What Are Refined Carbs?
Refined carbohydrates are carbs that have been highly processed leading to their whole-grain being removed. This process also removes the beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.
When you eat refined carbs, you are giving your body empty calories whereas you should be focusing on eating foods that are going to nourish your body and help it thrive.
Unrefined & Whole-Grain Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates and grains which haven’t been processed are known as unrefined or whole grains. They retain all 3 parts of the original kernel – the bran, endosperm and germ and this is where their amazing nutrients live until they get digested in your body!
Sources of Whole-Grains:
- Amaranth (GF)
- Brown rice (GF)
- Buckwheat (GF)
- Millet (GF)
- Oats *
- Quinoa (GF)
- Sorghum (GF)
- Teff (GF)
- Wild Rice (GF)
*Oats are gluten-free, but are frequently contaminated with wheat during growing or processing so when looking for GF oats make sure they are certified gluten-free or pure, uncontaminated.
My Top 3 Alternatives to Refined Carbs
- Lettuce Wraps
Whether you want a sandwich, a wrap or a burger, use a lettuce leaf instead of the bread or bun. Large romaine leaves, bibb, butter or Boston lettuce and even Swiss chard or collard greens work well. Check out my Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps at the end of the blog!
2. Zucchini Spaghetti
Love pasta but want to cut back on the carbs, try swapping out the spaghetti for zucchini noodles. You can use a gadget called a spiralizer to make zucchetti (yes, I did make up that word) in seconds, even Sam, my 2 year old can do this! They are inexpensive and you can buy them on line or at most kitchen stores. Spaghetti Squash is another great alternative.
3. Sprouted Grain Bread
I was introduced to sprouted grain bread a few years ago and haven’t looked back. ‘Sprouting is the key to unlocking the whole grain nutrition found inside this protective shell. When a grain is sprouted and begins to grow, it’s waking up from its dormant state to start the hard work of growing. Stored nutrients become readily available as enzymes activate and enzyme inhibitors, which inhibit digestion, are broken down along with phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that inhibits the absorption of nutrients.’ My favourite brand is Silver Hills Bakery and they even offer 2 high quality nutritional gluten-free breads!
Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
For the chicken:
1 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken breast 1 celery stalk
½ onion, diced 1 clove garlic
16 oz fat free low sodium chicken broth
½ cup hot cayenne pepper sauce (I used Frank’s) If you don’t like the heat you could sub in a sweet chili sauce or even a tomato based sauce with no heat at all!
For the wraps:
6 large lettuce leaves (romaine works well)
1 ½ cups shredded carrots
2 large celery stalks, cut into 2 inch matchsticks
In a crock pot, combine chicken, onions, celery stalk, garlic and broth (enough to cover your chicken, use water if the can of broth isn’t enough). Cover and cook on high 4 hours.
Remove the chicken from pot, reserve 1/2 cup broth and discard the rest. Shred the chicken with two forks, return to the slow cooker with the 1/2 cup broth and the hot sauce and set to on high for an additional 30 minutes. Makes 3 cups chicken.
To prepare lettuce cups, place 1/2 cup buffalo chicken in each leaf, top with 1/4 cup shredded carrots, celery and dressing of your choice. Wrap up and start eating!
Instead of bread or tortillas, make your next sandwich or wrap inside a leafy green. Stack 2 or 3 large, leafy greens such as Bibb lettuce, romaine, red lettuce, cabbage, or radicchio and pile on the fixings. Enjoy the added crunch factor.