Healthy, Lower Carb Substitutes

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.

2. Zoodles

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!

5. Salad

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!

 

Quick and Easy Breakfasts at Work

Since I’ve started working full-time at my internship this summer, I’ve had to learn how to work around my workout, work schedule as far as eating goes. No, it’s not as easy as it was at school because I can’t whip something up fresh whenever I feel like it. This is especially true if I workout before work, which I usually do since I often am too tired to want to workout afterwards. But this means that breakfast is at my desk, and it needs to be big and filling in order to refuel my workout and fuel me for my day. (Read here for why breakfast is so important)

Because I didn’t want to get bored with food, and too much oatmeal hurts my stomach, I came up with a few creative solutions to make for breakfast at work. I make all of these the night before as I am packing my lunch and snacks for the next day, and just reheat it (if need be) at work. Now, I know not everyone’s work is the same so maybe you can’t eat at your desk/work or you don’t have a kitchen close to use and if so, some of these ideas will work and some won’t. But for the most part, I bet everyone has the access to some type of kitchen area and can make these meals work for their next breakfast at the desk! I have included my meals/recipes and occasional pictures (not the best quality since taken on my iPhone, but they work!) Also, if you don’t workout before work or need to eat at your desk, here are some other great healthier breakfast alternatives to fast food for your morning!

Let’s get to it!

1. Savory Egg/Egg White Stuffed Crepe

I found inspiration for this on Instagram, and then confirmed it to fit my needs. Also, note that my pan I cook the eggs/whites in wasn’t big enough to make it thin and crepe like, so after trying to the first time, I just made it the bottom layer of my dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg and 2-3 egg whites
  • Oatmeal/Cream of rice (amount of choice)
  • Peanut butter/Powdered Peanut Butter  (I use PB2)
  • Fruit to top (I use strawberries and bananas)

First, cook the beaten eggs/egg whites in a pan on medium heat. Cover the pan to let it cook the top too (bubbles may form, you can pop them). Check on it every minute or so and when it is cooked enough on top and bottom (usually 3-4 minutes), flip it then take off the heat. Add the egg crepe to the bottom of a tupperware.

Next, cooked oatmeal/cream of rice as says on package. I personally mix the two because I need to keep my fiber lower (I get way too much) so I do 20-30 g oatmeal and 1-1.3 servings cream of rice. While that is cooking in the microwave, cut up and prepare your fruit toppings and  seal in a plastic bag or small tupperware. Once the cream of rice/oatmeal is done, add it to the top of the crepe in the tupperware (you can also mix in protein powder before putting it onto the crepe). As far as toppings go, I add peanut butter to the tupperware meal. I have PB2 also in a small container to mix with water in the morning and then after heating up the breakfast, I add the PB2 and fruit!

2. Egg Scramble

Eggs are super easy to whip up the night before, store in a container and heat up the next morning! Add in veggies, meats, potatoes, etc! To get more carbs, I usually add hashbrowns, potatoes, and/or a tortilla to the eggs (tortilla and hashbrowns pictured). I also will toast an english muffin or bagel the MORNING OF–before leaving for my workout/work–and then just reheat at work. No, it doesn’t stay crispy, but it tastes delicious and works perfectly for me. you could also pack a packet of oatmeal or pre-made oatmeal as well to add carbs. I will also top my eggs with cheese, salsa, reduced-sugar ketchup, avocado, etc. the night before and it works well heated up still.

3. Overnight Oats

These are a classic for anyone who needs a quick, easy, and convenient breakfast in the morning! I either eat My very Berry Overnight Oats or Peanut Butter and Jelly ones (recipe below).

Ingredients

  • Rolled oats
  • 1 cup of Milk of choice (I use cashew milk)
  • Protein Powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. Peanut Butter (I use natural only; Krema/Crazy Richards is my favorite)
  • Banana, sliced
  • Strawberries (other berries/fruit could be substituted here as well)

In a tupperware or container, add desired amount of rolled oats (I use 50-70 g). Add 1 cup of milk and stir around. Next, mix in desired amounts protein powder (I use 15-20g and PEScience Snickerdoodle is my go-to). Swirl/stir in the peanut butter and stick in the fridge for the next day. I add in the cut up fruit the morning of, but you could add it in the night before as well. Also, crumpling up a rice cake and mixing it in before you eat it tastes great, gives it a nice crunch, and adds extra carbs if you need them.

