A Blueprint for Fat Loss with Slow Carb, Low Carb & Keto Diets

48 Recipes, Meal Plans and Everything Else You Need to Succeed.

Dorothy Stainbrook
Mar 21 · 73 min read

The philosophy behind this guide

The first truth is defined by a very trendy and somewhat trite saying that has a solid and enduring concept behind it. It is the phrase: this is not a “diet,” but rather it is a “lifestyle change”. By definition, a diet is something you do for a period of time (usually until you reach some goal or just can’t stand it any longer); then, you stop doing it and go back to your “normal” eating. Hence the well-known yo-yo dieting phenomenon.

Weight loss vs. fat loss

The second truth is that this guide is not a “weight loss” plan, but rather a “fat loss” plan. By paying close attention to the food choices that react with the hormones that control fat storage instead of counting calories, your belt size will reduce before the scale says you’re skinny. With fat loss, your clothes fit better and your belly shrinks in size.

Sugar and the connection to inflammatory disease

The final truth is about health. While most people start a fat loss program to boost self-esteem and look better, the increased energy and the decreased inflammation often ends up being the real victory. Increasingly, the clinical long-term studies show the benefits of low carb/low sugar lifestyles toward reversing diabetes, clearing up skin problems, and helping with PCOS, Alzheimer’s and a range of diseases thought to be related to inflammation.

Who is this guide for?

This guide is meant to help you reach your health and diet goals on your own with strategies tested on a wide range of people. I have now helped over 400 people find success with these approaches. From my coaching, I know that this “way of eating” is successful for the 77-year-old man, the overweight college co-ed, the new mom, the bodybuilder, the tech geek, and many more diverse lifestyles. Come along on the journey. You won’t regret it.

I’ve included a number of low-carb recipes to help with ideas for flavor-packed meals. They will help you to ease into this way of eating. Once you lose the sugar addiction a whole new world of food and tastes opens up to you. Honest.

“I am beginning to measure myself in strength, not pounds. Sometimes in smiles.”
~ Laurie Halse Anderson, American author

Where is Your Best Fit on the Low Carb Continuum?
I. Entry Level Approach: Decrease Sugar (aka Low Carb Diet)
II. Level Two: Slow Carb
III. Level Three: Standard Ketogenic Diet
Ideal food choices for each diet
Best strategies for success
1. Setting up the kitchen
2. Use habit strategies rather than “willpower”
3. Use MFP as a tracking tool for 1 month
4. Get an accountability partner or coach
5. Trust the diet and the fit of your clothing, not the scale
6. The First Meal of the Day
7. Go for sustainability within your own lifestyle rather than rapid weight loss
8. Develop a maintenance plan to avoid carb creep
Overall shopping list
Refrigerator and freezer
Pantry: Condiments
Pantry: Canned goods
Pantry: Packaged foods
Shopping list: high protein
Recipe Section: Breakfast
Baked Eggs on Bed of Bacon and Spinach
Cover-the-Bases Protein Smoothies
Zucchini Frittata
Low Carb Lunches
Eating Out at Lunch
Snack or lunch grazing at office or home
5 Strategies to prevent cheating at lunch on a low-carb diet
Selecting compliant foods
Egg Avocado Salad
Low Carb Steak Salad
Asian Style Chicken Lettuce Wrap
Skillet Dinners
Mock Fried Chicken Legs
Pork Ragu with Spaghetti Squash
Low Carb Chicken Burgers
Seared Scallops on Creamed Spinach
Pepperonata & Heirloom Squash
Pepperonata Topping
Oven dinners
Chicken Paprikash with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Almond Crusted Cod
Low Carb Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Low Sugar Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Prepared Meatballs
Low Carb Chicken Shawarma
Roasted Ratatouille
Chimichurri Topped Beef Brisket
Oven-Baked Low Carb BBQ Ribs
Sheet Pan Dinners
Harissa Glazed Salmon
One-pot meals
Slow Carb Crockpot Chili
Bouillabaisse
Moroccan Chicken with Lemons & Olives
Slow Cooker Vietnamese Beef Pho
Smoky Lentil Tomato Soup
Chicken Lime Soup with Avocados
Hoppin John
Low Carb Mussels with Coconut Curry Broth
“Slow” Carb Pork Posole
No-cook summer recipes
Nicoise Salad for Two
Nicoise Salad Dressing
Senora’s Andalusian Gazpacho
Strawberry-Melon Salad with Low Carb Shrub Syrup
Red Pickled Eggs
Vegetable side dishes
Mock Garlic Mashed “Potatoes”
Asparagus with Crumbled Eggs & Capers
Creative Cruciferous Vegetable Medley
Snow Pea Saute
Quick & Easy Bok Choy
Roasted Cauliflower with Chimichurri Sauce
Korean BBQ Spinach
Desserts & Sweets
Zucchini Coconut Bread
Chocolate Truffles Using Sugar Substitute
Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Strawberry Balsamic Sauce
Keto Cherry Clafoutis
No-Sugar Condiments
Romesco Sauce
Harissa Sauce
Beverages
Chile Mocha Mexican Coffee

Where is Your Best Fit on the Low Carb Continuum?

Caveat:

The premise of each of the low carb approaches summarized below is that the lower a diet is in sugar and refined carbs, the more your health markers will improve and the more fat loss will occur. None of these “lifestyle” approaches are designed to incur a rapid fat loss, but rather a slow and sustainable weight loss and body recomposition.

Why tracking is effective

Studies have shown that just keeping a food diary can increase fat loss by up to 33%. This is primarily due to the mindfulness that tracking stimulates, and to the knowledge base that you gain by understanding where sugar is hiding in your food choices.

Having a coach to troubleshoot and hold you accountable can increase your chances of success much more. Even without a coach, logging your daily food intake into an app or a food diary is extremely valuable.

Tracking does not need to be tedious. It does not have to involve weighing food, using a heart rate monitor, or measuring ketones. It can be as simple as photographing your food, checking in with an accountability partner or a coach, or journaling each morning.

Tracking sugar and carbs on an app called My Fitness Pal (MFP) has been the most effective way I have found to troubleshoot and pinpoint problem areas, so it is what I will reference under each approach.

All-in or small steps? (know thyself):

Motivation is fickle, as is witnessed by the human race every New Year’s. It is critical to know your tendencies and to be clear on your goals when it comes to self-improvement and habit change. Whipping yourself when you fall off the wagon is painful and unproductive, and is to be avoided if at all possible!

In the next section of this guide, I have summarized a progression of low-carb diet approaches to use to decide which diet approach is the best fit for certain goals and lifestyles. I’ve moved in and out of these approaches myself over the past five years, and the purpose of this summary is to lay out the approaches in a gradation moving from easier to more rigorous.

I. Entry-Level Approach: Decrease Sugar (aka Low Carb Diet)

Who is the entry level for?

  • People coming from a Standard American Diet consisting of both high fat and high sugar
  • People who are physically addicted to sugar
  • People who want to change their way of eating in small incremental steps

The basics:

At first glance, the entry-level approach to fat loss sounds similar to the “No Sweets” diet, but it is actually much more nuanced. Because we have been so misinformed over the years through both the politics of health and the food industry, we tend to think of sweets as primarily desserts or candy; food that is high in sucrose (table sugar).

The entry-level approach is focused on decreasing sugar in the diet from these well-known sugar culprits, but it also addresses the following types of questions:

  • Where are the hidden sugars in your particular diet?
  • Which types of sugar make the most difference to fat loss?
  • How do you overcome the physical cravings that are so prevalent in sugar addiction?

A few details:

There are basically two types of food that are void of sugar: protein and fat. When people refer to a person as being either a fat-burner or a sugar-burner, they are referencing the way the body processes different foods for energy. A diet that is high in sugar (or refined carbs) means you are most likely a sugar burner and receive your energy from burning glucose.

Goal metrics to track on MFP for Entry Level Low Carb Diet:

The key goal of this approach is to keep your total sugar count at 25 grams or less a day. If using My Fitness Pal (MFP) to track metrics, look at the daily total of sugar. If it is over 25 grams, scroll back up the sugar column and find out which food source(s) took you over that limit.

In a nutshell:

A low carb diet is…

II. Level Two: Slow Carb

Who is a slow carb lifestyle for?

  • People wanting to make a sustainable lifestyle change resulting in decreasing body fat%
  • People that like the flexibility of scheduling cheating and/or having wine
  • People that want to keep an active social life, but want to improve health benefits
  • I believe this approach works best for people that are “all-in” types
  • People that are not adverse to tracking
  • Although many people on slow carb do practice serious exercise routines, it is not a requirement for fat loss

The basics of slow carb:

Slow carb is focused on encouraging food choices that will not spike blood sugar, rather than on a calories-in-calories-out approach. By opting for food that is high in protein and moderate in fat, you’re limiting an insulin response and it’s that insulin response that causes food to be stored in fat cells. Since protein and fat are much more satiating, the amount of calories taken in decreases somewhat naturally.

As a diet coach, I have seen the highest success rates for fat loss with Tim Ferriss’s slow carb diet. It is simple to follow and the cheat day allows people more of a guilt-free social life.

