Are you looking to reduce calories and carbs, but don’t want to serve salad for your romantic Valentine’s Day meal? Veggie swaps are the answer to your prayers!
By swapping healthy, low-carb vegetables for processed carbohydrates, you can improve the nutritional value of your meals without sacrificing flavor. We’ve gathered fifteen of our favorite veggie swap recipes from around the Internet just for you.
This is one of the most popular vegetables for swapping, because when this squash is cooked, it falls into strands just like spaghetti! This makes it the perfect replacement for pasta in your diet.
- Spaghetti Squash Hashbrowns from HelloHealthy. These are amazing all by themselves, or as the base for a quiche. They’re kind of like latkes, but totally low-carb! You can also serve them like you would regular hashbrowns: with eggs or avocado for breakfast. And all you need is oil and spaghetti squash.
- Spaghetti Squash Lasagna from I Heart Vegetables. If you’re craving a cheesy pasta casserole, this is the perfect solution to the carb problem. This lasagna has under 300 calories per serving, and is topped with plenty of melty cheese. You can add meat if you want more protein!
- Spaghetti Squash Yakisoba Style from Pickled Plum. Here’s your healthy homemade Asian take-out! Packed with healthy veggies and a flavorful soy-based sauce, you won’t even miss the noodles (or the fried egg rolls). Again, you might want to add protein in the form of lean chicken or stir-fried egg for a little more staying power.
- Garlic Spaghetti Squash with Herbs from Pinch of Yum. This is a classic pasta-style dish that makes a great side to a protein like steak or pork loin. A layer of Gruyere cheese on top makes this restaurant-style luxurious. Plus, this dish is the perfect chance to try some new herbs! Use any that you’re curious about sampling.
- Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls from Making Thyme for Health. Send your cravings packing with this cheesy, veggie-packed burrito bowl, minus the rice and tortilla chips. Black beans pack some protein, but feel free to add some lean ground beef with taco seasoning if you need something super satisfying.
Talk about a diet-killer! You may as well apply fast-food French fries directly to your thighs. But these alternative “fries” are way less greasy and add another serving of healthy vegetables to your meal.
- Brussels Sprouts Chips from Alysa Bajenaru. Okay, these are chips and not fries. But they’re amazing! All you have to do is remove the little leaves from brussels sprouts, coat them very lightly with oil, and bake them. These are also a great way to get kids to enjoy notoriously unpopular brussels sprouts.
- Baked Asparagus Fries from Damn Delicious. These are definitely a sophisticated adult snack! Although they’re served like French fries, asparagus spears coated with parmesan and panko bread crumbs are an elegant side you can serve with dinner or with pre-dinner drinks.
- Baked Sweet Potato Fries from Food Network. Although these are baked potato spears, they’re much better for you than a white potato fry. Sweet potatoes are richer in vitamins than white potatoes, and their nutritional profile makes them a healthier choice when you really need your spuds. These are the perfect side to a steak, a burger, or any kind of sandwich.
- Parsnip Fries from Paleo Grub. Most of us don’t eat parsnips very often, but these “fries” might turn you into a big fan of these carrot-like roots. Parsnips are full of fiber and have a sweeter flavor than carrots. This recipe takes your baked fries to the next level with delicious, earthy truffle oil. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.
- Crispy Baked String Bean Fries from Cinnamon, Spice, & Everything Nice. Forget that boring can of green beans! Try these crunchy baked green bean fries with a tangy lemon thyme dipping sauce instead. Feel free to sub Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise if you want to go nice and light.
If you’ve been following food trends this past year, you’ve probably noticed that cauliflower has become a super popular replacement for all kinds of carbs, from rice to pizza crusts. With tons of fiber, a surprisingly large portion of protein, and lots of vitamin C, cauliflower is always a healthy choice.
- Cauliflower Rice from The Kitchn. You do need a food processor to make a really even cauliflower “rice,” but the dish you’ll create is one of the most versatile out there. You can serve it with herbs as a side, turn it into fried rice, or use it in burrito bowls with black beans. The high fiber content in cauliflower makes this more filling than you’d expect!
- Mashed Cauliflower from Skinny Ms. This is the perfect alternative to mashed potatoes, which are usually loaded down with carbs and butter. This recipe includes garlic, but you can add any flavorings you like: cheese, curry powder, herbs–get creative! Mashed cauliflower goes just as well with meatloaf or chicken as mashed potatoes.
- Cauliflower Pizza Crust from PopSugar. Made from cauliflower, egg, and cheese, this crust is easy to make and tastes amazing. This recipe asks you to grate the cauliflower, but you can use a food processor just as you would for the cauliflower rice. Top it just as you would a regular pizza! Maybe with some heart-shaped veggies for Valentine’s Day?
- Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower from V-lish. This recipe was created by an NFL defensive lineman. Does it need a better endorsement? Cauliflower bites are baked in the oven, tossed with your favorite buffalo sauce, and then served with an amazing vegan ranch dipping sauce. Perfect for a night on the couch with your s.o. and a great movie (and plenty of celery for more dipping!).
- Creamy Cauliflower Sauce from Pinch of Yum. Cauliflower sauce is a great replacement for alfredo sauce loaded with heavy cream and butter. This sauce reduces the amount of fat, but stays super creamy thanks to pureed cauliflower and flavorful vegetable broth. Serve with regular pasta, or with spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini!
A greasy fast-food burger probably isn’t in the cards for you when you’re trying to lose weight. These vegetable-based burgers are a delicious alternative for when you’ve got a serious craving. Stay away from the drive-thru and make one of these healthy sandwiches!
- Simple Vegan Falafel Burgers from Minimalist Baker. These falafel burgers are packed with nutritious herbs and garbanzo beans, and they whip up in the blender or food processor in minutes. Serve them on chard or collard greens like the recipe’s creator, or go with pita bread for a more traditional flavor. You don’t have to make your own hummus as a spread; store-bought works fine.
- Grilled Portobello Burgers from Joyful Healthy Eats. Don’t underestimate the savory power of portobello mushrooms. These burgers taste just as hearty as beef, especially if you’re able to cook them on the grill! Served with a tangy balsamic reduction, these are a real treat for your next date night.
- Ultimate Veggie Burger from The Awesome Green. “Ultimate” is right! These burgers are packed with beets, quinoa, garlic, and other superfoods that make them the equivalent of a salad… but even tastier. The author serves these burgers with sweet potato fries and an avocado dressing that’s to die for. Tahini makes the dressing especially rich and satisfying.
- Maple Dijon Tofu Burgers from Crazy Vegan Kitchen. Not everyone loves tofu, but these burgers just might convert a lifelong hater. The combination of nuts, tofu, and liquid aminos make them super savory and filling enough to make up a meal. These burgers would be especially good with parsnip fries and extra mustard.
- Black Bean Burger from The Pioneer Woman. The Pioneer Woman usually focuses on meat-heavy dishes, so you know this burger will be good if she approves! Served with hot sauce and made with plenty of grated onion, these burgers taste like the Mexican food you might be craving.
Like cauliflower, zucchini has become a popular substitutes for processed carbs and potatoes lately. And there’s a good reason: zucchini is one of the world’s healthiest foods, with just 33 calories for a whole medium-sized zucchini full of potassium and vitamin C. Zucchini is also cheap at the store and easy to grow yourself!
- Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini Boats from Food Network. You can stuff zucchini “boats”–halved zucchinis with the seeds scooped out–with nearly anything, but this is one of the tastiest recipes out there. Feel free to substitute lower-fat chicken sausage in this dish to lower the fat content and calories. This dish looks beautiful and bakes up in just 20 minutes.
- Zucchini Tots from SkinnyTaste. These cheesy baked zucchini bites are incredibly delicious, and very easy to make if you don’t mind using the grater or food processor. Zucchini makes these tots low-calorie and nutrient dense. No empty calories here! You can dip these tots in anything you like: ketchup, hummus, Greek yogurt with ranch powder… whatever you like best.
- Zucchini Parmesan Chips from Damn Delicious. Although these look and taste fried, they’re baked up crisp with very little vegetable oil compared to the deep-fried potatoes or pickle chips you find at restaurants. Panko breadcrumbs are the secret to the crunch! These chips are definitely best with ranch dip, which you can make with store-bought powder and some healthy Greek yogurt.
- Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles from Just a Taste. Like spaghetti squash, zucchini maintains a fantastic texture when served like pasta. You can use a spiralizer for really beautiful zucchini noodles, but don’t worry: a mandoline or vegetable peeler will work fine. With shrimp, white wine, and fresh lemon, this dish is easily elegant enough for a Valentine’s Day dinner.
- Zucchini Pad Thai from White on Rice Couple. Ditch the greasy take-out and make this craving-killer instead. You can replace the shrimp with chicken, beef, tofu, egg, or whatever protein you’re feeling tonight. The sauce, which includes Thai fish sauce and rice vinegar, tastes authentic and comes together in just a few minutes from ingredients you can keep in the fridge.
Are you ready to whip up your healthiest Valentine’s Day meal ever? You’re sure to enjoy a romantic–and guilt-free–evening with any of these amazing recipes.
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