When it comes to our diets, carbohydrates are fickle friends. On one hand, the macronutrient is necessary for boosting energy and providing the body with essential vitamins and minerals. But when we eat too many carbs, particularly refined ones with added sugar, we may experience weight gain, increased stress levels, and difficulty stopping ourselves from overeating - all of which make it easy to dismiss carbs as diet wreckers.

At Cooking Light, we believe that balancing the good and bad effects of carbs doesn't mean avoiding them altogether. Rather, we should be conscious of carbs, choosing them wisely.

What does this mean? Most foods - from leafy vegetables to bread and cookies - contain carbs, but they affect our bodies in different ways. Choosing carbs wisely means opting for whole and minimally processed grains over refined, selecting whole fruit over juice, and incorporating more fresh produce into our meals as often as possible.

We've picked these five easy ways to cook carb-conscious, with delicious recipes to prove it: