While moderate portions of bread can be part of a healthy diet, per Medical News Today, there are a number of reasons people have for wanting to cut back on bread.
Cutting back on bread can reduce overall calorie intake and result in eating fewer carbohydrates. This can be helpful for weight loss or weight maintenance. There are also conditions like celiac disease that make eating gluten imprudent.
Another reason a person might want to cut back on bread is to take in more nutrient-dense food instead. Regardless of the reason for wanting to cut back on bread, there are different substitutes for bread you could try that are more nutrient-dense or lower in carbohydrates and calories.
Here are eight of those substitutes.
Ezekiel bread uses “absolutely no flour” as well as no refined sugars, per Food for Life. It is still a grain product, so it will not work for those who have a gluten sensitivity. Ezekiel bread is not the lowest carbohydrate substitute on the list, but it is “about as nutrient-defense as a bread gets,” according to Healthline. It can be used for toast or a sandwich with less of a taste difference than other alternatives.
Tortillas can be made with refined flour, corn, almond flour and other products. If you have a gluten sensitivity, make sure to check that the product you select is gluten free. Depending on the size of the tortilla, it can be a lower carbohydrate vehicle for your sandwich fillings than two slices of bread. It also can be an alternative for those looking for a gluten-free way to enjoy an easy lunch.
Almond flour bread
Almond flour breads like Simple Mills’ version or one you can make in your own kitchen are a lower carbohydrate alternative to bread made with flour. The texture of the bread might be a little grittier due to the almonds, but if using tomato slices as bread is not your thing, this is a way to make a product that has the feel of bread in your mouth and looks like bread, too. It also takes much less time to make than traditional bread.
Lettuce wraps can be a little tricky to use, but once you get the hang of it, it acts as a substitute for bread. The best type of lettuce to use for wraps is a sturdy lettuce like iceberg or Boston. Use multiple leaves of lettuce per wrap if you are planning on substituting it for a sandwich. But if you are planning on adding a scoop of filling inside the lettuce, a lettuce cup (butter lettuce is great here) will work fine if you don’t overfill it. If you’re plan on putting something warm on the lettuce like a hamburger patty, let the burger rest for a few minutes before adding it to the lettuce so it does not wilt. Sauces work best on the side, but they can also work in the wrap as well.
Bell peppers do not taste like bread, but they can be vehicles for fillings and toppings in a similar way bread can. Slice a bell pepper in half and fill it up with whatever you would like, then put the other half of the bell pepper on top. If you do not like the taste of raw pepper, you can grill the pepper before using it — but note if you grill the pepper, you will likely have to use a fork and knife to eat it.
Portobello mushrooms also do not taste like bread. The upside to using a portobello mushroom instead of a bun is you can elevate the dish while also making it low in carbohydrates. A common use of portobello mushrooms as buns is in a burger. If you grill some onions, add a sauce like a garlic aioli, melt some Swiss cheese on top and assemble your burger in between portobello mushroom caps, you can make a burger taste like the portobello mushroom was an integral part of it, not just a substitute. Make sure to drain the moisture from the mushroom caps before using them.
Want to increase the amount of protein you eat? Try an egg wrap. You can make your own at home by cooking a thin layer of egg on a pan on each side. Before attempting to wrap anything in the egg wrap, let it cool down for a couple minutes. If you do not want to make it at home, consider Egg Life egg wraps. Egg wraps act like tortillas and you can fill them with anything from sandwich fixings to burrito fillings.
Crackers can be a bread alternative, too. With some foods like chicken salad or sliced meat, it is customary to use crackers, but you can also make mini sandwiches with them. Some crackers are gluten free, other crackers have flour in them, so there are options for a variety of diets.
Bonus tip: Make it into a bowl
Forgo trying to substitute bread and be creative about making dishes into bowls. A burger can be cut up over a bed of lettuce with chopped vegetables and a sauce. Sandwich fillings can be transformed into a salad or be made into a twist on a burrito bowl.