More and more people are trying to eliminate unhealthy carbohydrates from their diet, and the food industry has responded. Many great alternatives to breads, rice, and pastas are available today. Instead of giving up shrimp scampi, you can replace the noodles in it and still enjoy! And we’re including a delicious recipe for exactly that at the end of this blog post.
Before getting to the recipe though, here are some great healthy swaps for unhealthy carbs:
1) Spaghetti squash
Pasta is notoriously high in carbs and one of the first things people want to limit in their diet when trying to get healthier or lose weight. Spaghetti squash is a great alternative!
To prepare, get one or two medium-sized spaghetti squash. Poke some holes in the outside, so they don’t pop open while cooking. Then just put them on a cookie sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes if they’re small, or an hour if they’re on the bigger size. After they’ve baked, cut them in half with a very sharp knife. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and the pulp surrounding the seeds. Then grab a fork and begin picking. The solid squash breaks apart into beautiful, thin pieces that look a lot like spaghetti.
People enjoy topping this with butter, garlic and parmesan cheese, or whatever your favorite pasta topping is! You’ll find lots of simple and delicious recipes online.
2) Zucchini noodles or other spiralized vegetables
Zucchini noodles are affectionately called zoodles by many, and they’ve gotten very popular. These are an excellent, yummy way to eat some of your favorite pasta dishes—without the pasta!
Replacing pasta with zucchini noodles is beneficial in several ways. Let’s compare two cups of zucchini noodles to two cups of cooked pasta. We’ll even use the healthier whole wheat pasta in our comparison:
- Calories: zucchini noodles 40; whole wheat pasta 348
- Fat: zucchini noodles, 1 gram; whole wheat pasta, 2 grams
- Carbohydrates: zucchini noodles, 7 grams; whole wheat pasta, 74 grams
That’s quite a difference!
You’ll need to have a vegetable spiralizer to make zucchini noodles, but you can find a good one for under $15. They work just like a big pencil sharpener!
Other vegetables that are commonly spiralized are cucumbers, green peppers, turnips, and carrots. But you can spiralize almost any vegetable for salads, casseroles, appetizers or entrees.
3) Other noodle substitutes
There are a lot of other substitutes for noodles on the market; cabbage noodles are one of the popular alternatives. You can find recipes online that even substitute cabbage noodles for lasagna noodles for a healthier lasagna. You can find tofu noodles, quinoa pasta, and a variety of other noodle substitutes in your grocery store to replace pasta.
4) Cauliflower rice
A healthy and tasty substitute for white rice is cauliflower rice, and it’s available in the frozen section of every grocery store now. A big bowl of it with a protein on top will leave you full and satisfied while keeping your calories and carbs down. It’s a great substitute for white rice in any dish that you eat with rice. Broccoli rice is another great rice alternative—also found in the freezer section.
5) Cauliflower bread or pizza crust
Sticking with cauliflower, you can also find a healthy bread substitute with cauliflower bread, or you can swap regular pizza crust for one made of cauliflower. Although a little harder to find than the rice, these cauliflower items are becoming more available, and you can always order them online.
6) Lettuce wraps
Lettuce wraps can be used in place of bread for sandwiches, in place of tortillas for wraps, or rolled over taco ingredients as a substitute for taco shells or tortillas.
Iceberg, Boston, green leaf and butter lettuce are the most common to use for wraps; the favorites are iceberg and butter. Iceberg gives things a nice crispness, but they’re harder to roll, so some people prefer a softer lettuce like butter lettuce. It just comes down to your personal preference.
Swap out the starch!
We’re not suggesting you eliminate all carbs. The ones found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are important for a balanced diet. But people are learning to eat healthier by limiting the starchy, processed carbs that are so prevalent in today’s American diet. The good news is that there are many healthy, delicious alternatives now. And with just a couple of swaps, you can lose weight and get healthier without much sacrifice.
Which brings us to the recipe we’re sharing. It’s not only good for you, but we think you’ll love it too!
Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, (more if you want it spicier)
1/4 cup chicken stock
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 medium-sized zucchini, spiralized (or 1 ½ pounds, if buying packaged zoodles)
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp is pink, about 2 – 3 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and lemon juice; and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a simmer; stir in zucchini noodles until well combined, and simmer for only about 1 – 2 minutes. Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan and parsley.