Cook lighter meals by switching carbs like rice and pasta for colourful vegetables. As well as cutting out the stodge, you'll be well on your way to 5-a-day.
Are you craving comfort food like spaghetti, pizza or chips, but looking to reduce your intake of carbs? We've gathered a list of tasty low-carb alternatives to popular starchy foods that will leave you feeling just as satisfied.
With these few simple ingredient swaps, following a low-carb diet will be easy as pie...
Swap 1: Cauliflower rice instead of rice
Blitzing up chunks of cauliflower in a food processor couldn’t be easier and takes seconds to become granular like rice or couscous. Then, microwave for just seven minutes to cook through – that's less than half the time it takes to boil conventional rice.
If you have a few extra minutes, try spreading the grains out on a baking tray, toss in a dash of olive oil and roast for twelve minutes. This intensifies the flavour and the resulting cauliflower rice becomes fluffier.
Check out our guide on the best way to cook cauliflower rice for more ideas.
Swap 2: Courgetti instead of spaghetti
This is particularly good in summer when courgettes are everywhere. You can make the 'noodles' with a spiralizer, if you have one, a julienne peeler if you’re not keen to invest in one, or simply make thick ribbons with your vegetable peeler for tagliatelle-style ribbons.
Courgetti and other vegetable ribbons work really well when combined with pasta spaghetti, too, so if you’re just aiming to up your veg count, why not try serving your Bolognese with half pasta spaghetti and half courgetti for a colourful change. Our recipe uses pasta pappardelle together with shavings of lightly cooked swede and is absolutely delicious.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to get hold of spaghetti squash (available in some veg box schemes or farmers’ markets) these are a really fun alternative to courgetti. You don’t need a spiralizer, or even a peeler at all; just cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds, bake for 45 minutes to an hour until tender, then pull out the naturally forming spaghetti-like strands using a fork.
Swap 3: Butternut squash waffles instead of regular waffles
You can buy waffle-shaped slices of butternut squash pre-prepared in the supermarket. Drizzle with a little oil and bake in a hot oven for 20-30mins (check pack instructions if you’re not sure) and flip them over halfway through cooking, so they’re lightly golden on both sides. Serve as you would normal waffles with your favourite sweet or savoury toppings.
Swap 4: Cauliflower pizza instead of pizza dough
Here’s a neat trick: enrich that cooked cauliflower rice with egg and ground almonds, shape into a pizza base on a baking tray, heat in the oven for about 15 minutes, then finish baking it with your choice of toppings. This is a great alternative to wheat flour-based pizzas and it's quicker, because there's no kneading or proving required.
Swap 5: Butternut squash wedges instead of chips
Stuck in a rut with spuds? Butternut squash is the answer. They make delicious thick-cut chips or wedges and they're particularly good coated with flavourful spice mixes like za’atar or dukkah for a more exotic flourish to your meal.
Check out more butternut squash recipes.
Swap 6: Sliced aubergine or courgette instead of lasagne sheets
Slice aubergines or courgettes lengthways and use in place of pasta sheets. While you make the filling and sauces, brush the aubergine or courgette slices with a little oil and bake in the oven for 10-15 mins before layering, just as you would with traditional lasagne sheets.
Swap 7: Cloud bread instead of regular bread
Cloud bread is almost entirely made from eggs and therefore tastes not dissimilar to a soufflé omelette. However, baked in little mounds, they come out looking like halved bread rolls, which makes them ideal for sandwiches. Pop them into your lunchbox for a lighter alternative to regular sandwiches, or on those days when you simply fancy a bit of a change.
Find tasty filling ideas in our guide on how to use cloud bread.
Find more recipes and information on low-carb diets....
Do you have another clever carb replacement? Leave a comment below...