Ask Calorie Ken: Healthy Substitution Can Improve Recipes

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Jenna in Jamaica Plain writes, "Dear Calorie Ken, Are you going to share some of your delicious recipes with us?"

Sure, Jenna.  In fact, as we continue this changing-our-world-one-calorie-at-a-time adventure, we will introduce Calorie Ken's $10 Tin Can Ten Minute Meals.  For now, it's enough to know that Calorie Ken believes that recipes are like rules and laws: They are made to be interpreted, not followed to the letter.  Even recipes that require a specific mix of ingredients can be made healthier and lower in calories so you can still enjoy a reasonable portion. 

Fill in the blank:  "Substitute ___________." 

I hope you said "teacher," but, if you didn't, say it now:


We generally terrorized our substitute teachers, didn't we?  I remember one in particular.  Mrs. Jipping.  She was this wonderfully optimistic woman who was always smiling, but she had a wandering eye. Not as bad as Mad Eye Moody, mind you, but enough that it provided fodder for frequent foment.

As an adult, I got to know Mrs. Jipping and came to love her very much.  One day, I apologized for how we treated her, and she smiled her big toothy wild-eyed grin, laughed her life-filled laugh and said she never noticed.  She just enjoyed being with the kids - we kept her young. Grace personified:  That was Mrs. Jipping.

As substituting relates to recipes, substitute healthier ingredients whenever you can.  For example, brownies will never be considered a health food, but Calorie Ken knows we all need the occasional -- OCCASIONAL -- comfort food fix, and if your comfort food is brownies, try making them with olive oil like Jeanne does at If you are afraid the olive oil will change the flavor, use a highly refined or light olive oil as recommended by eHow food.

Better yet, ditch the oil entirely when baking.  Use applesauce or Sunsweet Lighter Bake.  Doing so not only reduces fat and calories, but also adds fiber, and Calorie Ken cannot stress enough the importance of fiber.  We need it to keep us regular, but just as important, we need it to feel full, and that helps keep us from eating more than we should. 

So, Jenna, stay tuned for healthy and easy recipes, and, in the meantime, rock your own recipes with healthier substitute ingredients!


Swanky reader, Calorie Ken wants to hear from you!  Post your comments below, and send your questions to  And, tell others!  Post on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn...everywhere, and share with your e-mail distribution lists. We hope to make Calorie Ken the Dear Abby of good health and nutrition, and we need your help.  Cheers! 

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For two years, Ken Brooks (Calorie Ken) was a volunteer in the Tufts University CALERIE Study. He is now a nutrition evangelist. Send your nutrition, weight management, general health and exercise questions to

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