How to Make Any Recipe Skinny

Skinny-up go-to dishes with these swaps.

Losing weight doesn’t mean you need to ditch all of your favorite recipes. With a few smart substitutions, you can skinny-up many of the go-to recipes your family loves. Learn how to make any recipe skinny.

Use whole grain pasta instead of enriched pasta.

This simple swap can make a big difference, especially if pasta is one of your favorite menu items—and it’s a swap you can make even in your family’s favorite pasta recipes. Whole grain pasta contains fiber, B vitamins, and iron, plus a host of other minerals your body needs to build strong bones and improve the immune system. Try it in recipes like Whole Grain Penne Pasta with Greens & Beans or 5-Ingredient Chicken Parmesan.

Swap out white rice for brown rice and couscous for quinoa.

When you cut out refined grains and choose whole grains, you treat your body to fiber and other nutrients that support weight loss the healthy way. Quinoa has the added benefit of containing plant-based protein to help satisfy the appetite and nourish lean muscle tissue. Add tasty dishes like Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Buddha Bowl and Chicken Stir-Fry with Vegetables and Brown Rice to the menu this week.

Replace frying butter with olive oil or coconut oil.

When you’re frying or sautéing, these healthy swaps offer medium chain fatty acids (MUFAs), which are healthy fats that are easy to digest and less likely to be stored as body fat. Dig into healthy skinny recipes like Rainbow Veggie Sauté.

Reduce the amount of meat you use to prep the dish.

When you need to know how to make any recipe skinny, using less meat is a good option. For example, if a recipe calls for one pound of ground turkey, use a half-pound instead. In many cases, you can add more veggies to make up for the smaller quantity of meat.

Reduce or eliminate toppings and condiments.

Even the world’s healthiest salad can become a calorie bomb if it’s drowning in a heavy dressing. Instead, make topping and condiment choices that are lower in sugar, calories, sodium, or fat. Try:

  • Cherry tomatoes instead of olives
  • Fresh berries instead of syrup
  • Plain fat-free Greek yogurt instead of sour cream
  • Cucumbers instead of pickles
  • Homemade Healthy Ketchup instead of store-bought ketchup
  • Skinny Ms. Ranch Dip instead of store-bought ranch

Use applesauce instead of butter or oil in baking recipes.

Another option for how to make any recipe skinny is to use unsweetened applesauce to replace some or all of the butter or oil. You can swap equal quantities, so, for example, replace a half-cup of butter with a half-cup of applesauce. Try Slow Cooker Skinny Applesauce.


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Want to discover more delicious, easy-prep clean-eating recipes? Check out our Pinterest boards Healthy Family Meals and Healthy Salads.



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Amy Wagner

Amy is a writer specializing in health & wellness, business, and entrepreneurship. She's a long-time martial arts teacher who has earned a 4th degree black belt in tae kwon do. When Amy's not writing or kicking, she's wrangling sons, reading fiction, or crushing on BBC actors.

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