A few details on slow carb:

Ferriss lays out a set of rules but ultimately tells you to experiment with your own body using these rules as guidelines. The rules include: for 6 days in a row, avoid fruit, dairy, and grains, and try to get around 20–30 grams of protein with each meal. Moderate amounts of fats are allowed. The 7th day is a cheat day where any food or drink is allowed.

There are many more details, of course, all of which are laid out explicitly in a book called “The 4-Hour Body”.

Goal metrics to track for a Slow Carb Approach:

On the slow carb approach, aim for a daily total of 100 grams or less of carbs and 25 grams or less of sugar. The protein metric will vary depending on the type and intensity of your exercise routine (or lack thereof). The lower your carb intake, the more fat you can add to keep you satiated, but it is not considered a high-fat diet.

Avoid eating a daily meal plan that involves both high fat and high carb. That is the Standard American Diet that has caused the current state of affairs with the obesity epidemic.

In a nutshell:

The slow carb diet is….

III. Level Three: Standard Ketogenic Diet

Who is a ketogenic diet for?

  • People who have a lot of weight to lose or are obese
  • People with certain health issues, primarily type 2 diabetes, PCOS, or a range of health problems caused by inflammation (joint pain, etc.)
  • People that are insulin-resistant and need to improve their metabolic health
  • Some information shows a relationship to improving endurance sports

The basics of a ketogenic lifestyle:
There are many clinical, long term studies that are showing the benefits of a ketogenic diet for type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsons, acne and more recently, cancer. The ketogenic diet is also rapidly becoming known as one of the more effective and sustainable ways to lose a lot of weight if one is obese or has a lot to lose.

A ketogenic approach involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat (moderate protein is allowed and is based on your level of exercise). The reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens consistently over time, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy and you’re considered a “fat-burner” rather than a “sugar-burner”.

The initial stages of this diet can be quite difficult, however. It requires getting carbs to a very low level and keeping them there consistently (no cheat days on keto). That is an extremely challenging change for many people, and this way of eating is often more successful when people ease into it through a slow carb or low carb diet first.

Goal metrics to track on a ketogenic diet:

Typical percentages of macros on a ketogenic diet that includes moderate to intense exercise is often quoted as: 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs. The most important metric to track, however, is carbs — aim for less than 30 grams of carbs per day.

In a nutshell:

The Standard Ketogenic Diet is…..

Ideal food choices for each diet

Food choices (for each diet) that are compliant and non-compliant:

Please review the nuances of what is allowed and not allowed with each of these low carb approaches and select the one that will be most sustainable to you and your lifestyle.


Best strategies for success

1. Setting up the kitchen

People are busy. If cooking becomes a time-draining chore, it’s often neglected in favor of eating out or fast food. One of the best ways to make it easy in the kitchen is with some planning and organizing.

This low carb “way of eating” does not require one to be a gourmet cook — or even a good cook. Ultimately, however, weight loss is more successful if meals involve whole foods rather than snack bars and prepared foods. Organizing the kitchen with the right tools and the right ingredients will make cooking good food much easier and less time intensive, which is the holy grail for busy parents and professionals.

Basic equipment needed for easy cooking:

- Blender (for breakfast smoothies)
- Microwave
- Crockpot
- Freezer
- Sheet pan
- Freezer bags
- Portable containers that can go in microwave
- Large skillet
-Large stockpot
- Griddler or Panini grill (optional but cooks any kind of protein very quickly)

Optional equipment that’s nice to have:

- Wok
- Outdoor BBQ grill an Insta-pot
- Food processor

2. Use habit strategies rather than “willpower”

I am a big fan of Gretchen Rubin’s book “Better Than Before,” where she explores 21 different strategies for going about habit change. Strategies need to be customized to the individual, but there are three that she details that I feel are particularly relevant to diet. Those three strategies from Gretchen Rubin, and one other habit strategy involving a stepped approach, are summarized below.

The Strategy of Convenience:

The issue of convenience (or inconvenience) is often an obstacle to eating well; hence the popularity of fast food. There are many ways to employ this strategy, with setting up your kitchen and pantry being the most relevant.

Little tweaks to convenience can also make a difference. Google tested this habit strategy with an experiment related to the ever-present office candy dish. They placed the office treats (in this case, M&Ms) in an opaque container which had a lid that you had to unscrew, instead of leaving the candy in the usual see-through glass dish. During a period of 7 weeks, a staff of 2,000 ate 3.1 million fewer calories from their M&Ms. What could you store differently in your home to remove the visual temptation?

The Strategy of Loophole-Spotting:

There are many loopholes we humans give ourselves that get in the way of our goals. I often refer to this as the self-talk that is tied to decision-making. A focus on habit formation allows us to decrease the need for decision-making around what and when to eat, thus eliminating the dangerous self-talk.

Rubin refers to this kind of self-talk as providing loopholes. Loopholes might include such phrases as, “I travel too much to eat low carb” or “I already ate the cake so I might as well eat the xyz also” or “my work is too stressful right now to eat well,” or “it’s holiday season, I’ll start eating well later.”

There are any number of loopholes, and some are very creative. The key is to plan ahead for how you will react when you come upon these situations. Some people call this the “when-then” approach. Decide ahead of time that “when X happens, I will do Y”. Then, catch yourself in the act of the loophole self-talk, reject it, and rely on the method you planned ahead of time to deal with it.

Tiny Habits Approach:

There is an entire format and strategy built around an approach developed by Dr. B.J. Fogg of Stanford University. The central idea is to change your habits slowly by taking it one tiny step at a time. Basically, you develop new habits by tying the desired tiny habit to an existing tiny habit in a similar physical space. Specific phrases are used to develop habits.

Example: I was always forgetting to take my magnesium tablet, so I tied taking the supplement to something I did each morning in the kitchen — make coffee. The phrase that accompanies this is “After I start the coffee, I will pour a glass of water and take my magnesium tablet.” It is important that the tablet and the water be located in the same area as the coffee maker (this way you use the convenience factor in your favor).

After the new tiny habit is ingrained you stack another tiny habit onto it, and eventually, you’ve reached a long term goal. This is known as “habit stacking”.

3. Use MFP as a tracking tool for 1 month

My Fitness Pal has been the most effective tool I have seen to track diet goals. The database is large and it is very easy to readily see the macronutrients on a daily basis and on a meal-to-meal basis. Tracking has many benefits that can enhance the likelihood of diet success. Humans tend to underestimate the number of carbs they eat and overestimate their knowledge of which foods contain the most carbs.

My Fitness Pal keeps you very mindful of your true daily intake, and it quickly points out where the hidden carbs and sugars are. It is also a great tool for troubleshooting and tweaking your diet if you plateau.

4. Get an accountability partner or coach

There are a few people in the world that are so disciplined that they need nothing more than a book to ensure diet success. Most of us reach success much quicker if we have a method to keep us accountable. A friend or family member can often work as an accountability partner. Workplace competition is also effective. For some people, a fitness coach can be very effective.

This is an individual preference, and the length of time required is also individual. Some people just need a month-long boost and can then take off on their own. Some people find it worthwhile to have a long term accountability partner or coach to ensure sustainability.

5. Trust the diet and the fit of your clothing, not the scale

The scale is a very blunt tool, and many people will benefit more by throwing it out the window. Weight measurements taken on a daily basis can fluctuate fairly dramatically at times as a result of your body holding water. This fluctuation of water weight might be caused by lack of sleep, by an increase in stress, by a woman's cycle, or by how many carbs you had the day before. The key for a fat loss diet is to look for a downward trend over time and how your clothes are fitting. It is a “body recomposition” diet.

Some people do enjoy tracking daily weight on a scale and looking for the rationale behind the fluctuations. Some get very discouraged if the scale does not move for a week or two, and this may cause them to give up. The key is to remember that low carb eating is a “fat loss” type of approach, rather than a “weight loss” approach. Losing fat and gaining muscle may not move the number on the scale as quickly as it moves the notch in the belt buckle.

6. The First Meal of the Day

There are three effective approaches to the first meal on a low carb diet:

  1. Eat a high protein-low carb-moderate fat breakfast. This would usually involve eggs with some sort of meat (i.e., sausage or bacon, etc) and no bread or toast or fruit.
  2. Make a high protein — moderate fat — low carb smoothie. This usually involves protein powder with variations of greens and 1/2 cup or less of berries.
  3. If you are not hungry in the morning, practice a 16/8 intermittent fast where you just have a “fatty coffee” for breakfast and your first meal is 16 hours after your dinner the day before (16 hours fast and eat within an 8-hour window).

There are nuances to these “first meal” approaches, but these are what I have seen to be most effective. The first meal is the most important meal of the day, whether it be breakfast or lunch. Your body has come out of a fast (sleep) and it is looking for energy. If there are a lot of carbs in the first meal, the body will use them for fuel and energy, as carbs are the easiest source to process. If there are no carbs present, the body will turn to fat for fuel. Burning fat is the goal.

7. Go for sustainability within your own lifestyle rather than rapid weight loss

Although many diet plans (including some of the low carb plans) promote rapid fat loss, it is more generally the case that the average weight loss on a low carb diet trends around 1 pound per week. This is dependent on many, many variables (such as how much you exercise, how high in carbs your previous diet was, whether you are insulin resistant, etc.).

