While low-carb diets seem to be the all the rage nowadays, there’s actually some merit to swapping out starchy foods like bread, rice and pasta. How so? By replacing them with superfood veggies! Whether you follow a paleo, vegan, or whole foods diet (or something in between), all experts agree that low-glycemic veggies are in. Not only are they a superb way of achieving weight loss goals, they’re also an excellent way of getting in your daily RDAs of vitamins and minerals. Of course, we here at the Grow Network know that growing your own food means that ALL veggies are stellar stars!
So here are a few ways of cozying up to all that produce you’ve been growing… and to help you stick with those New Year’s resolutions.
Easy Ways to Replace Carbs with Vegetables – with 8 Recipes
#1 – Veggin’ on Veggie “Buns”
Swap out those carb-rich buns for lycopene-rich tomatoes. Simply cut in half and stick your burger in the middle, or scoop out the “innards” (add these bits with avocado in the food processor to make guacamole) to better fit the burger. If you’d prefer a cooked bun, consider using baked yam slices: peel, slice thickly into 1-inch rounds and bake, then slide that burger in between two yam slices. For a BBQ inspired taste, grill 1-inch slices of zucchini or marinated portobello mushroom caps, then stick your burger between two pieces, add the fixings and dig in. If you fancy using a toothpick to hold everything together, by all means go ahead!
#2 – Veggin’ on Submarine “Buns”
This a very simple idea similar to #1 above, only this time the form (i.e., length) of the “bun” changes. For a raw option, peel a cucumber and slice it in half lengthwise, scoop out the inner parts, then add in your fave nut pate, chicken or egg salad, tempeh scramble or whatever you please. Zucchini also works well here. For a cooked version, as with the idea above, slice a zucchini or a large bell pepper lengthwise into two strips, then grill both sides 4-5 minutes and use as submarine “bread.” Grilled eggplant is another mighty tasty option. Simple can be this good!
#3 – Pizza Veggie Love “Crust”
Yes, it’s true: you can use cauliflower and broccoli to make pizza “bread.” While it doesn’t have the same texture as the ol’ wheaty fare, it’s actually quite tasty and it’s quite easy to make. Give it a try in this recipe here:
Chickpea Cauliflower Pizza Crust Recipe
• 1 lb. cauliflower OR broccoli
• 1/2 cup chickpea flour
• 2 TBsp ground flax seed + 6 TBsp water OR 2 eggs, beaten
• 1 TBsp ground chia or flax seed
• 1 tsp Italian seasoning, powdered
• 1/2 tsp sea salt
Directions: Put the broccoli or cauliflower in the food processor and use the pulse button to grind it to look like rice (you want to have 3 cups). If you like, you can then steam this “rice” for 5 minutes, then let cool before handling. Place the “rice” in a nut milk bag or cheesecloth and wring out the excess water. If using the flax and water, add together in a small bowl and let sit 5 minutes. Then, add the cauliflower or broccoli “flour” in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, including the soaked flax/water mixture OR 2 beaten eggs. Add in additional chickpea flour as necessary to form a smooth dough. Divide the dough and make 2-4 small round pizza crusts, smoothing the dough to ensure there are no cracks, and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake at 400F for 30 minutes, then use a big spatula to gently flip the crusts over and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Done! Add your fave toppings and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Note: Double or triple recipe to freeze for future use. Place between sheets of parchment paper and gently place in a plastic bag. Thaw before reheating. Do note that crusts are rather fragile, so handle with care.
Variation 1: You can use half broccoli and half cauliflower if you like.
Variation 2: You can use any other flour you wish to replace the chickpea flour.
Variation 3: If you prefer to make one large pizza crust or shape it into a rectangular shape on your cookie sheet, by all means go ahead! Just remember to flip the crust over and cook it an additional 15 minutes to get a texture that will be crispy like pizza bread. Enjoy!
#4 – I Likey Ricey: Parsnip & Cauliflower Power
Similar to the idea in #3 above, use the pulse button on your food processor to grind the cauliflower or parsnip to look like rice. Now what? Now you can use this “rice” to sub in for regular rice. The simplest, of course, is to add it to your plate with a bit of salt and butter as a side dish. Another idea: use this “rice” in your next nori sushi recipe, adding in whatever else you normally use. Yet another idea: ever made stuffed peppers or tomatoes? Great, now you can do the exact same thing by stuffing them with parsnip or cauliflower rice, adding in your fave marinade, herbs and spices, and cooking as usual. Here’s a recipe with cabbage rolls to get you started with this idea:
Cabbage Rolls with “Parsnip Rice,” Feta, and Mint Recipe
• 1 cabbage, green, red OR Savoy
• 1 cup packed parsnip OR cauliflower “rice”
• 1/3 cup feta cheese or vegan shredded cheese
• 3 TBsp Kalamata olives, chopped
• 2 TBsp fresh mint, chopped
• 2-3 cups tomato sauce
Directions: Remove core from cabbage and take off 8 large leaves. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in leaves. Simmer on low 5-10 minutes until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients together, except the tomato sauce, in a bowl. Take out cabbage leaves and let cool until ready to handle. Depending on the size of the leaf, place 1/4-1/2 cup of the filling on the edge of a leaf and roll, tucking in the sides. Repeat with rest of ingredients. Add sauce to a pot and place cabbage rolls seam side down in the sauce. Cover and cook 8-10 minutes, until rolls are hot all the way through and cabbage is really tender. Serve rolls with the sauce, adding in additional mint and olives for garnish, if desired.
Note: If you find your sauce too thick, simply add some water to thin it out to avoid burning.
Variation: Use 3/4 cup cauliflower or parsnip and add in 2 grated carrots. Once rolls are done, add sauce and rolls seam side down in a crock pot. Cook on low 6-8 hours, until rolls are heated through and cabbage is very tender.
Bonus Power Idea: After steaming or cooking cauliflower or parsnip until tender, you can whip them in a blender with milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste, just like (and instead of) mashed ‘taters. Some people don’t bother cooking the veggies at all, just add to the blender and eat on up! Here’s another yummy recipe for you to enjoy:
Whipped Parsnip “Potatoes” Recipe
• 6-8 parsnips, peeled, chopped (and steamed/cooked, if desired)
• 4 TBsp ground sunflower seeds
• 4 TBsp Udo’s 3-6-9 oil OR olive oil
• 2 TBsp sea salt
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1 cup or more water, milk OR unsweetened non-dairy milk, for consistency
Directions: Whip all ingredients in a blender to a smooth texture and serve.
#5 – Rappin’ About Green Wraps
Instead of the standard slice of wheat or whole grain bread, opt for a healthy green in a leaf of lettuce. Simply add chicken, tuna, fish, tempeh, etc. and eat open-faced or place another leaf on top. You can also double up and use 2 leaves on both the top and bottom. If you find this idea a bit too raw for your tastes, try parboiling or lightly steaming chard or kale leaves so that they wilt, let them cool slightly, then add your fixings. Since the leaves are now soft, you might even enjoy rolling them up and eating them in wrap style. Steamed collard or cabbage (not a leafy green but tasty nonetheless) also work well for this idea.
#6 – Oh My Veggie Pasta Love Affair
So many people enjoy pasta, but not what it does to their waistline! As noted in this article (8 Ways to Enjoy Wholesome Noodles), there are many healthy alternatives out there and veggies fly high on the list. Options include using a spiralizer to turn carrots, zucchini and beets into noodles, then pairing with your fave pasta sauce (tomato, alfredo, peanut, etc). Zucchini sliced lengthwise into long strips can be used like lasagna noodles. And then there’s good ol’ spaghetti squash, which looks just like pasta noodles, but has a much better carb profile, way less calories and boosts vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A and potassium. Oh my veggies, I am so in love with all the ways you can be enjoyed!
#7 – Supersize Me Breakfast: Veggie Waffles & Pancakes
Hold the eggs and toast, because veggie breakfasts are so in! Sure, many people know about green smoothies for breakfast, but sometimes you just get tired of the same ol’ thing. And when you have leftover beet and carrot noodles that you’ve spiralized in #6 above, you can then turn them into… “hash browns,” and waffles! Better get out those yam and sweet potato “spuds” too, because veggie pancakes are the newfangled way to supersize your breakfast! Here are 2 recipes to get you high on veggies first thing in the morning:
No Yamby Pamby Pancakes Recipe
• 1 cup cooked and pureed yam or sweet potato
• 1/4 cup ground flax + 3/4 cup water, soaked together for 5 minutes OR 4 eggs, beaten
• 2 TBsp almond OR coconut flour
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (optional)
• Coconut oil, for frying
Directions: Mix all ingredients together. Grease a frying pan with coconut oil and cook 1/4 cup of the batter on medium-high heat. When bubbles form, flip and cook the other side. Repeat with rest of the batter. Top your pancakes with fresh fruit and a low calorie sweetener (e.g. stevia, erythritol, xylitol, etc.), if desired.
