Cut Carbs With These Food Substitutions

If you’re trying to lose weight by cutting down on carbohydrates, you don’t necessarily need to alter your diet drastically. By swapping out carb-rich ingredients in favor of low or no-carb stuff with similar shapes, tastes and textures, you can stick to your plan without much sacrifice.

My Thirty Spot offers these carb-cutting suggestions:

* Make hash browns with squash rather than potatoes.

* Opt for sliced zucchini rather than noodles in lasagna.

* Use spaghetti squash rather than actual spaghetti.

* Make mac and cheese with diced vegetables instead of macaroni.

Check out the post for eight other substitutions.

12 Delish Substitutes When Trying To Cut Carbs [My Thirty Spot]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    We’re a huge fan of cauliflower pizza crust

    • RedOryx says:

      That is GENIUS! I am totally trying it.

    • ashmelev says:

      I see this wimpy attempt and I raise stakes with ‘Meatza’!

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        Wow, you win. A meat crust sounds delicious.

      • nobomojo says:

        Meatza is amazing!

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        crap- my type 1 diabetes and my high cholesterol are now at war with each other over this. also i’ve decided when i get home from work i need to substitute the portabello mushroom substitution with individual slices of pepperoni in the toaster oven, baked until they curl up, then dipped into sauce and cheese

    • Kevin411 says:

      Our favorite is Cauliflower Rice. Start the way it is shown in the pizza recipe linked above, Simply shred the cauliflower rice-sized, then cover and microwave (add no water), stirring occasionally, until hot, and then for a little longer. Serve immediately as you would rice as a side dish to curries (excellent accompaniment for Indian dishes!), stir-frys, etc.

      I’ve not tried it in recipes, though I know it can get soggy cooked in water, but used raw in some recipes it should be fine.

  2. Cat says:

    Some substitutions are just awful. But if you substitute half of the lasagna for zucchini, it’s not bad at all.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      Some substitutions just make no sense. They aren’t really substitutions. You’re basically better off just starting from scratch and avoiding recipes that are based on high carbohydrate foods.

      I lump these together with trying to replace meat with some sort of soy product meant to look and taste like meat.

  3. StarKillerX says:

    Fixed it for you.

    * Make hash browns with Bacon rather than potatoes.

    * Opt for sliced Baco rather than noodles in lasagna.

    * Use Bacon rather than actual spaghetti.

    * Make mac and cheese with chopped Bacon instead of macaroni.

  4. sirwired says:

    Before you just go willy-nilly using zucchini/yellow squash instead of starches, please realize it gives out a LOT of water when cooked; you’ll need to adjust your recipe accordingly.

    Spaghetti squash does rock though! You aren’t going to fool anyone into thinking it’s pasta, but it has a deliciousness all it’s own, and it’s “magic” to watch it go from vegetable to pasta-like substance with a few strokes of a fork.

    • caradrake says:

      Yeah, don’t make spaghetti squash expecting it to have the same taste/texture as the pasta. If you do, you are going to be hugely disappointed. So long as you have no false assumptions, it’s great.

    • finbar says:

      I’ve had luck using half spagetti squash and half standard angel hair pasta. The standard pasta covers the taist/texture of the squash pretty effectivly.

    • BBG says:

      I prefer to think of it as ‘pulled squash”.

  5. jeni1122 says:

    Shirataki noodles make a good low carb noodle substitute. Also mashing in cauliflower into your mashed potatoes helps to cut down on the carbs a little.

  6. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    In my opinion from reading & researching, & what has worked for me, is that diet is a very personal thing. I do well off a high-carb diet, I just have to becareful where I get my carbs from. My body does better on a vegetarian diet then a proten diet, for sure.

    I know many people poo-poo the blood-type diet, but I have found some very important, & personal body-function rules that were dead on for me.

    • KyBash says:

      We’re each unique and what works great for one person might kill another?

      Who would have thunk it?


  7. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    In other words, eat something else.

    “Mac and cheese with diced vegetables instead of macaroni” doesn’t yield mac and cheese. It’s just some vegetables with cheese.

    • CubeRat says:

      That’s what I was thinking. I don’t like cheese on my veggies, but I love it on pasta.

      I hate all the diets that take all the good stuff in life and throw them away. Give me my pasta, bread, garlic, olive oil and wine. I’ll add veggies and meat in moderation and live longer and prosper.

  8. FashionablyDoomed says:

    Although I love Spaghetti squash, it does NOT have the same consistency as pasta. Not even close. But it’s still delicious with tomato sauce.

