Carbs are often deemed an essential part of a meal… not only do they give us feel that familiar warm, comforted feeling, but carbs fill us up and we all look forward to their fluffy, crispy, chewy or creamy addition to the food on our plate. Who doesn’t drool at the thought of a crispy roast potato, a perfectly fragrant pot of jasmine rice, or a saucy noodle of pasta. And there’s nothing wrong with loving carbs, we need them. Your body loves carbs (in moderation with everything else!), and uses the sugar within them to create energy, something most of us are always happy to have more of.
However, there is a lot to be said for embracing and experimenting with the world of pasta, rice and potato alternatives! There’s such a wealth of different flavours and culinary excitement to be had, not to mention the additional nutritional benefits. So if you fancy broadening your carb horizons, and want to introduce some carb shaped alternatives to change up your meals a bit, look no further than these alternatives:
Potato is hard to replace, because it is so delicious, fluffy, creamy and also cheap. However, as with other basic carbs, it can get a little boring, so try these tasty alternatives:
Sweet potatoes – Sweet potatoes are like normal potatoes only they are much sweeter, and packed with tons of extra vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, calcium and vitamin D. You can also use them in the same way as normal potatoes, baking them, or roasting them in wedges, mashing them up and mixing them with butter. Sweet potato fries that are dipped in batter and deep fried are a delicious alternative to white potato fries.
Celeriac – Celeriac, the root of the celery plant, is a great potato alternative containing lots of vitamins such as; vitamin K, phosphorus and vitamin B6. It does have a mild celery flavour, but once cooked it is extremely mild and the texture is just like potato. You can boil it, but the flavour comes out more when it is baked. Jamie Oliver bought celeriac into the spotlight a few years ago with this whole baked celeriac ‘zombie brain’ recipe, which is a great way to introduce yourself to the vegetable.
Cauliflower – Cauliflower is not only good as a rice replacement, but as a potato replacement as well! It is jam packed full of vitamin C, as well as other vitamins and minerals like vitamin K and protein. Steam it, mash it and prepare it like mashed potato for a wonderful alternative to white potato mash.
Pasta is usually made from either egg and durum wheat if it is fresh, or just durum wheat if it is dried and you can get either white or brown pasta. You usually have to submerge it in water for a few minutes if fresh, or around 10-12 minutes if it is dried. Pasta alternatives are really exciting and some you don’t even have to cook!
Raw Pasta Noodles – Raw pasta noodles are used to give a similar texture to normal pasta, and to hold the sauce added to them. They also contain tons of fibre, vitamins and minerals to add a wonderful nutritional boost to your meal. Courgette, beetroot, squash and cucumber all make fantastic raw noodles. A spiralizer is a great tool you can use to do this, or a julienne peeler or potato peeler can work just as well. Courgette noodles with a raw alfredo sauce are a phenomenal combination.
Legume Pasta – Legume pasta is now commonly available in supermarkets and tends to be made from chickpeas, black beans, lentils or other legumes. Although they tend to be gluten free some types are combined with wheat so always check the label. It is important to try out different types as some have a stronger flavour than others. They all have different cooking instructions but usually boil a little quicker than normal pasta. They are also very high in protein so are very filling.
Buckwheat Pasta – Buckwheat pasta is a delicious, nutty alternative to normal pasta and holds the same texture, it just tastes a little bit nuttier. It is a great gluten free choice for someone looking for the next best thing to pasta.
Rice Pasta – Rice is naturally gluten free, and you can buy pasta made from rice which is usually made from brown rice, and it takes around the same amount of time to boil as normal pasta which is convenient.
Shirataki Pasta – Also known as zero pasta, shirataki pasta is made from glucomannan starch which comes from a plant, which is then combined with lime water so that it becomes konnyaku which can then be turned into a noodle of any shape. The reason it is calorie free is because they are carb-free and the fibre they are made from is indigestible, which means they literally pass through the body, providing that feeling of fullness, with no calories. They are very different to normal pasta noodles so it is worth trying a small amount before investing in a lot of packets. The products are also usually very expensive.
Rice is a cheap, easy to cook staple that comes white or brown in the supermarket, and then in other varieties like basmati and long grain. It is delicious and goes with almost everything, but it can get a little boring and bland. Luckily there are many, many alternatives to rice for you to try, and many with some phenomenal nutritional benefits.
Cauliflower Rice – You may have seen this in the supermarkets in packets, but you can easily make this yourself. Simply grate the cauliflower on a box grater or blend it in the blender with the S blade. You can then microwave, stir fry or roast the cauliflower using different times and heat settings that you can follow using this handy guide.
Quinoa – Quinoa is an incredible grain that is gluten free and high in protein. It also has a complete set of amino acids, not to mention tons of iron and calcium. If you’re unsure on how to cook quinoa, it is cooked similar to rice, but takes a little bit longer.
Millet – Millet is often found in bird products but it is for humans as well! This tasty grain has tons of copper, manganese and magnesium and is good for heart health. You cook it similarly to rice and boil it with one cup of millet to two cups of water.
Farro – Farro takes a little longer to cook than other rice alternatives, and needs to be boiled for around 30 minutes. It is also more expensive than other grain alternatives, but it is extremely good for you and is packed full of protein and is excellent for heart health. The flavour is nutty and chewy.
Buckwheat – Buckwheat is a cheaper alternative to farro, and is also nutty and chewy in flavour and texture. Buckwheat is very tasty when cooked and takes around 20 minutes to boil. Buckwheat is great as a direct rice alternative and goes well with things like curry, or salads.
Amaranth – Amaranth takes around 20 minutes to boil and is a rich source of amino acid lysine which is often hard to get in other foods. Amaranth is a great grain for stews and cereals.
Enjoy switching and swapping your favourite carbs to expand your carb portfolio, you’re bound to find at least one alternative you love, if not many, and enjoy yourself whilst you try them all too!
* This is a collaborative post