If you’ve been following a low carb, vegan diet for very long, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the potato is not our friend. And with recipes ranging from Indian to Russian to American calling for potatoes, what can you do? Well, if you’re like me, you start looking for substitutes. And for the longest time, I just went along with what I’d been told and what I’d read. But a little while ago I decided to investigate for myself and what I found quite surprised me.
I started by going to the USDA food database. Hey, my tax dollars helped pay for it so why not use it, right? I began with a plain old russet potato. Around here at least, if you ask for a potato, you’re going to get a russet. So lets compare some other foods with the russet.
Let’s begin with something that isn’t an actual potato substitute but often features in vegetable purees. That would be a simple carrot. And it’s not too bad. There’s about 40% as much net carbs in a given amount of carrots as the potato. Of course the orange color makes it kind of hard to fool anybody that it’s a potato.
Something else I frequently see suggested is cauliflower, And this is actually a good idea, coming in at 17% of the net carbs found in potato. It’s the best substitute in terms of net carbs as a matter of fact. The only problem is that you pretty much have to puree them, otherwise it looks like, well, cauliflower.
So let’s see if we can find some other root vegetables to fill in for the potato. What about a parsnip? It’s white and a bit sweet after all. Well it turns out it may be a bit sweeter than we realised. Coming in at 78% of the carbs in a potato, parsnips aren’t the lowest carb choice out there.
Rutabagas and turnips are also mentioned as fill-ins for the potato. How well do they stack up? Pretty well it turns out. Turnips have 28% of the net carbs of the potato and rutabagas are a close second at 33%. And they have the advantage they can be cubed up and used like a potato.
The most surprising result of all this? I had always been told that a sweet potato was a good substitute for regular potatoes. It turns out that the sweet part of the name isn’t an accident. Sweet potatoes rank at 102% of the net carbs of a potato. So they’re actually slightly worse than a plain old potato.
So where does this leave us? If you can puree your ‘potato’, cauliflower is your best choice. If you need something that you can cube up, rutabagas and turnips will be your friends. And you probably don’t want to use a sweet potato under any circumstances.
Do you have any experiences with substituting for potatoes? Let me know and we can help each other follow a low carb, vegan diet.
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