Slim Tip: The Spinach Swap

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Don’t get me wrong, I love to commit a little carbicide* here and there by enjoying a bowl of pasta or a slice of pizza. Unfortunately, eating carb-heavy meals regularly isn’t exactly figure friendly–especially during the summer when your next bikini outing could be any minute (queue horror music).

One of my favorite slim secrets was something a fellow intern taught me back in college. She suggested that I swap my pasta for spinach when I am trying to cut back on carbs. The idea is: keep everything else in the recipe the same and just make “the spinach swap.” When I tried it, I was more than pleased with the result. It’s really delicious, especially if you add in extra vegetables and go with a lighter sauce. The swap totally hit the spot. Spinach pseudo-pasta helped me fulfill my pasta craving without the carbs. But, if you absolutely need the noodles, quarter the amount of pasta and substitute the rest with spinach.

This trend has really caught on. In fact, I’ve discovered a few restaurants around LA that offer the spinach for pasta substitute.

In the end, just because it’s bikini season doesn’t mean we have to completely sacrifice our carboliscious cravings… We must simply make a few minor meal adjustments.

Do you have any Slim Tip swap suggestions? If so, share them in the comments below.

XO Lauren

*Carbicide {car-beh-side} noun 1. The act of metaphorically ending one’s life due to overindulging in carbohydrates. Origin: Bruno. Related Words: pizza, pasta, bread basket, all-nighter

P.S. For more diet friendly dining, check out my blog on summer salads by clicking here!

UPDATE: I noticed a lot of you asking how I prepare the spinach… I actually sauté it in a little olive oil and then mix it in with the rest of the veggies, sauce and such. Just make sure you use a lot of spinach since it cooks down quite a bit.

Photo: weheartit
Categories: Recipe Box, Slim Tip
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  • Rebeccah Lee

    I like pairing spaghetti squash, spinach and marinara sauce for a healthy pasta alternative. SO good:)

  • SoJung Kim

    I substitute broccoli and mushrooms for my pasta :) its really delicious! Broccoli helps me feel full for a long time so I dont have to snack every 10 minutes ;)

  • Megan Baird

    i love subsituting with lots of protein like chicken or shrimp! but spinach is great with everything!

  • ashley mckinnon

    I have been swamping Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead of my beloved Marinara Sauce in my pasta. It’s lighter and has amazing taste.

  • Erin Dennard

    Ok so help me out here… do you cook the Spinach?? or just wash and dry and add ingredients?

  • Kate Fiona

    I love that tip!! Weirdly, i had never thought of doing that before…

    extra virgin olive oil has about 120 calories per tablespoon, so adding tinned tomatoes wouldnt harm it if you cook them down. id omit the olive oil

  • Kate Fiona

    i would wash the spinach and then just add it to sauce at the end, it will wilt in. baby spinach tasts loads better when raw or just wilted by the sauce …

  • Laura Miller

    This swap is if I really want to eat something “”bad””. If I really want to eat something like a hamburger then I opt for a soy veggie burger. Morningstar Farms brand is really tasty (soo much better than Boca) and has 73% less fat than a regular hamburger. I get the Spicy black bean veggie burger, and it only 4 grams of fat verusus 15 grams of a regular burger. I also squeeze any excess grease out when I’m done cooking it so I’m sure that takes at least 1 extra gram of fat out. Top with veggies and enjoy a guitless hamburger!

  • Jorge Rodriguez

    You can eat integral pasta with a lot of sauteed veggies (in olive oil), for example, Spinach, sweetcorn, tomatoes, carrot, etc. And at the same time, It’s an excelent vegetarian dish

  • Princess

    Swapping the pasta for spaghetti squash is really good too. Just add veggies, protein and sauce! Yummy!

  • melissa cowie

    yeah if you drink loads of water and do a little excercise it works just the same.
    Melissa.XO

  • Manrae

    tofu shirataki noodles, or a bag of broccoli slaw – my husband actually thought the broccoli WAS pasta – he said, “”oh yeah, i ate that leftover pasta…”” so tasty!

  • Karolina Cz

    I do the swap too! Instead of potatoes in my dinner I use cauliflower ;)

    Thanks for the tip !

  • Emily Wells

    Any recipe that calls for sour cream….swap in nonfat plain greek yogurt! You can’t even tell the difference and it’s SO much better for you.

  • Mollie Heath

    Whenever I want something sweet and sugary, my first thought is to go to the ice cream or chocaolate candies. BUT now I grab a nectarine or a plum or green GRAPES to satisfy my sugar crave. Fruits have natural sugars in them so it’s healthy for you and you won’t feel fat or anything after you eat it – so it’s a win win :)

  • Rebecca Kelsey Sampson

    That sounds like a lovely idea! I don’t need to lose weight right now but that sounds like a fun way to add veggies to my meal. I’ll try mixing it with my pasta. Thanks lauren!

    Kindness is the best accessory,

    http://rebeccakelsey.com

  • Gabrielle P

    My mom uses chop suey instead of pasta! It tastes really good and it’s best for the health!

