On a low-carb diet, or just looking for creative ways to get some more healthy veg into your meals?
With some ideas to get us started from Dr Sally Norton, an NHS weight loss consultant surgeon and founder of vavistalife.com, here are ten low-carb swaps to try at home, from courgetti to boodles.
If you’re a fan of curries but looking to cut down on the rice, try cauliflower instead. “Simply grate fresh cauliflower and steam for a few minutes on the hob or microwave, ready to soak up the sauce of your Thai curry or whatever else you fancy”, suggests Dr Sally.
If you keep a bag of grated cauliflower in the freezer, you can make your meals in minutes.
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to fat-laden salty snacks, try kale crisps. “Rip up a few kale leaves, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper or a dusting of paprika and spread on a baking tray. Cook in a hot oven for just a few minutes (watch carefully to avoid burning) and you have a great substitute for potato crisps” says Dr Sally.
Try experimenting with parsnips, carrots and other starchy veg, too.
Everyone seems to be talking about spiralized veg at the moment, but have you tried courgette spaghetti (courgetti?) as a great, light alternative to pasta? “If you don’t have a spiralizer to make those appealing twirls you can try a sharp knife or mandolin….but a decent spiralizer makes it temptingly easy” says Dr Sally.
You can also liven up your salads with the pretty green and white ribbons.
You’ve probably already tried mushroom-based, meat-free burgers if you’re a fan of veggie dishes. But what if you love a beef burger, but don’t want the stodgy bun? “A couple of portobello mushroom caps can serve just as well as bread substitutes” says Dr Sally. “A touch of oil and grill or roast for a few minutes whilst you cook your beef, and you have your quarter pounder with ease”.
Don’t fancy chips on the side? “Try parsnip crisps or sweet potato fries plus a crisp side-salad for a veg-tastic meal”.
Sick of sandwiches? “For a light lunch or quick snack, replace a tortilla wrap with a large lettuce leaf such as Romaine or Cos varieties and pack with whatever filling you fancy” suggests Dr Sally.
Have you tried slices of aubergine as a substitute for pasta sheets in lasagne? “Not as quick and easy as other dishes” advises Dr Sally, but it makes a good filling meal and “comes packed full of a wide range of nutrients and anti-oxidants”.
Butternut squash noodles
Try butternut squash noodles to add colour to your next stir-fry in place of regular noodles. Make them with a spiralizer, or you can buy ready-prepared “boodles” in Sainsbury’s.
Sweet potato mash
Try mashing sweet potatoes for a lower carb, lower calorie alternative to regular mash. A good source of vitamins, sweet potatoes also count as one of your five a day.
Packed with vitamins and minerals, try beetroot instead of rice. You can find it ready-prepared in selected supermarkets, or try making your own by tipping raw beetroot into a blender and pulsing until it resembles fine grains.
Try it with fish, or in a salad with feta cheese and green salad leaves for a healthy, colourful supper.
Rainbow cous cous
A mixture of chopped beetroot, babycorn, broccoli, carrot, cauliflower and red onion, you can buy ready-made versions of rainbow couscous in selected supermarkets, or try making your own with a selection of your favourite vegetables.
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