So there are my go-to breakfast at work! They’re all super simple, easy and delicious–just what I need for my day! If you want other suggestions and tips for staying healthy while working, check out my blog post here! Also, if you have any ideas I would love to hear them below!

Healthy Dessert Recipes/Ideas

I’ve never been a die-hard sweet tooth, but I still like to have a little sweet-treat, dessert every night to cap off my day. Sometimes this means ice-cream and such, but a lot of times I like to find healthier alternatives to make for dessert because A) it’s fun and B) I like filling my diet with mostly wholesome, nutritious foods. So, since I’ve found a few of those, I thought I would share them with you to give you some ideas and inspiration for your next dessert. Some of these will just be blanket ideas that you can then create to fit your own likes, wants, needs, etc. while some will be more recipe-type–but again, you are able to mix it up with things that you have or flavors you like. None of these are super fancy because I like to keep it simple and delicious…so let’s get started.

1. Mug Cake (218 Calories; 6.5 F, 16.5 C, 26 P)

There are tons of recipes out there for mug cakes, but this is one that I have found to be easy and delicious, and successful for once. Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 50-60 grams of banana, mashed (or an egg)
  • 1/2 cup of milk of choice
  • 1 tbsp. almond flour
  • Baking powder

In a mug mix together the protein powder (I use PEScience snickerdoodle), mashed banana, milk (I use unsweetened cashew milk), almond flour and a dash of baking powder. Microwave on high for 1 minute. **Keep an eye on it as it can sometimes overflow or “explode and make a mess** After 1 minute, check the consistency and continue microwaving for 30 second intervals, checking periodically until it is done to your liking. I like to add scoops of Enlightened or Halo Top ice cream to the top of mine…especially oatmeal cookie crunch on top of this cinnamon mug cake….straight fire!

2. Yogurt Bowls

These are probably my favorite healthy dessert and I have it almost every night. I love it because it’s so versatile so that I can always switch it up and never get bored–plus it packs in a protein-punch from the greek yogurt. You’re going to start off with a base of plain greek yogurt. (You can use flavored or just regular yogurt, but those often have tons of added sugars to them so I prefer the plain greek so that I can add my own flavors and keep it healthier.) Then, from there you literally add whatever you want to it. Here are some of my go-tos combinations:

  • Fruit and granola (pictured left)
  • Cereal (rice chex and lucky charms) with peanut butter
  • Fruit and peanut butter
  • Fruit, nut butter, and protein bar (pictured right)
  • Birthday cake muscle butter and vanilla cupcake goldfish grahams

3. Pancake Bowl

I got this inspiration from Lexi Deyoung on YouTube. Instead of making pancakes on the stove or griddle, you make a giant one in a bowl. Here’s the ingredients, although the amounts are up to you.

  • 1/2-1 serving Pancake Mix (I use Kodiak Cakes Protein Mix)
  • Protein powder (any desired amount, I used 10 grams)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup cashew milk (any milk will work)
  • 50-60 g banana, mashed (or 1 egg)

In a microwave-safe bowl, mix together the pancake mix, protein powder, milk, and bananas. Then, add water as needed for consistency (should be like normal pancake batter consistency). Microwave for 1-1.5 minutes (time could vary so check on it) until you have the consistency you like. I did it for 1 minute because I like  mine to be gooey in the middle still. Then, top with whatever you like. I did 2 tbsp. whipped cream cheese, 1 crumbled caramel rice cake, and Walden Farms sugar-free syrup. I also think I may add fruit next time. But, seriously, it’s so delicious, and versatile so try it out!

4. Dessert Pancakes

This was one of my best dessert discoveries yet! It’s so simple, but you may have never thought to put these things together…but you should! Just make pancakes how you normally would. I use Kodiak Cakes protein mix along with protein powder and water. Then, I add either Enlightened or Halo Top ice cream to the top. (wondering which one you should choose? Check out my ice cream review post!). My favorite combinations so far have been Enlightened cookie dough or oatmeal cookie crunch (pictured), but really any flavor would be delicious on top of the pancakes. I mean c’mon, pancakes for dessert…who doesn’t want that?