  • Kellie Norton

    What a genius idea!! Thanks for sharing this! I’m always looking for easier ways to watch what I eat! I’m definitely suggesting this blog to all of my friends :) thanks lauren!!

  • Kimmy S

    I do this too!

    My personal slim tip “”swap”” is using sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter. I like to put it on Akmar crackers from Trader Joes and its the perfect snack. I also use creamed honey from Trader Joes too and it’s super low cal but is sweet too! MMM!

    @Mollie Heath- I love grapes for satisfying my sweet tooth too : )

  • Kiwi10

    do you saute the spinach or eat it raw?

  • Kiwi10

    also, what do you know about pasta’s like Catelli Smart that is corn based (I think) instead of semolina….there’s a ton of fibre and about an equal amount of carbs..is it better for you or about the same?

  • scgirl

    I was wondering the same thing as Kiwi10, do you saute the spinach or eat it raw??

  • Julie Haugan

    I simply don`t eat bread,pasta,potato,rice etc! It sounds boring,and believe me,it is! But totally worth it :D Instead I use, extra vegetables or salat. It`s a great feeling not being “”over ful””!

  • Hayley Medina

    by pouring hot sauce over the spinich it pretty much steams itself.
    Kiwi10 and scgirl

  • Lauren Conrad

    @kiwi10 & @scgirl- I just updated the post about how I prep the spinach :-)

  • Kaitlyn Murphy

    I’m going to be in LA in a week and a half (the 22-31! Can’t wait!) and I would LOVE to know the restaurants that have started the spinach swap!! I know I would like to try something different!

  • mary1024

    This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing Lauren. Some of my slim tips are:

    swapping ice cream for frozen yogurt/froyo or sorbet

    sour cream for plain low-fat yogurt/plain greek yogurt

    ground beef for lean ground turkey or chicken

    mayonnaise for plain low-fat yogurt combined with plain low-fat cottage cheese

    rice for diced cauliflower

    french fries for sweet potato fries baked

    lasagna noodles for thinly sliced zucchini

    spaghetti noodles for spaghetti squash

    sandwich bread for lettuce or cabbage leaves

    bread in pizza for portabella mushrooms…

    Some other tips are choosing 2% or less fat milk instead of whole milk, non-dairy whipped topping instead of whipped cream, eggs whites only instead of including egg yolks… and a great healthy dressing for salads is combining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper!

  • Giulia De Luca

    Good idea!!

  • Heather Tanjerine

    Honey has been the best solution for me!

    If I’m craving something sweet at the end of the day I’ll simply have a tablespoon of honey. Only 60 cal and actually good for you :)

    I also subsitute syrup on pancakes for honey and same with similar treats.

  • Glorietta88

    What can i use if don’t like spinach???

  • Ida

    Fun fact of the day: the reason spinach is still widely thought to have loads of iron is because of a typo in a 19th century study – they accidentally moved a decimal point to to right! Imagine if our typos had that much power to influence peoples’ perceptions! (It’s still good for you though :-))

  • V

    My tip to stay healthy and with a radiant skin (besides of eating meat only once or twice a week and a LOT of veggies) is to have 500 ml (16.90 fl.oz.) of water (room temperature) every morning with an empty stomach and of course the 2 lts (67.2 fl.oz) daily. You will feel the change in 1 week or less =)

    OH! And add lin and chia seeds to your salads, soups, yoghurts, pasta, everything! they have a lot of good properties and they don’t taste bad!

  • whitlee douthitt

    I know this may sound gross, but it’s the perfect alternative for something sweet to eat!

    Grab any cake mix that you like and simply add a can of pumpkin to it. Mix it up, and bake it in a muffin pan! The pumpkin can’t be tasted at all and with only 2 ingredients, it’s super easy to make!

    *Cinnamon Cake is my favorite!

  • Valentina Henriquez

    I’m gonna do this :)

  • Lauren Leathers

    This is a great post, Lauren! I love spinach!! Ohh, and was that friend, Whitney? :) tehe may not, but ohh well!

    if you ever need help with beauty or fashion make sure to check out my blog!

    http://laurenleathersfashionbeautyblog.blogspot.com/

    xoxo

    -Lauren

  • Shannonmarie

    That’s one of my favorite slim tips. I try to avoid gluten, and filling up on veggies and greens in place of pasta and such is the most natural ways to do it. Spiralized zucchini is also an amazing pasta swap-out. My toddler and I even used spiral-sliced cucumbers the other day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJHkrp3wOig Delicious and nutritious!

    - Shannonmarie

    http://www.rawdorable.blogspot.com

  • jenna

    great idea! I’m curious to try this

    My slim tip is to drink a glass of water before you begin your meal. You’ll get fuller faster and you won’t eat as much!

  • Jenny G

    I love to boil a spaghetti squash and use a fork to separate the spaghetti like strands and I toss it with all my favorite pasta toppings. The spaghetti squash not only looks like spaghetti but it has a similar consistency and taste.

