Thursday, September 17, 2015

Get Rid of Pasta, Rice, White Bread and Potatoes NOW

Living with a diabetic has made me take up the flag of fighting against the onslaught of white food. No, not white people. Food that is white.

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.

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