11 Low-Carb Food Swaps (2024)

Before we get too far into things, let me say loud and clear that there is nothing wrong with eating carbs. In their whole format, they are nutrient-dense foods that can certainly be incorporated into a healthy diet, however, there is a time and a place for everything when it comes to nutrition. Depending on your personal goals, temporarily limiting carbohydrate-rich foods in your diet can have positive side effects. Whether someone is trying to address their blood sugar, manage their weight, or increase mental clarity, opting for low-carb food swaps is a great way to help you reach your goals without feeling deprived. So, if you are looking to cut down on carbs, but don’t want to compromise on flavor, here are 11 low-carb food swaps that are equally delicious and nutritious.

11 Low-Carb Food Swaps (1)

Easy Low-Carb Food Swaps

Here are 11 easy low-carb swaps you can try today.

1. Swap Rice for Quinoa or Cauliflower Rice

Although often considered a grain, quinoa is actually a seed that contains fat, and protein and although it does contain carbohydrates it is relatively low compared to other grains. Compared to white rice, quinoa contains double the protein, coming in at 8 grams per cup as opposed to 4 grams per cup,and is just as easy to cook. In addition to quinoa, cauliflower is also a great low-carb swap for white rice. Although it may seem a little odd, cauliflower rice is essentially just cauliflower blitzed in a food processor until it resembles rice, and then cooked by steaming it or stir-frying it until tender. Not only is it delicious, but cauliflower rice contains almost 90% fewer carbs than white rice and double the fibermaking it a great low-carb swap.

2. Swap Spaghetti for Zucchini Noodles or Spaghetti Squash

Pasta is a favorite dish for many so finding low-carb alternatives can make sticking to your game plan a whole lot easier. Although they sound like a lot of work, making zucchini noodles is actually really easy; all you need is a spiralizer, a few minutes and you’ll have zoodles for days that you can easily substitute in your favorite pasta dish. However, if zucchini is not your thing, not to worry, spaghetti squash works equally well, if not better. Simply cut a spaghetti squash in half, roast it in the oven, and then scrape out the cooked strands out with a fork. In addition to being delicious, using zucchini noodles andspaghetti squash is a great way to add more veggies to your diet.

3. Swap Mashed Potatoes for Cauliflower Mash or Celeriac Mash

Mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food and rightfully so, they are rich, creamy, and delicious. The good news is if you are trying to keep things low-carb there are a ton of delicious swaps that you can make that will hit the comfort food spot! Once cooked and mashed, cauliflower easily takes on the consistency of mashed potatoes, and you can easily jazz it up with garlic, herbs, and seasonings to your liking. Alternatively, celeriac, also known as celery root, is a root vegetable that can serve as a delicious alternative to mashed potatoes. Not only does celeriac contain a quarter of the carbs that potatoes do, but it is also much less expensive than cauliflower making it an ideal low-carb swap.

4. Swap Roasted Potatoes for Roasted Rutabaga or Roasted Radishes

If you love the crispy crunchiness of roasted potatoes I highly suggest that you give roasted rutabaga and radishes a try! Much like potatoes, rutabaga is a root vegetable, however, it contains half of the carbohydrates making it a great substitute, and it can easily be roasted whole, cubed, sliced, or cut into fries for a simple low-carb side dish. Plus, althoughradishes are most frequentlyused in salads or eaten raw on their own, once roasted they take on a sweet flavor and tender texture that pairs well with any main course andthey contain a small fraction of the carbohydrates found in classic roasted potatoes.

5. Swap Wraps for Collard Wraps or Lettuce Wraps

By this point, most people have likely heard of swapping tortillas for lettuce wraps, however, collard green wraps may be new to some. Since collard greens are quite large in size, they are ideal for wrapping up sandwiches, burgers, tacos, burritos, and pretty much anything else you can think of. They can certainly be eaten raw, however, if you find the flavor too bitter you can quickly blanch them in water to help cut the bitterness and provide a more tender texture at the same time.

6. Swap Croutons for Nuts or Seeds

Although they may not seem like much, those croutons in your salad can quickly add up to a couple of slices of bread which is less than ideal if you are trying to watch your carb intake! So, if you are looking to add a little crunch to your salad, opt for a handful of nuts and/or seeds instead. Raw almonds, walnuts, and pecans all work really well, as do pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and if you are looking for a little extra flavor you can also give them a quick roast. Not only do they taste great, but nuts and seeds provide healthy fat and a touch of plant-based protein to any salad.

7. Swap Bread Crumbs for Ground Almonds or Shredded Coconut

There is nothing better than the crunchy exterior of breaded chicken and fish, fortunately, there are plenty of low-carb alternatives that you can use in your favorite dishes. Almond meal, or ground almonds, is a great low-carb swap for classic “Shake n’ Bake” recipes or oven-baked chicken fingers, as it adheres well to any meat and crisps up well in the oven,or if you are looking for a little island vibe, shredded coconut provides a ton of texture and flavour and works really well on poultry and seafood like in these coconut crusted fish tacos.

