Bread is a simple staple for many families, but all too often people tend to turn to bread for a first and last resort – filling their tummies up with empty carbohydrates until they are too full for more nutrient-dense foods.
Most commercial breads on the market have stripped the grains in them of their nutrient-rich bran and germ, leaving only the starchy endosperm. To make up for the loss of nutrients, breadmakers then fortify what’s left with artificial vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats, along with preservatives to make the bread more shelf-stable.
Thankfully, there are many awesome bread alternatives that are worth trying. We’re sharing some of our favourite gluten-free options that you’ll be sure to love. While some of these aren’t the best choice for sandwiches – they are fantastic options when you want to make a wrap. And that means your meal will be packed with more veggie-loaded fillings.
1. Nori Sheets
Nori is the type of seaweed that’s used in sushi – but that doesn’t mean sushi is it’s only purpose! Roll up your favourite fillings in a nori sheet and cut it into two sandwich ‘halves’, or munch on one long roll. The great thing about nori wraps is they are easily portable and are a great option for a healthy lunchbox.
Some combos to try:
- Hummus, cucumber and tomato
- Egg salad, sprouts, bell pepper and shredded carrot
- Avocado, salsa and cashew cheese
- Roasted butternut squash, chickpeas and curry powder
- Lentils, mint, parsley and spinach
2. Collard Greens
Dark leafy greens contain an array of nutrients that we need, from energy-boosting B vitamins to bone-building calcium to antioxidants to even some healthy fats and protein. Collard greens are fantastic bread alternatives because they are nutrient-rich and decently sized for making wraps.
You can use the collard greens raw, or lightly steam them for a couple of minutes for more flexibility. And here’s another tip: double up the leaves with one leaf facing up and one facing down for more strength and surface area.
3. Romaine Lettuce
Romaine lettuce has a lighter, more neutral flavour than dark leafy greens like collards, which is why it’s one of our favourite bread alternatives. It can be used as sandwich ‘bread’ and wraps, as well as lettuce cups or burger buns.
Depending on the recipe, you can also make deconstructed sandwiches or wraps by piling your fillings on a bed of shredded or chopped romaine lettuce. This is a great option for taco bowls, chili, falafel, salmon, egg or tuna salad and veggie burger bowls.
4. Rice Paper Wraps
Rice paper wraps are inexpensive and super quick to make – all you need to do is soak them in warm water for one minute and they’re ready to use. You’ll definitely need to practice your technique at first and discover the best way for you to roll them and how much filling you can add before they burst. But once you’ve got it down pat, rice paper wraps are an amazing vehicle for raw and cooked veggies, and they make great burrito and dumpling wrappers.
Rice paper wraps also work well with your favourite dipping sauce or condiment – sometimes we set aside the sauce for dipping and at times we’ll put the sauce directly into the wrap for less fuss and mess.
5. Chickpea Flatbread
Combining chickpea flour and water makes an amazing flatbread that you can cut into squares for sandwiches and burger buns, slice into wedges for dipping, or use whole as a pizza crust. This grain-free, protein-rich option is super easy to make. This version has some extra herbs and spices, but truly all you need is chickpea flour, water and a bit of oil to make this happen.
6. Cooked Gluten-Free Whole Grains
Gluten-free grains in their whole form are a payload of nutrients, including B vitamins, protein and digestive-supportive fibre. Here are some of our faves to use:
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
So instead of using bread, pair whatever you’d put on (or with) bread with cooked whole grains. Of course this won’t work for almond butter and jelly, but transitioning to whole grains will likely encourage you to consume more veggies, beans, legumes and clean protein sources along with them. And that’s never a bad thing.
Did we miss anything? What are your favourite bread alternatives?
Header image: iStock/graytown