Best Grain Alternatives (grain-free, nutrient-dense foods)

Best Grain Alternatives via Food by Mars (easy paleo meals, gluten-free)Skip to Grain Alternatives that are grain-free and easy to swap >>

When I first tried a gluten-free diet, I remember first turning to the gluten-free foods like bread, pasta, and all the other GF products out there… that were still processed with way too many ingredients and additives. It’s a common pitfall to look for 1:1 replacement like this, especially for those of us raised on the Standard American Diet (aka, the SAD!), or for my international peeps, a diet highly comprised of processed foods and refined carbohydrates. After feeling like these products still bothered me, I started getting serious in the kitchen, looking for and creating gluten-free recipes. Then, when I started learning more about how grains can be inflammatory and very difficult to digest, further attributing to leaky gut (source), I then started trying out the Paleo diet which on top of being gluten-free, is also grain-free and very focused on nutrient-dense foods, which is of course what led me to create so many easy Paleo meals and recipes!

I was at first really open to trying this because I was ready to try anything in order to feel better and heal, especially struggling with Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Disease and all the digestive issues that came along with it. At first, it was fun, like any other new thing you might try… and then I started to see the challenges with it! I was really missing things like pasta, bread, cookies, BAGELS, oh my… but really wanted to minimize my consumption of even the allergen-approved products or recipes quite frankly. Regardless of the ingredients, these foods tend to be eaten in excess, it’s just how we treated them! So we are trained, habitually, to load up on these things instead of enjoying them here and there which would do us much better (and then we’d be more balanced, as opposed to having insane cravings and swinging back from binging and restricting!).

I found the best way to actual moderation and balance in all of this was to make my whole food, grain alternatives the NORM. To prioritize nutrient-dense foods at every turn. To try new things, see what I liked and didn’t, and what was practical or not for me… the good news is, there are so many options out there if you get just a teensy bit more creative than picking out a box in a supermarket!! I promise it’s worth it. Opting for nutrient-dense foods that are the closest to the earth as possible, is not only the easiest to digest, but they give us the most benefits like vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.! They are living foods as opposed to dead like the processed junk many of us are trying to lean on less. So if you want to feel FULL OF LIFE… you know what to do. 

By crowding out the old staples that got us into feeling sick, tired, and all the rest… with nutrient-dense whole foods, we WILL start to crave them less. We will start creating NEW habits with smarter choices, and practicing this will take the guesswork and struggle out of it. And when you’re absolutely jonesing for a baked good… I got you covered there too. Try my all-purpose paleo flour, my almond flour bagels, plantain chips, or flourless muffins among many other options on my blog. These are great options to enjoy here and there when we feel like it and by making them at home ourselves, we are more likely to savor them, vs. pull from a bottomless box/bag that we can easily replenish. For some of my favorite staples to have on hand for convenience and when entertaining, etc. – I’m also including a list below of some of my favorite gluten-free and grain-free brands that use high-quality ingredients.

Bonus: Download The 20-minute AIP/Paleo Meal Prep System: Flexible Meals Everyone Will Love (Even The Picky Eaters)

I want to be clear, I don’t think that grains are the devil… demonizing foods can get us into trouble! But in excess, (and like I said, that’s kind of how many of us grew up eating them), they spike blood sugar throwing us off balance, and can be inflammatory and difficult to digest, causing a slew of health problems. Opening our worlds up to more options that are delicious and beneficial pushes us out of our comfort zones so we can explore new flavors and hopefully start to feel much better! Challenging the status quo can definitely feel uncomfortable, but that’s how we change and grow. I hope this list helps you on your journey to doing so.

Happy substituting, creating new and more beneficial habits, and of course… to getting in that kitchen more!! You will LOVE all these tasty options.


Homemade Grain-free Foods To Use

Without a doubt, some of these homemade goodies will require a few new tools for you to invest in. The great news is they are all very affordable and you’ll get a TON of use out of them.

(you can also buy these veggie noodles now at many grocery stores, but they don’t keep for that long)

(for store-bought chips, make sure there are no additives and that it’s in a healthy oil)

(you can also just buy it frozen!)

Want more of my favorite kitchen tools under $50? See here!

Onto those convenience foods to have on hand!

Favorite Grain-free Pantry Items…

You can also check out my Paleo All-Purpose Flour blend for at-home baking!

Recent Weeknight Grain-free Recipes


Hope you enjoy!
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Use #foodbymars to tag your FBM inspired creations! I’d love to see!



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  • Shanna A.October 19, 2020 - 5:05 pm

    This is such a great list of alternatives. I have been trying to eat a lot healthier by changing my diet.ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasOctober 23, 2020 - 2:02 pm

      I’m so happy the list is helpful, Shanna! It’s worth the effort to make some easy and tasty swaps for sure.ReplyCancel

  • rikaOctober 19, 2020 - 5:09 pm

    I try to reduce my gluten intake! This post is very useful. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • JessOctober 19, 2020 - 5:16 pm

    I am always looking for more healthy options and this is full of great suggestions. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • sarah johnsonOctober 19, 2020 - 5:29 pm

    Great article for grain-free solutions. I’ve never been able to stay grain-free for long periods of time, I just can’t live without pita bread. So far, I haven’t found a good solution for an affordable solution to make GF pita bread without rice flour and still taste great. Thanks for all the wonderful tips.ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasOctober 23, 2020 - 2:02 pm

      You’re very welcome, Sarah! Pita bread is a tough one, nothing quite like it in my experience as well but the rest I don’t miss much with all the great alternatives out there.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica FormicolaOctober 19, 2020 - 6:42 pm

    This is such a great guide! I will definitely be stocking my pantry with some of those items!ReplyCancel

hey thereI'm Alison

I believe your healing journey with real food can be a stress-free lifestyle, filled with joy and flavor.