Eat Well

The Great Vegetable Swap Out: Not Your Standard Starch!

by Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG), 
Registered Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator

I adore bread, potatoes, corn, and rice as much as every other American, but let’s face it: Most of us could use some inspiration to eat fewer carbs and more veggies. One way to significantly up your veg quota is to swap all or some of your standard starch for a veggie-based pseudo-carb. I’m not talking about weird processed vegetable cellulose packaged gunk. Let’s stick to real, whole foods!

Why swap your starch for veggies? You’ll get more nutrients and antioxidants with fewer calories, better meet the recommended five-to-nine servings of produce per day, and you can make delicious paleo- and gluten-free-friendly foods. And sometimes you just need to figure out what to do with the extra zucchini or carrots before they go bad.

We’re at the height of harvest season on the cusp of summer-to-autumn offerings, it’s the perfect time to branch out with farm-fresh goodies. Here are a few ideas to get you going. I highly recommend checking out the linked recipes – the pictures alone will have your mouth watering!!

The  Open-Faced “Sandwich”

Swap that bread out for a halved avocado (sliced into diced squares inside the shell) or a hollowed-out bell pepper.


Of course, spaghetti squash is always nice. But if you want something faster, you can turn any raw semi-solid veggie (think:  carrots, sweet potatoes, summer squash, zucchini, beets…) into noodles that you can leave raw or slightly cook before adding your sauce and toppings. Local nutritionist Traci Komorek recommends this fancy machine, and I found this pencil-sharpener-like spiral slicer at Things are Cooking in Concord (which does an ok job). Also use strips of grilled eggplant or zucchini in place of pasta for lasagna and stuffed-rolled Italian rollatini.

The Taco

For a fresh, crisp taco, simply pile your ingredients into a sturdy lettuce boat (ie: Boston bibb or romaine) – delicious for both Asian and Tex-Mex taco fillings! For a heartier or piping hot taco, consider using a cabbage leaf.

That’s a Wrap!

On the same line as the veggie taco, we’ve got gorgeous greens standing in for the sandwich wrap. Try wide, sturdy collard greens or more tender chard leaves. Some people blanch the leaves first while others leave them raw – see what works best for you. You can go in between and soak them in warm water with vinegar for about 10 minutes.

Pizza Crust

Not to dis the greasy spoon pizza, but you can craft some pretty darn tasty flour-free variations! Try a roasted/grilled/seared portobello mushroom (layered with gooey cheese and fresh tomatoes, oh my!) or one of the creative cauliflower crusts that the GF world is RAVING about.

Chips & Crunchy Snacks

It’s all the rage, and home-cooked is sooo yummy! Try any one of the many kale chips recipes out there. Also try roasting sliced beets or chickpeas with some seasoning for a tasty snack that crunches. If you have a dehydrator, you can even play around with making your own flax crackers.

I hope you’ve been inspired – enjoy! 🙂