Carbohydrates are often blamed for weight gain and as such, they are also the first food group to be banished when a diet begins.
With the holidays banging at the front door, it is necessary to understand that not all carbohydrates need to be avoided. Carbohydrates can offer many health benefits and have a rightful place in any diet. Carbohydrates provide the body with the fuel it needs for physical activity and for proper organ function. When consumed in the recommended amounts and types, carbohydrates can actually help with weight management. Clearly, not all carbs are created equally. This is where the concept of “slow carbs” comes in.
- Slow carbs are typically minimally processed foods, and include foods with a lower glycemic index, such as non starchy vegetables, most fruits, nuts, milk, plain yogurt, and many whole grains.
- Slow carbs tend to have a higher nutrient density, which means that they offer more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than quick carbs counterparts.
- Slow carbs tend to be higher in fiber. As a result, they take longer to digest compared to “quick” carbs that are often made with refined ingredients and added sugar.
- The fiber content in slow carbs can help with satiety and blood sugar management. This may contribute to higher energy levels and decreased food cravings. For diabetics, slow carbohydrates may improve diabetes control and prevent reactive hypoglycemia episodes.
The best sources of carbohydrates—fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains—deliver essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients. While some starchy vegetables, like white potatoes may have a higher glycemic index, they can absolutely be included in a balanced diet. It is the refined carbohydrates and sugars from pastries, sugary sodas, and other processed foods that contribute to weight gain and interfere with weight loss goals. With that said, there are so many ways to enjoy healthful carbs this holiday season.
Try some of these low carb appetizers:
- For a guaranteed hit at your next party, try this tasty and easy-to-make Cheesy Spinach Dip. Prepare ahead of time and refrigerate until you are ready to bake. Serve with whole wheat crackers, flat breads, or carrot chips.
- This Butternut Squash Dip made with goat cheese is both creamy and healthy. Serve with veggies or rice crackers.
- Make a festive splash with this simple Vegetable and Dip Platter. Creative placement of veggies makes a merry holiday scene.
- These light Mini Cauliflower Pizza Bites are a wonderful low-calorie, gluten free appetizer or snack for anyone who wants to watch their carbs and bump up their veggie intake.
- Colorful Cucumber Cup appetizers are great for a low carb party snack!
Low carb main dishes and side ideas:
- Lasagna does not have to be forbidden food. These delicious low-carb Zucchini Lasagna Roll-Ups substitute lasagna noodles with healthy zucchini strips.
- These Salmon Cakes are a healthy alternative to fried fish cakes. Light yet satisfying, these healthy salmon cakes are made with gluten-free quinoa.
- This easy Creamed Cauliflower recipe will quickly become one of your favorite Thanksgiving recipes. It’s so creamy, light, and fluffy you won’t even miss the mashed potatoes.
Not too sweet endings: