There’s just no getting around it. A moderate to low carb intake is proving to be the best method to not only reduce weight but also keep blood sugars, blood pressure, and your ticker (yup, that’s your heart) in good shape.
Now don’t get us wrong – we are not talking about slashing carb intake to unrecognizable levels. We have seen clients trying to cut their carbs so low they actually restrict their veggie intake. WHOA. Not cool.
We are also not about bashing carbs. Listen, carbs are VEGGIES! Carbs are fruits, and beans, sweet potatoes, oats and quinoa. Carbs, from the right sources, contain a myriad of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients. But carbs are also cookies, bagels, pasta, refined grains, sugary cereals and juice. Its more of these types that can trigger inflammation, volatile blood sugars, rising blood pressures, and weight issues. In fact, lowering carb intake (along with alcohol), is the most effective method for reducing triglyceride levels in your blood. Elevated triglycerides are up and coming as one of the main predictors of heart disease risk.
Though its going to vary from person to person, your carb allotment really depends on your genetic makeup and how much you exercise. Go TOO low, and you can wind up not only fatigued, but tipping the scale to an excess of protein or fat. A good balance is what we are aiming for.
That being said, as much as we love our rice and pasta (be it whole grain or otherwise), if you are looking to trim down and get healthier, its wise to reduce your intake of starchier carbs in favor of some lower carb alternatives. Not only that, these substitutes are going to skyrocket your nutrition above and beyond their counterparts. Here are some of our top choices.
Used as replacement for brown or white rice, this dish can be made various ways but always involves pulsing raw cauliflower in a food processor until it has the consistency of rice granules. From there, you simply sauté in a bit of olive oil, add 1/4 cup of chicken broth, and simmer for about 7-10 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked. Spruce it up by adding onions, carrots, or garlic to the sauté, spices like curry or ginger, or simply some sea salt and pepper. Use as a side dish or pile on roasted veggies and your protein of choice. And lets not forget, cauliflower belongs to the famous cruciferous family, which boasts amazing cancer fighting properties, lots of fiber, and a multitude of vitamins and minerals.
Your savings: 1 cup rice (40 grams carb): 1 cup cauli rice (10 grams)
We already wrote a great blog post about this totally amazing dish, which is literally outstanding. If made right, we promise you won’t miss mashed potatoes! See our blog post HERE.
Your savings: 1 cup mashed potatoes (28 grams carb); 1 cup cauli mash (9 grams)
Most of you have probably passed by this super ugly root veggie which honestly looks like something out of a horror film (hint: it’s brown, bumpy and hairy). Ahh, but look a bit further, and underneath the rough surface lies a white creamy inside that closely resembles potatoes, but with much less starch. We enjoy shredding it and using it like “slaw”, either on its own or mixed with carrots or fennel and a great dressing. But it can also be diced and roasted much like you would potatoes. Just add in some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 400 for 30 minutes. Delicious!
Your savings: 1 cup roasted potatoes (26 grams carb); 1 cup roasted celeriac (9 grams)
If you are at all intimidated by this large gourd veggie, PLEASE take a second look next time you are in the supermarket. You will get small amounts of almost every vitamin and mineral in one serving. It’s also much easier to prep than you realize and SO much fun to eat. A bit on the bland side (lets face it so is pasta), it will absorb the flavor of pretty much anything you top or mix it with. Toss in some olive oil or butter with salt, pepper and you have a delicious side dish. It’s great with meat sauce, clam sauce or even pesto sauce. Get the scoop on how to make it along with a great recipe HERE.
Your savings: 1 cup pasta (35 grams carb); 1 cup spaghetti squash (10 grams)
Though you can make these with a simple carrot peeler, you won’t believe how cool they come out when using a spirulizer. We are not going to lie and say they taste like pasta (ok so they don’t), but they will do the trick when topped with a great tomato sauce. Not to mention you will get loads of really cool antioxidants, namely the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Small amounts of magnesium, copper, potassium, vitamin C, folate, and B vitamins don’t hurt either. Check out our blog on how to make this HERE.
Your savings: 1 cup pasta (35 grams carb); 1 cup zucchini noodles (7 grams)
Bread/Wrap Substitutes – If you are looking to ditch the “heaviness” of sandwich bread or a roll, we suggest using Romaine or Butter lettuce, blanched collard green leaves, or even Nori sheets to house anything from turkey and avocado to roasted veggies, hummus and sprouts. Plus you get all the nutrition benefits from the extra veggie serving.
For the blanched collards, simply toss a collard leaf into boiling water for about a minute. Remove and dry off. Done.
Let us know – do you have any lower starch swap outs to share? Bring ’em on!