In fact – even though I try to follow a low-carb diet quite closely – I am sitting here eating ramen noodles as I type this. And my family always used to joke that I could happily live off nothing but potatoes (fried, mashed, roasted, it didn’t matter what form).
I did some research to see if I would still be able to have my favorite meals, but with much fewer carbs. And I wasn’t disappointed! It turns out (apart from the odd noodle-related incident), that there is no need to fill up on heavy, highly processed and high-carb meals.
There are plenty of low-carb alternatives that will fix the craving for wholesome comfort food.
Low-Carb Food Swaps That Don’t Suck
Here are 12 low-carb swaps you can make to your favorite meals, so you can enjoy them while staying in ketosis. Some of them are quick and simple to prepare, while some require a little more effort.
High Carb: Pasta – Replace with: Zoodles (and other veggies)
Replace the heavy, high-carb wheat pasta with a fresh, low-carb alternative made from veggies.
Zoodles are zucchini that have been spiralized to look like noodles (hence the name ‘zoodles’). Other vegetables can also be used in this way, such as carrots, sweet potato, and butternut.
Spiralizers are quite affordable and easy to use. I love mine! If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can use a vegetable peeler to create ribbons. Or for a low-effort option, spaghetti squash works great!
If you want a replacement for lasagna sheets, then you can use thickly sliced zucchini or sliced eggplant.
If you are craving old-fashioned mac ‘n cheese, replace the macaroni with cauliflower chunks. It tastes just as delicious!
High Carb: Mashed Potato – Replace with: Mashed Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a fantastic replacement for potato. It doesn’t have a strong flavor, and the color is similar (so it easier to trick the mind).
You can cook the cauliflower in stock and cream (and spices if you wish), then blend in a food processor. Top it with butter when serving to create a rich, creamy dish (and you won’t even miss the potato!)
High Carb: Rice – replace with: Cauliflower Rice
Cauliflower is once again the carb swap, this time being the replacement for rice.
It can be made quickly and easily by putting cauliflower chunks in a food processor and blitzing them until it starts to look like rice. Then simply fry in some oil and spices. Careful not to cook too long or it will end up soggy and soft.
High Carb: Sugar – Replace with: Stevia or Erythritol
Cutting out sugar is one of the parts of keto that make people the most nervous. But an interesting thing happens when you start following a low-carb diet – you actually crave sugary and sweet foods much less than before.
That being said – it is still nice to have a sweet treat or dessert every once in a while. Stevia and Erythritol are great substitutes for sugar as they don’t cause blood sugar spikes or insulin spikes. (Pro-tip – Stevia is extremely concentrated, so follow recipes carefully when using it.)
Puddings, cookies, and bars can all be made low-carb, and they are just as delicious (if not more).
High Carb: Wraps and Tortillas – Replace with: Lettuce Leaves
Large lettuce leaves make excellent replacements for wraps and tortillas. You will have to be gentler when wrapping and handling it, but otherwise, lettuce wraps are quite easy to put together.
Iceberg lettuce is most commonly used, but romaine, red leaf, and escarole also have wide, strong leaves. They also have a slightly different flavor to iceberg lettuce (which is largely tasteless). Even large spinach leaves will work well.
High Carb: French Fries – Replace with: Vegetable fries
There are so many delicious veggie options to make vegetable fries with, you won’t even miss the potato version (or at least, you will miss it less).
Vegetables that make great fries are hardy vegetables such as carrots, green beans, turnips, daikon, and even zucchini.
High Carb: Potato Crisps – Replace with: Vegetable crisps
Potato crisps were always a staple snack for movie nights, so I was quite pleased when I came across vegetable crisps. Many stores will sell these crisps ready-made, or you can make your own.
The best vegetables to use are hardy ones like beetroot, sweet potato, parsley root, and carrot. Vegetable crisps are a great low-carb alternative, but be careful – while they a low carb they are not carb-free!
Slice them thinly with a sharp knife, or peel with a vegetable peeler or mandolin. Lay them on paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Mix them in a bowl with a little oil and spices, then lay flat in a large non-stick baking sheet and put in the oven. They only take 15-20 minutes to cook.
High Carb: Low-fat milk – Replace with: High-fat or non-dairy alternatives
When it comes to dairy, go with full-fat for your milk, cheese, and yogurt. You can even skip the milk entirely and use heavy cream in your coffee.
Another good alternative that is low in sugar (if full-fat is too heavy for you) is unsweetened almond milk. Check the ingredients – some brands put all sorts of strange ingredients in their non-dairy milk alternatives.
High Carb: Overnight Oats – Replace with: Cauliflower Overnight ‘Oats’
We’ve seen cauliflower replace a variety of high-carb food items, but oats? For breakfast? I haven’t tried this yet. But as someone who ate oats for breakfast for many years, I am intrigued!
I miss the porridge-type breakfasts I used to enjoy. And this recipe from Ketogenic could actually be a decent replacement. It uses chia seeds, coconut flakes, spices, and stevia.
High Carb: Wheat Flour – Replace with: Almond and Coconut Flour
Going low-carb doesn’t mean you have to miss out on delicious baked goods and breads. Almond flour and Coconut flour are good replacements to wheat flour.
These alternatives don’t behave the same as wheat flour, so they work best when you combine the flours, rather than just using one type.
High Carb: Wheat Pizza Base – Replace with: Cauliflower Pizza Base
I love pizza. Always have. And following a low-carb diet is not going to get me to stop eating it!
Cauliflower has proven to be a great replacement for rice and potato, so why not pizza bases too? It is definitely more effort than just grabbing a frozen pizza base, but at least you know it is healthy and won’t affect your waistline!
This recipe shows you how to make a crispy cauliflower base that you can actually eat with your hands (a lot of other recipes out there end with softer bases that require a knife and fork to eat).
High Carb: Granola – Replace with: Low-carb Granola
In the summer months, I would often replace the oats with a bowl of cereal for a light, easy breakfast. But unfortunately, most cereals (even the ‘healthy’ ones) are laden with sugars.
A low carb granola actually skips the oats and sugars and is made with nuts and seeds.
Just remember that because it is very dense, you will only need a small portion. Serve with thick, Greek yogurt for a delicious start to the day.
A Replacement for Everything
One of the toughest parts of dieting is giving up on some of the foods that you feel you absolutely need in your life.
Most people don’t even bother looking for alternatives but with how the ketogenic diet works, there is usually a replacement for everything.
Will it taste exactly the same? Probably not but it will still taste great.