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Feb 17, 2014 08:26 PM

Your favourite carb substitute?

We have been trying to eat healthier here; and while we do eat about 95% whole foods; but we (my husband and I) love our bread and pastas. I often make both myself; however we are getting older (Hubs turns 30 next month!) and we are definitely noticing that the carbs are starting to stick with us a lot longer than we would like.

I have tried some things; and I am having a hard time finding replacements. I have tried things like chickpeas, lentils, rice based pasta, gluten free flours for breads/baking, things like celery root instead of potatoes (yack!).

I am really struggling, as I can't seem to force myself to like any of those things. It is very hard to stick to something when you don't like it; and we are not so much focused on being "gluten free" (as we have no reason to be, we have no allergies) we are just interested in cutting carb intake.

I feel like without the carbs I am starving; and the veggies/protein just isn't staying with me, and it does seem to upset my stomach quite a bit.

Anyone have any suggestions? Particularly for a bread and pastas as they are the guilty pleasures.

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  1. So are you trying to decrease carbs in general, or breads and pastries in particular? Beans have carbs, although they also have plenty of fiber. So does rice based pasta, without the extra fiber.

    If you want to eat almost no carbs at all, you might have to sub in extra protein in order to feel satisfied. If you want to decrease carbs, then you need to limit servings of breads, pasta, potatoes, etc.

    If I am not having a carb with dinner or lunch, sometimes I eat a little cottage cheese as a sub. (Cottage cheese has some carbs)

    Subs for potato might be cauliflower or turnips. I have to say that neither work for me that way, but some people use them that way.

    You can bake a bread sub using 1/2 almond flour and 1/2 golden flaxseed meal. Noodle around the internet for "breads" baked with those products, or coconut flour, which I believe some people also use as a sub for regular flour.

    Ultimately you are not subbing this for that, but learning how to be satisfied with fewer carbs in a meal. This is a learning experience. But eating more lean protein helps with satiety.

    1. Quinoa is good, along with all natural broths, like chicken broth. I also love spaghetti squash, which is fairly starchy and can be topped with marinara and cheese. Almond Nut-thins are also quite good with a little cheese of choice on top. Im a fan of nuts and nut butter, eggs any style (try deviled eggs, just don't eat a bunch). Udi's gluten free bread is a good substitute for "real" bread, but make sure you toast it, and if you are craving gluten free pizza, Amy's has a good one and also a good GF burrito. Feel Good Foods also offers good GF egg rolls if they r available in your area. I find if I stick with the protein and veggies for a week, I can continue to eat that way, but everyone is different. Good luck!

      1. Enjoy a smaller portion. As in really ENJOY it. A great slice of bread with some amazing cheese. A small portion of pasta mixed in with a TON of veggies (a noodle stir fry works great for this). A classic baked potato.

        I have found that I would rather have a smaller serving of the real thing than a bigger portion of a lesser substitute. But if you want a faux healthy suggestion, I frequently make mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes at equal proportions (just start boiling the sweets about 5 minutes earlier) as a tolerable substitute for the real thing

        23 Replies
        1. re: autumm

          This is great advice, autmm. As a type 1 diabetic, I will have a small spoonful of brown rice with my chinese, thai or indian food and it always enough to satisfy without having to bolus much insulin.

          Spaghetti squash is a great sub. for spaghetti. Serve it with meatballs and red sauce and you'd be surprised how great it tastes and resembles pasta.

          I think the key, like autumm pointed out, is to allow small amounts. Complete restriction is difficult to live long term for most folks (although many on the special diets board do it and do it well).

          I sometimes bake protein muffins and cookies using almond meal/flour and protein powder. There are tons of recipes online. Wasa crackers are great and only 4 carbs per big cracker. I will occasionally use 2 to make a nut butter sandwich. Quinoa as someone pointed out is great in many ways - as a hot breakfast cereal (like oatmeal), mixed in a green salad, as a rice-like side dish, etc. These all have some carbs but generally are low carb and filling. Ooh, Tofu and tempeh are also great protein sources.

          Oh, and beware, gluten free products contain carbs. Usually in the form of rice flour.

          Happy Eating!

          1. re: lynnlato

            Lynn, have you tried the new Ryvita Crunch? I buy the rye, they've got a lovely delicate texture and crunch and I think just enough salt added to amp the flavor. Not in most stores, yet but this is them: My old favorite was Wasa multi grain, but these are much better and no wheat (other than contaminants, I gather).

            1. re: mcf

              Ditto on the Ry-Vita; my husband is out getting some more. They satisfy the sweet taste you get from a cookie. Very Good Buy.

              1. re: mortswife

                Did you buy the fruit and nut ones, mortswife? I bought the rye, oat bran and salt ones.

                1. re: mcf

                  I have both the Ry-Vita fruit & seed and the Ry-Krisp multigrain. Hubby and I are living sugar/ flour free and these really are the ticket. We live 95 miles from a store that carries them, so we buy several at a time. I haven't tried the oat bran ones.

                  1. re: mortswife

                    See if you can find the new Ryvita Crunch that i posted and let me know if you think it's as good as I do. I have to drive out of my way to buy it, may resort to buying it online.

                  2. re: mcf

                    I tried the fruit and nut one, spread a thick layer of greek yogurt on it for breakfast- new favorite thing!! Totally exceeded my expectations.

                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      I eat low carb and the fruit and crunch is no good for me. Maybe if I put some meat on it, my blood sugar wouldn't spike so badly.

