Switch a Grain for a Green!

Posted on: December 28th 2014

Carbs!  They’re not the devil!  But we can still be mindful when it comes to our intake.  Here are some ways to swap out some high-calorie, low-return options for some more nutrient dense fare.

Swap Your Noodles for Veggies!

There are many easy ways to do this, here are my faves – one’s easy, and one is even easier.  

The easy way is to get a spiralizer (or a mandoline, or a veggie peeler) and go to town on a zucchini, carrot, or cucumber.  Even simpler is just replacing your starchy carb of choice with steamed bok choy or baked spaghetti squash (chop in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with oil, salt and pepper, bake at 400F for 45-60 minutes – or microwave for 10-12 if you’re impatient like me).

If you choose to make veggie noodles, here are some tips – 

Noodles made from vegetables (especially zucchini and cucumber) are high in water content, so you either need to eat the noodles raw, or do some moisture maintenance while cooking.  The first time I made zucchini lasagna, it turned into lasagna soup (it was still tasty).   Before you add the noodles to your dish you can – 

  • Bake the lightly salted zucchini noodles or strips at 200F for 20-30  minutes.  Line a baking sheet with paper towels to absorb the moisture (don’t worry, they’ll get too wet to catch fire).  Blot when they’re done – they’ll look drier and a little wrinkly.
  • Let them dry out in a colander for 20-30 minutes.  They’ll retain more of their water (ideal if you’re cooking the noodles in the microwave).

For cooking processes, you can – 

  • Boil them.  Keep your water salted, and watch the noodles closely.  The cook time is similar to wheat pasta, but you’ll want to keep watch to make sure the noodles don’t fall apart.
  • Saute them.  Use a small amount of oil, and saute for 6-7 minutes on medium to high heat.  Again, keep an eye, because these puppies will tend to stick.
  • Microwave them.  Covered, for about 2 minutes.  Start with small increments of time to make sure they don’t get too soggy.

Once they’re dried and/or cooked, you can use them just like any other noodle – add them to alfredo, lasagna, spaghetti, or just eat them plain with some oil and spices – whatever floats your boat! 

Add Fruit to your Protein Shake!

Remember when we talked about still needing carbs?  Especially post-training or game, ideally combined with protein?  Well, simply adding fruit to your protein shake will hit the mark.  You can make a delicious smoothie – frozen fruit, protein powder, water, or you can simply add some fruit on the side to make sure you’re replenishing both protein and glycogen stores after you work hard.

Cook Some Ancient Grains!

If you love grains, but want to broaden your horizons, why not try cooking some quinoa? These Quinoa Bites come courtesy of my teammate, Wylde Leigh Coyote.  They are ridiculously delicious, and easy to make too!

  • 2 c cooked quinoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c shredded carrot
  • 2 diced green onions
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ c chopped cilantro
  • ½ c Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First, preheat your oven to 350F, grease a mini-muffin tin, then cook your quinoa.  To cook quinoa, you want a 2:1 water to quinoa balance.  Bring the water and quinoa to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.  Quinoa should be tender, and you should be able to fluff the mixture with a fork.

Mix the cooked quinoa with the veggies, eggs, garlic, cilantro, cheese, flour, salt and pepper. Put the mixture into the mini-muffin tin, filling each space to the top.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

Swapping your carbs needn’t be stressful or challenging – just pick some recipes you love and start experimenting!

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