Few foods can make you feel as warm and happy as a big bowl of pasta or a few thick slices of warm bread smothered in creamy butter. Carbs are life for so many people. The mere thought of giving up bread, pasta or pizza (or the sweeter carbs like cookies or donuts) sends them into a tailspin.
Carbohydrates – or carbs, as they are fondly known – come in a bunch of tastes, textures, shapes and sizes. We all have our favourites, our go-to, our gotta-have-it, don’t run out carbs. But why do carbs get such a bad rap? We have this low-carb craze of eating that’s as strong as ever, with all the diets out there. Carbs are an energy-producing, fibre-rich, nutrient-dense group of foods that line supermarket aisles, and we are actually taught and told to make about 60% of our daily food intake.
Is your head spinning? Yep, I get it. Heard of the term carboholism? Yep, some say that carbs are as addictive as booze, drugs or something that has an -olism on the end of it. But really, are bread, pasta and muffins all that bad…? Dr. David Ludwig, who has written numerous books on this, focuses on the effects of insulin and how to regulate it in his new book, Always Hungry (he brings this up with or without diabetes as a part of a diagnosis). It’s a valid topic to do a deep dive into, but am I about to say it’s time to jump on the bandwagon of low-carb, no-grain, meat and two veg ONLY on your plate? No way, hose.
Carbs are way too fulfilling and nutritious (not to mention delicious), and a ton of fun to eat, so that’s not what my ending comments will be – no, no, no. What we will talk about is how you want to feel when you eat. Like, do you get bloated with bread? What else can you eat without wiping your lunchtime sandwich or morning toast off your plate? What about the rice that you love with your curries and stir fries or in your sushi? Is that a forbidden food? Nope, we aren’t going there either.
Today on EAT THIS with Lianne, let’s talk about how to not ditch the carbs, but SWITCH the carbs for a healthier and fulfilled life without the ‘don’t eat that’ deprivation.
Weight loss is the prime reason people go on low-carb diets. I don’t think that I’ve ever come across someone who said, “I’m going to ditch carbs because I’m bored of BREAD!” or “Ugh I never want to see a muffin again in my life, I’ve had it!” There’s usually some sort of motivation, and maybe it’s not always weight. For many of my clients it’s digestive issues, a lack of energy, morning brain fog and a crash in the afternoon and they contemplate switching things up and maybe even focus on eating low-carb.
So you’re clear on what low-carb is, although it’s not going to be my focus here, a typical recommendation is to eat around 60-65% carbs, 10-15% fat and 30% protein. On a low-carb diet, you’re looking in the realm of 40% carbs and the rest of your daily intake coming from fat and protein split pretty evenly. We need the fibre that comes from carbs to keep our bowels moving and digestion doing its job. And, so you’re clear, carbohydrate rich foods are not only bread, pasta, pizza, muffins, donuts and all the foods made from some type of flour, but also grains like rice, and cereals. Then there are all the vegetables in the produce section of the supermarket – there’s starches like white potato and corn, legumes like beans and chickpeas (including the hummus you’ve had as a snack and lentils you just threw into the soup last week). All fruit contains carbohydrate value for your body, and that includes the fibreless juice that you have at breakfast. Oh, and dairy – yep, that contains carbs too. They are everywhere. Let’s not forget the refined and sugar-rich ones too – that can of pop that you cracked open yesterday, the sugar that you add to your coffee and the cookie that you have mid-afternoon for a boost. Yes – I still crave a shortbread with my afternoon cup of Earl Grey, so no I’m not immune to the deliciousness of carbs! They taste good!
Ok, what if you could still eat your carbs and not compromise on taste? You’ve heard the experts like me say swap the white rice for brown, right? But you don’t like brown rice. I get it. But did you know rather than your typical quick cook white rice, if you just had white basmati rice – a beautifully fragrant rice that’s used in Indian cooking – you’ve made a better choice. The release of carbohydrate, energy or sugar from it is slower, meaning that it has a lower glycemic index. That’s something that’s really key here. The slower the release of your carb, the longer you feel full and satisfied, and the more stable your energy is. More on that in a bit.
The toughest carb to quit (I’ve heard it only about… a million times) is bread. The almighty sandwich, slice of toast, bun that surrounds the juicy burger that you can’t wait to sink your teeth into… Oh and the baguette that I often oddly crave on a Friday night with some stinky blue cheese. There’s two camps with bread: ditch it, or switch it. Switching to a gluten free version can be a crap shoot, to be honest. There are some great gluten free options out there and others truly taste like dry cardboard dressed up as a pizza. It’s not pretty. Well, my guest this week had an ambition of making allergen-free products that even those without dietary restrictions would want to eat.
About Giovanni Angulecci:
With grandparents who immigrated to Canada from Italy, Queen Street Bakery’s founder Giovanni Angelucci grew up eating food he and his family planted, harvested and cooked themselves. “I saw first hand the way my Nonni used our homegrown and fresh ingredients to cook and always knew exactly what went into the food I ate.”
It wasn’t until he was older when he realized that not everyone had the same experience or relationship with food.
“Unfortunately, so many of the products people come across today—including those perceived as healthy—contain very little nutritional value. Typically, they also carry a lot of sugar and unnecessary ingredients, often leaving people feeling bloated and tired after consumption. Something we call ‘the gluten-hangover’.”
Giovanni founded Queen St. Bakery with the ambition of making allergen-free products that even those without dietary restrictions would want to eat.
Affectionately, their loaves are known as “Bread with Benefits” and their motto is, “Don’t ditch the carbs, switch the carbs.”
I’ll let him tell you more about himself and hear about his breads that have chia, charcoal and beans on the ingredient list. And yes I’ve tried them. Listen to the episode to hear from Giovanni.
Some other carb swaps to think about
- Spaghetti or noodles with zucchini spaghetti. A quick flash in the pan with garlic and oil, super yum. I’ve used spaghetti squash in the past too. Gluten free pasta has come a long way, so chickpea pasta or rice pasta are total swaps that are worthy of your hard earned dollars.
- Rice swapped as I mentioned before, or try cauliflower rice. Have you seen those cauliflower pizza bases? Good to try and not so like cardboard.
- Instead of a wheat based or tortilla wrap, how about sushi nori seaweed wrap? If you’re on social media, you’ve seen these little parcels made with flat nori on two opposing corners, then wrapped up to be like a parcel. Great swap right there, and seaweed is incredibly nutritious too.
- How about mashed potato, swapping for butter bean mash? Not for everyone but man, dress that up with some seasoning, herbs, garlic and it is silly good.
Now, the point of what I’ve been saying here is not as restrictive as some might think. Ditching the carbs so you lose weight might not be a focus for you. But switching up the typical for something more nutritious is a great option. You know I talk about eating a rainbow every day, including those superfoods of greens and reds, bright colours like beets and blueberries, and if you can’t get it all in, take my TAKE THIS by Lianne superfood power called KID BOOST.
When you switch up from what you’re eating now – you know, change the staple from cereal for breakfast to soaked overnight oats or chia pudding (recipes in my award-winning book) – then you have a whole new nutrient profile without feeling deprived. What will you switch? Will you try out Queen Street Bakery’s offerings? If you’re not sure, they have offered a giveaway of a bundle of their incredible baked goods and superfood flour!