When I talk to people about changing to a grain-free diet, usually the first question I get is “what can I eat??” It’s a valid question. Most of us have succumbed to a diet full of grains, even if we don’t realize it… especially if you’re still eating processed foods. (Stop that!)
So, I thought I would share with you some truly delicious grain-free hacks that I’ve found to work well for my family. These amazing tips will definitely help you get started and hopefully inspire you to come up with some new ones as well! Let’s get to it!
20 Brilliant Grain Free Hacks To Make Life Easier:
- Replace Wheat Flour With Almond Flour: Almond flour contains healthy fats, fiber, protein, magnesium, and vitamin E that can reduce blood pressure. It’s also more filling therefore reduces hunger. Purchase my favorite one here, or even make your own at home from scratch!
- Use Coconut Flour Instead Of Wheat Flour: Coconut flour is another healthy alternative to wheat that is high in nutrition and low in carbs. It’s full of fiber and has healthy fats. Buy it here, or make your own from scratch.
- Make Cauliflower Rice: Cauliflower is like a magic veggie. It’s amazing how many ways it can morph into other delicious foods! Cauliflower rice is super easy to make. Grate a head of cauliflower into small granules (or even pulse it in your food processor until it resembles rice). You can then roast it or stir fry it!
- Make Zucchini Noodles: Zucchini noodles, aka Zoodles, are an excellent low-carb alternative to noodles! Purchase an affordable Spiralizer like this one and add them to your favorite pasta dish. Just FYI, kids really love spiralized veggies too! Food can be fun.
- Use Spaghetti Squash For Pasta: Spaghetti squash. It’s like nature put spaghetti in a vegetable container to keep it safe and preserved until ready to use! It’s low-carb, tasty, packed with nutrition, and super easy to make. Cut it into 1 inch slices, remove the seeds, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Let it cool a little before you pull the strands apart with a fork. Instant spaghetti noodles. Boom!
- Use Shirataki Noodles: These zero-carb noodles are made from glucomannan starch from the konjac yam. (Glucomannan has been known to help lower blood sugar and cholesterol!) They’re widely used in Japan and served with sautéed veggies. Although they’re flavorless, they add texture and pick up the flavors of savory sauces. I like to order mine here to get them at a discount. Guilt free noodles. For real.
- Use Zucchini Slices As Lasagna Noodles: It’s super simple. Replace lasagna noodles with zucchini slices to lighten your carb-load and add a little nutrition. It’s helpful to use a mandoline, because – trust me – it’s difficult to slice them evenly with a kitchen knife. (Learn from my failure!) You can get a mandoline like mine here. Thinly slice your zucchini and brown each side in a skillet using coconut oil or olive oil. Use the prepared zucchini noodles in place of the lasagna noodles, and assemble as usual. Wahlah!
- Kelp Noodles: Kelp noodles are made from brown seaweed. Before you turn your nose up, they really have no taste of their own, but are crunchy and pick up other flavors well. They’re a great addition to a salad or use them in stir fry. The best part is they’re super low in carbs and are FULL of iodine, a necessary nutrient your thyroid desperately needs and rarely gets (unless you eat seaweed regularly). Get them here or at your local Natural Grocers.
- Use Nuts Instead Of Croutons: If you’re like me, when I first switched I missed having that crunch in my salad. This is where raw nuts make a great alternative! Not only do you still get to enjoy a little crunch – but you have the added benefits of the healthy fats as well. Bonus!
- Use Parmesan Crisps Instead Of Croutons: Actually, you can use these guys as chips, crackers, croutons, etc. They are a great alternative for something crunchy! They’re low-carb with good fat and protein to boot. Buy them here or get them at your local Costco!
- Bake Sweet Potato Muffins: You heard me. Muffins. Without flour. Awesome, huh? Just mash up sweet potatoes, bananas, and throw them in the blender with almond butter, maple syrup, cinnamon and an egg. Pour into a muffin tin, bake, and enjoy! They make a perfect grain-free snack.
- Boiled Eggs: Boiled eggs make a great “fast food” snack. Boil a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week to have them on hand when carb cravings creep up on you. Being prepared is key! Check out my article “Finally! The Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs!” to learn a super simple way to make perfect boiled eggs.
- Eat Plantain Chips Instead of Crackers: If you’re craving crunchy chip-like snack foods, use plantain chips instead of crackers or tortilla chips. They’re perfect for scooping up healthy guacamole, salsa or dips. Green plantain chips have a low glycemic index of 38, which makes them a great option. (Make sure not to confuse these with ripe plantains which have a much higher glycemic index. The sweeter they are, the higher the number.)
- Order Wine Instead of Beer: Drinks are often overlooked when switching to a grain-free diet. Beer is brewed using a variety of grains while wine is made from grapes. Just to note, beer is also estrogenic, so it should be avoided for those who want to remain manly men anyway. You can learn more about that subject in my article “The Man Boob Epidemic – What’s Causing It And How To Put A Stop To It!“.
- Wheat-Free Tortillas: Oh yeah. I found some! They. Are. Delicious. The cassava and coconut flour tortillas by Siete (find them here) are my favorite. But their almond flour tortillas (found here) are also amazing, and a good option for vegans. Another terrific choice would be the Paleo Wraps, made from nothing but coconut! These go exceptionally well with fruit dishes. They’re low carb, grain-free and shelf stable, and you can find them here.
- Use Lettuce As A Wrap: Give your wrap more crunch by skipping the tortilla options above and put grilled chicken, fish, and veggies inside leafy greens. You can choose among butter, romaine or cabbage leaves to cut down on carbs and load up on veggies. Get creative!
- Bread Alternatives: There are a variety of grain-free bread recipes out there, and many are really good. I tend to like the nut butter versions the best, but more often than not I just do without. Believe it or not, I really don’t miss it. But for those of you that can’t imagine life without anything bread-like, you absolutely should pick up a copy of “Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple“. She has some of the best grain-free bread recipes I’ve found yet. Breads are something you will have to play with a little to find one with a texture that you like best.
- Almond Flour/Meal As A Breadcrumb Substitute: These work really well for a substitute for breadcrumbs in dishes like meatloaf or salmon patties. You can buy it prepackaged here or make it yourself using your food processor. Just make sure not to pulse it too much or it turns into nut butter, another delicious snack all-together.
- Portobello Mushrooms As Mini-Pizzas: Normally mushrooms are the topping, not the crust. But large portobello mushrooms make a terrific mini-pizza crust for those going grain-free. Place a large mushroom on a baking sheet, and bake for five minutes in the oven. Remove, and spread pizza sauce in the cup of the cap. Top with cheese, olives, pepperoni, garlic or any of your favorite pizza toppings to make a delicious mushroom pizza.
- Spiralize Your Veggies: I already mentioned spiralized zucchinis, but did you know you spiralize almost any veggie? Cucumbers, carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, and even broccoli stems! For some really great ideas for meals with spiralized veggies, pick up this amazing recipe book by fellow blogger Ali Maffucci, “Inspiralized: Turn Vegetables into Healthy, Creative, Satisfying Meals.”
To learn more about the benefits of cutting grains from your diet, check out these books: