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No-Carb Alternatives to Potatoes

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
No-Carb Alternatives to Potatoes
Use low-carb cauliflower to make a low-carb version of mashed potatoes. Photo Credit: anna1311/iStock/Getty Images

Giving up some foods on your low-carb diet may be harder than others. The potato, for example, may be a comfort food you enjoy eating with your steak. While the potato may be a tough fit for your low-carb plan, there are some substitutes that might work. However, be aware that the only "no-carb" foods are proteins, such as meat and eggs, and fats, such as olive oil. So although other veggies used in place of potatoes won't break your carb bank, they will cost you a few carbs.

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Very-Low-Carb Mashed Cauliflower

With less than 2 grams of net carbs per 1/2 cup, steamed, chopped cauliflower makes a good alternative to the potato for a mashed side dish. Net carbs, defined as total carbs minus fiber, are used for carb counting on many low-carb diet plants. To make your mashed cauliflower, puree cooked cauliflower with olive oil and salt. A 1/2-cup serving has 3 grams of net carbs, which compared to 15 grams in a 1/2-cup serving of mashed potatoes is a significant savings. Nutrients are more concentrated when you puree foods, which is why the mashed cauliflower is higher in carbs than steamed cauliflower. Add heavy cream for extra creaminess or garlic for more flavor, without adding any extra carbs.

Turnip Fries With Your Steak

No need to miss your french fries when you can replace them with these turnip fries. Like cauliflower, turnips are much lower in carbs than potatoes with 2 grams of net carbs per 1/2-cup serving. Slice your turnips into strips, toss in olive oil, lay them on a baking sheet, sprinkle salt and pepper and bake in the oven until crisp. Instead of ketchup, dip them in vinegar, carb-free mayonnaise or sugar-free ranch dressing so you can enjoy your turnip fries without any extra carbs. Of course, sugar-free ketchup, with 1 gram of net carb per tablespoon, also makes a good dip for your fries.

Rutabaga: The Low-Carb Root Veggie

The rutabaga is actually in the same family as the turnip but tastes a little sweeter. It's also a little higher in carbs with 6 grams of net carbs in 1/2 cup cubed and 8 grams of net carbs in 1/2 cup of mashed. But this root vegetable makes a good substitute for potatoes in a number of dishes. Not only can you serve it mashed, but you can dice it and add it to stews or soups. You can also use it to make a nice rutabaga hash to serve with your morning eggs. Or roast them in the oven and serve with your chicken or pork. The rutabaga also makes a low-carb alternative for your scalloped potato recipe.

Tips for Using Potatoes on Your Low-Carb Diet

If you're restricted to 20 grams of carbs a day, potatoes are a tough fit. But if you're on a less-restricted carbs regimen, you may have a little more leeway to include potatoes on your menu. One half of a small potato has 13 grams of net carbs. You can roast your potato with low-carb veggies, such as brussels sprouts and onions, so you get some of the potato without overdoing it with carbs. You can also make a hybrid mashed potato by pureeing one of the low-carb veggies with your potato to cut carbs. Or, just keep your potato portion small enough to stay within your daily carb limitations.

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