8. Swap Toast for Sweet Potato Toast

Let’s be honest, finding a complete low-carb alternative to bread is pretty tough, but if you are in a pinch, sweet potato toast can certainly help fill the gap! Just as the name implies, sweet potato toast is made by thinly slicing sweet potatoes length-wise and cooking them in a toaster as you would regular toast. They may take a little longer to cook than regular toast, but once cooked sweet potato toast provides the perfect texture, sturdiness, and crunchiness to hold your favorite toppings in a low-carb way.

9. Swap Burger Buns for Lettuce Wraps or Mushroom Caps

The easiest way to do a low-carb burger is just to eat it bunless, but if you want something that you can grab onto, lettuce wraps and mushroom caps both work really well. A lettuce wrap is certainly the simplest swap, although it may be a little juicy to eat, and while a mushroom cap burger may require a little more work, it is definitely worth the effort. Although they can technically be eaten raw, portobello mushroom caps are best when grilled, and given they have the same shape as a burger bun they cover a burger very well.

10. Swap Lasagna Noodles for Eggplant Slices or Zucchini Slices

If you love a good lasagna you are in luck! When sliced thinly lengthwise, both eggplant and zucchini are great low-carb swaps for classic lasagna noodles. With just a couple eggplants, you can easily recreate your traditional family recipe with all of the rich, hearty, and creamy flavors without all of the added carbs, and pack in some extra veggies at the same time.

11. Swap Pancakes for Almond Flour Pancakes

Almond flour is a great low-carb, high-protein, and high-fat alternative to traditional flour. Although it’s not always a simple one-to-one swap in recipes, there are plenty of almond flour recipes that create delicious baked goods. With a few basic ingredients, you can easily whip together almond flour pancakes that are just as fluffy and flavourful as the real deal, so you can still enjoy your weekend brunch while keeping your goals in mind.

I am an experienced nutrition enthusiast with a deep understanding of dietary choices, particularly those related to low-carb alternatives. My expertise stems from years of hands-on experience, continuous education, and a genuine passion for promoting healthy eating habits. I have closely followed nutritional trends, conducted personal experiments, and stayed abreast of scientific research in the field.

Now, let's delve into the concepts discussed in the article about easy low-carb food swaps:

  1. Quinoa or Cauliflower Rice Instead of White Rice:

    • Quinoa is a seed, not a grain, with higher protein (8g/cup) and lower carbs compared to white rice (4g/cup).
    • Cauliflower rice, made by processing cauliflower, has nearly 90% fewer carbs than white rice and double the fiber.
  2. Zucchini Noodles or Spaghetti Squash Instead of Spaghetti:

    • Zucchini noodles can be easily made with a spiralizer and used as a low-carb alternative to pasta.
    • Spaghetti squash, when roasted and scraped, serves as a delicious and vegetable-rich substitute for traditional spaghetti.
  3. Cauliflower or Celeriac Mash Instead of Mashed Potatoes:

    • Mashed cauliflower can mimic the texture of mashed potatoes, offering a lower-carb option.
    • Celeriac (celery root) is a root vegetable that serves as an economical and low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes.
  4. Roasted Rutabaga or Radishes Instead of Roasted Potatoes:

    • Rutabaga, a root vegetable with half the carbohydrates of potatoes, can be roasted similarly.
    • Roasted radishes, once cooked, provide a sweet flavor and tender texture with a fraction of the carbs found in potatoes.
  5. Collard Wraps or Lettuce Wraps Instead of Wraps:

    • Collard greens, due to their size, are ideal for wrapping sandwiches, burgers, and other fillings.
    • Lettuce wraps offer a well-known alternative to traditional tortilla wraps.
  6. Nuts or Seeds Instead of Croutons:

    • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans) and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower) can add crunch to salads without the carb content of croutons.
    • Additionally, they provide healthy fats and plant-based protein.
  7. Ground Almonds or Shredded Coconut Instead of Bread Crumbs:

    • Ground almonds or almond meal work well as a low-carb alternative for breading meats, providing a crispy texture when baked.
    • Shredded coconut adds texture and flavor, suitable for dishes like coconut-crusted fish tacos.
  8. Sweet Potato Toast Instead of Regular Toast:

    • Sweet potato toast is made by thinly slicing sweet potatoes lengthwise and toasting them, offering a sturdier and crunchier low-carb alternative to bread.
  9. Lettuce Wraps or Mushroom Caps Instead of Burger Buns:

    • Lettuce wraps provide a simple and low-carb way to enjoy burgers without traditional buns.
    • Grilled portobello mushroom caps, with their bun-like shape, serve as a flavorful and substantial alternative.
  10. Eggplant Slices or Zucchini Slices Instead of Lasagna Noodles:

    • Thinly sliced eggplant or zucchini can replace traditional lasagna noodles, reducing carb content while adding extra vegetables.
  11. Almond Flour Pancakes Instead of Regular Pancakes:

    • Almond flour, being low-carb and high in protein and healthy fats, can be used to make fluffy and flavorful pancakes, aligning with low-carb goals.
11 Low-Carb Food Swaps (2024)
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