Tips & Advice

A list of keto-friendly substitutes for non-keto foods

When you’re starting out with the keto diet you may need help identifying a keto-friendly substitute for the non-keto foods you’re use to eating. Here are some ketogenic substitutes for many common foods.

Keto-friendly substitute #1: Cauliflower rice for regular rice

Since white rice has been stripped of its bran and germ then processed, it has little nutritional or fibre content. It’s practically empty carbs. In one cup (130g) of white rice, approximately 45g is carbohydrate. A keto-friendly substitute for white rice is cauliflower rice. In one cup (130g) of cauliflower, only 5g is carbs (of which 2g is fibre). As you can see, this makes a great keto substitute.

Cauliflower rice is easy to make. Either grate a cauliflower – or blitz in a food processor – until you have rice-sized pieces. Blot off any excess moisture with a kitchen towel. Then sauté the pieces in a frying pan until tender.

Keto-friendly substitute #2: Keto bread for regular wheat bread

One of the things people miss most being on the keto diet is bread. There is such a thing as keto bread (or low carb bread) but it can be difficult to find in shops and it’s expensive when you do. The good news is that you can make keto bread and you can even make it in a bread machine – and that is about as convenient as you can hope for. 

Keto bread generally substitutes regular wheat flour with low-carb alternatives such as oat flour, soy flour, flax meal, gluten-free flour and unprocessed wheat bran. There are many keto bread recipes out there – a range of different breads for different occasions and moods. 

Keto-friendly substitute #3: Lettuce leaves instead of tortillas

If you love your tortillas and absolutely enjoy eating tacos and burritos, it might seem difficult to get into a low carb diet. 100g of tortilla contains 39g net carbs, which is double the carb limit for the whole day for some of you! So, it’s definitely not keto friendly.

Again, you can make tortilla alternatives, but if you’re in a rush or just want something easy, substitute tortillas with lettuce leaves. One lettuce leaf (5g) contains about 0.1g of carbs, so it’s about as keto-friendly substitute as you can hope to find. 

Keto-friendly substitute #4: Keto pizza base

A cauliflower pizza base (it’s a real thing!) may not be to everyone’s liking. The good news is that there is an alternative made from egg and cheese. Simply combine 4 eggs with 175g of mozzarella or provolone. Spread out into two circles on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes at 200°C. Remove from the oven to let cool. Increase the oven temp to 225°C. Add your desired toppings then return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes.

Keto-friendly substitute #5: Zucchini chips for potato chips

A bag of potato chips contains up to 120g of carbs of which very little is fiber. An equivalent amount of zucchini chips, on the other hand, has around 18g of carbs. That’s more than 6 times fewer carbs per bag!

Thus, the next time you’re craving for potato chips, cook zucchini chips instead. Simply finely slice a couple of zucchini on a mandolin. Season with salt and blot with kitchen towel to remove any moisture. Brush/spray with oil then bake on a low heat until they start to crisp and turn brown at the edges.

Burnt zucchini can be very bitter so keep an eye on it!

#6: Almond flour or pork rinds for bread crumbs

Breadcrumbs are often used for texture and to create an appetising crust for a lot of foods. Since regular bread is not keto, a good keto-friendly substitute to use is almond flour. Almond flour is low in carbs and high in fats and proteins – and it also crusts like regular breadcrumbs.

Another great keto-friendly substitute for breadcrumbs is pork rinds. Incredibly, pork rinds contain zero carbs! Yes, it’s hard to believe when you look at them but it’s true. You can even use pork rinds as a replacement for almond flour in some recipes. 

#7: Zucchini noodles for regular pasta

Vegetable noodles are very popular and you can even find many in your supermarket. However, when they’re so simple to make, it’s hard to justify the premium prices stores charge for the added convenience. Veggie noodles are super-easy and simple to make and all you need is a low cost “spiralizer” which you can buy from Amazon. If you don’t have a spiralizer, just use a standard peeler.

Once peeled, simply blanch the vegetables in salted boiling water, drain and toss through butter.

You may be pleased to know that 100g of zucchini only contains about 3g of carbs. 

Keto-friendly substitute#8: Avocado, mushroom or eggplant for burger buns

Do you miss your burger buns? As we’ve seen, there are many keto bread recipes (links above) but if you fancy a change, you can substitute the bun for avocado halves, portobello mushrooms or eggplant slices. 

Avocados are an amazing source of monosaturated fats which are considered the ‘’healthy fats’’. They also have a lot of fiber which is essential for healthy digestion and gut.

Mushrooms are one of the healthiest vegetables you can consume on a keto diet. They are low in carbs, calories and fat. They contain a modest amount of fibre and is rich in potassium, magnesium, zinc and folate. 

Eggplants are great. They are high in nutrition, low in carbs (5g of carbs to 80g of eggplant), high in ant-oxidants and high in fiber. Eggplants may help with weight loss, control blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. 

#9: Mashed broccoli or cauliflower for mashed potato

A good keto-friendly substitute for potato mash is broccoli mash. In fact, most vegetables make a great mash substitute – but you do need to keep an eye on the carb and sugar levels. However, broccoli and cauliflower are perfectly fine and make great substitutes. Season with salt, pepper and butter and you have a delicious, satisfying potato mash alternative. 

#9: Vegetable fries for french fries

The next time you have a craving for french fries, try these delicious fry alternatives: zucchini, turnip, green beans, roasted carrot/parsnip, chickpea, portobello mushroom and eggplant. 

Often, your craving for fries is really a craving for minerals, in particular sodium. These french fry alternatives – when seasoned with salt, pepper, butter or other keto-friendly dips, can more than make up for any temporary craving for fries.

#10: Erythritol for sugar

Erythritol is a sweetener extracted from certain fungus and algae. When created on an industrial scale, it’s made when a type of yeast ferments glucose from starch.

Erythritol is natural and tastes almost like regular sugar but without the calories. (Erythritol has approximately 70% of the sweetness of sugar but only 6% of the calories.)

An added benefit of erythritol is that it does not raise blood sugar levels. This makes it an excellent sugar replacement for people with diabetes.

Erythritol has anti-oxidant properties which means it can again help people with type 2 diabetes, reducing the risk of heart disease.

Studies suggest that erythritol is very safe with no serious side effects. However, even though erythritol is safe, there are some keto advocates who say you should not be using it as it only reinforces your dependence on sweetness in your diet. (It’s one of the reasons why sugar-free drinks are not recommended on keto).

So, ditch the sugar for the keto-friendly substitute of erythritol. You can have your cake and eat it, too!

#11: Almond milk for regular milk

A cup of skimmed milk contains around 12g of carbs. All of which is sugar.

Almond milk, while very different in consistency and taste, is much lower in carbs. A cup of it contains only 2g of carbs, which is great news when you’re on the keto diet.]

However, there have been reports that almond milk production is decimating the bee population.

Oatmeal milk is high in carbs and is not suitable for keto.

You can drink soy milk on keto. However, soy has been shown to contribute to falling testosterone levels – a serious problem for men. And so if you’re male, you may wish to avoid soy milk. 

Perhaps a better alternative is to forego milk completely? 

#12: Cheese chips or bacon instead of potato/tortilla chips

Cheese on its own is a great substitute for high-carb chips. Alternatively, crispy bacon makes a great alternative too and is excellent at satiating you and giving you that savoury hit whenever you crave junk food. 


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