Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on October 18, 2020

Why Make The Swaps?

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Carbohydrates -- like fiber, starches, and sugars -- are important for your health. But eating too many carbs can cause your body to store the excess as fat. But making your favorite meals low carb doesn’t have to be complicated.

Cauliflower Rice for White Rice

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Carb savings per serving: about 19 grams

Rice-based meals are easy and budget-friendly. But white rice doesn’t offer a lot of nutritional value. Cauliflower rice has many fewer carbs and offers other nutrients, like fiber. This nutritious alternative will also soak up whatever sauce you serve it with.

Eggplant Discs for Lasagna Layers

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Carb savings per serving: about 69 grams

Although lasagna is a family favorite, it’s pretty high in carbohydrates. To cut down on them, replace the pasta layers with slices of eggplant. If you do, you’ll cut down on fat and carbs. The switch is a great way to make your favorite hearty meal gluten-free. Eggplant also pairs well with a salad full of fresh veggies.

Portobello Mushroom Caps for Burger Buns

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Carb savings per serving: about 20 grams

Everyone loves a great burger. But burger buns are high in carbs and sodium. Substitute Portobello mushroom caps. They're low in fat and sodium and offer lots of nutrients, including potassium and phosphorus. The switch is an easy way to make your burger gluten-free. The mushrooms also offer a rich, savory flavor.

Lettuce for Tortillas

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Carb savings per serving: about 22 grams

Whether it’s taco night or you’re just craving a wrap, consider using a lettuce leaf instead of a tortilla. Flour tortillas often have lots of sodium. Going with the lettuce leaf will cut down on carbs, fat, and sodium. This gluten-free alternative will also offer extra vitamin A. That can help your body’s immune system and your vision.

Seltzer for Sugary Soda

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Carb savings per serving: about 36 grams

About half of adults in the U.S. drink at least one sugary drink per day. Just 12 ounces of cola has 36 grams of carbs, 35 grams of sugar, and about 46 grams of sodium. Instead of having a cup of sugary soda with dinner, reach for a glass of seltzer. You won’t find any carbs, sugar, or sodium in it. If you need a little more flavor, try adding a lemon or lime slice to your glass.

Roasted Vegetables for Potatoes

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Carb savings per serving: about 9 grams

Instead of serving roasted potatoes with dinner, why not try some roasted veggies? You’ll cut down on fat and carbs while gaining some extra calcium and vitamin C. Although you can prepare the veggies with your favorite seasonings, salt and pepper is enough to do the job.

Almond Flour for Flour

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Carb savings per serving: about 57 grams

Flour is often used to coat fish or meat before you bake or sauté it. Instead of using all-purpose flour, opt for almond flour. It has more protein, calcium, potassium, healthy fats, and fiber than the all-purpose stuff. It can also limit the impact on your blood sugar after you eat a snack or meal.

Nut-based Milk for Cow’s Milk

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Carb savings per serving: about 11 grams

If you usually drink a glass of milk with dinner, or if you’re planning to cook with milk, consider trying a nut-based milk like almond milk instead. Cow’s milk is nutritious, but it’s also pretty high in carbs. Almond milk has fewer carbs and less fat. It also offers more vitamin D and calcium.

Zucchini Noodles for Pasta

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Carb savings per serving: about 38 grams

Instead of using white or whole-grain pasta, try zucchini noodles. You'll get key nutrients like potassium, calcium, and iron -- all while avoiding the carbs that regular pasta has. You can make your own zucchini noodles with a spiralizer, or you can buy them already cut.

Mashed Cauliflower for Mashed Potatoes

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Carb savings per serving: about 24 grams

Mashed potatoes are a common side to serve with dinner. But they’re high in carbs. Mashed cauliflower offers the same consistency with a similarly savory taste. It'll also give you more calcium than potatoes, which is important for building strong teeth and bones. Calcium also helps ensure that your blood clots as it should when you get a cut.

Kale Chips for Potato Chips

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Carb Savings per serving: about 11 grams

Potato chips are an easy, affordable side to serve with dinner. But they’re also high in carbs and fat. Instead, try making some kale chips. They have more protein than potato chips and are loaded with nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium.Season them with a little salt and pepper and you’ll have a crispy, tasty side for dinner.

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SOURCES:

Fallon Health: “Carbohydrate Facts.”

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center: “BuckeyeBites: Diabetes-friendly cauliflower ‘rice.’”

USDA Food Data Central: “Cauliflower rice,” “White rice,” “Lasagna,” “Eggplant,”  “Burger buns,” “Mushrooms, portabella, raw,” “Tortilla, flour,” “Lettuce, green, raw,” “Cola,” “Seltzer,” “Potato, roasted, from fresh, peel eaten, made with oil,” “Roasted cauliflower,” “Almond flour,” “Flour, wheat, all-purpose, enriched, bleached,” “Almond milk,” “Milk,” “Mashed potatoes,” “Mashed cauliflower,” “Snacks, potato chips, plain, salted,” “Kale chips.”

NHS: “Vitamin A,” “Calcium.”

Cleveland Clinic: “How to Use Healthy Flour Substitutes — Or Have Your Cake and Eat It Too.”

Healthy Food America: “Sugary Drinks in America: Who’s Drinking What and How Much?”

USDA SNAP-Ed Connection: “Zucchini.”

USDA: “Household USDA Foods Fact Sheet: Spaghetti, Enriched, Dry.”