Even if you’re able to incorporate the foods on all or most of all tiers of the Carb Ladder into your diet, don’t overdo the carbs. You want to avoid weight regain and/or encourage the return of carb sensitivity symptoms such as extreme hunger, cravings and lack of energy. Here are some tasty ideas to help you stay in control and get more variety without blowing your carbohydrate budget:
1. Take the veggie alternative. Instead of using rice or pasta as a base for sauces, curries and other dishes, use shredded lettuce or cabbage, mung bean sprouts or grated raw zucchini or daikon radish.
2. Pass on the pasta. Have spaghetti squash or shirataki noodles (made from soybeans and a non-starchy yam) in lieu of pasta.
3. Raw is good. Eat carrots raw instead of cooked; cooking changes the volume and pushes up the carb count slightly. In addition the sugar/starch is more readily available in cooked.
4. Ripening raises carbs. Certain fruits are lower in carbs before they’re fully ripe. A few slices of a green pear make a tart addition to a tossed salad without adding too many carbs. Grated green papaya makes a great slaw dressed with rice vinegar and sesame oil.
5. Serve a seaweed wrap. Roll sandwich fixings in nori, the sheet seaweed used for sushi, instead of wraps or tortillas. Avocado and either salmon or sliced chicken are a natural combo, as are tuna salad and shredded lettuce.
6. Go “halfsies.” Think of half a baked potato as a portion. Slice it lengthwise before baking so you won’t be tempted to eat the whole thing. When it’s done, mash the pulp with blue cheese, pesto or herb butter.
7. Try flat breads. Some whole-grain flat breads are high in fiber and relatively low in Net Carbs, making them a good choice for open-faced sandwiches. Scandinavian bran crisps are even lower in carbs.
8. Make your own muesli or granola. Use rolled oats (give them a few pulses in a food processor), chopped nuts and seeds and ground flaxseed. Serve a half-cup portion with plain whole milk or Greek yogurt, some berries or half a chopped-up apple and some sweetener, if you wish.
9. Add fiber. Sprinkle small portions of barley, bulgur, buckwheat, wheat berries or wild rice onto salads or soups for a texture and fiber treat without much carb impact.
10. Go for soy. Make chili and similar dishes with black soybeans. A half-cup of cooked beans contains only 1 gram of Net Carbs, compared to almost 13 grams for black beans.