Veggies (even if they look like carbs) are not Carbs!
If you are someone who swears by cauli-rice and zucchini noodles (AKA zoodles), let me let you in on a little secret… These options can be great…ways to eat your vegetables differently! Just by turning a head of cauliflower into what looks like rice or shredding up our veggies into neat little ribbons, we aren’t able to outsmart our bodies or biology into finding the same nutrients and satisfaction from these foods as their more starchy counterparts.
Starches or carbohydrates are an important source of energy and fiber for the body. In fact, starches are the body’s preferred source of energy; did you know that 95% of your brain’s activity is fueled by carbohydrates? Fiber is necessary for regular digestive function and bowel movements. Starches are also an excellent source of B vitamins, which are necessary for regulating energy in the body (more about B vitamins can be found in this blog post, Nutrition Basics: Part 2: Water Soluble Vitamins).
Now as said though, let’s not completely discount these different options available on the market to try to mix up the variety of our veggies. Here are some delicious meal ideas with options to incorporate into your household’s weekly vegetable roundtop PLUS adequate carbohydrate intake as well. No substitutions here.
Cauliflower risotto, fish, and a dinner roll.
Adding zucchini ribbons to a homemade pizza (crust, sauce, cheese, and additional toppings) for a fun way to include this veggie.
Broccoli tots, fruit, and a burger (of your choice - turkey, salmon, beef, chicken, etc), on a bun with a fat-containing condiment such as mayonnaise, tartar sauce, olive tapenade or pesto.
Instead of “eggplant lasagna” in lieu of the noodles, how about lasagna made with lasagna noodles, eggplant, ricotta cheese, marinara sauce, and sausage or ground beef.
Stir fry that doesn’t replace the starch component with sweet potato spirals but instead uses rice, sweet potatoes and other vegetables, a protein of your choice (shrimp, chicken, steak, etc) a sauce such as teriyaki, General Tso’s or sweet and sour sauce with sesame seeds on top.
Gentle nutrition means you are making decisions from a place of self-care versus self-control. Additionally, diet culture does not get to own any food items! By appreciating and understanding these concepts it means that you can choose to include any of the above “carbohydrate replacements” as what they truly are - unique and yummy ways to incorporate vegetables alongside other important macronutrients to ensure complete and satisfying meals.