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Health & Wellness Series: Healthy Recipes That Swap Carbs For Veggies

Health & Wellness Series: Healthy Recipes That Swap Carbs For Veggies

If you’re looking to eat more veggies or just want to serve yourself a bigger portion at dinner without piling on the calories, look no further. These recipes use simple swaps, replacing heavy carbs with nutrient and fiber-rich vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini, and sweet potato. No sacrificing flavor here!

Taco Lettuce Wraps

Don’t limit yourself to lettuce for this low-carb, gluten-free taco lettuce wrap recipe–any fresh green sturdy enough to wrap around 1/2 cup of filling works.


Makes 4 servings

8 small iceberg or romaine lettuce leaves or 4 large, cut in half crosswise

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 pound lean ground beef

¼ teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons prepared salsa

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 cup diced avocado

1 cup julienned jícama (see Tip)

¼ cup finely diced red onion


Active 30 m,  Ready In 30 m

Wash and dry lettuce leaves well and cut out any tough ribs.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, season with salt and cook, stirring often, until cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk salsa, vinegar, and cumin in a small bowl.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the salsa mixture and stir to combine. Serve in the lettuce leaves, topped with avocado, jicama, and onion.

TIP: Jícama is a round root vegetable with thin brown skin and white crunchy flesh. It has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. To peel it, use a small, sharp knife or vegetable peeler, making sure to remove both the papery brown skin and the layer of fibrous flesh just underneath.

Nutritional Information

Serving size: 2 wraps

Per serving: 291 calories; 19 g fat(5 g sat);  4 g fiber;  8 g carbohydrates;  23 g protein; 47 mcg folate;  72 mg cholesterol;  2 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 246 IU vitamin A; 9 mg vitamin C; 34 mg calcium; 3 mg iron;  348 mg sodium; 579 mg potassium

Carbohydrate Servings: ½

Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1 lean meat, 2 fat

Cauliflower Rice

When cauliflower is pulsed in a food processor, it magically turns into a vegetable that really resembles white rice. In this easy recipe, cauliflower rice is made into an herbed pilaf.


Makes 4 servings

4 cups cauliflower florets

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped herbs, such as chives, parsley, cilantro, and/or basil


Active 10 m, Ready In 10 m

Pulse cauliflower in a food processor until chopped into rice-size pieces.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and salt.

Cook, stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in herbs.

Nutritional Information

Serving size: ½ cup each

Per serving: 164 calories; 14 g fat(2 g sat);  3 g fiber;  7 g carbohydrates;  3 g protein; 87 mcg folate;  0 mg cholesterol;  3 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 131 IU vitamin A; 73 mg vitamin C; 35 mg calcium; 1 mg iron;  335 mg sodium; 448 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (122% daily value), Folate (22% dv)

Carbohydrate Servings: ½

Exchanges: 3 fat, 1½ vegetable

Tomato-Basil Zoodle Salad

Makes 6 Servings

Spiralized zucchini noodles make the perfect base for this colorful and flavorful salad—think pasta salad without all the carbs! It comes together quickly for a light lunch or easy side. Add grilled chicken, shrimp or chickpeas to make a heartier meal.


2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

1 large zucchini

1 firm ripe avocado, cubed

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

½ cup pearl-size fresh mozzarella balls


Prep 20 m, Ready In 20 m

Whisk oil, vinegar, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Using a spiral vegetable slicer with the chipper blade attachment (for thick noodles), cut zucchini lengthwise into “noodles,” stopping when you reach the seeds.

Add the zucchini noodles, avocado, tomatoes and mozzarella to the dressing and toss to coat. Serve topped with more basil, if desired.

Equipment: Spiral vegetable slicer with a chipper blade attachment

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1 cup

Per serving: 192 calories; 17 g fat(4 g sat);  3 g fiber;  7 g carbohydrates;  4 g protein; 44 mcg folate;  10 mg cholesterol;  3 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 478 IU vitamin A; 16 mg vitamin C; 94 mg calcium; 1 mg iron;  149 mg sodium; 369 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (27% daily value)

Carbohydrate Servings: ½

Exchanges: 3 fat, ½ medium-fat protein, ½ vegetable

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Broccolini

In this low-carb spaghetti squash lasagna recipe, garlicky broccolini, spaghetti squash, and cheese are combined for a healthy take on a favorite casserole. This bakes right in the squash shells for a fun presentation. Serve with a big Caesar salad and some warm and crusty whole-grain bread.


Makes 4 servings

1 2½- to 3-pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch broccolini, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

2 tablespoons water

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground pepper


Active 30 m, Ready In 40 m

Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 450°F.

Place squash cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish; add 2 tablespoons water. Microwave, uncovered, on High until the flesh is tender, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, place squash halves cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 400°F oven until the squash is tender, 40 to 50 minutes.)

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add broccolini, garlic and red pepper (if using); cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add water and cook, stirring, until the broccolini is tender, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl.

Use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the bowl. Place the shells in a broiler-safe baking pan or on a baking sheet. Stir ¾ cup mozzarella, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper into the squash mixture. Divide it between the shells; top with the remaining ¼ cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

Bake on the lower rack for 10 minutes. Move to the upper rack, turn the broiler to high and broil, watching carefully, until the cheese starts to brown, about 2 minutes.

Easy cleanup Tip: To save time and keep your baking sheet looking fresh, line it with a layer of foil before you bake.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: ½ stuffed squash half

Per serving: 194 calories; 11 g fat(5 g sat);  2 g fiber;  15 g carbohydrates;  11 g protein; 18 mcg folate;  23 mg cholesterol;  5 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 1,235 IU vitamin A; 47 mg vitamin C; 314 mg calcium; 1 mg iron;  609 mg sodium; 347 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (78% daily value), Calcium (31% dv), Vitamin A (25% dv)

Carbohydrate Servings: 1

Exchanges: ½ starch, ½ vegetable, ½ lean meat, 1 medium-fat meat, 1 fat

Recipes courtesy of Eating Well


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