IF YOU’RE SICK OF FEELING HUNGRY AFTER EATING YOUR PALTRY PORTION OF CARBOHYDRATES DURING A DIET, CONSIDER CHOOSING ONE (OR ALL) OF THESE OPTIONS TO KEEP YOU FULL WITHOUT THE EXPENSE OF SIGNIFICANT CALORIES!

Carbohydrates shouldn’t be the first nutrient to take a hit when you’re trying to lose weight. But choosing lower-calorie options in place of your typical carbohydrate choices may keep you sane. At some point during your diet, carbohydrates will likely need to be reduced to continue driving weight loss; however, this doesn’t mean you need to feel hungry before, during, and after each meal because portions are so small.

Choosing higher-volume, lower-calorie carbohydrate substitutes will afford you the opportunity to leave each meal feeling physically and psychologically full without significantly tapping into your daily calorie budget. That’s because these three options contain hundreds – yes, hundreds – of fewer calories per serving and dozens of fewer grams of carbohydrates per serving.

When cooked properly – don’t worry, I share simple tips and methods to do so – these three options provide nearly the same texture and taste as your favorite starchy foods. So, stop starving yourself measuring portions by the spoonful and start filling up on cups of these three substitutes today!

1.    CAULIFLOWER RICE FOR TRADITIONAL RICE

Cauliflower rice isn’t a unique type of rice. In fact, it’s not rice at all. It’s cooked cauliflower that’s been reduced to the size of rice. And when prepared correctly – it’s simple to make – it provides a near perfect match in texture and flavor compared to traditional rice!

Nutrient Savings: One cup of cooked cauliflower rice yields 170 fewer calories and 40 fewer grams of carbohydrates compared to one cup of cooked brown rice.

How to Make It: There are several methods to prepare cauliflower rice, but what I’ve found to be easiest is cutting a head of cauliflower into coarse chunks and then throwing them in a food processor and processing until you’re left with pieces roughly the size of traditional rice. Afterward, be sure to lay out a paper towel to transfer the cauliflower rice to. Then, pat dry and remove any excess moisture to prevent winding up with soggy rice.

Where to Substitute: You can use cauliflower anywhere you’d use traditional rice. You can serve it as a side on its own, use it as a component of a tasty stir fry, and even use it as part of your protein and veggie mixture that you use to cook stuffed peppers.

1.    SPAGHETTI SQUASH FOR TRADITIONAL SPAGHETTI

Spaghetti squash is a type of squash that has slightly “stringy” flesh when cooked and prepared. And if you prepare it correctly – don’t worry, I have a simple recipe below – you’ll hardly notice the difference when subbing it for traditional spaghetti with your homemade meatball and marinara sauce.

Nutrient Savings: One cup of cooked spaghetti squash rice yields 170 fewer calories and 35 fewer grams of carbohydrates compared to one cup of cooked spaghetti.

How To Make:

  1. First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Next, poke holes in the squash and heat in the microwave on high for four minutes. This will soften the squash, making it easier to handle and cut. Be careful, though, as the outside will be hot after microwaving.
  3. Then, cut the squash in half length-wise and remove all the seeds.
  4. Drizzle the flesh side with olive oil and season with salt and garlic powder (or with cinnamon and a pinch of brown sugar).
  5. Lay the squash cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes. You’ll know the squash is done when you can poke a hole through the flesh without any resistance. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before handling.
  6. Lastly, turn over and “scrape” the flesh with a fork from end to end (long-wise) to create spaghetti-like strands.
  7. Voila, spaghetti! I mean, spaghetti squash!

Where to Substitute: Spaghetti squash can be used anywhere you’d use traditional spaghetti. It holds its own serving as the carbohydrate or vegetable at any meal and because it’s slightly sweet on its own, it can be seasoned a variety of ways. I enjoy salt and garlic powder but enjoy seasoning with cinnamon and a pinch of brown sugar even more. Yum!

1.    LETTUCE WRAPS FOR TRADITIONAL WRAPS

Lettuce is a nearly calorie-free delivery vehicle that is composed of almost 100 percent water. This means you can afford to eat quite a lot of lettuce at the expense of very few calories. And considering the high-water content and volume of lettuce helps to curb your appetite, I’d say it’s a pretty sweet pair to any meal while dieting.

Nutrient Savings: One large leaf of lettuce yields 130 fewer calories and 25 fewer grams of carbohydrates compared to an eight-inch whole wheat tortilla. But depending on the wrap (or bread!) you typically purchase, you may be saving hundreds more calories and up to 25 more grams of carbohydrates,

How to Buy: There are several leafed lettuce options available for purchase. However, not all are created equal. I have found the most success purchasing green leaf lettuce rather than a head of iceberg lettuce because the green leaf has a strong texture that can withstand the copious amounts of protein, cheese, and veggies I like to add to it. I have found the iceberg lettuce to wilt quickly and leave me with a pile of mush in my hands and without the crunch factor. This is no Bueno.

Where to Substitute: You can use green leaf lettuce in place of a tortilla (or bread!) anytime you’re looking to make a wrap or sandwich.