More Veggies: How to Help Diners Cut Carbs

March 2018

Carbohydrates are a growing concern for consumers who are cutting grains from their diets because of allergies or a desire to be healthier. More and more people are using vegetables as a nutritious replacement for carbs, and the National Restaurant Association listed vegetable carb substitutes as one of its top 20 trends for 2018.

Chains are already adjusting their menus to meet this demand. California Pizza Kitchen added cauliflower as a new crust available to order throughout the U.S, and Noodles & Company started to serve zucchini noodles at locations in five states.

Chefs can use a variety of vegetables—including squash, beets, carrots and cucumber—to take the place of noodles in pasta dishes. These Singapore Meatballs and Zoodles feature zucchini noodles and turkey meatballs as a better-for-you alternative to spaghetti and beef meatballs.

Another method for reducing carbs is making sandwiches in lettuce wraps instead of bread, rolls or tortillas. In these Banh Mi Turkey Wraps, lettuce cups are the carrier for Asian-flavored ground turkey, marinated vegetables and stir-fry sauce.

Vegetables are also smart swaps for burger buns. Go beyond handheld options and put burger ingredients in a salad—this Turkey Burger Fajita Salad is a Mexican-inspired mix of a grilled white turkey burger, peppers, avocado, salsa ranch dressing, habanero hot sauce and more.

Giving patrons the choice to order vegetable versions of starchy foods will help accommodate a broader range of dietary preferences. Operators can offer this customization for existing dishes or go a step further and expand their menu with vegetable-centric items.

Do you serve any carb alternatives at your operation? Send us your thoughts about this trend through Facebook and LinkedIn, and visit our Resource Center to learn more about what's happening in the industry.


Kieler, Ashlee. Noodles & Co. Venturing Into Veggie Land With 'Zoodles,' Consumerist, August 2017.

What's Hot 2018 Culinary Forecast, National Restaurant Association, December 2017.

Walansky, Aly. California Pizza Kitchen rolling out low carb cauliflower pizza crust, TODAY, December 2017.

Drain, Kelsey. 5 Carb Alternatives And Starch Substitutes For Health And Weight Loss: Cauliflower Rice, Spaghetti Squash, Sprouted Grain Bread, And More, Medical Daily, January 2017.

Heller, Ashlyn. 7 Smart Ways to Replace Your Burger Bun; Eat This, Not That!; July 2016.

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