If you’re watching your carbohydrates, it’s easy to fall into a trap of eating bacon and cheese for all your meals.
A truly successful low-carb diet, however, should be chockfull of vegetables and other good-for-you treats. The key is to get creative. Why not swap a lettuce wrap for your regular flour tortilla? How about melting cheese and toppings on grilled eggplant or portobello mushrooms instead of pizza crust? Look to Pinterest for gorgeous, paleo low-carb food substitutions if you need some extra inspiration.
Also Read: ‘Zero-Calorie’ Foods To Add To Your Diet
Here, we list the 10 most versatile food staples to include on your low-carb diet.
Zucchini is the ultimate low-carb ingredients because it can be manipulated to have the look and texture of starchy foods. A spiralizer will come in handy for swapping pasta for zucchini noodles. Instead of frying up potatoes to make hash browns, try frying up some zucchini dipped in almond flour instead.
You can even reduce the amount of flour you use in pancake and muffin recipes by supplementing with zucchini.The possibilities are endless. If you’re trying to cut carbs, be sure to include zucchini on your list of go-to ingredients.
Cauliflower is another low-carb food that can be used as a replacement for hig-carb ingredients in an array of dishes. Skip the starchy pizza dough and try making a cauliflower crust instead. To make cauliflower rice, all you have to do is use a food processor to break up the cauliflower into pieces until it has the right consistency – use this in your next stir fry for a low-carb dinner. Swap tortilla chips for thinly sliced cauliflower, topped with other veggies and cheese, for a new twist on nachos. Or mash your cauliflower instead of mashing potatoes. When it comes to cauliflower, you can get really creative.
Eggs are another incredibly diverse food and they also happen to be packed with protein. Whether they’re scrambled, poached, fried, hard-boiled, baked or thrown into an omelette, quiche or smoothie, eggs are cheap and easy to eat. Dress them up with herbs, slice them up in salads, and make breakfast portable by creating little quiches in muffin tins.
4. Nuts And Nut Butters
Low-carb diets could, in theory, consist of plates of bacon and pork rinds served with a side of butter — but this isn’t necessarily the best diet for your heart (or your waistline). For those looking for a more health-conscious way to cut carbs without missing out on fatty flavours, look to nuts and nut butters. They’re a low-carb, high-protein fat fuel that can be added to oatmeal, smoothies, salads, veggie dishes and more.
5. Chicken Breast
What’s so great about chicken? In addition to being high in protein, it’s also low in fat and calories. This lean meat can become the star of any meal: grill it, bake it, broil it, add it to a salad, put it in a sandwich, or make a lean chili out of it.
Yogurt can be used for so much more than just snacking. Use yogurt to create a creamy sauce by combining yogurt with fresh fruit for a delicious breakfast parfait. Add yogurt to your smoothie. Make a delicious spinach and garlic dip with yogurt. Use yogurt interchangeably with sour cream and cottage cheese. This is another ingredient that is completely versatile, so get those creative juices flowing!
Not only is salmon a fatty fish full of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and calcium, it’s also a low-mercury fish and can be included as part of a low-carb diet. Baked, grilled, raw, served on its own, used as a salad topper — the possibilities are endless!
8. Dark Chocolate
Extra-dark chocolate that contains 70 per cent cocoa or more contains copper, manganese, iron and magnesium, along with plenty of purported health benefits. When enjoyed in moderation, it can help combat carb cravings; some studies even suggest that including minimal amounts of dark chocolate in your diet can aid weight loss.
9. Portobello Mushrooms
The next time you’re making a hamburger or sandwich, try this: instead of using bread or a bun, use two Portobello mushroom caps instead. Or, instead of putting your pizza toppings on a traditional pizza crust, add them to a few Portobello caps instead. You’ll get added flavour with fewer carbs and calories.
In the mood for spaghetti? Try using squash instead. Although the consistency will be a little different, squash has a flavour profile that goes well with tomato and garlic sauces, while containing only a fraction of the carbohydrates of pasta.