7 Ways to Swap Carbs With Vegetables

Your favorite foods are getting a brand new look.

June 17, 2015
Thinkstock

We all remember Mom pleading with us to please-oh-please eat our vegetables, and it turns out, she was definitely right. We've since (hopefully) warmed up to the idea of some colorful veggies on our plate and regularly load up on those healthy nutrients. And on National Eat Your Veggies Day (didn't know that was a real holiday, didya?), it's time to celebrate them. So to ring in the produce-friendly day, we've chatted with NYC-based registered dietitian, Alissa Rumsey, on how you can swap carbs with veggies for a more nutrient-loaded meal.

"Replacing traditional, refined carbohydrates with non-starchy veggies helps you get more fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals," Rumsey says. "Non-starchy veggies are lower in calories, so making these swaps is a great way to control your weight."

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

More: 30 Quick 100-Calorie Snacks You Can Make Yourself

Another pro? They’re loaded with fiber, which helps to make you feel full longer. "This means that you are less likely to overeat at that meal, or later on during the day," Rumsey adds. 

And since we're all guilty of stocking up on more than our fair portion size of pastas and rice, the veggies are an easy reminder of the need for a controlled amount. "The portion size of carbohydrates like pasta or rice is small -- about half a cup," she says. "If you eat more than this, you will get a spike in blood sugar, and your body is more likely to store these calories as fat. In contrast, vegetables digest slower and do not cause a large spike in blood sugar or insulin, especially when paired with lean protein and some fat."

Convinced yet? Veggies are good and good for you. So now’s the time to embrace them, especially with these carb swaps:

1. Instead of a hamburger bun, use a Portobello mushroom. 

Thinkstock

Nix the carb-filled burger bun and replace it with two slices of Portobello mushroom. The veggie is often used as a vegetarian option for actual hamburger patties, but this variation puts it on top and bottom. Its meat-like texture and flavor will give another kick to your barbecue menu. 
Check out these Portobello Mushroom Cashew Cheese Burgers from This Rawsome Vegan Life

2. Instead of spaghetti pasta, use zucchini noodles.

Thinkstock

Armed with a mandolin, or just a vegetable peeler, you can easily transform your zucchini into a pasta substitute. Simple slice and cut thin strips of the vegetable, and prepare just as you would regular pasta. 
Check out this Zucchini Ribbon 'Pasta' from Yummy Summer 

3. Instead of white rice, use cauliflower "rice."

Thinkstock

White rice, one of the most common fast carbs, translates directly into sugar in your body. With this swap, you can take a head of cauliflower and create your own DIY veggie rice. You'll need a food processor, some olive oil, and, of course, the cauliflower. Throw the cauliflower into the processor, coat with a bit of olive oil, and pulse. In seconds, it'll turn into "rice." 
Check out this Roasted Cauliflower Rice from A Spicy Perspective

4. Instead of wraps, use lettuce. 

Thinkstock

This age-old swap is worth repeating. Instead of using a wheat wrap for your lunch meal, use a large lettuce leaf. Just load your toppings and roll up like a burrito. 
Check out these Tuna Avocado Lettuce Wraps from The Healthy Foodie

5. Instead of pizza crust, use a cauliflower crust. 

Thinkstock

This versatile veggie is back again! This time, it comes in grated form, where it’s mixed with an egg, cheese, and salt and pepper, and formed into a pizza crust. 
Check out this Low-Carb Cauliflower Pizza Crust from Gimme Delicious Food

6. Instead of mashed potatoes, do 1/2 mashed potatoes and 1/2 carrots.

Thinkstock

When they're loaded with butter and milk, mashed potatoes are filled with calories and carbs. But cut it in half and add in some carrots. The powerfood contains vitamin A, and works wonders for your skin. Now, that's a win. 
Check out these Roasted Carrots and Sweet Potatoes from In Sonnet's Kitchen

7. Instead of lasagna noodles, use sliced eggplant.

Thinkstock

Forget the lasagna noodles. In their place, layer slices of eggplant that'll help add extra flavor and texture into the favorite dish. 
Check out this Gluten- and Grain-Free Eggplant Lasagna from Sweet C's Designs