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How to Cook Low-Carb

Creating Low-Carb Recipes

It's common to experience resistance from family members, or even your own taste buds, when making ingredient changes to your recipes. Remember when you made the switch from whole milk to skim? You probably thought you'd never get used to the flavor or the mouthfeel. However, you've most likely reached the point where you can't imagine downing a glass of whole milk! Substituting whole-wheat pasta and brown rice can take you down a similar path.

One of the best ways to overcome resistance is to make the switch gradually. Try mixing two-thirds white and one-third whole-wheat pasta, and do the same with rice. Over time, decrease the amount of white and increase the whole grain. Some pasta manufacturers have even begun marketing pasta made from half white flour and half whole-wheat flour, an excellent choice for those just starting to make the switch.

Take a look through some of your favorite recipes. We all have an old standby that's foolproof, quick to throw together, and requested often. Could any of these tried-and-true dishes use a healthy-carbohydrate makeover? What about new recipes you'd like to try? Here's how you can make those home-cooked favorites carb-friendly:

Breadcrumbs or Crushed Cereal Toppings and Fillers

Recipes that call for breadcrumbs and/or crushed cereal use them in a couple of ways. They're either sprinkled on top to add a crunchy texture or mixed into the main recipe to add bulk or holding/forming power. If you purchase ready-made breadcrumbs, it may be difficult to find anything other than white bread as the base. Whether the recipe calls for a small sprinkling or a larger measured amount, whole-grain crumbs are a better choice since they contain some fiber and additional nutrients.

You can make your own by tossing the heels of whole-grain bread into the food processor (many people throw these out anyway). Give them a whirl and store in plastic freezer bags or containers for future use. When a recipe calls for breadcrumbs, you can add them directly from the freezer (no need to thaw) or mix in a variety of herbs and spices or other flavorings as dictated by the recipe.

If you're trying to reduce carbohydrate even further, try mixing chopped nuts and breadcrumbs. This works best for coating foods rather than as a filler. For cereal toppings, use a high-fiber (at least five grams of fiber per serving) cereal rather than a variety that contains only one gram or less. Unless you're preparing a dessert-type dish, be sure the cereal is unsweetened.

Pasta Dishes

This may seem like an obvious place to make a healthy carb change, but it's easy to get into the habit of always doing things the same way because they've always been done that way. In fact, many people don't even consider substituting whole-grain pasta for white-flour pasta just because they never have. But it only requires a bit of forethought. It's easier than ever to find whole-wheat pasta in a wide variety of shapes.

Whatever the pasta dish, from macaroni and cheese to linguini and clam sauce, there's no need to ban it from your dinner table; just use whole-wheat pasta in place of the white. Regardless of the type of pasta you use, refrain from eating excessive portion sizes. Serve pasta in smaller, salad-size bowls, and round out the meal with extra vegetables and a salad.

Rice Dishes

Any dish that calls for rice-unless it's something unique such as sushi-can accommodate the substitution of brown rice. Pay attention to cooking times, as brown rice takes longer to cook than white. Be sure to allow for such adjustments.


Whether cradling savory burrito fillings or the contents of a tempting taco, or serving main duty in any number of vegetable- or meat-filled wraps, tortillas lend themselves well to a variety of dishes. Corn and whole-wheat tortillas both contain more fiber and nutrients than the white flour variety, and they're getting easier to find even on the shelves of mainstream grocery stores. Corn tortillas aren't normally made with fat. But when buying any type of tortilla other than corn, scan the ingredient list for shortening or lard and only buy tortillas that contain neither.


In recipes that call for bread, such as an egg-rich strata or baked French toast, substitute 100 percent whole-grain bread for the kind you usually use. Just like substituting whole-wheat pasta for white, you need to plan ahead to make the substitution; otherwise you'll just use the same white bread you've always used.

Summing It Up

Cooking with healthy carbohydrates really comes down to including plenty of four main ingredients: whole, intact grains; legumes (dried beans of any variety); vegetables; and fruits. These foods (with the exception of a few varieties of fruit) naturally score low on the glycemic index rating, so they're kind to blood sugar levels, and they help you feel full and provide vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

If you eat a lot of processed carbohydrate foods and have experienced the dramatic energy dips, uncontrollable cravings for sweets, and weight gain associated with that kind of diet, try substituting healthier carbohydrate choices and monitor how your body responds. You'll probably find you feel much better! Pair moderate portions of lean cuts of red meat, poultry, fish, or plant-based proteins such as soy or legumes with plenty of veggies and whole grains, and you'll be consuming less unhealthy cholesterol and saturated fat as well.

Many of the carbohydrate choices people grab on the run or include in ready-to-eat, grab-and-go meals are high in sugar, low in fiber, and loaded with additives and/or preservatives. By cutting out these foods and replacing them with the foods we talked about above, many people will experience weight loss, maintain stable blood sugar levels, and manage and possibly prevent a multitude of diseases. And that, after all, is the name of the game.

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This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.