Creative and Delicious Low-Carb Substitutes
Last updated: March 2022
Some creative ways to cut carbs while still enjoying great flavor. You can incorporate these healthy options into your next grocery shopping list!
Instead of tortillas for tacos, or a bun for your grilled chicken, try wrapping them in lettuce for a crisp and crunchy lettuce wrap. Look for larger lettuce leaves for a successful lettuce wrap. The types of lettuce that work best for this are butter lettuce (also called bibb or Boston) or the large leaves of Romaine.
Zucchini “noodles” instead of pasta. Zucchini is a delightful and mild-flavored vegetable that absorbs whatever flavors you pair it with. You can simply slice it thinly with a sharp knife or use a spiralizer (kitchen tool that shreds vegetables into a thin noodle-like shape) or use a mandolin slicer with the julienne slicing attachment. Blanch the zucchini shreds in boiling water for 3-5 minutes or until tender and top with your favorite sauce. Zucchini also works beautifully when sliced lengthwise into wide strips to use as “noodles” in lasagna.
Savory portobello mushrooms instead of a bread for a sandwich. Portobello mushrooms are thick and savory and work well in place of bread. They add so much flavor too! Try grilling them on the grill or pressing them in a panini press (an electric counter-top appliance that heats foods from both sides simultaneously). If you don't have a panini press you can grill your portobello sandwich in a skillet on the stove and weigh the top down with the bottom of a heavy, clean pot, to get a similar effect.
Instead of rice or potatoes try cauliflower “rice”, cauliflower pizza crust or creamy mashed cauliflower. Cauliflower is a neutral vegetable that has a mild flavor and is the perfect platform for creativity. It's full of nutrients and high in Vitamin C! Try cauliflower “rice” by mincing it in a food processor then sautéing it in a pan with vegetables and seasonings (you can also use a cheese grater if you don't have a food processor). Make cauliflower pizza crust in a similar way. Take your minced cauliflower, steam it and press out as much liquid as you can. Mold remaining cauliflower into a round pizza shape or “bread” sticks, bake in the oven then top with sauce and toppings.
Instead of spaghetti noodles try spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is pale yellow in color and an oblong shape about the size of a football. Carefully slice in half lengthwise and bake cut side down in a baking dish with 1 inch of water until tender. Once cooled slightly, scrape out inside flesh with a fork and it will naturally pull away in shreds like “noodles”. Top with your favorite flavorful sauce and meat and enjoy!
Homemade Fresh Salsa
Instead of sugar-laded condiments like ketchup or sweetened barbecue sauce. Salsa is so easy to prepare and only requires a few ingredients. By making your own you can control what goes in it, such as how much salt you add. Go ahead and try adding a pop of color and freshness to your baked potato, scrambled eggs, breakfast hash or grilled chicken with fresh salsa.
Instead of crackers for snacks and appetizers. Cucumber slices for spreadable cheese make a great alternative to crackers with lots of delicious crunch. Cucumber wedges are a great vehicle by which to scoop some tasty hummus, instead of pita chips. English cucumbers are typically wrapped in plastic and have a tender skin and a delicious mild flavor. Try using cucumber cups instead of baguette slices for these delicious cucumber salmon bites.
Try using almond milk instead of cow's milk. Be sure to choose unsweetened almond milk, which has about 2 grams of carb per 1 cup serving as compared with Cow's milk that has 12 grams per 1 cup. Keep in mind that almond milk does have less protein than cow's milk. Almond milk has a mild flavor and works well instead of creamer for your coffee, over cereal or in a smoothie as a lower carb option that still gives you a creamy consistency.
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