Business Insights

Sneaky Swaps to Make Your Menu Healthier

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We could all use help being healthier and there’s no better place to sneak in the fruits and vegetables we need than in the foods we love. This is especially important for healthcare organizations striving to meet the complex nutritional needs of their residents and patients’ diets.

These sneaky swaps taste just as good (if not better) than their originals. Using them will help your residents and patients, and your bottom line with less waste and better nutrition.


This 1:1 swap is a perfect replacement for sugar in baked goods. It works especially well in Oatmeal Cookies and Banana Bread, with the applesauce giving the baked goods a tender texture.

Applesauce adds fiber and vitamin C to recipes, contains zero fat and has few calories. Unsweetened applesauce is also relatively low on the Glycemic Index, meaning its more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized with less effect on blood sugar levels.


Avocados can be used as a replacement for several ingredients in baking and cooking, including mayonnaise, shortening, eggs and oil.

Avocados are incredibly nutrient dense, with 20 vitamins and minerals, including heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber nearly 3g of protein and more potassium than a banana! The protein content will help with satiety levels and potassium has been identified by the USDA as one of the top three nutrients of critical concern in the American diet.

The swap is simple, with a 1:1 ratio when replacing butter, oil or mayonnaise for avocado. If replacing eggs, the ratio is approximately ¼ cup avocado per egg.

Using avocado provides the added benefit of cakes and breads finishing softer (less crumbly), but they may also brown quicker. To be safe, reduce a recipe’s temperate and increase its baking time by approximately 25 percent.

Prune Puree

An often ignored fruit, prunes are a powerhouse of antioxidants and known for their high fiber content. The fruit has been linked to all sorts of health benefits, including everything from healthy vision to relieving constipation to improving skin health.

To use prune puree in your recipes, substitute one cup of margarine with ½ cup of prune puree. The puree will NOT change the flavor, but will add a slight sweetness to your recipe, making it a tasty swap in desserts.

Pumpkin Puree

Another puree has taken the industry by storm – pumpkin puree. Pumpkin flavoring is celebrated each fall without hesitation, with coffee houses and restaurants alike rolling out their famous pumpkin lattes, pumpkin breads, cookies, cake and more.

Healthcare operators have an opportunity to tap into this hot industry trend as well as the many health benefits of pumpkins. Using pumpkin in your recipes will provide higher fiber content to help with feeling full, Vitamin A (which contributes to vision health), phytoestrogens shown as beneficial in reducing hypertension and lowering blood pressure, beta-carotene and other antioxidants.

Use 100 percent pureed pumpkin in seasonal recipes (or anytime) to replace oil, with a 1:1 swap.

Begin slow, possibly with one dessert served one time to gauge residents and patients’ satisfaction levels. We’re confident you’ll see positive results and be ready to roll out even more healthy swaps as part of your healthcare menu.

To learn more or set up a review of your current menu to identify healthy swap opportunities, contact your Shamrock Foods Sales Representative today!

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