  • Melissa

    Worked Great! I had some tomatoe sauce that need to get used and opted for half quinoa pasta and half spinach. Made the meal lighter in the summer heat!

  • Lyndsey Kneebone

    This is a fabulous tip! Thanks so much!

  • Tara Nicole

    Can you swap something else besides spinach that would still be healthy?

  • Muriel Burghard

    When i want a snack I pick some fruit or i eat some nuts. Both very healthy and delicious!

  • Mellisa McCarthy

    Another great sub for pasta is zucchini that has been cut with a spiral or julienne vegetable peeler. It makes “”noodles”” that can be eaten raw in a pasta type salad or quickly cooked and topped with your favorite sauce. It really feels like you are indulging in real pasta!

  • Lyvette Munoz Giuliani

    mmmm totally thinking of trying this.

  • Jana Ricketts

    Interesting! I will definitely have to try this!

  • Bella

    I love this so much! I’ve just tried it and totally works for me.

  • soupforthegirlysoul

    I love doing zuccini or squash for pasta! I’m definitely going to have to try spinach though!

    http://www.soupforthegirlysoul.blogspot.com

    http://www.twitter.com/itsagirlsblog

  • Lizeth M Camarena

    I love spinach!! I used to hate it because it was green (lol) but with one week that i substituted a side for spinach to my lunch and dinner meal i lost 6lbs !! Amazing and I didnt gain them back either! :) …I also like to snack on celery/apples with peanut butter and mushrooms. The peanut butter helps by keeping me full a lil longer and the mushrooms are excellent antioxidants.

  • fashiongirl

    i think spaghetti squash is a great alternative to spaghetti or any other tyoe of pasta. You can have meatballs along with or just with some sauce and maybe some veggies (sauteed or brolied or stir fried). its got great crunch and prety filling!

    Yay spa ghetti squash

    It’ll get you into your skinnies in no time!

  • Saskia Jansen

    I love pasta, but with spinach I think it could be the same, thx :)

  • Monique Pereira

    I actually tried adding more spinach to my diet this summer (i live down under in Australia (: ), and due to my over shopping over Christmas, i didnt have much of a budget for quite some time, so i went straight to Cashew nuts, Almonds, and Spinach.

    I’d eat the nuts as a snack when i got a bit peckish through the day, but on the weekdays, i would have baby spinach with beetroot coleslaw (its just like shredded beetroot, carrot and something else i cant remember right this second), then mixed with a good amount of italian dressing (the amount varies on your individual taste).

    and seriously, it was the yummiest dinner. then i would treat myself with a satay chicken hokkien noodle dinner or a mushroom pizza on the weekend, and i wouldn’t feel guilty (:

    i know this is an old post, but i hope this helps if someone sees it. (:

  • Mell

    Love this tip! All the way from Zimbabwe

  • beachgrly74

    love how you associate carbicide with all nighter! so true in college…

  • Eileen OConnor

    sorry to be a spelling stickler, but that should be cue, not queue… unless the horror music is forming a line ;)

  • Enja matthee

    Best way to have the yummy green stuff,is sautay-in it with some onion and garlic,adding a bit of feta and italian herbs and crushed almonds..and adding it to a honey chicken brest( for dinner)..YUM * :)

  • JenniferB

    I just tried it and I love it!! Thanks for the tip!

  • Poppie

    I really need to try this because I LOVE pasta but I am diabetic so I have to watch my carb intake.

    Chao
    Poppie
    http://thepoppie.com

  • K.Chick

    When I’m trying to not eat a lot of carbs and stay away from pasta I swap out for spaghetti squash. It tastes good and because it looks like pasta I think it helps to mentally feel like you are still eating pasta. It can still be very filling. I add lots of veggies and a sauce and its great!

  • Nat915

    When my mom bakes cakes, she uses apple sauce instead of butter. Also, in my house, we make sure to buy whole wheat anything and everything. :)

  • Bec Hunter

    I LOVE having zucchini chopped up in a big dice, microwaving it for a minute and having bolognese sauce over it. I actually preffered it to pasta the first time I tried it!

  • tom Alberti

    Swap the bulgur in your Tabbouleh Salad for thinly chopped Cauliflower or Broccoli florets, less calories, great taste and good source of vitamins.

  • Caroline S.

    Use a spiralizer with a raw zucchini to make zucchini “noodles”. Don’t cook the zucchini, just pour hot sauce on top and it will steam the “noodles.” LOVE this!

  • Clara

    A low carb pasta substitute that is pretty similar to the texture of pasta is spaghetti squash! It’s the easiest substitution. Just slice in half, scoop out the seeds, bake in a pan of water, and after it’s cooked the squash “noodles” when you twirl your fork in it.

  • Emma R

    I’ve heard a lot about carb substitutes (cauliflower rice, cabbage ‘pasta’) but never about using spinach. I’d really love to try it one day!

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