Carrot & Beet “Hash Browns” and Waffles Recipe
• 1 1/4 cups packed spiralized beet, carrot, or a combination of both
• 3 TBsp flax + 9 TBsp water
• 1 heaping TBsp chickpea, almond or coconut flour
• Coconut oil, for frying
Directions: Add altogether in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes for the flax to gel. Squeeze the dough together and divide into 4. Heat a frying pan on medium-high heat and add coconut oil. Squeeze each hash brown to hold its shape and place in the frying pan. Fry for 5-8 minutes, gently pressing down on each hash brown, then flip and do the other side. Serve and eat on up!
Notes: 1) The coconut and almond flour lend a sweeter dough than using chickpea or a grain flour. That means you can make these sweet or savory: if you want to go the sweet “root,” top with fresh fruit and a low calorie sweetener like stevia and eat on up! If you want to go the savory “root,” consider adding in 1/2 tsp each garlic and onion powder (or more, as you like), and salt and pepper to taste. 2) You can also use these savory hash browns as a burger patty or to eat as a side of veggie “bread” with soup. Enjoy!
Variation: To turn these into waffles, grease a waffle maker and scoop the “dough” across the top. Close waffle maker and press down for 1 minute. Cook for 12-15 minutes, until there is no more steam being released. Repeat. Top with fresh fruit and stevia, or whatever catches your fancy.
#8 – High Vibin’ on Zero Fat Veggie Chips
Instead of fatty and salty potato chips, or store-bought kale chips high on the nutty scale, you can easily slice carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, zucchini and sweet potatoes very thinly using a mandolin. Add to a bowl, then add in herbs and spices. There are so many combinations that can be used to flavor these chips, whether savory or sweet.
Fat Free Veggie Chip Recipe
• 2 medium vegetables sliced thin
• 1/2 tsp herbs and spices
Note: A general tip is to use 1/2 tsp of herb/spice for every 2 veggies. Here are a few combinations you can try:
• 1/4 tsp each garlic and onion powder
• 1/2 tsp herbes de provence + a pinch each of garlic and pepper
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp powdered stevia (or more, as you like)
Directions: Once spiced, place the chips in a single layer on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake at 200F for 3-4 hours, rotating pans every 30-40 minutes and keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn. Once done, you can sprinkle on sea salt if you like. If you have a dehydrator, place the slices on mesh sheets and dry at 115F for 6-8 hours. Fat free chips never tasted so good!
In a similar vein, you can make those oh-so-popular kale chips using any thick, zero-fat marinade or vinaigrette, massaging the kale chips to coat, then drying them ’til crispy. A dehydrator is really the ideal way to go when making kale chips, but you can also use an oven at 200F. Here’s a simple and tasty recipe for making fat free cheesy kale chips (dairy-free to boot):
No Cheese Cheezy Kale Chip Recipe
• 2-3 bunches kale, stems removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
• 3/4-1 cup nutritional yeast
• 1-2 tsp garlic powder
• 1-2 tsp onion powder
• 1 tsp sea salt
Directions: In a bowl, massage kale pieces to coat with the lemon or lime juice. In another bowl, mix the nutritional yeast with the garlic and onion powder, then massage all leaves with this mixture to coat. Let marinate 15-30 minutes. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and spread kale chips in a single layer so that they are spread out and don’t overlap. Dry at 200F 2-4 hours, keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn. Alternatively, if you have a dehydrator, spread the chips on mesh sheets and dry at 115F 6-8 hours or overnight.
If you’re thinking sure, this is all nice and dandy, but what about those yummy bready muffins and other baked goods? You’d be surprised how many recipes there are to make desserts with veggies as the main ingredient! Here’s a final recipe for some num-num no bake carrot bliss balls to get you enjoying this veggie-table idea!
No Bake Carrot Bliss Balls Recipe
• 2 cups carrot pulp leftover after juicing OR 2 cups ground carrots using the pulse button on the food processor
• 1 cup pitted dates, soaked 4 -8 hours until soft
• 1/2 cup almond pulp leftover from making almond milk (or any other nut or seed milk) OR 1/2 cup almond flour
• 2 TBsp ground flax or chia seed mixed with 6 TBsp water
• 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
• 1 tsp vanilla
• Carob or cocoa powder
Directions: Puree the dates in the food processor. Add in the rest of the ingredients, adding in a bit of the date soak water if needed to get a dough that sticks together. Take a tablespoon of the dough and roll into a ball in the palm of your hand. Roll the ball into carob or cocoa powder. Repeat with rest of the ingredients. Store bliss balls in refrigerator.
Cat Wilson is a holistic health practitioner who loves plants and meditation. When she isn’t working out or writing, you can find her hugging trees and talking to the wild weeds in her garden. Grab a gluten-free recipe or get some help with going vegan or mindfulness at her website or on her YouTube Channel: Cat’s Raw Paw.