Bread has been a staple food for humans for thousands of years and is a key component of many people's diets. Modern bread usually contains refined wheat, which is relatively high in carbohydrates (carbs). Reducing the number of carbs in the diet by eliminating bread may help some people lose weight or reduce their risk of specific disorders.
People who are avoiding bread, for example, as part of a low-carb or ketogenic (keto) diet, will often wonder what they can use to replace it.
Many creative bread alternatives are now available. Some types are more complicated to prepare than others but provide a more bread-like mouthfeel. There are also many gluten-free bread alternatives for people who are intolerant to gluten.
Bread alternatives can allow people to continue enjoying some of their favorite foods, which can make sticking to a particular diet more manageable.
Bread alternatives that are suitable for making sandwiches include:
1. Ezekiel bread
Ezekiel bread is a healthful bread that got its name from a Bible verse that mentions an ancient process of bread making.
Ezekiel bread contains organic grains and legumes, including:
These grains are whole, unaltered grains. Some Ezekiel bread contains other ingredients, such as sorghum or sesame.
The grains in Ezekiel bread are allowed to sprout before the flour-milling process. The thinking is that sprouting increases the nutrients available in the bread, while also reducing the impact that the carbohydrates in the bread have on blood sugar.
One slice of this bread contains 15 grams (g) of carbohydrate so people could incorporate it into a low-carb diet plan.
2. Cloud bread
Cloud bread, or oopsie bread, is very popular with low-carb and keto dieters. Cloud bread is a protein-rich alternative to regular bread and makes an excellent sandwich base or English muffin replacement.
There are various recipes for cloud bread, but a simple version is as follows.
- 3 large eggs
- 3 ounces (oz) cream cheese
- one-eighth of a teaspoon (tsp) sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with lightly greased parchment paper.
- Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
- In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer until they form stiff, foamy mounds.
- In a second bowl, mix the egg yolks, cream cheese, and salt.
- Fold the egg whites into the second bowl, being careful not to knock the air out of them.
- Scoop the mixture into bun-sized dollops on the baking sheet and bake for approximately 30 minutes until golden.
Cloud bread is a versatile, simple alternative to bread that many people on low-carb diets eat every day.
3. Eggplant disks
A more straightforward alternative to sandwich bread is eggplant.
People can cut the large end of an eggplant into disks that are 1-inch thick, season them to their liking, and then grill or bake them. Once they have cooled, these disks can be the base for a burger.
For a deli-style sandwich, cut the eggplant lengthwise to form larger slices.
4. Portobello mushroom burger buns
People can also use large grilled or baked portobello mushrooms in place of bread.
They can add the mushrooms to the grill during barbecue season to make low-carb burger bun substitutes. These may have a more substantial mouthfeel than other bread alternatives.
Alternatives for wraps and tortillas include the following:
1. Lettuce leaves
Big iceberg lettuce leaves can make fresh, flexible wraps.
The outermost leaves of the lettuce are the largest, most flexible leaves, and they are often perfect for making mini burritos. People can break them gently off the head of lettuce to use them.
Many lettuces, such as iceberg, romaine, or red leaf, are suitable for use as low-carb taco shell alternatives.
Many people prefer romaine lettuce for this purpose, as the crisp ridge in the center of the lettuce provides a natural line along which to fold the taco in half.
2. Steamed collard greens
A gently steamed collard green leaf is a more durable option for wraps and may provide some extra nutrients.
Use collard greens when there is more filling for the wrap, or when the wrap needs to last a while before consumption. Collard greens are generally less likely to break than lettuce leaves.
To steam the collard green leaves:
- Bring a small amount of water to boil in a large pot.
- Fit a metal colander over the opening of the pot, and place the collard leaves in it.
- Place the lid of the pot over the colander.
- Steam the leaves for 1–2 minutes before removing them and letting them cool.
The leaves are now ready to make a delicious wrap.
Another option is to blanch collard leaves by adding them to boiling salt water for 30 seconds and then quickly cooling them in an ice bath.
Cabbage has a flavor that may be preferable for specific foods. A steamed or blanched cabbage leaf, prepared in the same way as collard greens, makes an ideal wrap for small, flavorful items, such as wontons, spring rolls, and dumplings.
4. Nori sheets
Nori sheets are easy to use to make a wrap. They have a slightly salty taste and pair well with a range of foods, including hummus and eggs. However, nori sheets can become soggy quickly, so it is best to keep them separate from the filling until it is time to eat the wrap.
People who are avoiding bread and trying to stick to low-carb foods may miss eating their favorite comfort foods. The healthful replacements below may help satisfy any cravings.
1. Cauliflower pizza crust
A base of cauliflower and eggs can make a simple, low-carb pizza crust to satisfy people's urge for this popular food.
Follow the recipe below to make a cauliflower pizza crust:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place a chopped head of cauliflower in the food processor and process it until it resembles rice.
- Steam the shredded cauliflower for 4 minutes and drain well.
- Thoroughly mix the cauliflower with 2 eggs, one-quarter of a cup of almond flour, a pinch of salt, and your choice of spices in a large bowl.
- Transfer the mixture to a pizza pan or lined baking sheet and shape it into a pizza crust shape.
- Bake for approximately 15 minutes.
This crust is now ready for toppings and sauces, just like a regular pizza.
2. Zucchini lasagna
Zucchini pasta is a low-carb alternative to pasta that people can also use to make lasagna.
Thinly slice zucchini lengthwise and use the strips instead of pasta sheets. The result is a filling, familiar dish that is much lower in carbohydrates.
3. Almond flour pancakes
Many people on low-carb diets like to satisfy their sweet tooth with a baked product. It is possible to make baked, flour-based products, such as muffins and pancakes, both low-carb and gluten-free.
For example, people can use the recipe below to make almond flour pancakes:
- 2 cups of almond flour (use hazelnut or acorn flour instead if preferred)
- 4 eggs
- one-quarter cup coconut oil
- half a cup water or almond milk
- 1 tsp baking soda
- preferred low-carb sweetener, such as xylitol, erythritol, or stevia, to taste
Mix the ingredients in a bowl until smooth and allow the batter to sit while the pan heats up. Pour the batter into the pan and flip it when the edges become dry.
These pancakes will need to be a bit smaller than regular pancakes, as nut flours do not have the same elasticity as wheat.
4. Sweet potato toast
Sweet potato has become quite popular as an alternative to bread. People can use the following steps to make toast with it:
- Take a large sweet potato.
- Cut slices that are one-quarter of an inch thick and toast them 2 or 3 times or until they are brown on the outside and soft on the inside.
People who choose to remove bread from their diet may be losing a staple item from their favorite meals. However, there are many healthful bread alternatives that they can use in its place.
Bread alternatives can seem challenging to use initially, but people are generally quick to adjust to them. Once people are familiar with these bread alternatives, they may not notice the lack of regular bread in their diet.
Except for Ezekiel bread, the bread alternatives in this article are all appropriate for people who are intolerant to gluten.