Whether you are counting calories as part of your New Year’s resolution, or simply trying to substitute out portions of pasta for your beloved celiac partner, you may be frantically searching for alternatives that are actually good tasting. If you have been on this quest before, perhaps last year’s resolution, then you know that your love of bread and pasta may get in the way. However, we have some of our absolute favorites down below to swap out but still enjoy your meal, and some different simple ways to prepare them. While substituting could save your diet, it can also sometimes take extra work to make you forget what you are not eating, the recipes we have for you are both simple and so good you may start to prefer them over your favorite carbohydrate splurge!
The first up is a classic substitution for our favorite carby dish, even the beloved spaghetti and meatballs can have the spaghetti substitute out with the aptly named spaghetti squash. This yellow squash is best in season but is harvested in fall and offered all throughout winter and spring, making it an easy go to. Not only is it available through all the seasons we crave warm pasta the most, it is also just as simple to make as a pot of spaghetti. Simply prep your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, cut the squash horizontally in half, clean out the seeds, put a little olive oil on it and bake for 30 minutes face down! If you feel like getting fancy, or have a deep love for spice, add a little bit of crushed red chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Once you pull the squash out scrap out the insides like you would a pumpkin for long noodle looking strips. Not only does it have a similar texture to pasta, but it absorbs the flavor of your favorite sauce whether it is a tomato base or pesto! Now we aren’t trying to fool you, you will taste a little difference between the squash and your pasta, but this substitute is warm, delicious, and easy to create.
A few years ago, a huge trend hit the markets to solve the age-old problem of substituting out burger buns, sandwich bread, and wheat tortillas. The simple solution was the lettuce wrap. Devoid of carbs, adding a crisp taste and sometimes holding your burger together the iceberg lettuce seemed to do the trick. If you weren’t fooled by this carb substitute, we understand and instead suggest taking a chance on the portabella mushroom. Simply remove the steam, drizzle a little olive oil and pop your bellas in the oven at 450 for 12 minutes. Easy to make, incredibly sturdy and very delicious this healthy and carb-free alternative to a hamburger or sandwich bun will leave you full and satisfied. Lovers of mushrooms will enjoy this extra taste, and the texture of the portabella mushroom add to their burger, and without carbs, they can splurge a little on extra toppings.
If you are wondering perhaps how to go carb free without upsetting the whole family, including your little ones, don’t take away a favorite meal. Mac n cheese is still possible, even without the mac. Substitute the pasta with cauliflower for similar texture, taste, and filling properties of a warm bowl. Like most of our substitutes, you are going to pop it into an oven preset for 350, after boiling until it is tender. Put on your favorite cheeses and even add some spicy herbs to kick up this traditional dish and still give your kids their favorite cheesy treat, without you feeling guilty about all the extra noodles. If you want a little extra crunch in this dish, try shaking some bread crumbs all over the dish for an additional texture that even your adult foodie friends will like.
Now I know we just mentioned the lettuce wrap and gave you an alternative away from this simple substitute, but the lettuce leaf can substitute for the carb induced but delicious taco. Get the same crispy bite that you would from a hard shell taco, but instead of a corn or wheat tortilla, this carb-free alternative can really wow and please you. Enjoy the dish by adding a little extra taco seasoning, and perhaps a Mexican crema drizzled on top to still give you a filling and savory finish. Lettuce wraps aren’t limited to just substituting taco shells, they make delicious cups that hold savory meats and vegetables and can be difficult or as simple as creating a hummus and veggie wrap before work!
Last up is substituting one of our absolute guilty pleasure carb, the classic and tasty french fry. Absolutely try before you turn your nose up at our alternative, try substituting it for carrot fries. This sweet yet savory dish will help satisfy your craving for drive-through fries almost every time and are relatively easy to make. Simply preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, chop peeled carrots into thick shoestring like shapes, drizzle lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake on a sheet covered with parchment paper for 25 minutes, or until brown. The carrots will brown up just enough to make you have the same crunchy sensation as a well-fried shoestring fry. While it may be a little sweeter than the French fry that you are used to, it will make for a great craving fix.
As winter finally starts to fade away, and you are entering the heat waves of summer, lighter and crisper alternatives are going to not only taste good but feel better. Living up to New Year’s resolutions or cooking for alternative diets doesn’t have to be difficult, nor do you have to sacrifice your favorite dishes. Trying out new diets without carbohydrates, or limiting carbohydrates have been in all of our plans for many years, this year you can kick it off with new tasty flavors that you and your family are sure to love.