One of the difficult things about trying to eat low carb is the feeling of missing out. What’s a curry without rice, breakfast eggs without bread, dips without crackers, burgers without buns?
The great news is that there are lots of low carb alternatives that are just as great, and you will really grow to love them, sometime even more than the originals. Here are some of my favourites.
Cauliflower rice is a great alternative. Grate or blend up a raw cauliflower. Stick it in a bowl and microwave it for 5 to 8 minutes, or steam it in a saucepan for 10 minutes, adding a little water so it doesn’t stick. It will be fluffy and light and works really well on the side of a curry or casserole.
Cauliflower and cheese makes for a great pizza base. See my recipe here.
Courgetti, sometimes referred to as zucchini noodles or zoodles, is a great alternative to pasta or spaghetti, made using a spiraliser or julienne peeler. Make any pasta sauce, such as bolognese, homemade tomato sauce, or spinach and ricotta, and pair it with zucchini. You will be amazed at how good it is.
Zucchini noodles made with a julienne peeler or spiraliser are a great alternative to noodles for ramen, stir fry and noodle salads. Other vegetables, such as pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot can be used. Try shirataki (yam) noodles, which are completely carb free.
Low carb crackers are possible, using alternative flours such as flaxseed meal, almond meal and coconut flour. Or, cut up slices or fingers of various vegetables to have with dip. Make crispy cheese crackers by baking slices of cheese until they are crisp. Baked veggie chips also work well (see CHIPS/FRIES below). Cauliflower poppers are also great for dipping into a creamy sauce.
Low sugar and sugar free chocolate is possible with the use of sweeteners such as stevia, maple syrup or honey. You don’t need to add much, Use real cocoa powder, coconut oil and a little sweetner to create your own chocolate. Add some roasted nuts or a some coconut, dried fruit or goji berries for some variations. Make your own hot chocolate with a teaspoon of cocoa powder, a cup of warmed whole milk, a little sweetener such as stevia, and even a little butter or full cream to add richness.
Coconut flour, almond meal and flaxseed meal are just some alternatives to produce low carb bread alternatives. Realise that with some meals that you used to traditionally have bread with, you don’t really need it. Eat the meat and veg or casserole or soup as it is, having a little extra veg on the side if you need it. Enjoy breakfast eggs with lots of vegetables instead, such as avocado, roast tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms or cauliflower hash browns.
Substituting flours and sugars can give you lots of options so you don’t have to completely cut out a biscuit with your cup of tea. There are lots of low carb cookie alternatives out there. Use almond meal, hazelnut meal, coconut flour or flaxseed meal as a low carb option to conventional white flour. Sweetners such a stevia, or smaller amounts of natural sugars from fruits such as dates, bananas and apple puree, or a little honey or maple syrup, can go a long way as a substitute to large quantities of white or brown sugar.
Zucchini or eggplant fries or chips can be made simply by cutting into either thin chips (using a vegetable slicer or carefully by hand), or cutting into thick or thin chips. Drizzle with some olive oil, add a little salt and some seasoning such as pepper, paprika or herbs, and bake in an oven until golden brown and crisp.
A bun-free burger is better than it sounds. Have the burger with the cheese, salad, pickles and all the condiments on its own without the bread and eat it with a knife and fork. It still has all the flavour. Or, slice and grill some eggplant for a bread alternative. A portobello mushroom also works well. Or, use a bit of lettuce leaf to wrap around the burger to hold it together.
Lettuce leaves can replace taco shells, or make rounds of grated cheese and bake it for a crispy cheese ‘taco’ shell.
Cauliflower mash is a great alternative. Trim the florets off the cauliflower and cut into chunks. Place in a bowl and microwave for 5 to 8 minutes uncovered until cooked through. If you don’t have a microwave, steam the cauliflower on the stove with a little water to stop it burning, draining off any excess water. Add a tablespoon of butter, or to make it extra creamy add a tablespoon of cream or marscapone. Stir it all together. Throw it in a blender or food processer to puree into a smooth consistency. Add seasoning to taste, and some grated cheese if you like. Great on top of a casserole or pie, on the side of some meat or roast, or to accompany some baked fish.