I want to provide helpful content to y’all so as I was devouring my spaghetti squash for lunch I thought why not do a post on lower-carb options? Now please note, I am not stating that carbs are bad and I am not advocating low-carb in any any!! (Unless of course you’re on prep). Carbs are GOOD, carbs are FUEL–they’re necessary for our energy, strength, functionality, etc. However, I know not everyone’s carbs can be up super high like bodybuilders, reverse dieters, those in recovery, etc. There are people out there who have a lower carb diet and don’t eat 250, 350, 350+ carbs a day. Even for those on higher carbs, these substitutes can be a good way to increase veggies and save carbs for elsewhere too. Plus they’re all too dang delicious to not try.
So with all that said, here are some ideas for lower-carb swap outs and substitutes that are just as delicious as the originals, when needed.
1. Spaghetti Squash
This one had to be first because it is my NUMBER ONE! Sorry for the all caps, but seriously if you have NOT tried it yet…just go do it. Right now, I’ll wait. To me, spaghetti squash sometimes tastes better than pasta (yes, I just said that) and it is a perfect substitute because it’s all veggie. The texture is spot on and it’s as flexible with your toppings and mix-ins as regular pasta. This is the recipe I use. You can also just cook the spaghetti squash the same way without mix-ins and add your own after it’s cooked too. You could also mix regular pasta with spaghetti squash.
Zoodles are another low-carb pasta substitute, but to me this takes a little more work and a little less exact match as the spaghetti squash, but still delicious! You will need a spiralizer of some sort to create the noodles out of the zucchini, and then either can eat them raw or cook them. I prefer to cook them a little (to soften them) with my sauce, meat, and veggie additives. You could also mix regular pasta and the zoodles too.
3. Butternut Squash
Butternut squash can be substituted instead of sweet potatoes either making them as fries, cubes, chips, etc. I’ve never made fries out of them, but I do know some stores even sell them cut up like fries either fresh or frozen so check your local grocery store. I have used cubed squash though in random bowls like I would potato.
4. Lettuce Wraps/Boats
Although some people may cringe at the thought of replacing breadier (is that a word? it is now) carbs with lettuce, but it can still be done and made delicious! I have made chinese chicken wraps with lettuce and have been meaning to try taco lettuce boats (basically a taco in a cup of lettuce instead of a tortilla). Lettuce could also be used as a bun for burgers or sandwiches. They do tend to fall apart a little more if you over-stuff them, but the crunch from the wrap is great texture with the meal!
Lastly, I know this isn’t really a subsitute because salad is a meal/food anyway, BUT almost anything you make can be turned into a salad if lower carbs are needed. Examples include taco salad, burger salad (burger and toppings just mixed with lettuce), chinese salad, etc. Just do be careful that you don’t add too many other less-nutritious options to the salad that it actually becomes worse for you.
While I love carbs and they are definitely important and necessary, sometimes you need to eat lower carbs in life or in a situation, OR you just want to eat lower carbs. That’s okay as long as you are making sure that you are getting enough carbs for your body, your needs, your activity level, etc. These options are all veggies so they still do have carbs, but they are lower-carb substitutes for you to try. If you have any other ideas or recipes you love, please share them in the comments section below!