Minimal Carbs With Wonderful Flavor


High carb foods get no respect. Even docs are starting to harp less on eating less fat and more on eating fewer carbs. That is a sure sign it is now mainstream.

Mainstream or not, it can be both confusing and bland to think about a diet with little to no carbs. No sugar, no rice, no bread, no pasta! What kind of a life is that anyway?

A very tasty one if you go by the number of restaurants offering carb-less options. At Beatrix in Chicago, you can find zucchini pappardelle with tomato-basil sauce, fresh mozzarella and grated Grana Padano cheese. SkinnyFats in Las Vegas serves multiple zucchini noodle dishes as well as cauliflower rice as well as Buffaloed cauliflower as a substitute for Buffalo chicken wings. About 40% of the poke bowls sold at Oceana Poke in New York City have cauliflower rice, noodle-ed zucchini or noodle-ed squash as the “carb” base. Big Bowl, a Thai and Chinese chain in Illinois, Minnesota and Virginia offers cauliflower fried rice.

The options keep expanding. You can find cauliflower rice and spaghetti squash at most grocery stores. Many stores carry tools to transform zucchini and squash into ribbons of noodles. Even a rabid restaurant goer/non-cooker like myself can make tasty and filling meals with these carb substitutes.

Here are a few for you to try…

Perhaps the simplest is to substitute zucchini ribbons for pasta. With a handy vegetable ribbon maker available at most grocery stores and big box stores, twist the zucchini through the ribbon maker, either microwave it for a few seconds or boil it for some warmth, then use it in any dish where you would use pasta ribbons. I love it. You can add some ribbons of carrots, squash or beets for color and flavor.

Another very tasty substitute for pasta is spaghetti squash. Pick one up at your local supermarket, cook it (easy instructions on the internet), scoop out the seeds and scarpe out the spaghetti like strands. Use it as you would spaghetti. It comes out hot and ready to use. Delicious.

For rice substitutes, cut off the florets of cauliflower or broccoli, or both, toss them in a food processor and pulse it until they are the size of rice, lay out on paper towels to pat dry, then cook them up. Throw on the stove on medium in a tablespoon or two of quality oil (olive or coconut), cook for 6 to 8 minutes and you are ready to use or flavor as you would your rice.

Missing your mashed potatoes? Make a creamy, delicious cauliflower substitute. Remove the cauliflower florets and boil them in salted water for 8 to 10 minutes, long enough to be tender when poked with a fork. Drain them and let them set in the pot for a few minutes, and smash as you would potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. You can also add a bit of cream cheese to make them even creamier, as well as anything else you would add to mashed potatoes. Perfection!

Finally, a substitute I admit I haven’t tried but soon will...toasted sweet potato as a substitute for bread. I love my bread but avoid it except on cheat days. Select sweet potatoes that are not curved so they give you a better shape. Simply cut them lengthwise into ¼ inch slices. BE CAREFUL! Uncooked sweet potatoes are hard and difficult to cut. After you have your slices, toast them like bread, in the toaster, in the oven, however. Just be sure to do it twice to get the crisp. Three times if you cut the slices a bit thick.

Using vegetable substitutes for high carb foods is not only healthy, it is easy and, most importantly, delicious!

Eat well, live long!

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