By Kristy Podruchny

Veggies like zucchini and cauliflower are making their way into our diet as replacements for starchy foods like pasta and potatoes. As keto and other low-carb lifestyles are becoming popular, many people are learning that they don’t miss the alternative when they try a well-prepared mashed cauliflower or zucchini noodle dish.

Before we dive into a few yummy alternatives, let’s check out the health benefits. According to Advances in Nutrition, “vegetables also supply vitamins and minerals to the diet and are sources of phytochemicals that function as antioxidants, phytoestrogens, and anti-inflammatory agents.” When substituting non-starchy vegetables, you’re giving any dish a cancer-fighting, nutrition-packed boost.

The extra fiber content from non-starchy veggies helps you stay full so there’s no need for that extra serving. A 2015 study published by PLOS Medicine states, “Components of fruits and vegetables that may differentiate their impact on weight change include fiber content, glycemic load (GL), and biologically active constituents like polyphenols and sugars. Higher fiber intake increases satiety, which in turn may reduce total energy intake and prevent weight gain.” Keeping this in mind for the holiday season could save a few inches from creeping to our waistlines.

Cauliflower Rice Stir Fry

When you compare the amount of carbs found in one cup of cauliflower rice (5g) to regular rice (45g), you can see what a weight loss goldmine substituting non-starchy veggies is. The taste is slightly nuttier and the texture is more tender than regular rice, but if you find a great recipe online for cauliflower fried rice, you’ll get addicted. The cauliflower soaks different flavors up like a sponge. You can find riced cauliflower already prepped in the frozen food section or make it at home with a grater or food processor. Cauliflower is wonderful when it’s mashed or made into pita-like chips for a holiday dip lined with veggies.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Zucchini noodles are a huge favorite for low-carb lifestyles. Like cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles can work themselves into many different dishes, and they taste amazing. Using a spiralizer is the easiest way to make these noodles at home. Add a touch of balsamic vinegar, salt, and olive oil for a fresh treat, or simply substitute zucchini noodles instead of pasta for your next pasta dish.

Two words: eggplant Parmesan. Those who have tried this popular dish are already acquainted with how delicious this non-starchy vegetable substitute can be. The hearty texture eggplant offers makes it easy to stick to a low-carb lifestyle. Skip the pasta and add the sauce with a generous portion of cheese (or cheese substitute if you’re dairy free).

Don’t forget the sturdy and filling portobello mushroom. Stuff them full of goodies or replace your hamburger bun with one or two of these low-carb shrooms. Holidays are a great time to introduce portobello burgers or stuffed bellas to the family. Don’t miss the opportunity to share healthy recipes and alternatives with family and friends. Besides, they’ll want to know how you lost the weight and gained a glow.

Portobello Mushroom Burger

Zucchini noodles are a huge favorite for low-carb lifestyles.

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