Alternatives to carbs
I’m not talking about the full on keto diet here. It’s just that sometimes it’s good to lower the carb intake a little. People tend to want to minimise their daily dose of carbohydrates for various reasons. It’s either to reduce calorie or sugar intake, or simply get rid of that bloated feeling after having bread.
Whether it’s a medical reason or a personal choice, reducing the carbs can be tricky on a daily basis. This is because carbs are everywhere. And you really notice it when you’re trying your best to cut them out. Carbs are on the side of meals (potatoes, rice, pasta etc), and if you’re eating on the run you’ll find a sandwich or a cereal bar the easiest (or only) choice. Then there’s sugar. It’s in everything! Are there actually any alternatives to carbs?
Prepare in Advance
Preparing your snacks and planning meals ahead is probably the best way to monitor your macros. In my experience, if I’m out and about or in the workplace the only food on offer includes bread, biscuits, crisps or any other form on ‘beige’ food. So to keep on top of your diet, you need to plan.
This is where you need to consider your lifestyle. Do you eat on the run (on the way to work or in between meeting clients), or eat out at lunchtimes (or use a cafeteria at work) or do you work or stay home? If food is put in front of you then it’s harder to resist the temptation. Equally it’s harder to pick something that’s carb free when the option is limited.
So the only way to know what you’re putting in your mouth is to prepare as much as you can.
Planning your meals start before you hit the supermarket. Think about what you will eat for lunch and dinner each day plus snacks. Check out your recipes, write a shopping list and stick to it. If it’s hard to find alternatives to carbs in the shop, then you might need to get creative.
First of all, think about hidden carbs in processed food or ready meals and get in the habit of checking the labels. You may need to batch cook if it’s all about convenience. And second of all, think about the carbs you normally buy. Then consider a way to enjoy your favourite meals and snacks with alternatives to carbs. Sounds difficult? Sometimes it is, but it is easier once you’ve planned it out.
Simple Carb Swaps
- Swap spaghetti for vegetable noodles, such as courgette or butternut squash (use a spiralizer to make them)
- Swap rice for cauliflower rice (pulse raw cauli in a food processor before steaming)
- Swap bread for homemade bread made with almond flour
- Swap crackers for chunky slices of cucumber or sticks of celery
- Swap crisps for crunchy carrot sticks
- Swap fries for oven baked veg, such as thinly sliced beetroot or parsnips
- Swap burger buns for giant mushrooms
- Swap lasagne sheets for aubergine
- Swap roast potatoes for roasted squash
- Swap mashed potato for smashed carrot and swede
What about Snacks and Treats?
Your high sugar, carb loaded cookies and puddings don’t need to go out of the window completely. Just use alternatives to carbs and refined sugar.
Try my low carb apple crumble, made with almond flour and erythritol, and serve with plain Greek yogurt:
Or my reduced carb chocolate chip cupcakes:
Knock up some cookies by rubbing together almond flour with real butter. Drop in an egg, put in some granulated sweetener of choice (such as erythritol, xylitol or stevia) and a few drops of vanilla essence. Make sure it is firm enough to form a dough, then on a baking tray form flattened balls from the dough to the size of cookies. Then bake for ten to fifteen minutes in the oven, at a medium temperature.
You can add raisins, grated apple, cinnamon or small handful of dark chocolate chips to make them more interesting.
Lunch is the one meal I struggle with. Even when I’m at home, I tend to reach for toast or even breakfast cereal (yes, I’m that lazy!). So unless something is already there for me, I’ll just have a heavy carb meal.
Ideas to try:
- Omelette with cheese, ham and/or mushrooms
- Scrambled eggs with spinach and chilli flakes
- Homemade vegetable soup (watch our for added sugar in tinned soups)
- Homemade bolognese with courgetti
- Poached fish with green beans and broccoli
- Hard boiled eggs, cheese slices and beetroot salad (my go-to picnic food)
- Chicken with stir fry vegetables
- Sausages and grilled mushrooms and cherry tomatoes
Enjoy food without starving yourself. If you are struggling to avoid carbs altogether, then only put a small amount on your plate. Or simply avoid carbs at your next meal. And use a carb manager app or My Fitness Pal to monitor your daily food diary.