First time eating zoodles, that is. Not to romanticize the spiralized vegetable too much, but anyone who has sat down to a bowl of zucchini noodles probably knows the range of emotion—from trepidation to shock to pleasure to sheer joy—that accompanies that very first forkful. Because, sure, it’s a brilliant way to add more vegetables into your meal, but it also tastes so delicious that there’s no need to trick yourself into thinking they’re squiggles of spaghetti.
Arguably the best thing about zoodles, however, is how they opened the floodgates to imaginative, healthy eating (as your Instagram feed can likely attest to). In the mood for a burger? There’s a veggie that you can definitely swap in for the bun. Fantasizing about a big slice of lasagna? Yup, you can dig in all while doubling your plant-based intake for the day. Even #tacotuesdays get a mad-genius twist thanks to the addition of an ingredient you’d probably otherwise breeze by in the grocery store.
It turns out that plenty of produce works just as well as bread—it just depends on what you’re craving, and how creative you’re willing to get in the kitchen.
Whether it’s pizza night, you’re grilling, or you want some avocado toast for breakfast, there’s a way to dig in without the grain. Go on, tell zoodles you want to be in an open relationship.
Here are eight super-creative recipes that replace bread and pasta with fruits and vegetables.
Thick slices of eggplant work just as well for lasagna layering, without sacrificing any flavor. Not only do these veggie noodles require no pre-cooking, but they’re full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, too.
Using two large mushroom caps to bookend your burger is way tastier than forgoing a bun altogether. Bonus: Portobellos are just as strong as the real thing, so you can still load up your patty with all the usual fixings. (Pass the avocado mayo!)
It’s no secret that cauliflower is a gluten-free chameleon. Caulirice, chickpea flour, and eggs are all you need for a veg-ified pizza dough replacement. Don’t be intimidated to try it out—the crust only takes five minutes to make. Topped with roasted beet pesto, this recipe serves up veggies on veggies on veggies.
While most healthy swaps involve vegetables, don’t ignore your fruit bowl. If you don’t have any frozen bananas in your freezer, opt for this bread-free sandwich featuring apple slices, almond butter, and granola (which has a one-two health punch, packed with vitamins A,C, and K as well as protein). Go with one of these granolas for a nice, not-too-sugary crunch.
This squash resembles spaghetti so closely it’s a bit frightening (in the best possible way). And when you make your own cheese sauce too, you get the classic comfort food without the processed additives. Say goodbye to the boxed stuff from your childhood.
Break out the avocado margaritas and cheers to this super-healthy taco makeover. Instead of taco shells, grilled shrimp and fresh veggies are wrapped in thinly sliced jicama, the tuberous root that you’ve probably walked by hundreds of times during supermarket runs. I’m Bored Let’s Go‘s Judy Heinrich recommends using a mandoline to make sure the jicama is sliced finely enough, and warming them up so that they’re more pliable (she uses her microwave).
Your sandwich game just got a whole lot stronger. Collard green leaves make for a sturdy wrap, so you won’t be wearing your lunch. And with five grams of protein per cup and loads of vitamins, these make for one nutritious meal. “Once you stuff the leaf with copious amounts of hummus and veggies, you won’t even realize you’re using a uber healthy collard leaf,” dishes Brittany Mullins of Eating Bird Food.
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