This way of eating is a lifestyle change rather than a diet, and that cannot be emphasized enough. It is not a rapid weight loss plan of extremely low calories that will result in rapid weight loss and then rapid re-gain (i.e., the yo-yo effect). There are a wide range of low carb approaches, and it is critical to design an approach that can be sustainable within your current lifestyle.

8. Develop a maintenance plan to avoid carb creep

Motivation is often quite high in the beginning stages of a diet. If you continue to lose, the progress will keep you motivated. At some point, however, the body will adjust to a “new normal”, which is often called a plateau. Perseverance through the plateau stage is difficult.

Whether you have met your goal weight or are persevering through a plateau, maintenance of the weight loss is critical to long term sustainability. It is always harder to lose weight the second time around.

There are several approaches to maintenance. The two that stand out for me are:

  1. The red-flag limit is a personal limit you give yourself for how many pounds you are willing to shrug off before you call it carb creep and slap yourself into being strictly compliant again. My red-flag limit is 4 pounds.
  2. Develop and stick with an exercise routine to ensure control of your metabolism.

Overall shopping list

Refrigerator and freezer

- Most fresh vegetables. Spinach, peppers, zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, etc. are all great. Most root vegetables (like beets, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, etc.) are not compliant due to high sugar/starch content. Carrots are OK but can be a little high in sugar.- Berries are the only fruit that is allowed outside of cheat day (1/2 cup of berries per day. Lemon and limes for enhancing waters can be fine.)- Meats of all kinds are compliant- Fish of all kinds is great- Eggs are allowed and are highly correlated with weight loss- Cottage cheese (1/2 cup of “full fat” is OK). No low-fat dairy is allowed.- Heavy whipping cream for your coffee is fine.- Lettuce (large leaves are great for wraps)- Bags of shredded brussels sprouts or cabbage for quick preparation** Note: vegetables that do well on the counter but not in the refrigerator would include fresh tomatoes, avocados, and spaghetti squash.

One of the most effective strategies for success is to stock your kitchen with compliant food and ingredients and toss out the sugary snacks (or put them in the freezer and out of sight for the day).

Pantry: Condiments

- Mustard (except sweetened mustards like honey mustard)- Vinegars (be careful with added sugar in balsamic vinegar — read labels)- Oils (olive oil, coconut oil and ghee are the recommended cooking oils, with refined olive oil instead of virgin olive oil used for high temp cooking)- Nut oils are good for dressings (avoid vegetable oils and oils with soybeans)- Many bottled hot sauces- Most salsas (avoid those with corn)- Soy sauce or tamari- Mayonnaise — look especially for brands high in monounsaturated fat or make your own - Sugar-free or low-sugar salad dressings (read labels and compare)- Capers- Cornichon pickles (use as dippers in tuna salad mixes)- Olives- Horseradish- Pesto- Herbs and spices- Miso, tahini, & fish sauce- Extracts (vanilla, lemon, almond, etc.)- Broth or bouillon- Worcestershire sauce**Note: many condiments are riddled with all forms of sugar. Learn to read labels and look for sugars and carbs in all their disguises.

Pantry: Canned goods

- Canned seafood (tuna, salmon, crab, smoked oysters) - Sardines- Canned tomatoes- Salsas- Pasta sauce or tomato sauce with no added sugars- Canned green chilies- Tomato paste- Roasted red peppers (rinse if there is sugar in the ingredients) - Dried tomatoes in oil (a little adds lots of flavor)- Chicken and/or vegetable stock- Artichoke hearts- Jars of pesto or other vegetable-based sauces - Italian pickled vegetables- Anchovies- Nut butters- Coconut milk (unsweetened)- Canned beans (rinse them)- Olives

Pantry: Packaged foods

- Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, etc. - Seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin- Coffee- Tea- Sugar-free gelatin desserts such as Jello- Chicharrones (pork rinds)- Parmesan crisps- Protein Powders (*see note High Protein Foods Summary that follows)- Truvia or sugar substitutes with Erythritol and/or Stevia

Shopping list: high protein

Beef- Hamburger patty, 4 oz — 28 grams protein- Steak, 6 oz — 42 grams- Most cuts of beef — 7 grams of protein per ounce
Fish
- Most fish fillets or steaks are about 22 grams of protein for 3 1⁄2 oz (100 grams) of cooked fish, or 6 grams per ounce- Tuna, 6 oz can — 40 grams of protein
Pork
- Pork chop, average — 22 grams protein- Pork loin or tenderloin, 4 oz — 29 grams- Ham, 3 oz serving — 19 grams - Ground pork, 1 oz raw — 5 grams; 3 oz cooked — 22 grams - Bacon, 1 slice — 3 grams - Canadian-style bacon (back bacon), slice — 5–6 grams
Nuts & Seeds
- Peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons — 8 grams protein- Almonds, 1⁄4 cup — 8 grams - Peanuts, 1⁄4 cup — 9 grams - Cashews, 1⁄4 cup — 5 grams - Pecans, 1⁄4 cup — 2.5 grams - Sunflower seeds, 1⁄4 cup — 6 grams- Pumpkin seeds, 1⁄4 cup — 8 grams - Flax seeds — 1⁄4 cup — 8 grams
Chicken- Chicken breast, 3.5 oz — 30 grams protein- Chicken thigh — 10 grams (for average size)- Drumstick — 11 grams- Wing — 6 grams- Chicken meat, cooked, 4 oz — 35 grams
Eggs & Beans & Misc- Egg, large — 6–7 grams protein each - Cottage cheese, 1⁄2 cup — 15 grams - Tofu, 1⁄2 cup 20 grams protein- Most beans (black, pinto, lentils, etc) about 7–10 grams protein per half cup of cooked beans- Soybeans, 1⁄2 cup cooked — 14 grams protein- Split peas, 1⁄2 cup cooked — 8 grams*Protein PowdersThe main thing to look for in your protein powder is that it is a “whey isolate,” that it includes less than 2 grams or so of sugar, at least 20 grams protein per scoop and that it is low in carbs.After that it is a matter of taste and expense. They do all taste quite differently, so if one is not to your liking, try another. Also, a tsp of cinnamon really helps in the taste department.

Recipe Section: Breakfast

Baked Eggs on Bed of Bacon and Spinach

You only need a skillet with a cover and about 7 minutes to put together this easy and delicious slow carb breakfast.

Makes 1 serving.

Ingredients:

3 eggs3 bacon slices1 cup fresh spinachSalt & pepper, to taste Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Directions:

  • Fry up some bacon in a skillet to just under the crispiness you like.
  • Drain most of the grease off, leaving the bacon in the skillet, and turn the heat to medium-low.
  • Toss a handful of fresh spinach on top of the bacon.
  • Crack 2 or 3 eggs on top of the spinach. Add a little salt and pepper.
  • Cover the skillet and let the eggs bake on the burner (medium-low heat) until they are the consistency you like (about 5 minutes for my taste).
  • Use a spatula to get under the bacon and transfer the breakfast to a plate, or just tilt and slide the whole thing onto a plate and enjoy!
  • Add salt and pepper, and a few dashes of balsamic vinegar. It really adds to the flavor.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 351 
Fat: 24
Protein: 29
Carbs: 3

Cover-the-Bases Protein Smoothies

Smoothies can be a quick and easy way for busy people to get leafy greens and protein into a diet plan. Once you have the ingredients on hand it’s a 5-minute breakfast that will keep you satiated and productive until lunch.

Makes 2–3 servings.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk1/2 cup frozen berries (blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries)1 scoop protein powder (Isopure, Premier, or Jay Robb are decent brands — just make sure your powder is a whey isolate with very little sugar) 1 tablespoon chia seeds (great for calcium and some minerals that are hard to get) 1 handful fresh spinach leaves (I use about 1 cup, it depends on how thick you like it) 1 cup water, plus some ice cubes

Directions:

  • Blend it all up together, pour in a glass and enjoy!
  • If you’re in a hurry, don’t forget to run hot water into your blender after making the smoothies so that cleanup is easy when you get home from work (it’s hard to clean and it stinks if you let it sit on the counter without water).

Compliant substitutions or add-ins for basic protein smoothies

If you get bored with the same thing every day, here are a range of low-carb compliant ingredients that you can substitute in the recipe above (or simply add in):

  • Avocados
  • Romaine lettuce instead of spinach
  • Undistilled apple cider vinegar (if you have digestion issues or flatulence)
  • Peanut butter (not much, it’s dense in calories)
  • Cottage cheese (high protein)
  • MCT oil, or coconut oil
  • Cacao nibs

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 148 
Fat: 4.2
Protein: 15.5
Carbs: 14.8

Zucchini Frittata

If you are looking for portable lunches to bring to work, this frittata holds together really well in a container and can be easily warmed up in a microwave.

Makes 3–4 servings.

