November 11, 2013 by Ann @ The Coconut Frontier
I was inspired to write this post after mentioning the other day on my Facebook page how unsuccessful I’ve been in my attempts to try eliminating dairy. I don’t drink milk and I’m not much of a cheese person. However, I love love love plain Wallaby greek yogurt. It is just TOO dang good! It’s also organic and from cows that are raised on pasture. So not exactly the worst vice in the world, but nonetheless, I’d like to see how my body really reacts to dairy via an elimination diet experimentation and then reintroduction. While seeking out some inspiration and advice from my lovely readers, someone mentioned that they are having the same issue with trying to eliminate grains; bread in particular. This prompted me to write this post to help anyone out there who just can’t seem to give up bread no matter how hard they try (that bread is an addictive little bugger, I tell ya). Well, here are some easy grain substitutes to make your journey towards health a little bit easier. I hope that they help and inspire you!
10 Substitutes for the “Holding-Stuff-Together” Aspect of Bread & Wraps
Some people just love the way they can slop some ingredients between two slices of bread and throw it into their lunchbox (maybe there’s not really much “slopping” or “throwing” going on, but you know what I mean). And some people just love the idea of being able to eat with their hands and not have to worry about a fork, spoon, or a knife.
Well what if I told you there’s another way?
Really – there is!
Below you will find 10 simple substitutes that still allow you to enjoy the “sandwich” component of regular bread:
- Collard Greens. These babies are the real deal (pictured above). Unlike your average lanicato kale, for example, these bad boys are composed of a much sturdier leaf, making them ideal for wrapping. To make them extra pliable and delicious, simply heat water in a large skillet until it starts to simmer. Then, dip a collard leaf into the water for about 10 seconds. The leaf will almost immediately change colors. Next, remove leaf from water and de-stem it. Add your meat, cheese, veggies, whatever; fold in the sides, and then roll into a wrap. Margaret over at Eat Naked has an awesome video so you can see exactly how it’s done along with some additional collard green usages.
- Portobello Mushrooms. In my opinion, much more delicious than a regular bread bun. Try this recipe.
- Romaine Lettuce. You can use whole pieces of romaine lettuce to make little “boats” with you food. These are especially great for tacos. Here’s an entire post dedicated to romaine lettuce wraps by Diane over at Balanced Bites.
- Coconut wraps. You can purchase these beauties online if you’re not lucky enough to find that at your local health food store. They taste delightful and are ideal for wrapping.
- Bell peppers. Instead of using pita bread, try bell peppers. They are great for stuffing ingredients into. I personally love baking them so that they become soft, but feel free to go raw! If going raw, I recommend getting a longer bell pepper, halving it, and using each half as the top and bottom of your sandwich. Like so.
- Green or Napa Cabbage. Feel free to blanch for easier wrapping, or use raw!
- Bananas. Amazing complement to any nut butter. Simply peel and slice lengthwise in half or widthwise into coin shapes. Spread nut butter of choice onto flat side of banana and enjoy. This is soo good you may not even miss that little toast ritual you have in the morning. Feel free to drizzle on some honey or sprinkle on a little sea salt too!
- Plantains. If you have not check out this recipe by Zenbelly, your life is incomplete. They bring grain-free Mexican nights to a whole new level. I make these on a regular basis because they’re just that good!
- Nori. Nori is not only a wonderful substitute for wrapping food in, it packs a serious nutritional punch. Just one sheet of nori contains the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids found in two whole avocados. It’s also an excellent source of iodine. This recipe will help get you started.
- Make or Buy Your Own Grain-free bread. If you’re going to keel over and die if you don’t have that roast turkey on a slice of traditional bread, considering buying a healthier version as you slowly wean yourself off. Paleo Bread is a great alternative and has by far the cleanest ingredients I’ve ever seen in a grain-free bread. It comes in both coconut and almond flour versions and you can order it online. OR – if you’re feeling sprightly – you can make your very own.
3 Real Food Substitutes for Pasta
- Spaghetti Squash. C’mon, it even has the word “spaghetti” in its name – it has to be good! My husband actually enjoys spaghetti squash and meatballs more than traditional spaghetti. For everything you ever wanted to know about roasting a spaghetti squash, check out this helpful video.
- Zucchini fettuccine or noodles (pictured above). Go ahead and invest in a mandoline slicer or julienne peeler and check out this recipe for added inspiration. I actually favor zucchini noodles over spaghetti squash.
- Carrot noodles. Same ideas as zucchini noodles but with carrots.
- Eggplant lasagna. All I can say is: yum. This recipe will totally rock your Italian cuisine nights without also rocking your GI system (in a bad way).
2 Flour Substitutes for Baked Goods
So you wanna go grain-free but you don’t want to give up the sweets. Well then, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that it is SO stinkin’ easy to turn just about any “unreal” food recipe into a nourishing and delicious real food treat. There are beyond countless websites devoted to just this very thing and the resources are truly endless. I’m not really a pro in the baking department (I hardly meet novice level criteria), but here are two basic flours for grain-free baking:
- Almond flour. Here is an amazing post that addresses all the ins and outs of working with almond flour
- Coconut flour. This is my favorite one to use. And here is a delightfully useful conversion chart.
I hope that all of these ideas are an inspiration to you! With a little bit of time and patience you may even start to forget that a little something called bread ever existed!
Also – If you have any other substitute ideas I’d love to hear from you!
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