Lower Carb Versions of 10 Popular MealsArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Some carbs are good for you: They provide fuel for your body, nutrients to keep you healthy and fiber to help you lose weight. (Think: whole grains, beans and starchy veggies.) Other carbs, however, are not so good for you—like the kind found in white bread, pasta and rice. These refined versions can mess with your blood sugar, energy levels and appetite.
But that doesn’t mean you have to stop eating spaghetti or give up your favorite rice dish. Instead, you can swap some lower carb, healthier ingredients into your recipe to help reduce the carbs, all while keeping the taste and flavors you love.
Here are 10 lower carb twists on classic meals:
1. Zucchini Noodles with Chicken and Cheese >
The key to healthier “pasta” dishes: The spiralizer. This kitchen tool transforms different veggies into twirlable spaghetti-like strands, for far fewer carbs. In this dish, zucchini becomes the noodles, chunks of chicken provide the protein, and tangy feta cheese adds a punch of flavor. Throw in spinach leaves, sprinkle with garlic powder and coat in lemon juice for tons of vitamins, nutrients and flavor in each bite. On Nutrisystem, each serving counts as one PowerFuel and three Vegetables.
2. Cauliflower Fried Rice with Shrimp >
Cauliflower is a super versatile vegetable that can be mashed like potatoes, baked into pizza crust or pulsed into “rice” to make a healthier version of this take-out favorite. The grain-shaped cauliflower gets tossed in a skillet with shrimp, eggs, onion, garlic and any of your favorite veggies—like bell peppers, snow peas or carrots. Season it with soy sauce and ground ginger for quintessential Asian flavors and add a little crushed red pepper or sriracha for spice.
3. Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash Pasta >
Lean turkey replaces beef in the Bolognese to cut fat. Spaghetti squash serves as the “pasta.” And the peas, zucchini, crushed tomatoes, paste, onions and Italian spices add layers of flavor to this slow-cooked meal that’s most definitely worth waiting for.
4. Cauliflower Mac and Cheese >
Before you think no way, hear us out: This version of classic comfort fare still has all the cheddar cheese you love. The sauce is loaded with cream cheese and almond milk to make it thick and gooey—just as you like it. But using chunks of cooked cauliflower instead of standard macaroni not only helps trim carbs and add fiber, it also cuts calories to only 114 per serving.
5. 5-Ingredient Chicken “Noodle” Soup >
What better way to soothe your soul than with a delicious bowl of chicken soup. The noodles, however, are actually strands of spaghetti squash to get you more flavor, fewer carbs and extra nutrients in every piping hot spoonful. On Nutrisystem, a serving counts as just one PowerFuel and one Vegetable, making it the perfect side to any of your favorite Nutrisystem meals.
6. Carrot and Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai >
Put your spiralizer to work to create beautiful “noodles” for this Thai inspired recipe. Strands of carrots and zucchini are topped with succulent shrimp and coated in a flavorful mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic sauce, honey and chili flakes. There are also green onions, egg and bean sprouts tossed in, peanuts for some crunch, and cilantro leaves and lime for a burst of freshness.
7. Cauliflower Crust Breadsticks >
They’re topped with salt and Parmesan. They’re buttered and baked to a golden brown. And you can dip them in marinara sauce. It’s all the things you love about breadsticks, minus the actual bread. Made from cauliflower, these lower carb alternatives are packed with 16 grams of protein for a perfect, Italian-spiced snack.
8. Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Pasta >
Spiralized zucchini and whole-wheat spaghetti combine for the perfect balance of healthy and hearty, while minced garlic, white wine vinegar and squeezed lemon juice add the fresh zest. A quick sauté of jumbo shrimp, a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes, and you’ve got all the flavors of your favorite scampi dish.
9. Cauliflower Buffalo Bites >
This veggie-version of hot wings doesn’t disappoint: It packs heat and tons of buffalo sauce flavor into every bite. By subbing in cauliflower for the meat, you bring down the calories and fat, and pump up the nutrients in this game-day favorite. Plus, it’s super easy to make. On Nutrisystem, one cup counts as one Vegetable and two Extras.
10. Zucchini Noodles with Roasted Vegetables and Pesto >
Impress your dinner date with this all-veggie, lower carb dish that looks as good as it tastes. Start with the pesto: Fresh basil, pistachios, Parmesan and black pepper blended into a creamy and savory sauce. Coat the zucchini noodles in the pesto, toss in roasted veggies—like bright cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers and artichoke hearts—and enjoy!