Ingredients:

4–5 slices bacon (optional)1 tbsp olive oil3 cups zucchini, thinly sliced (about 2 small zucchini) 4 green onions (scallions), minced3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced8 eggs2/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese (you can also use Parmesan or another hard aged cheese)1 tsp dried oregano1/4 tsp salt1 dash freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease baking dish (9-inch square pan or 9-inch diameter round works well).
  • Fry up some bacon, if you’re going to add bacon.
  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, onion and parsley and saute until softened, about 4–5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In large bowl, use a fork to beat eggs with cheese and seasonings. Add zucchini mixture to the bowl and blend well (add crumbled up bacon at this point — amount depending on your taste).
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake until just firm in center, about 20–25 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 198 
Fat: 13
Protein: 16.8
Carbs: 3.7

Low Carb Lunches

Eating out at lunch

  • Jimmy Johns or another deli where you can get your choice of sandwich fillings
  • Lettuce wrap (called an unwich)
  • Chipotle — salad bowl with meat, beans, veggies, salsa, sour cream and guacamole (no rice and no tortillas)
  • Grocery store delis often have extensive salad bar options, with olives and veggies
  • Most restaurants & cafes: get a large salad with protein (like chicken, shrimp, or eggs.) The dressing should be oil and vinegar or blue cheese on the side (no ranch, French, etc.).

Snack or lunch grazing at office or home

  • Celery with peanut butter (easy on the peanut butter)
  • Tuna (i.e. tuna in olive oil or brine, and then add capers, mustard, mayo, etc.)
  • Hard-boiled eggs (you can buy these already peeled); add mayo & different mustards for a bowl of egg salad
  • Deviled eggs
  • Dill pickles (use the cornichon small pickles as dippers)
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese (full fat cottage cheese); add sunflower seeds for extra protein
  • Baba Ganoush (eggplant dip) with zucchini sticks as dippers
  • Jerky or smoked meats from the deli (read labels, some jerky is made with a lot of sugar)
  • Nuts (keep this to a minimum, easy to overdo)
  • Pre-made bacon to use as “crackers” to dip in guacamole
  • Sugar-free Jello, alone or with cottage cheese and a sprinkling of nuts
  • Make sugar-free lime Jello, substituting coconut milk for water
  • Smoked salmon on cucumber slices
  • Lettuce Roll-ups: roll luncheon meat, egg salad, tuna or other filling and veggies in lettuce leaves; add balsamic vinegar for a treat
  • Microwave a can of black beans (rinsed), add salsa on top and some sliced avocado if you have it
  • Spread a low carb bean dip on deli meat and then roll it up
  • Raw veggies and hummus (jicama works well for dipping sticks)
  • Pork rinds (these work well as dippers in guacamole)
  • Pepperoni chips: Microwave pepperoni slices until crisp. Great with bean or salmon dips
  • Avocado is low in carbs (4–8 g net carbs per 1 avocado) and high in fat, so it makes a very satisfying snack. Mash it up with a bit of salt and pepper (drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar for a treat)
  • Leftovers from dinner

5 Strategies to prevent cheating at lunch on a low-carb diet

  1. Pre-planning: this generally means making low carb lunches ahead of time or planning far enough in advance that you have a refrigerator or pantry full of portable, convenient low carb snacks. It also means having clean, sealable containers in your kitchen.
  2. Curating nearby restaurant menus. Many popular and/or fast food restaurants have menu items that are compliant with a low carb diet. It is a matter of knowing what the menu options are and knowing which restaurants do not mind giving substitutions. This is easy enough to figure out with an online search, or it might take a phone call (old school, I know, but sometimes worthwhile).
  3. Having the right equipment and ingredients on hand. If you are at an office, having a blender available for smoothies might be problematic, but most offices have microwaves and refrigerators. If you work or parent from home, the equipment is an easier feat, but you do need to make sure your pantry and refrigerator are well stocked with compliant food.
  4. Employing the “Strategy of Inconvenience.” This is a strategy developed by Gretchen Rubin and it is useful for low carb lunches, but it is also critical for snacking. If the office candy dish is open and full of candy all the time, it is a siren call for mindless eating. Ask the person in charge of treats if the dish can be one that is not transparent and/or have a cover. At home, this would involve making your kitchen off limits for non-compliant foods, or in the case of mixed-diet households, placing the candy and snacks in covered, non-transparent containers (or in the freezer). In other words, if you can’t banish it completely, at least make it inconvenient.
  5. Drinking bulletproof coffee or getting in some form of good fat that will keep you full until dinner and still keep your brain productive.

Selecting compliant foods

NUTS: Nuts are great, but are quite dense in calories and have stalled many a diet. The best options are nuts with higher fat content: macadamia, Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and almonds. The et carb content is around 2–5g net carbs per 50g (1.8 oz). Minimize the amount of cashews, as they are much higher in carbs.

CHEESE: Aged hard cheeses do not have the lactose (milk sugar) that makes cheese non-compliant on a slow carb diet. They are dense in fat and calories, however, so be careful. A little fresh Parmesan can add a lot of flavor without the sugar, carbs, or calories.

COLD MEATS: Choose sliced whole meats such as ham or turkey breast, rather than processed unidentified concoctions. Carb count should be below 1g per 100g/3.5 oz. My favorite is Wiltshire cured ham.

JERKY & PEPPERONI: Most shops sell small pepperoni sticks as individual snacks. These are highly processed and not the healthiest thing you can eat due to the nitrates. However, there should be hardly any carbs in them (0–1g total per 1 stick). If you are in a bind and stuck with gas station food, you may have to resort to something like this. Any time you have a choice, always go for whole foods over processed foods.

DARK CHOCOLATE: It’s the sugar in chocolate that’s a problem, not the cocoa. Some sugar-free chocolate products are available. If you opt for chocolate, darker is better. Ghirardelli and Lindt both offer dark chocolate bars that are readily available in grocery stores.

CHICHARRONES: Crispy, fatty, salty, zero-carb. They turn some people off, but they can be a great snack to fill the gap left by potato chips. They’re also known as Bacon Puffs or Pork Rinds. A relatively new snack called oven-baked Parmesan Crisps is another good option for salty and crunchy.

PROTEIN SHAKES: Protein shakes with limited sugar can make easy, low carb lunches. Just make sure and get a protein powder that is a whey isolate. A teaspoon of cinnamon added to a vanilla-flavor shake adds a lot of flavor, plus health (no more than a tsp of cinnamon a day though — it is a blood thinner). Some people add coconut milk (unsweetened) instead of water.


Egg Avocado Salad

This low carb salad is easy to make the night before or on the weekend and then put it into portable containers to grab on your way out the door.

Makes 3 servings.

Ingredients:

2–3 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled 1 avocado, chopped or mashed3 tbsp sour creamSalt & pepper to taste 1/2 tsp paprika or chili pepper spice2–3 tsp tomato mustard (optional)

Directions:

  • Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss delicately until well combined.

There are a ton of additions you can make to this simple salad to enhance it or change it up. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Chopped onions
  • Dijon mustard
  • Horseradish
  • Bacon bits
  • Dill
  • Capers
  • Harissa

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 122 
Protein: 6
Fat: 10
Carbs: 4.1

Low Carb Steak Salad

An impressive, flavor-packed, nutritious dinner doesn’t come any easier than this steak salad.

Makes 2–3 servings.

Ingredients:

16 oz steak1 head lettuce —  romaine or butter lettuce is good, but any kind works 3–5 large radishes, sliced5–6 oz fresh green beans, blanched (may substitute with any fresh veggie)2 medium fresh tomatoesBlue cheese crumbles (or try goat cheese or feta cheese) Salad dressing (blue cheese is a good one for keto and low carb)

Directions:

  • Preheat a grill. Brush both sides of the steak with some olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill 5 minutes on each side or until steak is medium rare. Set aside. (Alternatively, use leftover steak from the night before).
  • Blanch the beans by tossing in boiling water for a few minutes and then draining and rinsing in cold water. Cut steak into bite-size chunks.
  • Arrange lettuce, radishes, beans and steak chunks on serving plates. Top with blue cheese crumbles and drizzle your favorite salad dressing on top.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 430 
Fat: 31
Protein: 36
Carbs: 1

Asian Style Chicken Lettuce Wrap

Lettuce wraps are a great low carb lunch on the go, and the lack of bread or buns allows the taste of the flavorful filling to shine through!

Ingredients:

1–2 tbsp olive oil1 lb chicken, ground or chopped finely 2 cloves garlic, minced1 onion, diced1/4 cup hoisin sauce (some sugar in this) 2 tbsp soy sauce1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger1 tsp Sriracha, or more, to taste2 green onions, thinly slicedKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste1 head lettuce — butter or romaine

Directions:

  • For no-cook wraps, chop up roasted chicken from the grocery store or deli. For a low carb lettuce wrap with ground chicken, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ground chicken and cook until browned, about 3–5 mins, making sure to crumble the chicken as it cooks; drain excess fat.
  • Mix together the garlic, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha. Saute in olive oil until onions have become translucent, about 1–2 minutes (if using ground chicken, saute in the same pan as chicken). Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the chicken mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf, taco-style, and enjoy.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 330 
Fat: 21.7
Protein: 22
Carbs: 20

Skillet Dinners

Mock Fried Chicken Legs

Two key problems with fried foods on a low carb diet or ketogenic diet are: a) the type of oil and b) the type of coating. This recipe for baked chicken legs solves both problems and is a treat to eat.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

8–10 chicken legsSalt & pepper2 tbsp refined olive oil1 tbsp fennel seeds, ground 1 cup crushed pork rinds (crush with bottom side of measuring spoon or cup while in the bag)2–4 tbsp dijon mustard

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse the chicken legs and pat dry. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat and brown the chicken well on both sides (2–4 minutes per side). This is not high temp deep- frying, but rather medium-temp sauteing.
  • Transfer the chicken to a roasting pan or large sheet-pan (line with parchment paper for easy clean up). Bake 15 minutes.
  • While the chicken is cooking, mix together fennel, the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, the pork rinds, 1/2 tsp salt and a pinch of pepper.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and raise the oven temp to 500 degrees F. While the oven is heating up, use a pastry brush to brush one side of the chicken legs with mustard and then press the crumb mixture into the mustard coating.
  • Turn the legs over and repeat on the other side.
  • Bake until the crumb crust turns golden, about 10 minutes.
  • Serve with a green vegetable, roasted tomatoes or cauliflower mash.

