Most Americans eat too many carbs – so today we’re focusing on low carb substitutes for popular foods. These aren’t necessarily NO-carb substitutes, but they offer lower carbs and/or a healthier nutritional profile.
Adding just a couple of these into your regular diet in place of their higher-carb options could make a big difference in lowering and maintaining your weight over time.
Substitute Mashed White Beans and Cauliflower for Mashed Potatoes
Steam your cauliflower about 10 minutes, and combine it in a food processor or blender with white beans. You may want to add a little salt, pepper, garlic (roasted garlic is excellent), and a teaspoon or so of healthy fat such as olive oil or butter. Process until smooth, then reheat in the microwave.
The white beans are a slow-carbs, with a high fiber content that makes them digest slowly, keeping food cravings away. White kidney beans also contain protein and essential nutrients such as minerals and vitamins. In addition, there seem to be significant benefits from white beans in blocking the absorption of calories from carbohydrate. There have been a number of studies indicating that white bean extract assists in weight loss.
Substitute Lettuce Leaves for Tortillas or Tacos
This one’s a really easy method for cutting carbs. Just rinse and remove the large leaves from a head of lettuce, and use them as you would tortillas to make delicious wraps, or tacos with a variety of fillings. Try filling them with avocado and shrimp, with a bit of mayo. Or chopped chicken, green onion, shredded cheese and sweet peppers. Even peanut butter! There are lots of variations – do a search for wrap recipes and substitute lettuce for the tortillas. If you’re a fan of spinach, slightly steamed spinach leaves work too.
Substitute Cauliflower Rice for White Rice
Rinse and chop raw cauliflower into roughly 1″ chunks, and then process small batches in your food processor until it’s rice-sized. You can also use a blender or Magic Bullet. Put the amount you want to prepare into a microwaveable bowl and cover with a piece of paper towel, and microwave about 1 minute per cup. For larger amounts you may need to add a couple of teaspoons of water. Season with salt and pepper to taste and use as you would rice.
Substitute Spaghetti Squash for Pasta
Here’s a fun one to try if you’ve never had spaghetti squash. Just cut the squash in half, lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds as you would do with any squash. Bake at 375f, rind side up, in a pan containing a half inch of water. It will take about 20 minutes, depending on the size of your spaghetti squash. Or microwave about 6-8 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. Then scrape out the strands with a fork and add your favorite pasta sauce.
Substitute Portobello Mushrooms for Pizza Crust
Remove the stems and gills from the inside of the mushrooms, and bake them on an oiled cookie sheet at 350f for about 6-8 minutes, just enough to dry them slightly. Then top them with pizza sauce, pepperoni, mozzarella or your favorite pizza toppings, and put them back in the oven on broil until the cheese begins to melt and brown.
Substitute Sliced Cucumber for Crackers
If you’re feeling like a snack involving crackers – hummus, guacamole, cream cheese, cheese slices… dropping the high-carb crackers will significantly help you save on calories. Slices of cucumber make an easy, healthy substitute. They’re also nice to offer at parties where guests with celiac disease may be looking for gluten-free choices.
Substitute Kale Chips for Potato Chips
Kale is a nutrient-packed superfood, rich in protein, vitamins and iron. Wash your kale and remove the thick stalks. Tear it into chip-sized pieces and dry with a salad spinner or paper towels. Mix together olive or coconut oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, or any other seasonings you enjoy. A few tablespoons of parmesan cheese are delicious! Toss your kale pieces in this mixture and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Bake at 375f for 10-15 minutes. You want the edges browned but not burned. Enjoy!
Losing weight and maintaining weight loss involves mindset and lifestyle changes, as well as treatment of relevant medical issues. If you’re in Hawaii and are struggling with weight loss, contact our medical weight loss clinic for a complimentary initial consultation and get the help you need to succeed. Wherever you are, we hope these seven low carb substitutes for popular foods will help with your weight loss challenges.