                2. re: mcf

                  Oooh, thanks mcf! I am headed to the store now and I do believe our grocer carries these. I'll give them a try!

                  1. re: mcf

                    mcf, where are you buying the Ryvita Crunch? I have looked in stores in my area and haven't had any luck. I really want to try these but I don't want to buy a case of 10. Help!

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      I've never tried them but have seen them at Wegmans.

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        ShopRite in Commack, NY has them, Wild by Nature, which is a King Kullen store, and they're also online. Any store you go to that carries Ryvita will probably order them if you ask at the customer service desk.

                        1. re: mcf

                          Thanks y'all. I'm in the Southeast and am not having much luck. Why is it the more difficult it is to find something the more you want it? I will find those damn crackers! ;)

                          Oooh, it just occurred to me that my sister in PA has a Wegmans! I'll have her look for me. She's coming to visit in a few days! Thanks again!

                          1. re: lynnlato

                            They are a tiny bit salty but I like them. I wouldn't kill for them. I like TJ's pita crackers better.

                            1. re: walker

                              I got a bit confused; thought I was replying to TJ thread. For low carb crackers, I like the crunchmaster ones.

                              1. re: walker

                                That bit of saltiness is a huge reason I love them! The other reason is the incredibly delicate texture comparied to so many crisp breads.

                       doesn't make you buy a whole case, btw, for the future. Or just ask your store manager. :-)

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    OMG, thank you for reminding me about What a great website! I just placed my first order. I got the Ryvita and I found my favorite soaps, Nubian Heritage, at a much cheaper price than at WF. I'm so happy!

                      2. re: autumm

                        I agree with autumm. The best substitute for carbs is to just eat less of them and creatively augment them with non starchy carbs (most vegetables), adequate protein (but don't overdo the protein), and some healthy fats.

                        After trying many of the fad diets (including no carb, high protein, vegetarian, etc., etc.) I find that I'm healthier by ignoring them all. I'm maintaining my weight better, and more satisfied in general by just using some common sense moderation.

                        Of course, everyone's different so there's not a universal answer...but sensible portions in general, increased intake of veggies, and moderate use of the "problem" foods (pasta, potatoes, rice, alcohol, etc.) should work for most people.
                        There are no quick fixes and a diet should not be a 'temporary' measure. Discipline in paramount...and properly monitored, favorite foods can still be enjoyed without guilt.

                        1. re: The Professor

                          Any time I see someone mention a "fad" diet or "no carb" diet, I know disinformation is about to happen.

                          Even the lowest carb 2 week induction on Atkins calls for 2 cups of non starchy veggies per day, and allows dairy, which also contains carbs, and nuts, olives, etc. which are also high fiber sources of carbs.

                          And let us not forget that approx 58% of dietary protein converts to carb/glucose as well.

                          The most important food for satiety and appetite control is protein, eat all you want, at least at first, it's the most important part of human nutrition, followed by fats. For satiety and healthy, lean body mass promotion.

                          Even the uber severe Johns Hopkins ketogenic epilepsy diet isn't "no carb."

                          1. re: mcf

                            Well said, and point taken. The way I read it, we don't disagree at all.

                            However, I did conclude by saying that there's no one _definitive_ answer for everyone. ;-)

                            1. re: The Professor

                              I don't think we need to tell people what to do so much offer accurate information so they can make better informed decisions.

                          2. re: The Professor

                            I agree. Moderation does it, not cutting carbs completely. I have a baked potato a few times a week, with nothing on it. It's a vegetable and I believe that natural carbs are different than the processed ones.

                            While I love pasta, I don't do well eating it once a week. I overdo it, because I love it. But I bake a spaghetti squash in the oven, throw some chopped tomatoes on top, roast it for 45 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of cooked, whole wheat spaghetti in my portion and it satisfies me. It's not the same as a whole plate of just pasta, but it cuts the amount in half.

                            I also measure my rice. At my evening meal, I measure a half cup of rice, and put all of my stir fry one top of that measured amount.

                            I do not have any carbs at lunch. And I only have a 1/2 cup of Kashi go lean, with almond milk and 1/2 cup almond milk for breakfast, with a 1/2 cup of frozen, unsweetened fruit. If I'm hungry before lunch, then I have a grapefruit or banana.

                            Good luck! For me it's a daily battle.


                        2. I'm not a low carb person by any means.
                          My first instinct is to say just have an open faced sandwich with one slice bread instead of two, and make half as much pasta but add twice as many veggies to it. Keep making your own bread but cut your portions of it in half.

                          Have you made socca with chickpea flour? Its stupid easy and really delicious, also high in protein.

                          There are lots of low carb muffins and breads made with almond flour or coconut flour but those can become really high calorie and fat as well.
                          These pancakes are made from just eggs and bananas (i haven't tried since i hate bananas....and eggs....)

                          Also check out the Whats for dinner low carb version on this board for ideas.

                          Or, honestly, eat your gorgeous bread (in moderate amounts) and just excersize a bit more.

                          1. I am 68 and my husband is 74. I have removed anything with sugar from my house along with anything with flour-he has lost 20 # and I have lost 15 #. I slowly added spinach in my salad; now I add more raw veggies. I never liked beans, but am learning how to fix them other than just boiling them. The internet is fabulous for finding recipes. Be patient and in the long run you will feel great. Whole grain bread is really good when you haven't had any bread for awhile!