Nutritional breakdown (grams):

Calories: 886
Protein: 89
Fat: 62
Carbs: 3

Pork Ragu with Spaghetti Squash

Ragus are typically served over pasta, but the substitution of spaghetti squash lowers the carb count and adds nutrients.

Makes 3–4 servings.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil1 large onion, diced3–4 garlic cloves, minced1 1/2 cups sweet red bell pepper (chopped & seeded)1 1/2 lb ground pork or Italian sausage (I mixed both types together, around 1/2 and 1/2) 1 cup smoked tomatoes (or 28 oz can crushed tomatoes) 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar1 tsp kosher salt1/2 tsp sugar (omit on SC diet)1 tsp smoked paprika1 medium spaghetti squash

Directions:

  • Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Either roast in 375-degree oven for about 45 minutes or cook in microwave for about 10 minutes. If roasting, brush the tops of squash with a little oil so it doesn’t dry out. If microwaving, turn squash flesh side down on a plate and heat for 10–12 minutes. Cook until tender enough to easily stick a fork in. Leave in the microwave or oven until ragu is done.
  • As the squash cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for about 3–5 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic and cook quickly (30 sections). Add bell pepper, cooking until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and add ground pork. If using Italian sausage, cut the casings open and spread the sausage throughout the pan — chop with a spatula to break it up. Cook until pork is browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Add crushed (or smoked) tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes (depending on how hungry you are).
  • Scrape out the flesh of the spaghetti squash with a fork or spoon onto a plate (hold squash with potholder if it is still hot). Spoon ragu sauce over the squash or serve the squash on the side with plenty of butter, salt, and pepper.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 985 
Fat: 43
Protein: 65.2
Carbs: 44.3

Low Carb Chicken Burgers

Lemon and parsley give the chicken patties a flavor punch with a touch of acid. As a bonus, it’s quick, easy and inexpensive!

Ingredients:

1 lb ground chicken1 large onion, chopped4 large cloves garlic, minced1 egg1 tbsp lemon zest2 tbsp fresh lemon juice3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley2 tbsp olive oil1 tsp crushed caraway seeds1 1/4 tsp salt1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepperRefined olive oil for fryingFresh lemon wedges for serving

Directions:

  • If you have time, lightly toast the caraway seeds before crushing to bring out flavor (optional).
  • In a large bowl, mix together thoroughly all ingredients except frying oil and lemon wedges.
  • Heat frying oil in large skillet over high heat until shimmering (use refined olive oil for high heat frying rather than extra virgin olive oil).
  • Form the chicken mixture into patties (they will be somewhat loose and mushier than making hamburger patties). Ease the patties into the hot oil with a spatula so they do not break apart, and turn the heat to medium-high.
  • Fry the patties for about 3–4 minutes and then flip with a spatula. Fry on the flipped side for 4–6 minutes or until golden brown and crispy and done on the inside (you may have to cover the skillet for last few minutes to speed cooking on the inside).
  • Remove to drain on paper towels and serve with a side of green vegetables like snow peas. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze on patties before eating.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 375 
Fat: 29.7
Protein: 22.8
Carbs: 5.9

Seared Scallops on Creamed Spinach

Start this dish with very dry scallops and a very hot pan to get the perfect sear.

Makes 3–4 servings.

Ingredients:

12–16 large sea scallops 2 tbsp butter, unsalted12 oz fresh spinach (about 12 loosely packed cups) 1 cup chopped onion (or leeks) Pinch of salt3–4 garlic cloves1/2 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)1/3 cup heavy cream1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper 1/2 tsp saltPinch of freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 cup freshly grated or shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano1–5 tsp refined olive oil

Directions:

  • Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add about half of the spinach and saute until wilted, tossing occasionally with a fork or tongs (2–3 mins). When the first batch of spinach is wilted, transfer it to a sieve or colander placed over a bowl and let it drain. Repeat with the second half of the spinach.
  • Wipe skillet out with a paper towel and melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter in skillet. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute until translucent and golden (about 5 mins). Add garlic and cook about 1 minute, being careful not to burn it.
  • Add wine to deglaze the skillet and cook over medium-high heat until almost evaporated (about 2–3 minutes). Add cream and simmer until thickened (about 2 mins). Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Fold in the Parmesan and the spinach, cover and keep warm.
  • Pat the scallops dry again with paper towels, getting them as dry as you can to take a good sear. Season them with salt and pepper (sometimes I might add spice to this seasoning, like ground fennel or smoked paprika).
  • In a clean, large skillet, heat 2–3 tsp of refined olive oil (extra virgin doesn’t have a high enough smoke point) over high heat until shimmering hot. Place half of the scallops in the skillet, starting with the 6 o’clock position and moving clockwise around the skillet.
  • Cook undisturbed until browned on the bottom (resist the temptation to pick them up, look at, or move them — they will come away from the pan easily once fully seared). Flip the scallops (after about 2–3 minutes) and continue to cook about 1 minute longer.
  • Repeat with remaining 2 tsp oil and scallops. Serve over spinach and enjoy.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 388 
Fat: 25.6
Protein: 21.7
Carbs: 14

Pepperonata & Heirloom Squash

This gorgeous feast is rich with the beta carotene from the orange vegetables and can rival macaroni and cheese for comfort food.

Makes 4–5 servings

Ingredients:

2–3 tbsp olive oil1 1/2 to 2 cups assorted peppers, chopped1 onion, roughly chopped2–3 cloves garlic, minced 1 1/2 tsp ground pork (or ground hamburger)1 1/2 tsp anchovy paste or 2 anchovies, mincedSalt & pepper, to tasteSquash of choice, quartered

Directions:

  • Heat olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet or saute pan over high heat.
  • Add peppers and onions to the skillet and saute, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until the onions are translucent and the peppers are soft (about another 10 minutes).
  • Add garlic and saute quickly, being careful not to burn the garlic (only needs about 30 seconds).
  • Add the ground pork and cook over medium heat until no longer pink (about 10 minutes). While the mixture is cooking, cut the squash in half or quarters and place face down on a plate. Microwave the plate of squash for 5–10 minutes, or until soft when poked with a fork.
  • Remove the pan with the meat mixture from the heat and stir in the anchovies. Scrape out the squash from the shell, taking care not to burn your hands. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Top the squash with Romesco Sauce if available and serve alongside pepperonata mixture (recipe below).

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 776
Protein: 54
Fat: 35
Carbs: 77

Pepperonata Topping

Pepperonata (peh-peh-roh-NAH- tah) is a classic Italian vegetable dish highlighting slow-cooked bell peppers as the base ingredient.

Makes 4 servings.
1/3 cup olive oil1 1/2 lbs assorted peppers (mostly sweet peppers), chopped1 cup roughly chopped onion1/2 lb sliced mushrooms, any kind 2–3 cloves garlic, minced1/4 cup pitted chopped Kalamata olives 1/4 cup pitted chopped green olives 3 tbsp capers, drained and chopped 2 tbsp red wine vinegar1 1/2 tsp anchovy paste or 2 anchovies, mincedSalt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Heat olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet or saute pan over high heat.
    Add the peppers and onions to the pan and saute, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Then add mushrooms and saute for another 5 minutes, or until vegetables start to brown.
  • **NOTE: if you want to take the time to roast peppers and remove skins, it does make this dish better, particularly if you are using a lot of bell peppers with thick skins. Another alternative would be to use roasted bell peppers from a jar.
  • Lower heat to medium and continue cooking until onions are translucent and the peppers and mushrooms are extremely soft (about another 10-15 minutes). Add the garlic and saute quickly, being careful not to burn the garlic (only needs about 30 seconds).
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the olives, capers, vinegar, and anchovies. Stir in more olive oil to make the pepperonata moist and oily.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and add a little more vinegar, if needed. Serve over a hamburger, over spaghetti squash, or over any other protein or vegetable base.
  • Refrigerate Pepperonata to serve later on top of baguette toasts, or as an antipasti.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 165 
Fat: 15
Protein: 1
Carbs: 7

Oven dinners

Chicken Paprikash with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Cooking the paprika a bit before adding the broth will release the full bouquet of the paprika aroma and add depth to the dish.

Makes 3–4 servings.

