Chips, fries, bread, rice, noodles. Sometimes it seems like all the things you crave are the same items the Paleo diet prohibits!
Since these carb-heavy items can spike blood sugar and have very few nutrients to speak of, it really is best to steer clear of grains. But that doesn’t mean that you have to give up your dreams of pasta and fried rice. Get started with these 11 Paleo-approved substitutes for simple carbohydrates.
Your taste buds won’t know the difference between these low-carb options and the real deal—and your body will get an added dose of healthy veggies to boot!
Want to mimic the satisfying base portion of a burrito bowl, or just want to make your meals a little more satisfying? Try cauliflower rice—raw cauliflower grated by hand or in a food processor for small, fluffy grains that become delightfully fluffy and tasty once fried.
For a healthy alternative to spaghetti, grab a spiralizer and turn vegetables into noodles. Zucchini works especially well; the length creates long ribbons and the mild taste makes it easy to flavor with your own sauces. Don’t have a spiralizer? Use a vegetable peeler or a very sharp knife for similar results.
For thicker lasagna noodles, slice eggplant into long sheets that you can easily layer in a casserole dish. Here’s a tip: Salt the eggplant and let it sit for a few minutes to help draw out the excess moisture. It really mimics the texture of pasta layers!
Spaghetti squash ‘instant’ noodles
For a no-fuss approach to faux noodles, cook a halved spaghetti squash and scrape out the innards with a fork. The squash naturally separates into thin, angel hair–esque noodles. Even better, bake your meal right inside of the gourd for a quick weeknight dinner. Try this recipe for spaghetti squash with grass-fed beef, mushrooms, and fresh basil.
Sweet potato fries
While white potatoes aren’t technically off limits on the Paleo diet, deep frying them in oil is definitely not the healthiest choice. If you’re hankering for crispy, salty french fries, try oven-roasting sweet potatoes for a nutritious alternative with even more flavor than the original.
Crunchy Paleo ‘breadcrumbs’
Mimic the crunchy texture of a panko breadcrumb coating by dipping pieces of chicken in egg wash, then rolling them in almond flour, hazelnut flour, or coconut flakes. An added bonus: This technique adds a great nutty flavor!
Got a craving for potato chips? Take advantage of the sturdy, fibrous nature of raw kale and bake it with a little salt and olive oil. Kale chips will satisfy that hankering for something crisp, and they’re surprisingly delicious!
Cauliflower pizza crust
Portobello mushroom buns
Tired of having the hamburger sans bun? Substitute roasted portabella mushrooms for the bread. They bring tons of flavor!
Don’t underestimate the versatile powers of Romaine lettuce. Use the leaves as a vessel for chicken salad, ground meat, guacamole, or roasted veggies—the possibilities are endless.
For either soft or crispy tortillas, try blending zucchini with eggs, pour onto parchment paper and bake. When they come out of the oven, quickly fry them in oil for a crispy shell that’s perfect for huevos rancheros.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho