Carb Hack 101


I think it’s safe to say that we all love carbs. I think it’s also safe to say that eating them in excess can negatively affect our blood sugar (and waistlines!). As a dietitian in a carb-loving italian family, I’ve decided to embark on a journey to find healthy alternatives that taste just as great.

And I think I’ve done it...

1) Pasta hack: edamame spaghetti and fettuccine. 

Why it’s similar: They have somehow managed to turn edamame and mung beans into something that looks, feels, and tastes like traditional pasta. It has the same texture as regular spaghetti and a very neutral taste, so will go great with any sauce.

Why it’s better: With 13 grams of fiber, one serving contains only 6 net carbs compared to over 40 grams in traditional spaghetti. It’s also packed with 25 grams of plant-based protein, compared to 7 grams in traditional spaghetti. This much protein and fiber will make you feel full quicker and longer, which helps to prevent overeating and those classic nighttime cravings. 

*also vegan and gluten free

For more information, check out Susie Polgreen on Fox44 News!

2) Bread hack: sprouted grain products

Why it’s similar: They look and taste like traditional bread products and are available in a variety of flavors (sesame, cinnamon raisin, flax etc.) as well as tortillas, English muffins, and even burger buns. 

Why it’s better: Made from whole grains that have begun to sprout before they are baked, these products are higher in protein, fiber, B-vitamins, and often contain less than half the carbs of traditional bread products. The sprouting process partially breaks down the starch, which not only lowers the carb content, but makes nutrients more readily available and easier to digest. They also contain a variety of whole grains and legumes as opposed to just wheat alone- so much more nutrition than a regular slice of bread. 

3) Rice hack: quinoa 

Why it’s similar: Although slightly smaller in size, quinoa has a very similar taste and texture to rice and is just as easy to cook. 

Why it’s better: Contains less carbs and over twice the amount of protein and fiber. It is actually considered a “complete protein” because it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Quinoa is also great for batch cooking and quick on-the-go meals (see below for some great quinoa bowl recipes!)

4) Pizza hack: cauliflower crust 

Why it’s similar: Has the same “doughy” feel as regular pizza along with a neutral taste that goes great with traditional pizza sauce and toppings. 

Why it’s better: Contains half the amount of carbs as regular pizza dough along with some key nutrients, such as vitamin K and vitamin C. 

*I enjoy making my own cauliflower crust (recipe below), but if time is an issue there are a lot of great premade brands out there without any unhealthy additives- just make sure to read the nutrition label and avoid any ingredients you can’t pronounce!

5) Baked goods hack: using almond flour instead

Why it’s similar: Simply made from ground almonds, it maintains a flour-like texture that can be used to substitute white flour in recipes in a 1:1 ratio- no math needed!

Why it’s better: Most traditional baked goods are made using white flour, which has a ton of carbs and very little actual nutrition. Almond flour is packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats. One cup contains only 10 net carbs, whereas white flour contains over 90! 

*See below for my favorite almond flour cookie and muffin recipes



Quinoa Salad

(makes 2 servings)

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 cucumber, chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

¼ cup red onion, finely chopped

½  avocado, chopped

¼ c crumbled feta cheese

Dressing (mix- 2 T olive oil, 1 T  red wine vinegar, 1 T chopped parsley)

Quinoa Chicken Burrito Bowl

(makes 2-3 servings)

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed & drained

1 avocado, chopped

2 T chopped cilantro (optional)

2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts (cooked with olive oil & desired spices), diced

*Optional spices- cumin, paprika, parsley, oregano, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder

Dressing: 2 T lime juice, 2 T olive oil, salt & pepper to taste

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

(Serves 2; Adapted from Your Lighter Side, by Eat. Drink. Smile)

1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower 

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp crushed garlic

1/2 tsp garlic salt

olive oil (optional)

pizza sauce, shredded cheese and your choice of toppings


To "Rice" the Cauliflower:

Take 1 large head of fresh cauliflower, remove stems and leaves, and chop the florets into chunks. Add to food processor and pulse until it looks like grain. Do not over-do pulse or you will puree it. (If you don't have a food processor, you can grate the whole head with a cheese grater). Place the riced cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes (some microwaves are more powerful than others, so you may need to reduce this cooking time). There is no need to add water, as the natural moisture in the cauliflower is enough to cook itself.

One large head should produce approximately 3 cups of riced cauliflower. The remainder can be used to make additional pizza crusts immediately, or can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

To Make the Pizza Crust:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup cauliflower, egg and mozzarella. Add oregano, crushed garlic and garlic salt, stir. Transfer to the cookie sheet, and using your hands, pat out into a 9" round. Optional: Brush olive oil over top of mixture to help with browning.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven. To the crust, add sauce, toppings and cheese. Place under a broiler at high heat just until cheese is melted (approximately 3-4 minutes).


Banana Nut Muffins

(makes 12-20 muffins)

3 cups almond flour

3 ripe bananas

3 eggs

¼ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted

½ cup rolled oats

½ cup chopped nuts (I use almonds & walnuts)

½ cup dark chocolate chips

4 tablespoons ground flaxseed

2 tablespoons raw honey

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-In a small bowl, mash the bananas

-Add the eggs, vanilla extract, coconut oil, and honey to the bananas. Stir until combined

-In a larger bowl, combine the almond flour, baking soda, and salt

-Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture bowl. Stir into a batter

-Add the rolled oats, flaxseed, nuts, and chocolate chips. Stir well

-Pour batter into a muffin tin lined with baking cups. Fill each cup about ½ to ¾ full

-Bake for 15-20 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean)

Almond flour cookies

2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup coconut sugar 

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (aim for 55% cocoa or greater)

 1/4 cup all-natural almond butter (creamy works best)

1 large egg 

2 tablespoons butter 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper

-In a large mixing bowl, mix or beat the butter, egg, almond butter, coconut sugar, and vanilla extract until smoothly combined.

-Sprinkle the baking soda evenly over the top, then add in the almond flour. Mix or beat until well combined.

-Fold in the chocolate chips by hand

-With a spoon, roll mixture into 2” balls and arrange on baking sheet, leaving 2” between each. Lightly flatten the tops of each cookie

-Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes