Most diets ban foods containing carbohydrates, as they have been known to contribute to weight gain. But, what if you could still enjoy pizzas and pastas by tricking your taste buds into thinking that they are eating delicious carbs? By subbing vegetables into your beloved recipes, you can still enjoy your favourite comfort food dishes guilt-free.
Cauliflower pizza dough:
Do you have a love-hate relationship with pizza? It is known as the ultimate comfort food, and the smell alone can make your mouth water and stomach growl, but 15 minutes after eating a slice or two, the guilt (and bloating) sets in. Swap out the greasy calorie-laden dough with a healthier cauliflower-based alternative! Blitz cauliflower florets in a food processor along with some low fat cheese and eggs. Mix in some garlic powder, salt and oregano (or favorite herbs) to taste, bake for 15 minutes, then top with your desired toppings, bake a little longer and voilà! A healthy pizza that you can enjoy and feel good about. Cauliflower is a great source of fiber, vitamin C and folate, which are essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
A good bowl of spaghetti can soothe the soul. Instead of reaching for the box of starchy pasta, swap it out with zucchini instead! Zucchini contains about 80% less fat and 90% less calories than traditional spaghetti pasta. It may take a little longer to chop the zucchini down into noodle-like strands, but tools like a spiralizer (or even a basic grater) will cut back on time and effort. Boil or stir-fry the zucchini noodles, and serve with your favourite veggie-packed tomato sauce. Another healthy alternative to spaghetti noodles is the spaghetti squash. Once roasted in the oven, it pulls apart into noodle-like strands and gives a wonderful rich and healthy base for a hearty bolognese sauce.
Lasagna is another calorie-heavy dish layered with carbohydrates, ricotta, sauce and cheese. By replacing the pasta sheets with unrolled leeks, the bolognese sauce with a herb-based, ground chicken alternative and a light dusting of low-fat cheese, you’re cutting down the calories, but not the flavor. Leeks are packed with health benefits; improving eyesight, promoting clear skin, lowering blood pressure, improving kidney functions and controlling cholesterol.
Root vegetable French fries:
Every once in awhile, you may get a craving for some hot, crispy fries or crunchy chips. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, beets, parsnips and carrots are wonderful (healthier) alternatives to basic potatoes. Slice your root vegetable of choice finely into chips (a mandolin can help with this) or chop into sticks, drizzle a little olive oil and salt, and bake until crisp. Root vegetables are known to contain vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and dietary fiber, which are all important daily necessary daily nutrients.
Lettuce over tortilla wraps:
While corn tortillas are better than their wheat counterpart, a healthier alternative to your next fajita or burrito is a lettuce wrap. Iceberg, Boston, green leaf and butter lettuce are great options that hold up to all the delicious items you’ll fill them with. Lettuce is high in fiber, cellulose, contains omega-3 fatty acids and has an extremely low caloric value.
Carbohydrates are important for providing the body with energy, but it is important to keep these within reasonable levels within a balanced diet or you will pack on the pounds, feel sluggish and have blood sugar spikes. By replacing the carbohydrates in your favourite dishes with vegetable alternatives, you are giving yourself a healthy boost with added vitamins, minerals and are able to enjoy guilt-free comfort food.
Author: Misha Khan