Pasta, rice, white bread and potatoes are classic mercenaries in the battle for a healthier diet. It's time to grow up and eat the other vegetables.
As always, before making any diet change, consult your physician.
- Green papayas, if cooked for a decent amount of time, has a textural similarity to the potato, but with about half the carb content. They appear to take about twice the amount of time to cook than a potato chunks of a similar size.
- Shredded zucchini and spaghetti squash are acceptable substitutes for pasta, but it's not the same. I admit it.
- You can use a cheese grater to more easily shred your zucchini, if you don't have one of those fancy food processors. The zucchini will come out a little thin so only cook it quickly, almost blanch it. This is perfect as a visually appealing side dish with a little parmesan cheese.
- Otherwise, you can slice your zucchini lengthwise, then cut the slices into smaller, thicker strands, which will hold up a little better in pasta sauces. This prep might take a little patience.
- Wild or brown rice has interesting, nutty flavors, but the key to cooking them is that it has to be soaked a little longer than white rice to loosen its hull. You may have noticed the directions on the package? Many people don't, as I didn't my first time out, and if you try to fix it like white rice, you've made a mistake. It'll be too chewy or hard, which is a turn-off for many, and which is why the concept that "no one likes brown rice" has become almost legendary.
- If you plan to mix your brown and white rice - which is a useful trick to help transition to brown rice - cook them separately first, since they have different prep and cooking requirements.
- Blended garbanzo beans can make a high protein base for a "cream sauce" - garlic, salt and pepper, onions, chicken broth and ladled over baked chicken? Not bad at all!
- Plain yogurt is a higher protein, less fatty replacement for sour cream - think Swedish Meatballs! Double protein hit!
- Baked kale, garbanzo beans, soybeans make good snacks. Make them a little more exciting with garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, or even dicing jalapenos among them prior to baking.
- Peanut butter is a favorite go-to, but remember, peanut butter, chiles and soy sauce make a terrific dipping sauce and adds some protein punch to the dish!
- Cooked eggplant slices are great for an unusual, low-carb chicken salad sandwich. Cooking eggplant is a little tricky, as there is a specific prep involved. Some people prefer to bake their eggplant.
- Ask for lettuce-wrapped burgers instead of buns. Most restaurants can handle it.
- Lettuce is also good for replacing taco shells - but I've not not yet found a Mexican food restaurant that isn't surprised by that request.
- The rumors are TRUE: Cauliflower is a great replacement for mashed potatoes
- Instead of pasta, try rinsed black or kidney or soybeans in your favorite pasta salad recipe.
- Any time you see pasta or potatoes in a recipe, try subbing it out with diced squash or eggplant.
- Also, any time you see rice, try cauliflower instead. Crumble it before cooking it - in case you're looking for that rice visage, too, - and cook it according to your preference: pan fry, boil, bake. It can handle it.
Fight the good fight, and always ask if you can sub your fries for a green salad.