Finding alternatives to carbs that are as delicious as they are healthy is a tricky task. But we're here to help by providing you with three great ingredients to try, and we promise they're not too good to be true. The secret? Instead of white or brown rice, opt for cauliflower rice. Similarly, consider spiralizing some veggies next time you want to make a noodle-based dish or spaghetti. And while lentils are typically thought of as a substitute for meat and nuts, they're another go-to grain alternative. Though they're high in carbohydrates, they're also high in fiber, which is essential for a low-carb diet. Plus, they provide that same sense of hardy satisfaction that you'd get from carbs. And for a fourth option, you could just opt for a lean protein–heavy meat with some veggie sides.
So whether you're Paleo or gluten-free for health reasons or you're hoping to cut back on refined carbohydrates and opt for something lighter, you'll want to make all nine of our grain-free recipes ahead. In fact, you'll probably crave them regardless of your dietary needs. While we aren't spotlighting any quinoa recipes today, for more information on the different flavor notes and health profiles of various grains, check out our glossary. Scroll through the nine healthy and satisfying recipes below to try this week.
Jerk Shrimp With Cauliflower Rice
Cauliflower rice is a great alternative to carbs like brown or white rice since it's far lower in calories and refined sugars. Its mild flavor works in its favor since you can pair it with just about anything and not worry about a strong, earthy taste. This recipe from Food Faith Fitness pairs cauliflower rice with a spicy, rich jerk shrimp stew.
Apricot Chicken With Cauliflower Rice
This apricot chicken recipe from Half Baked Harvest only requires three ingredients, proving that you don't have to lug a giant bag of gourmet groceries home to make a five-star meal. It's sweet, tangy, and packed with flavor. Make it with cauliflower rice to fill you up, and bring in some contrasting texture. Don't forget to add cashews or the nuts of your choice for a little crunch.
Veggies Stacked With Lentils
A stack of veggies has never looked so satisfying. This recipe from The First Mess calls for cauliflower, beets, sweet potato, and celery. The veggies all sit atop a bed of lentils instead of rice. It doesn't get much more nutrient-rich than that, and all the health benefits are matched by flavor perks, too. A horseradish-and-maple vinaigrette gives this dish the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, so you'll love every last bite and won't even notice that it's carb-free.
These lentil meatballs from Minimalist Baker are easy to make, and they taste amazing with a variety of side dishes. So once you know how to make them, we guarantee you'll be using them again to accompany your favorite sauces, sides, and stews, rather than using refined grains. The texture is tender yet crispy, and they'll soak up the flavor of anything you pair them with (though they are by no means boring on their own).
Grilled Chicken Kebabs With Pistachio Gremolata
If you want something as filling as a carb-heavy dish but want to forgo the negative side effects that come along with carbs, opt for some flavorful chicken skewers instead. This recipe from Hello Glow spices things up with a pistachio gremolata, so it definitely won't taste boring or overly healthy but will keep you comfortably full.
Ginger Chicken Lettuce Wraps
This is one of those carb alternatives that you'd want to eat even if you weren't looking to cut back. The crisp lettuce-and-cucumber combination lets the tangy ginger chicken skewers take center stage while the tzatziki yogurt sauce adds a nice creamy touch. Follow this recipe from Hello Glow for a light meal that tastes just as satisfying as a burger.
Spaghetti Squash Aglio e Olio
This spaghetti squash dish from Half Baked Harvest is life-changing. Once you make pasta like this, you'll never see it the same way again. Filled with healthy goodies like rainbow chard and squash and then dressed up with Parmesan, garlic, and olive oil, it's super easy to make (there are only seven ingredients), so we promise it'll be a dinner mainstay.
Creamy Zucchini Noodles
When you're craving your favorite pasta sauce but want something a bit lighter, zoodles are your solution. This zucchini spaghetti recipe from The First Mess pairs the noodles with a creamy lentil-and-onion sauce. It's a well-rounded meal with fresh flavors of basil; a cheesy, creamy sauce; and crunchy veggies.
This post was originally published on August 21, 2017, and has since been updated. Sign up for our newsletter for more healthy recipes and foodie finds delivered straight to your inbox.