The Paleo diet is all the rage these days, but just like any other diet there are healthy ways and not-so-healthy ways to approach it. Replacing grain-based breads, crackers, and cookies with nut-based breads, crackers, and cookies can be helpful for those who need to avoid gluten, but relying heavily on these baked goods on a daily basis won’t necessarily improve your health.
When done the right way, a grain-free diet should help increase your vegetable intake while also reducing your intake of processed foods and sugary snacks. It’s essentially just a “whole foods” diet, which is why so many all-natural recipes fall into the Paleo category in the first place.
Today I want to share 6 ways to replace the grains in your diet, without relying on heavy nut-based alternatives. Even if you don’t follow a grain-free diet, the following tips are a great way for anyone to increase their vegetable intake!
1. Try veggie “rice.”
Pulsing vegetables like cauliflower or butternut squash in a food processor creates a rice-like texture that can be just as satisfying as using real rice. This Cauliflower Fried Rice is my favorite way to convince skeptics– it tastes just as good as the real thing!
2. Spiralize your vegetables.
Making “noodles” out of your vegetables can actually be quicker and easier than cooking a box of pasta. Simply use a spiral slicer, like this one, or even a traditional vegetable peeler to create flat fettucine-like noodles out of your favorite veggies, like zucchini, carrots, or sweet potatoes. This recipe is a great place to start!
3. Use steamed vegetables as “pasta.”
If you’d prefer to skip the fancy spiral slicers, a simple bed of steamed vegetables makes an easy base for your favorite pasta sauce! Some of my favorite options include steamed cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, and zucchini (pictured above).
4. Make a vegetable-based pizza crust.
This cauliflower pizza crust is life-changing. (You can use it as a flatbread for sandwiches, too!) Even if you eat half of this pizza on your own, you’ve essentially just eaten a pound of cauliflower topped with some marinara and cheese.
5. Swap your lasagna noodles.
You can thinly slice vegetables like eggplant or zucchini to make lasagna “noodles.” This Eggplant Lasagna recipe is a great place to start, and the recipe for my very favorite Zucchini Lasagna is in my cookbook, too.
6. Lettuce wraps.
There’s no need to bake a grain-free bun, when a lettuce wrap is SO much easier! Try using butter lettuce for a velvety wrap that you can fold in half, or collard leaves to roll up your favorite sandwich or burger fillings.
I hope these ideas help you increase your vegetable intake, while enjoying some delicious meals in the process!
Reader Feedback: Do you have any other healthy alternatives to share? I’d love to hear them!