Ingredient substitutions are an easy way to cut the calories without cutting out the flavor, said an expert at Baylor College of Medicine.
"If you're trying to control overall calorie intake and you can modify a favorite recipe and still like it as much, then the calorie savings can be significant over time," said Roberta Anding, registered dietitian at BCM and Texas Children's Hospital.
Modifying the fat content in recipes gives the biggest calorie reduction, said Anding.
Because sugar adds volume and moisture in many recipes, cutting it out of the recipe could result in an undesired final product. However, cutting out fat is possible without taking away from the recipe.
Many times, applesauce can replace butter and oil in baking recipes, and Greek yogurt can replace sour cream.
Learning what substitutions work best does take some time and experimentation with cooking time and temperature, but reducing a diet by 100 calories per day can result in a 10-pound weight loss in one year, said Anding.
Be sure that the ingredients have complementary flavors, especially when baking, said Anding.
Other substitution options include switching to a low-fat cheese rather than a whole-fat cheese and switching from white bread and rice to wheat bread and brown rice. Not only is there a benefit in amounts of fiber, but also in magnesium, which can decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
"Don't look for extreme changes to your diet. Look for the common sense changes that you can make permanent," said Anding.