Directions:

8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on (or use legs)Salt & fresh ground pepper3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided3 cloves garlic, minced3 tbsp Hungarian paprika (or your choice of paprika)1 cup chicken broth1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained & julienned 1/4 cup Parmesan, freshly grated1/4 tsp dried thyme1/4 tsp dried oregano1/2 cup sour cream (can use heavy cream as an alternative)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
  • Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add chicken, skin-side down, and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2–3 minutes per side; remove from pan and set aside.
  • Melt remaining 1 tbsp butter in the skillet. Add garlic and paprika and cook quickly until fragrant, stirring constantly. Stir in chicken broth, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn heat to medium-low and stir in sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan, thyme, oregano and sour cream or heavy cream. (Add sour cream slowly or it will curdle).
  • Bring everything to a simmer for 1–2 minutes, stirring to combine. Return chicken to the skillet and nestle into the sauce.
  • Place into oven and roast until completely cooked through reaching an internal temperature of 175 degrees F, about 25–30 min.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 395 
Fat: 28
Protein: 32.4
Carbs: 4.6

Almond Crusted Cod

Fish and seafood are perfect protein options for low carb, slow carb and keto lifestyles. This recipe for a low carb fish dinner highlights cod, but any white fish could be used.

Makes 3–4 servings.

Ingredients:

1 lemon, zest and juice1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds 1 tbsp dill, either fresh or from the tube1 tbsp + 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, dividedSalt & pepper4 cod filets (or halibut or other thick white fish) 4 tsp dijon mustard

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by either coating it with cooking spray or covering the sheet with parchment paper.
  • Using a microplane, zest the lemon over a small bowl. Chop or process the almonds to a medium-coarse texture (I used a Vitamix blender).
  • Add the almonds to the bowl of lemon zest, along with the lemon juice, the dill, 1 tbsp oil, and salt and pepper.
  • Pat dry the thawed-out fish and place on the prepared baking sheet. Spread each fillet with 1 tsp mustard and then divide the almond mixture among the 4 fillets, pressing it evenly onto the mustard.
  • Bake the fish until opaque at the thickest part, about 5–7 minutes. Be careful not to overcook.
  • Cover and keep warm. I served it with a spinach egg drop soup.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 219 
Fat: 12.7
Protein: 22.7
Carbs: 4.8

Low Carb Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

This low carb stuffed spaghetti squash can be extremely versatile, using chicken, pork sausage, or ground beef as the protein in the stuffing.

Makes 3–4 servings.

Ingredients:

2 8-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1 large spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise & seeded1 1/2 cup red enchilada sauce, divided 1 medium zucchini, diced1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese 1 tsp spice mix (I used harissa; many work — use your favorite)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Add chicken to a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. After it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer the chicken about 15 minutes, or until no longer pink on the inside. Remove chicken and transfer to a cutting board; let cool until you can handle it.
  • While the chicken is cooking, place the halved, seeded squash on a plate flesh-side down and microwave for 10 minutes (or until flesh is tender).
  • When the chicken is cool enough to work with, shred chicken breasts with two forks and place in a large bowl. When the squash is cool enough to work with, use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the bowl with the chicken (keeping the shells intact). Set the intact shells aside. Add 1 cup enchilada sauce, zucchini, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp chile spice mix to the chicken/squash mixture. Mix everything together thoroughly.
  • Place shells on a broiler-safe pan and divide the mixture between the shells. Top with remaining 1/2 cup enchilada sauce and the shredded cheese.
  • Bake on the lower rack for 10 minutes. If a deeper browned cheese crust is desired, move pan to the upper rack and put broiler on high for a few minutes (watch carefully).
  • To serve, cut each shell in half (they are filling; 1/2 shell is usually enough for 1 serving).

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 408 
Fat: 22
Protein: 34
Carbs: 20

Low Sugar Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Prepared Meatballs

With prepared low carb meatballs, this family-friendly meal gets to the table quickly.

Makes 4–6 servings.
3 tbsp olive oil (or bacon fat) 1 large onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 6-oz can tomato paste1 tsp dried oregano1 tbsp dried basil (optional) 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt1 bay leaf1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes, preferably Italian 1 28-oz can tomato sauce1/2 tsp sugar (optional)2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped 4 pepperoncini, chopped1 package Shirataki noodles 1 package meatballs (about 16 meatballs)

Low carb meatballs: You could use low carb meatballs from Sam’s Club, made with real Parmesan cheese and no fillers. They had 2.5 grams of carbs and 1 gram of sugar per meatball, which is quite low. The ingredients were primarily pork and Parmesan cheese. The brand name was Stefano’s. You can also look for something similar in your grocery store.

Directions for sauce:

  • In large pot, skillet, or dutch oven, heat oil on medium and add onions. Saute for about 3 minutes; then add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
  • Add tomato paste and stir. Add all spices and stir to combine.
  • Add cans of tomatoes and tomato sauce, then add 4 1/2 cup water. Stir in sugar (if using), parsley and pepperoncini. Bring to a gentle boil.
  • Turn heat down to a simmer partly covered. Leave the sauce to simmer for 2 1/2 hrs or more, stirring regularly.
  • If using shirataki noodles, add to hot sauce and cook gently for about 5 minutes.

Assembly:

  • Cook the meatballs per directions (bake at 375 degrees for 30 min).
  • Serve the low carb meatballs and sauce on top of a bed of shirataki noodles.
  • Spaghetti squash and zucchini also make great beds of “noodles”.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 843 
Fat: 13
Protein: 32
Carbs: 120

Tip: Check sugar content if using prepared spaghetti sauces.


Low Carb Chicken Shawarma

Note that this needs 1 to 12 hours marinating time, but takes very little prep time. Just plan ahead and it’s quick and easy.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

2 lemons, freshly juiced1/2 cup olive oil5–6 cloves garlic, peeled & minced 1 tsp kosher saltFreshly ground black pepper 2 tsp ground cumin (toast and ground fresh seeds if you’ve got time)2 tsp paprika1/2 tsp turmeric1/4 tsp cinnamon1/4 tsp red pepper flakes2 lbs skin-on chicken thighs2 onions (yellow or red), quartered

Directions:

  • For the marinade: In a medium to large bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes. Whisk to combine.
  • Add chicken thighs and toss to coat with the marinade. Cover and store in refrigerator for 1 hour or up to 12 hours.
  • When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray or oil. Quarter the onions (or cut in large chunks) and place in the marinade to coat them. Remove the chicken and onion and place on baking sheet. Pour any remaining marinade over the chicken.
  • Roast the chicken in the oven until it is browned, about 30–40 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes while you make the accompaniments if using. Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 524 
Fat: 36.4
Protein: 48.7
Carbs: 6.2

Roasted Ratatouille

Put on music as you chop the veggies for this colorful dish.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

1 eggplant (about 1 lb) peeled & cut lengthwise; then in 1′′ dice1 zucchini (about 8 oz size), trim ends off; then cut in 1′′ dice1 yellow summer squash (about 8 oz) trim ends off; then cut in 1′′ dice3 beefsteak-type tomatoes (meaty over juicy), cored & cut into 1′′ chunks2 large red bell peppers, seeded & cut in 1′′ dice4–6 garlic cloves, peeled & thinly sliced 2 tbsp olive oil2–3 tsp sea salt1 onion (red or yellow), peeled & cut in 1′′ chunks1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (large pinch) 1/4 cup red wine vinegar2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two sheet pans with foil.
  • Chop peeled eggplant, peeled zucchini, red peppers, and tomatoes into similar sizes (about 1′′ dice or chunks); arrange on the sheet pans (aka, cookie sheets). See ingredient list for specific cutting directions.
  • Add several peeled and thinly sliced garlic cloves to each sheet pan.
  • Drizzle vegetables with 1/4 cup olive oil and about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp salt. Mix oil and salt into veggies gently with your hands, and then spread veggies out on the sheet into a single layer.
  • Roast vegetables in preheated oven for 15- 20 minutes. Use a flat spatula to turn veggies over and roast for another 15–20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat large skillet over medium-high heat and coat the bottom with 2 tbsp olive oil. When oil is hot, add onion, crushed red pepper, and salt. Sauté until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the roasted vegetables to pan along with the vinegar, oregano and thyme. Toss well to coat and add more olive oil, if needed. Taste to check the seasoning and transfer to a serving platter.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 409 
Fat: 34.7
Protein: 4.6
Carbs: 22

Chimichurri Topped Beef Brisket

Beef brisket is easy to prepare the day before. The chimichurri takes only 10 minutes to make and will refrigerate well. A great make-ahead dinner!

Makes 6–8 servings.

Ingredients for brisket:

1 tbsp smoked paprika1 tbsp ground coriander1 tbsp dried oregano1 tbsp kosher salt2 tsp cayenne pepper2 tsp ground cumin1 8-lb beef brisket, well marbled with a good layer of fat (aka point cut)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 250° F. Combine all of the spices in a small bowl, mixing together with your hands or a whisk. Rub the beef brisket all over with the spice mix and place in an ungreased broiler pan or baking pan with high sides.
  • Place the brisket in the oven and leave it alone for 10 hrs. No basting, no turning. Easy. The fat and some of the spice mix will pool at the bottom of the pan; you can reserve some of this with the bits to use in a sauce if you like.

