5 Veggie Carb Substitutes That Will Make Your Meeting Menus Healthier

Dare we suggest that these yummy alternatives are tastier than the originals?

French fries. Hamburgers. Tacos. Noodles. Pizza. Of all the types of dishes you can serve at a meeting, you'd be hard-pressed to find an attendee who doesn't consider at least one of these options scrumptious. But as immediately satisfying as carb-laden or fatty foods are to our taste buds, they can also cause our energy levels to deplete and cholesterol levels to spike—which has, not surprisingly, spurred a strong desire for healthier alternatives in recent years. But should that preference for healthier options mean you nix pastas, pizzas and quintessentially "juicy" foods from your menus altogether?

There's no need. Enter: vegetable carb substitutes, ranked seventh in the report What's Hot: 2018 Culinary Forecast from the National Restaurant Association (U.S.). From yams to cauliflower to portobello mushrooms, we highlight ways to transform seemingly no-frills vegetables into some of your attendees' favorite juicy comfort foods. 

What to nix: taco shells
Here's what to try: kale 
Why? Kale is low-calorie, high-fiber and has absolutely no fat. It's also excellent in aiding digestion, thanks to its fiber content. The vegetable is also more durable than greens like arugula, spinach and romaine, making it a wrap-friendly alternative to taco shells. 

Instead of: hamburger buns 
Here's what to try: portobello mushrooms 
Why? One portobello mushroom packs as much potassium as a banana, in addition to 21 percent of the recommended daily selenium intake and one-third of your daily copper need. What's more, the mushroom is shaped nearly perfect to become a standard hamburger patty and can be grilled, stir-fried or baked while retaining its dome shape. 

Instead of: pizza crust 
Here's what to try: cauliflower crust 
Why? On top of needing a shorter dough-rising time than traditional crust, a pizza base made from cauliflower is similar to soy in that it provides a blank slate--the vegetable can take on a number of textures and can be dressed up with seasonings. To boot, cauliflower is low-calorie, low-carb, high-potassium and high-folate

Instead of: rice noodles or fried noodles (or any type of Asian noodle)
Here's what to try: shirataki noodles 
Why? Translucent noodles made from a plant called konjac that's similar to yams and grown in Japan and China, this gluten-free option contains no fat or cholesterol and is low-carb and low-calorie. You can typically find the noodles in most supermarkets—just look for pouches of them suspended in water in refrigerated cases. 

Instead of: french fries 
Here's what to try: turnip, butternut squash or carrot fries
Why? With so many lower-carb options to choose from, it's peculiar that most of us gravitate toward potatoes when preparing traditional fries. Containing a natural sweetness, turnips and carrots make ideal replacements for sweet potato fries. Butternut squash (packed with potassium and carotenoids) also turns deliciously crunchy when cooked, making the veggie an ideal swap when a crisp texture is your aim.