So there you have it-healthy dessert recipes and ideas! If you have any suggestions of your favorites or variations, I would love to hear them!

Meal Prep Meal Ideas

So I know I have written about meal planning/prepping tips before, but I wanted to do a little post on some of my favorite “fun meals” that I create from my meal prep. I want to give you some ideas of how to make leftovers or big batches of meal prep fun, quick and easy, healthy, and most importantly, delicious!! I don’t ever usually have specific recipes, but I have some basic meal ideas that you can then take and create using what you have/like. Hope you enjoy these and that it helps make your healthy lifestyle a little easier, and, of course, tastier.

1. Sweet Potato Mexican Bowl

I love sweet potatoes and mexican flavors…so this works perfectly! I typically use ground turkey or rotisserie/baked chicken, but you could also use ground beef, ground chicken, or even lunch meat! For the sweet potatoes, you can bake/steam those ahead of time in your meal prep, or if you have time, cook them as you are making your meal. I try to buy express bake sweet potatOH because they come wrapped in a seal that steams it for you, or just steam your potato in the microwave in about 6-7 minutes. Then, you start assembling. I scoop out the potato into a bowl, add the meat, and then lots of toppings. My go-tos are: bell pepper, tomato, romaine lettuce, red onion, sprinkle of cheese, avocado, and salsa. In the bowl pictured, I also added white rice (I needed more carbs for the day), so you could also add beans or rice to your bowl too. Play around and find what works for you!

2. Asian Stir-Fry

Again, this is a pretty basic meal (we all know stir-fry), but it’s super delicious! The main things you’ll need for this are rice (I typically choose brown), a protein (I use frozen shrimp or ground turkey), and veggies (I use birds eye frozen). Frozen foods are a big help in making these quick meals and just as nutritious, so don’t be afraid to invest in those. I just cook everything up (or have it prepped) and then top it off with a little soy sauce and sesame seeds. Occasionally I’ll also add toppings like avocado or an over-easy egg–super delicious!!

3. Quinoa Bowls

If you follow me on instagram, it’s no secret that I love quinoa and eat it often. It’s so easy to cook up a batch of it on Sunday and have it for the week to use in many different meals. My quinoa bowls are a jumble of foods, usually different every time. I start with a base of quinoa and then add some type of protein (ground turkey, chicken, lunch meat, etc.) and then veggies! I go with PictSweet frozen steamable veggies for convenience, but you could add fresh, raw or cooked veggies–whatever you like. Then, on top of the bowl I add things like avocado oil, avocado, cheese, etc. I don’t have a picture of this one (there’s one on my instagram), but it is so versatile that you could make any variation of it to fit you, your needs, and your tastes.

4. Pizza

You heard me right…pizza! The thing that tops this whole thing off is using FlatOut wraps as the base!! These are by far the best I’ve found and make the pizza great. Again, after you have the base, it’s pretty much up to you for the toppings. In the picture, I used marinara sauce, laughing cow cheese wedge, mushrooms, spinach, chicken and red onion. I’ve also used basil before too! Make the pizza however you like, and the great thing is since each wrap is one pizza, you and anyone you’re eating with can have the pizza they want!

5. Banza Pasta Delight

As you may have seen or read before, I absolutely  LOVE Banza Chickpea Pasta–it tastes great, texture is perfect, and for me, it’s a better option than normal pasta. But of course, you could sub in another pasta into this recipe. While I am cooking the pasta (or if you pre-made a batch, reheating it), I cook veggies in a pan and then add in my meat at the end to warm it up. You could use any veggies or meat (shrimp, ground turkey, chicken, etc.), but some of my favorite veggies to use (depending on what I have) are spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, or zucchini. Then I add this mixture to the top of the pasta and add any cheese, pesto, or sauce you want! Absolutely delicious, healthy and easy!

So there are just a few of my meals I make with meal prep. I also sometimes I just throw random stuff together to make “bulk bowls” which helps make food fun and interesting not to mention allowing me to eat a lot. Try being creative and prepping a bunch of carb and protein sources at the beginning (and even veggies) and play around making different recipes. Healthy cooking is meant to be fun, quick, easy, and delicious!!