Ingredients for chimichurri:

2 cups cilantro leaves2 cups flat-leafed parsley leaves 2 cups champagne vinegar1/2 cup grapeseed oil4 cloves garlic1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or use 1 fresh jalapeno) 2 tsp dried oregano1/2 tsp salt1/2 tsp pepper1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients except the parsley in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the parsley and pulse until a pesto-like consistency is reached.
  • Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep 3–4 days.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 243 
Fat: 18.3
Protein: 14.2
Carbs: 3.1

Oven-Baked Low Carb BBQ Ribs

BBQ sauce from the grocery store tends to have a lot of added sugar. It is actually pretty simple to make on your own, and this non-ketchup recipe removes the sugar without sacrificing flavor.

Makes 4–6 servings

Ingredients for ribs:

2–3 lbs pork ribs (country-style or spareribs) Your favorite rub (cajun rub, harissa mix, jerk seasoning, etc.)Low carb BBQ sauce (see recipe below)

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Wash ribs and pat dry. Line large baking dish or roasting pan with foil for easy cleanup. Arrange ribs in the baking dish and use your hands to coat the ribs with the rub.
  • Cover pan with foil; bake for 1 1/2 hrs.
  • Spoon LC BBQ sauce over the baked ribs. Return to the oven, uncovered, for about 15–20 mins longer.

Ingredients for LC BBQ Sauce:

14.5-oz can diced tomatoes 1 onion, chopped 4 cloves garlic, chopped 3 tbsp tomato paste 2 tbsp mustard3/8 cup apple cider vinegar 2/3 tbsp paprika1/2–1 tsp cayenne pepper (or any hot pepper spice)2 tsp salt1 tsp black pepper1 tbsp liquid smoke1 tbsp brown sugar (optional) Optional spices (cinnamon, celery seed)

Directions for sauce:

In a food processor, combine all low carb BBQ sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste. Adjust seasonings to your taste.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 533 
Fat: 30.5
Protein: 51.7
Carbs: 10

Sheet Pan Dinners

The magic of sheet pan dinners is in the ease of cooking and cleaning up. The only trick for sheet pan meals is to select proteins and veggies that will cook at approximately the same time. This page will give you the tips you need to make creative meals with whatever you have available (hint: use those wilting veggies in the refrigerator!).

Makes 4 servings.

How-to

The best way to get the proteins and vegetables in a sheet pan dinner to cook up golden and wonderful crispy — instead of steamed and mushy — is a combination of high heat (usually around 425 F) and enough food to fill in space in your pan.

Tips & Tricks

  • If you want crispy proteins, leave the skin on chicken thighs or choose meat that will render its own fat. Use a piece of parchment paper to line your sheet pan with for fast and easy clean-up.
  • Frozen vegetables can be tossed onto the sheet pan without having to wait for them to thaw.
  • Eggs and beans are great additions to turn your dinner into something similar to a “hash.”
  • I like to add some lemon wedges to use to squeeze over the dish at the end. Broiling lemon wedges intensifies the flavor.

The sheet pan

Historically, “sheet pans” were a tool seen mostly in professional kitchens. You can get good ones in any kitchen store these days. They typically measure 18x13 inches with a lipped edge. You’ll often find them labeled as half sheet pans if you’re purchasing them from a restaurant supply store. If you have a pan at home that’s a different size, don’t worry about it. As long as you have enough space to spread things out into a single layer, everything will be fine.


Harissa Glazed Salmon

This grilled salmon is not only amazing in flavor, but it is also a nutritional powerhouse, providing plenty of omega-3 fatty acids.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

4–5 salmon fillets (or 1 large salmon cut into fillets)Salt and pepper to taste 1 lemon, thinly sliced 1/3 cup mayonnaise1–2 tbsp lemon juice 1 tbsp harissa1 tsp smoked paprika 1 tbsp wine (red or white)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat the inside of a 9 x 12-inch baking dish with oil or cooking spray. Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper, and arrange salmon in baking dish.
  • In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, harissa, and smoked paprika. Stir until smooth. Spread the mayonnaise mixture over the fish as evenly as possible.
  • Place the lemon slices around the salmon and bake in the preheated oven until the fish is hot and has begun to turn opaque (about 5–8 minutes).
  • Remove from the oven, turn the oven on broil, and raise the oven rack to the broil position. When the oven is up to broil temperature, return the salmon to the broiler rack and broil until nicely browned, about 2–3 minutes.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 273 
Fat: 14.6
Protein: 28.5
Carbs: 4.9

One-pot meals

Slow Carb Crockpot Chili

The richness of this chili is enhanced with the liberal use of sun-dried tomatoes.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

3 tbsp olive oil2 medium yellow onions, chopped 6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (can use 2 1/2 tsp bottled garlic in oil)1/4 cup chili powder1 tbsp cumin, freshly ground is best 2 1/2 tbsp coriander, freshly ground1 tsp dried oregano1/2 to 1 tsp chipotle spice (or use dried red pepper flakes)2 lb lean ground beef1 1/2 tsp kosher salt1 can diced tomatoes (28-oz) 1 can tomato sauce (14-oz)1 can black beans, drained & rinsed (15-oz)1 can red kidney beans, drained & rinsed (15-oz)5 small sundried tomatoes

Serving accompaniments:

sliced avocadosthinly sliced scallionshot saucecheddar cheese (not SCD) sour cream (not SCD)

Directions:

  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent (about 8 minutes). Add garlic, and the rest of the spices and stir thoroughly into the onions to coat.
  • Cook only for about 1 minute (until fragrant); then add the ground beef and cook together about 5–8 minutes, or until ground beef is no longer pink.
  • Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker and add the salt, tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans and sun-dried tomatoes. Mix together well in the slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook over low heat for 6–8 hours.
  • Serve with your choice of accompaniments below.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 727
Fat: 23
Protein: 69.8
Carbs: 68.1

Bouillabaisse

This hearty seafood stew, popular in France and San Francisco alike, is characterized by the addition of saffron.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil3 cups fennel, thinly sliced (about 1 bulb)1 cup chopped onion1 tsbp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried) 2–3 garlic cloves, minced1 cup water1/2 tsp kosher salt1/4 tsp saffron threads1/4 tsp black pepper3/4 lb small red potatoes, quartered 2 8-oz bottles clam juice1 (10 3/4 oz) can tomato puree1/2 lb frozen mussels1 lb halibut (no skin), cut into 2-inch pieces1/2 lb large shrimp, uncooked1/2 lb crab legs1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

  • Heat the oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel, onion, thyme, and garlic and saute 5 minutes, or until tender.
  • Add water and next six ingredients (water through tomato puree), and bring to a boil.
  • Cook about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender enough to be pierced easily with a fork.
  • Add the mussels and cook 2–3 minutes until they open. Add rest of seafood and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until seafood is done (do not overcook!)
  • Garnish with parsley and serve with crusty, robust bread.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 625 
Fat: 6.8
Protein: 65
Carbs: 76

Moroccan Chicken with Lemons & Olives

This special “stew” includes harissa paste along with the range of Moroccan dry spices. If you don’t have harissa, you can substitute in sambal or another chili paste.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 lbs chicken thighs and/or legs (6 thighs)Salt & pepper1 tbsp refined olive oil1 tbsp butter2 cups chicken stock2–3 tbsp harissa (or other chile paste)1 tsp ground cumin1 tsp turmeric (optional)1–2 fresh lemons, cut into wedges8 garlic cloves, slightly smashed1/2 cup coarsely chopped fennel bulb 1 onion, coarsely chopped or 2 leeks, white part only, sliced3/4 cup black olives, pitted1-inch ginger root, grated1 cup fresh mint leaves

Directions:

  • Heat oil and butter in dutch oven (or large skillet). Season chicken thighs the salt and pepper, and brown in the hot oil (skin side down). Remove chicken thighs and drain some of the oil out of the pot.
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients except mint into the pot and stir together thoroughly. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add in the chicken. Tear up about 1/2 cup mint and add to the pot. Cover and simmer for about an hour.
  • Just before taking the pot to the table, scatter the remaining mint leaves over the chicken.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 799 
Fat: 60.6
Protein: 49.1
Carbs: 10.8

Slow Cooker Vietnamese Beef Pho

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

2–3 lbs short ribs1/2 onion3/4 inches ginger root, in 1/2′′ slicesSpice medley: 2 tsp whole coriander, 1 3–4′′ cinnamon stick, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 5 whole star anise, 6 whole cloves, 2–3 cardamom pods9 cups water (or 7 cups water & 2 cups beef broth)2 tbsp fish sauce1 tbsp brown sugar2 tsp kosher salt, divided1 lb dried rice noodles1/2 lb eye of round steak, sliced thinly as possible (can use sirloin, flank or London broil)

Accompaniments:

1–2 limes, cut in wedges Basil, mint, cilantro or Ngo gai, a sawtooth herb called Vietnamese cilantro2–3 Thai or Serrano chilies, sliced thin2 cups bean sproutsHoisin sauceSriracha hot chili sauce

Directions:

