Creative Substitutes for Carbs

Love bread, fries, and pasta? You're not alone. Carbohydrates remain one of the things that people looking to shed pounds find hardest to give up. After all, it's not as much fun to eat a plain burger with a knife and fork as it is to put it inside a fluffy bun and devour it with your hands. And a piece of grilled fish on a plate with a side of steamed vegetables can seem rather naked. The solution? Creative substitutes:

Shirataki Noodles

These Asian noodles aren't exactly like pasta, although they look like linguine or spaghetti (they come in different shapes). Made from konjac (a plant) fiber, the noodles have a rubbery texture and minimal taste, but they're a great addition to flavorful soups and can stand up to cooked veggies, meats, and classic Italian dishes. They offer a lot of bang for very few calories and carbohydrates. Many dieters have touted these noodles on blogs and message boards as a great stand-in for traditional flour-based pasta. You can usually find them in the refrigerated sections of Asian markets and health-food grocery stores, although more and more mainstream supermarkets are stocking them, too.

Spaghetti Squash

A winter squash with a distinctive yellow rind and oval shape, this vegetable makes an excellent substitute for regular pasta. You've got to cook it in the oven or microwave until the inside is soft, at which point it dissolves into long pasta-like strings. Toss them with pesto or marinara and cheese for a filling and much less fattening version of your favorite red-sauce-joint special.

Turnip Fries

The turnip doesn't get much play, but savvy carb cutters have found a way to transform it from frumpy vegetable to sexy side dish. Peel and thinly slice turnips as you would potatoes and toss them in a bowl with ¼ cup of olive oil, ¼ cup of grated cheese, a pinch of nutmeg, salt, and black pepper. Spread the slices on a greased sheet and bake at 450 degrees until golden for about 20 minutes.   

Lettuce Wraps

These may not completely satisfy a carb craving, but they can do in a pinch. Stuff a large lettuce leaf with chicken salad, tuna, sautéed lentils, and veggies, or anything that you normally put in a sandwich. Wrap up the leaf, slice in half, and eat.


Sources: "Shirataki: Low Carb Noodles From Japan?" Web. 16 February 2010. "Turnip Fries Recipe." Web.