Low Carb Replacements
Oh how I love carbs! I enjoy sweets, and I’ve always been a lover of bread and all things carby. This presented me with a problem when I made the decision to lower my carb intake in order to help control my blood glucose (as much as anyone can “control” the beast, right?). The problem: what to eat that is like some of the foods I used to eat and keep the carb count lower?
When I was first diagnosed I noticed that many of the diabetes magazines and websites showed numerous recipes for sweet and bready foods; those were the recipes I was drawn to. My thoughts: please let me continue to eat bread/pasta/potatoes and have something for dessert! Most often those recipes are lower in carbs than their full-blown counterparts but they can’t be considered low carb, for the most part. It took me a while but I finally found my way.
Wheat flour, even whole wheat, is high in carbohydrates. I found that as my diabetes progressed I wasn’t able to tolerate wheat flour any longer. This left out breads of any kind, pasta, pancakes and muffins, etc. At first I was upset about that but I eventually found information about almond and coconut flours. Let me say right up front: baking with these alternative flours will not provide you with the types of breads you are used to. Almond flour usually makes dense breads and coconut flour…well, it tastes like coconut! It can take some trial and error to find something that works for you. Here are some tips:
- Almond flour is high in omega 6s, which are the “less desirable” omega fatty acids. You need to balance them with omega 3s. Look for recipes that include flax meal to help with that.
- A little coconut flour added to almond flour helps to alleviate the heaviness of almond flour breads.
- You can make a nice flax meal bread in the microwave! Truly! Simply do a Google search for “microwave flax meal bread” and you’ll find lots of recipes to try. This has become my go-to bread for sandwiches or burgers.
- Substitute almond flour for wheat flour when you need to bread something. I make a lovely baked almond flour-breaded chicken breast that is yummy and low carb.
- Pancakes and muffins can also be made with both of these flours. Again, use Chef Google to find recipes.
Pasta, mmmm. If you think about it, pasta is really just a vehicle for the sauce, right? You can substitute the high-carb pasta with a vegetable and still enjoy the wonderful Italian sauces you love. Spaghetti squash is the most common replacement for pasta. I enjoy it quite a bit but my favorite substitute for pasta is zucchini noodles, or Zoodles as they’re often called. You will need a spiralizer tool to make your Zoodles but it is well worth the investment. A less expensive option is a hand-held cone that you twist the vegetable through to make the spiral Zoodles. I plan to upgrade to a countertop, hand-crank version. They are faster and easier on your wrists. We eat a lot of Zoodles around here! Here are some ways to use Zoodles in place of pasta:
- Quickly sauté them and use them as a base for your pasta sauce.
- Make a stir-fry using whatever chopped vegetables you like and add zucchini noodles near the end. You want them to stay crisp.
- Make a pasta salad and replace the pasta with Zoodles. You may want to remove some of the water from the zucchini noodles first by sprinkling them with salt and letting them sit for about an hour. Squeeze out any excess water before adding them to your other vegetables and dressing.
These are just some of the things that I’ve incorporated into my food plan as a way to lower my carb intake. Attempting to keep my blood glucose in line is much easier if I avoid high carb foods. There are many, many low carb food bloggers you can find online that will help you on your way to better food choices. Can you think of some other ways that you can lower your carb intake?