with all the veggies and chicken. Have a slice or two with a side salad with vinaigrette dressing.

Meatloaf with mashed potatoes made with cream and butter

  • Use lean ground meat in place of high fat beef and substitute up to ½ the meat with cooked and mashed beans or lentils. Mushrooms also add good savory flavor.
  • Use ground flaxseed in place of an egg and bread crumbs as a binder.
  • Serve with a 50-50 mixed mashed cauliflower and potatoes made with milk and sprinkled with nutritional yeast for buttery flavor.

Spaghetti with meat sauce and bread

  • Top whole grain pasta with a sauce made from no sugar added marinara, low-fat ground meat (ideally a white meat), and mild shredded or diced vegetables like zucchini, carrots and mushrooms sautéed in olive oil.
  • Serve with a side of steamed vegetables or salad drizzled with olive, flax or avocado oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Get healthy recipes from the UVM Medical Center. View our Recipe Collection by clicking here. 

Bridget Shea, RD, is a clinical dietitian at The University of Vermont Medical Center.

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