    I’m trying cauliflower steaks tonight, however, that’s just my way of lowering grocery costs on an unemployment check. Still though, 0 carbs!

    • Spaghettius! says:

      I saw this in my BA and did something similar by cutting through a head of cauliflower into slices (instead of florets) brushing with oil, and roasting. It was delicious, and easy to prepare, but I would not pretend it was anything like a “steak”. A brain cross-section? Maybe. But not a steak.

  9. GenXCub says:

    I would rather eat nothing than have Mac and Cheese without the Mac. ABOMINATION!

  10. Yacko says:

    Thin julienne carrots or turnips. Boil and use instead of pasta.

    If using actual pasta, add frozen diced carrots and peas to displace some of the starch. It’s kind of little kid, but it really is good.

  11. bugpaste says:

    I found a recipe once for a pizza with a zucchini crust. Definitely going to try that sometime.

    Also, I wholeheartedly endorse spaghetti squash. I love getting a big ol’ squash and serving it up with homemade meatballs and marinara. If you do it right, the taste and texture are almost indistinguishable from angel hair pasta.

  12. AtlantaCPA says:

    So to summarize: Here are 12 variations on one theme for how to lose weight – make your food less appealing and you won’t want to eat as much!

    I actually am a fan of eating healthy food but some of these suggestions are just ways to make a dish gross. I add vegetables to my mac and cheese instead of taking out the mac for example. And then use moderation in portion sizes.

    • Jevia says:

      When my family started substituting wheat pasta for the white pasta, it did get me to eat less pasta because the wheat pasta is icky.

      • AtlantaCPA says:

        It’s all about the brand. Almost all 100% whole wheat pastas are terrible, but BioNaturae 100% whole wheat is good. It’s the only one we buy and it really is fine. Whole foods, other health food markets, and Amazon all have it but not usually the grocery store.

  13. KyBash says:

    Instead of pancakes, simply make tvorozhniki.

    • Spaghettius! says:

      are those the same as sirniki? Because they aren’t remotely healthier for you… but they are so, so, so unbelievably good.

  14. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Squash browns? Zucchini Aflredo? Tempeh scallopini? Broc and cheese? Eggplant-A-Roni? Hahahahaha.

    But then again we’ve been making an alfredo sauce with a base of no-fat cottage cheese for yeears – and a neat pancake mix as described in the article. But still, some of the substitutes in the article aren’t too great.

  15. John says:

    Wow … make it easier:

    Whenever you wish to use anything with any grain in it, use an equal measure of ball bearings instead. Your body can’t digest the ball bearings, so you won’t absorb any carbs.

    Consumerist … no need to ever provide any articles from My Thirty Spot again.

  16. Shouhdes says:

    I eat whatever I want.

    I just ensure that the number of calories I am taking in do not exceed the number of calories I am expending by an amount that would cause excessive weight gain.

  17. Tedsallis says:

    In other words make everything taste like ass.

  18. DrPizza says:

    This is just plain retarded. It amounts to this:

    “Next time you make pizza, substitute lettuce for the crust. And use chunks of tomatoes instead of sauce. Replace the pepperoni slices with slices of cucumber.”

    Why not just say “next time you make pizza, make a salad instead.”

    Seriously – replace the macaroni with vegetables? Why not just say “instead of mac and cheese, munch on some veggies. Oh, and make a cheese sauce to drizzle over it, if you want some extra fat and calories.”

    • nobomojo says:

      this something I have to do as a low carber. I am on a ketogenic diet, meaning VERY low carb intake daily. SO if I want to eat food that’s not bacon and steak everyday (not that it’s that bad), I have to substitute. It’s a way of life now. I had a loaded baked faux-tato soup for lunch today.

    • zerogspacecow says:


      Take a hamburger. Replace the bun with lettuce. Replace the patty with tofu. Do you still have a hamburger?

      The correct answer is: “no, you do not.”

  19. tkates says:

    Carrot coins are a good vehicle for spaghetti sauce and Parmesan.

  20. StarfishDiva says:

    I read that as ‘hash brownies’

    Mmmmm hash brownies.

  21. aloria says:

    Has the person who came up with these suggestions ever actually eaten the original dishes?

  22. Sian says:

    “Delish”? Ray-ray is that you?

