What to Eat When You Aren't Eating Grains

Christina's picture

There are many reasons one might decide to lower their grain intake or even avoid grains all together. Maybe you are adopting a Ketogenic diet to reverse PCOS or Type 2 Diabetes. Maybe you are trying to lower your overall intake of inflammatory foods or just trying to raise the amount of vegetables in your diet.

No matter what the reason behind this decision, many patients find themselves ready to reduce grains but at a loss for recipes; particularly if breads, crackers, pastas and baked goods had formed a large part of their diet.

Minimizing grains actually allows you to maximize other categories that are often too low such as vegetables and healthy fats. For anyone who has decided that lowering their grain intake would be of benefit, here are a few tips and recipes to help get you started....


What Can I Eat?

What is left when you aren’t eating grains?

A lot.

You will be fueling your body primarily with vegetables, quality protein (which may include nuts, clean animals, oceanwise fish, bone broth, eggs etc.), fruits, and healthy fats (avocados, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.).

Yes you can make desserts and treats without using grains.

Yes, you will have lots of options when eating out.

No, grain-free baguettes will not taste like ones made with white flour.

Why and how much you are limiting grains will be highly individual. They key for making this new habit sustainable will be expanding your repertoire of recipes and dishes you love in their own right and not always looking for “grain replacements”.


Prepare Not To Let Yourself Get Hungry

Don’t just leave out grains without first gathering recipes and ingredients to replace them with. One of the reasons I see many people over-reliant on grain products is their long shelf-life. Think cereals, preserved breads and bagels, crackers etc. You will probably need to stockpile your home with some new grab-and-go options so that when you have minimal time, you have some quick grain-free options at the ready.

Pre-sliced vegetables and fruits, Nitrate, hormone, and antibiotic free deli meats, coconut yogurt, nuts, smoothie ingredients, or just leftovers ready to heat up could be some of the items you keep on hand.

With minimal prep work, you can also make big batches of items like these to keep in your pantry:

 3-ingredient crackers: http://www.almostsupermom.com/2013/12/3-ingredient-gluten-freepaleo-crac...

 Try brushing them with a little olive oil, salt and dried rosemary just before they are done. 

 For mornings or snacks: https://healyeatsreal.com/aip-paleo-raisin-bran-recipe/

I add a little melted coconut oil to the pan in which to toss the flakes in so that the cinnamon sticks better. This recipe is also very easy to modify. If you don't want the sugar or like the taste of raisins, you could mix in any number of ingredients such as various nuts, seeds, and dried berries.


Gather New Recipes

The highest amount of brainwork and effort is spent at the beginning of habit change. We all have our go-to dishes that we know how to make and we know that we like. It’s easy to forget this happened over a period of time and with some initial trial and error. Reducing grains might feel like more work in the beginning but eventually you will build and expand your repertoire of new go-to dishes.

A good place to start is by searching “ketogenic” or “paleo” recipes on the internet. These styles of eating will be grain-free by nature and you will find a wealth of recipes to choose from. Pick some that look good and start trying a couple a week.


Invest In A Few New Ingredients?

Though you don’t have to, you may want to add a few new ingredients to your arsenal. You can experiment over time with grain-free options such as almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot powder, psyllium powder, coconut butter etc. They may become your new favourites.


Vegetable Swap-Outs

You may from time to time want to have the texture of a traditional pasta or rice as part of a dish. Vegetable swap-outs can be especially handy when you are just getting started or if you are feeding kids. Here are two of my favourites:

Cauliflower Rice: 

Cauliflower has a wonderful texture and flavour well suited for many dishes where you would typically use rice. Cauliflower can be "riced" simply by pulsing it in a food processor or manually with a box grater. A quick sautee in a healthy fat, maybe with a bit of finely chopped onion, and it is ready to use. It stores well in the fridge or freezer. Cauliflower is a nutrient-rich member of the brassica family which can help flush out extra estrogens while provider fiber and antioxidants. I love cauliflower rice under a homemade Thai coconut curry, or other meat and vegetable dishes.

Easy recipe here: https://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-cauliflower-rice/


Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti:

This member of the squash family was born to yeild a perfect plate of noodle-like strands. Spaghetti squash has a mild flavour and mixes well with a variety of sauces and dishes where you would typically use thin noodles. It is one of the easiest squashes to cut and couldnt be simpler to prepare. Simply:

  1. Cut the spaghetti squash in half (either lengthwise or crosswise will work)
  2. Scoop out the seeds in the center with a spoon
  3. Place in an ovenproof dish, cut side down in about a 1/2 inch of water
  4. Bake/steam in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-45 minutes. The inner strands should be a spaghetti-like tenderness.
  5. Once cool enough to handle, gently scrape out the "noodles" with a fork. They will yeild easily. 



There are many grain-free treat options that are handy to have around when the sweet tooth strikes. Some of my favourites:




Again, why one would choose to reduce or avoid grains in the first place is highly individual. But if you have already made this choice, I hope this provides you with some ideas and inspiration!


Best Health,