Cutting out grains can be challenging. One day you’re sitting back eating a pretzel bun chili-cheese dog and the next you’re just holding a naked wiggly meat stick wondering “what am I supposed to do with this?” Trust me, I get it.
The hardest part has never been ditching the buns, pasta, or cake batters. It’s trying to improvise that has been the struggle. It’s craving a real deal loaded classic burger and then eating it with a fork and knife 12x’s over and over again that makes you decide to stack it on a grilled piece of eggplant or sweet potato!
For this exact reason, I have compiled a list of all of my most basic cheats! Now, I must preface that these swaps are [mostly] vegetable swaps, not baked products made from “whole-food ingredients”. While I love cooking up a Siete Foods grain-free tortilla in a little ghee for a tostada, I can’t deny that the best swaps are those fresh vegetables!
Swapping out the standard grain for a vegetable provides us so much more nutrition than any prepackaged GF nut bread, noodle, or cracker. Additionally, swapping out a standard loaf of bread for a nut and coconut flour product is without a doubt, delicious and by far a better option. However, you’re still reaching for a bread-like product instead of creating the most nutritiously colorful plate possible. Vegetables often offer more vitamins, less crippling carbohydrates and calories, and honestly… much easier to fit into your grocery budget.
Simply put, that’s the goal when cutting the grains, right? Somewhere at sometime you made the conscious decision to swap out products made from flour, corn, quinoa, etc. and opt for more nutritious replacements for whatever reason was personal to you. Therefore, as much as I love a BLT on Danielle Walker’s Blender Bread, I can’t help but reach for the biggest greens to wrap my turkey breast! For the record, her blender bread is so good and definitely worth treating yourself with from time to time!
May these swaps help take you to new places, friend! But, don’t be shy.. Share you favorite swap with me in the comments section below! I am always on the hunt for switching it up! Similarly, let me know if you find this helpful!
Sandwich buns and Tortilla Wraps
- Romaine Lettuce. Romaine is a really great option when you’re replacing a bun that folds, such as a hot dog bun. Folding or not, romaine is always a hit for tuna and chicken salad. With the leaves larger, you’re able to fold the lettuce, pick it up, and eat without anything falling out.
- Iceberg Lettuce/ Bibb Lettuce. My go-to burger or chicken “sandwich” bottom. I like to cut the stem off, half the head, and make cup like buns. With these heads forming little cups, they hold the juices! They also then cup both sides of the protein making it easier to pick up and eat.
- Collard Greens, specifically for a wrap. If you haven’t seen these, they are genius. Overlapping the stems, you can build a fully loaded sandwich and then wrap it. It’s just like ordering a sub. Here is one of my favorite recipes with a video included!
- Cabbage. I learned this from Maria Emmerich of Keto Adapted [praise her sweet soul] and it’s now my favorite noodle swap. Simply cut a green head of cabbage into thins slices and soften them in a skillet with a little fat. They wrap around a fork just like a noodle and they are easily the most tasty.
- Spiralized Zucchini, Sweet Potato, and Beets. Pretty much anything you can spiralize or make into a “noodle”. For smaller, individual, “pasta”, cut a line halfway through the vegetable, longways. With each turn of the spiralizer, it will cut an individual “noodle”. If you’re in the market for a good quality spiralizer, I highly recommend and love this one as it produces the least amount of waste!
- Spaghetti Squash. I am a big spaghetti squash fan. Some can not move past the texture but to me, it’s like an al dente noodle! Thin, like angel hair, spaghetti squash is wonderful for casseroles! If you’re not sure how to cook a spaghetti squash,you can read about my favorite method here.
- Pork rinds. Not just any rind though, specifically one with the least amount of ingredients and not fried in anything. By fact, a pork rind is the skin from a pig fried in it’s own fat. With this, you’ll want to spend the extra dollar or two and reach for a good brand such as Epic or 4505 Meats who focus on the sourcing of their product. For breadcrumbs, place a handful of rinds in a sealed plastic bag and crumble them up by hand or the beating of the bottom of a skillet/pan. You can also place them in a food processor. Use the pork crumbs as the “breading” to help form your meatballs, to add a crunch on top of a baked casserole, or as the batter for baked fish.
Tortilla Chips and Crackers
- Carrots. You can find carrot chips in your local grocer’s produce section but you can always buy a bag for like $0.80 and make your own. I like to cut them in half, then in 3s. Dip away!
- Celery. Not much to say here other than to avoid double-dipping [when sharing] by cutting the stalks in thirds.
- Bell peppers. My favorite for dipping, scooping, and loading. Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are sweeter and green is like.. a green bell pepper. Cut around the seeds and shape chip like crackers or thin strips.
Crusts and Fluffy Batters
- Yellow – Brown Plantains. I have been known to make a mean plantain waffle. This swap takes a little more effort than anything else as you will need a food processor or high speed blender. Remove the peel and place plantain into a food processor. While blending, slowly add tablespoons of cool water until you reach the consistency of the batter you’re looking for. You can add seasoning and spices to the mix to help elevate whatever you are making. For a pizza crust, you’ll want it a little more dry, almost like Play-Doh. From there, place onto a piece of parchment paper and roll out with a pen. Bake it prior to topping with the final baking just to warm your fixings!