Veggie carb substitutes

by in Tips & Tricks
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Time: Preparation time , cooking time , total time
Serves: 3-4 people
Beets, vegan sausage and mushy peas

The Netherlands are very much a 'meat and potatoes' country. The traditional foods are 'mash pot' (mashed up potatoes and veggies, served with some kind of meat) and simple boiled potatoes, meat, vegetables and gravy. These types of foods are actually surprisingly easy to make low carb, and they often end up tastier than their carb-filled cousins.

There are quite a lot of low carb veggies that have kind of a 'starchy' feel to them, which makes them perfect stand-ins for potatoes. I like beets, celeriac, pumpkin, butternut squash, rutabaga and turnip best for this purpose. Just cut them up into chunks or 'fries' (no need to peel that pumpkin or squash, the skin will soften perfectly during cooking!) and roast them in the oven, zip them in the microwave or just simply boil/steam them in a pot with a shallow layer of water at the bottom. Beets are best boiled or roasted whole and cut up afterwards. Season with salt, pepper and any herbs or spices that fit your fancy and you're good to go! The cooked veggies can also be pureed into mash using a food processor or stick blender.

If you are into meal prep, cooking up some veggie 'carbs' for the week is a very easy addition to your routine. It takes very little hands-on time and the cooked veggies will keep quite well in the fridge or freezer. If you have vegetables and a protein prepped, your 'meat and potatoes' meal is only five minutes away when you get home from work. Most of these vegetables also taste great cold, so I like to pack them for lunch as part of a salad or bowl.

The meal in the picture at the top consists of cooked beets, mushy peas with mint, Hobelz vegan sausages and some mayo. I was lazy and got pre-cooked beets from the supermarket, so this came together in about 15 minutes. Super easy, and very delicious.

Other easy veggies-instead-of-carbs substitutes are cauliflower rice and mash; spaghetti squash; zucchini noodles (thin ones for salads and stir fries, and sheets for lasagna!); lettuce, collard or cabbage wraps; and portobello mushroom 'burger buns'. The possibilities are endless and these veggie substitutes are often much cheaper than store bought low carb products. They're also a great way to squeeze an extra serving of healthy vegetables into your day.

To get you inspired, I thought I'd finish with a simple recipe for the delicious roasted pumpkin. It's super easy to make and has so much delicious flavor you might have trouble keeping yourself from eating it all right out of the roasting pan. This stuff is very versatile. It tastes great in bowls and salads, and if you have left-overs you can also puree it with some lemon juice, tahini and cumin to make a lovely dip for snacking. If you want to keep this very low in carbs, use pumpkin instead of butternut squash as pumpkin has only 6 g of carbs per 100 g, and butternut has 10 g.

Roasted butternut squash


  • 1 kilo / 2 pounds of pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • a few dashes of freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 220 C / 430 F.

Rinse the pumpkin in water, then cut it in half and clean out the seeds. You do not need to peel it, the skin will soften perfectly in the oven. Cut the pumpkin into 1 inch cubes and place them in a large baking dish. Mix in the oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Arrange them so they are in single layer and overlap as little as possible.

Put the dish into the oven and roast for about 45 minutes until the pumpkin chunks are soft and nicely caramelized. Toss with a wooden spoon half way through and keep an eye on them so they don't burn. Serve right away, or allow them to cool and store them in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.


Alix op 21-4-2017 - 17:14

Hi there, A very nice blog I came across! Thank you for sharing your recipes. I'am a French vegetarian living in the UK.. You can imagine the standard diet here :) I don't do dairy or process carbs either, your blog is lovely and really helpful. Especially looking at science and studies done - so much info about nutrition coming from nowhere. Anyway just want to say thanks for your work. I'll take a look regularly to have some inspiration. Have a nice day. Alix

Martine op 22-4-2017 - 13:56

Thank you for your kind words Alix. I'm happy you find the website useful!

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