  23. TeriLynn says:

    I just want to point out that the article suggests replacing SOME of the macaroni with diced vegetables, not ALL of the macaroni. Same goes for the pasta salad. So, you know, it’s maybe more of a casserole than mac & cheese, but it’s not as far gone as the comments here would lead you to believe. Also, your child will HATE you for doing this.

    • The Slime Oozing Out From Your TV Set says:

      Use plenty of trinity, sauteed before being mixed with the pasta and whatnot, and it’s actually quite grand.

  24. nobomojo says:

    I make my mac and cheese with Tofu Shirataki noodles (I actually don’t mind the texture) and a lot of cheese and cream, and top it off with bacon and sliced hot dog.

  25. brinks says:

    Eat all the damn carbs you want, as long as they’re not from bad sources like soda and Twinkies.

  26. zerogspacecow says:

    My food groups are (in order of importance and daily intake):


    Find me a diet that uses those exclusively and I’ll listen.

  27. HoJu says:

    None of these things are substitutes. They’re just other things. Thats like saying instead of drinking Coke drink water. Instead of eating Jolly Ranchers, eat grapes.

  28. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I hope my mother doesn’t see these. She’s already the queen of bad food substitutions in the name of healthy eating. Some of her favorites are:

    1. plain yogurt on a baked potato (no butter or margerine, salt or pepper)
    2. prune paste instead of butter in cookies
    3. carob chips instead of chocolate chips in the same cookies
    4. whole wheat flour and extra bran instead of white flour, yes, in the same cookies
    5. some sort of cereal that looks like sticks, instead of actual cereal, with soy milk

    There are others, but you get the idea. She gets mad at me when I remind her that no matter how repulsive she makes her food, she won’t live forever.

    • scoosdad says:

      Are they even considered cookies after all that?

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        No! And what’s really bad is that they look like yummy homemade chocolate chip cookies, but when you bite into them, they are simply awful. They’re dry, the carob tastes weird, there’s no creaminess because of the bran, wheat, and prune paste, and she cuts the sugar way back too.

        The last time I was tricked by one of these, I spit out the bite I took, wouldn’t eat the rest, and told her she should warn people that they aren’t real cookies.

        But they’re good for you, she said. But Mom, they suck, I said. And so it goes. **sighs**

  29. Tiffymonster says:

    I also use the dreamfields pasta instead of pasta almost exclusively. I dont eat pasta often and if I am gonna go for a box its gonna be dreamfields. I also use cauliflower and broccoli with my mac and cheese. Yum!

  30. JGKojak says:

    This is stupid.

    I understand ingredient subbing if you have celiac disease or if you have diabetes or your doctor orders you to avoid sodium, etc.

    But, come on, the reason these work mostly is that you eat less because most of these taste like crap. And people who are willing to do this don’t care what their food tastes like to begin with.

    Life is too short to sub zuchinni for pasta.

  31. Bent Rooney says:

    You lost me at “Make hash browns with squash rather than potatoes.”

    • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

      Squash – no, however grated turnip makes an excellent hashbrown sub especially if spiced with salt and pepper and a little bit of cheddar cheese melted on top.

  32. ZukeZuke says:

    All of these substitute suggestions make me want to gag.

  33. axolotl says:

    Oh my golly goose that oatmeal and cottage cheese pancake recipe sounds horrid.
    “With syrup, you could never tell the difference between this and something your cat puked up last night.”

    • The Slime Oozing Out From Your TV Set says:

      Honestly, it takes *NOTHING*AT*ALL* like a proper pancake, but is actually pretty good. Think of it like the li’l smokies in tomato and grape sauce. Weird to make, but good.

  34. Kodai says:

    How about using Eggplant instead of Flour in your next cake?

  35. Debbie says:

    This article is a joke, right?

  36. samandiriel says:

    A problem with substitutions like these is that people expect the end product to taste like the original – especially if it looks very similar. Getting away from those expectations and the flavour combinations our palate is used to is probably the most difficult part. I’ve found that introducing the new foods in the carb substitution roles in recipes people are *not* used to and then later introducing the foods in more traditional recipes to be more successful.

  37. 420greg says:

    I made cauliflower rice last night to go with indian food and it was outstanding.

    • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

      Cauli rice is a staple for me – its also fantastic mashed with a bit of butter and sour cream. I don’t miss rice or potatoes at all now.

  38. magnetic says:

    Turnips for potatoes works in select recipes.

  39. Spaghettius! says:

    …or eat slightly less of the original carb-heavy food. Eat a side of vegetables or fruit for dessert so you dont feel hungry from cutting down the size of your main dish.