  • Place rack on upper position of oven; preheat to broil. Bring large, water-filled stockpot to a boil over high heat.
  • Add oxtails or bones and boil for 10 mins. Brown scum will rise to the surface. Drain bones; rinse thoroughly with cold water to clean, and then place in slow cooker.
  • While boiling bones, place onion and the ginger slices on a foil-lined baking sheet and place in oven. Roast for 3–4 minutes until charred; then turn onion and ginger over to char the other side.
  • Remove from oven and add onion and ginger to the crock pot.
  • Place Pho spices in a sauté pan to dry toast over med-low heat. Toast until fragrant (2–3 minutes); shake often so as not to burn. Place toasted spices in a square of cheesecloth made into a bag secured at top with a clean rubber band. Place spice bag in the slow-cooker (or dump loose spices in the pot and strain them out later).
  • Add water, beef broth, fish sauce, sugar & 1 tsp salt to slow-cooker; set on lowest heat for 8–10 hours.
  • When the soup is almost done, prepare accompaniments: slice limes and arrange herbs, sprouts, peppers & sauces on a platter. Par-cook noodles by making according to package instructions, stopping 30 seconds short of what directions say (if fresh noodles, all they need is a couple of minutes). Drain immediately & place in the bottom of 4 large soup bowls.
  • Discard spice pack & bones from broth. If there is any scum or fat on the surface, skim & discard it. Taste broth & add more salt, if needed. Drain all solids & spices out of the crockpot, leaving just broth.
  • Place the thin (raw) steak slices evenly on top of the noodles in the 4 bowls. Ladle the hot Pho stock into each bowl which will cook steak slices. Serve with accompaniments.

Tip: for thinner slicing, freeze meat for 15 minutes prior to slicing.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 926 
Fat: 29.6
Protein: 96.5
Carbs: 62.2

Smoky Lentil Tomato Soup

The smoky ingredients in this soup spice up the lentils and give it an assertive and exotic flavor.

Makes 4 servings.
1–2 tbsp olive oil1 onion, chopped2 cloves garlic, minced1 tsp dried thyme2 tbsp smoked paprika (or your favorite paprika)1 cup dried red lentils5 cups broth (use vegetable broth or chicken broth)1/2 tsp salt1 1/2 cup smoked tomatoes (or use 1 24-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes)4 cups fresh baby spinachOptional: add 3/4 cup chopped kalamata olives, 1 lb cooked chorizo, 6–8 large shrimp, 1/2 tsp spicy chili pepper

Directions:

  • Saute onions over med-high heat in a large pot for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic, thyme and paprika and saute briefly, for about 15 seconds.
  • Add lentils, broth and salt and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and simmer another 20 minutes until lentils are quite tender.
  • Add spinach and stir until spinach is wilted. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Add any of the optional ingredients and bring up to serving temperature over medium heat.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 373 
Protein: 19.7
Fat: 7.8
Carbs: 40.9

Chicken Lime Soup with Avocados

This satisfying soup is slightly spicy, with the tang of the fresh lime juice and the creaminess of the avocado taking it over the top in flavor.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil1 onion, chopped5–6 cloves garlic, minced2 large chicken breasts (boneless & skinless)6 cups chicken broth1 can diced tomatoes (16 oz)1 tsp ground chipotle spice (or favorite chili pepper spice)1/2 tsp ground cumin1/2 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp ground cloves1 tbsp dried oregano2 limes, juiced (more for serving, optional)1 avocado, peeled, pitted & roughly choppedCilantro (optional)

Directions:

  • In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion to oil and saute for about 5 minutes, or until onion is soft and translucent. Add minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, being careful not to burn garlic.
  • Increase the heat to high, add the chicken breasts, broth, canned tomatoes and all of the spices to the pot. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to low. Cover and simmer for one hour.
  • Taste the soup midway through cooking to see if it needs salt (grocery store chicken broth can be very salty, so start with no salt and add to taste). After simmering for an hour, remove chicken breasts with tongs and cool long enough that you can shred them with your hands or two forks. Return the shredded chicken to pot and add the lime juice and cilantro (if using). Serve soup in a bowl and top with diced avocado chunks. Serve along with lime wedges if more lime juice is desired.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 308
Protein: 21.5
Fat: 13.5
Carbs: 17.9

Hoppin John

This Southern dish is a classic around New Year’s Eve and is rumored to bring good luck and romance. At the very least it will bring smiles and good health.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
1–2 ham hocks1 large onion, chopped2 celery stalks, chopped1 cup bell peppers, chopped (orange or red if available)1–2 garlic cloves, minced1 quart chicken stock1 tsp each: dried thyme, cumin, smoked paprika or smoked chipotle spice, and cayenneSalt & pepper to taste 1 bunch collard greens, rinsed & coarsely chopped1 can black-eyed peas (14 oz cans)1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz cans)Bacon (optional)

Directions:

  • Heat oil in large soup pot, add the ham hock and sear on all sides (about 4 minutes) Add the onion, celery, pepper and garlic; cook over medium-high for 4 minutes. Add the stock and seasonings, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes or longer.
  • Add collard greens, peas and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  • Fry up bacon and add as a garnish to the stew. I also added more bacon the next day because we ate the ham hocks but there was still plenty of stew left.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 187 
Fat: 5
Protein: 10
Carbs: 26

Low Carb Mussels with Coconut Curry Broth

This soup (or stew) is easy to make, loaded with flavor, low carb friendly and it also delivers 665 mg of heart-healthy omega 3s!

Makes 3–4 servings.
1–2 tbsp olive oil1 medium onion, chopped1 14-oz can diced tomatoes1 tsp minced garlic (garlic from a jar is OK)1 tbsp grated fresh ginger1 tsp curry paste (or curry powder)1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or any other hot pepper spice)1/4 tsp salt1 14-oz can coconut milk (AROY-D is a good brand, you can use lite)1/2 cup dry white wine (dry red wine is OK)2 lbs mussels (can use frozen mussels)Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions:

  • Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 min, or until translucent.
  • Add tomatoes, garlic, ginger, curry paste or powder, fennel seeds, cayenne and salt; cook a few minutes until well blended and heated throughout.
  • Add coconut milk and wine, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the mussels, cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for a few minutes until mussels have opened (about 4 minutes).
  • Serve garnished with cilantro.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 329
Protein: 40
Fat: 8
Carbs: 12

“Slow” Carb Pork Posole

This variation of a low carb pork posole is every bit as tasty as the classic Mexican dish, with navy beans standing in for the hominy.

Makes 3–4 servings.

Ingredients:

1 tsp ground cumin, toasted and then ground if possible1 tbsp oregano3 Bay leaves1/2 cup ground Ancho chile powder2 1/2–3 lbs boneless pork shoulder (aka Boston Butt), cut into small chunks1 large onion, diced 6 garlic cloves, minced4 cups chicken broth1 tbsp salt2 cans white navy beans (or 2 cups of dried navy beans, soaked overnight)NOTE: Substitute in cabbage for the navy beans if you are doing a keto diet, or use hominy for beans if you just want the classic version of posole. 

Directions:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a crockpot or slow cooker and cook on low 6–8 hours or until meat is tender. Add salt and more Ancho chile powder if needed.
  • This is even better the next day. Just turn the slow cooker back on low for a couple more hours. You really can’t overcook.

Pork Posole toppings:

  • thinly sliced red radish
  • shredded cabbage
  • cilantro
  • diced avocado
  • queso fresco
  • lime juice
  • diced fresh green chile

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 790 
Fat: 29.2
Protein: 85.4
Carbs: 42.1

No-cook summer recipes

Nicoise Salad for Two

This salad can be very versatile in the choice of ingredients and makes for a wonderful light summer dinner.

Makes 2 servings.

Ingredients:

4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered (can buy pre-peeled at a grocery store)6 oz fresh green beans, blanched or slightly cooked1/2 cup black kalamata olives, pitted1 cup thinly sliced red onion1 head torn romaine lettuce, rinsed and patted dry 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in halfSalt & pepper to taste2 6-oz cans tuna packed in water, drainedAdditions: 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped; chopped fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, chives, arugula)

Directions:

  • Either buy pre-peeled hardboiled eggs or follow this method for hard boiled eggs: place eggs in pot of cold water and turn burner to high. When water has come to a boil, cover the pot, turn off the burner and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 8–10 minutes. Remove eggs from pot and place immediately into a bowl of cold ice water and let them sit in ice water for about 5 minutes. Remove shells from eggs and quarter the eggs lengthwise. *Note: Eggs should be 1–2 weeks old in order to peel effectively. Fresh eggs will not peel well and you will have a mess. Also, peel under cool running water for best results.
  • To blanch the beans: Remove the hard stem at the tip of the bean, rinse beans and cut in half. Place beans in a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove from water and place immediately into a bowl of ice water. This will stop the cooking and preserve the fresh taste and color of the beans.
  • Arrange all ingredients on a platter and drizzle with the dressing of your choice. Alternatively, place the lettuce in a bowl and toss with the dressing. Arrange the rest of the ingredients on top of the lettuce and drizzle with a little more dressing. Garnish with the herbs (optional).

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 408 
Fat: 16.8
Protein: 46.1
Carbs: 26.5

Nicoise Salad Dressing

The classic salad dressing for a Nicoise salad is a Caesar dressing made with anchovies. This recipe below is outstanding, but it does use a raw egg.

Ingredients:

1 anchovy fillet, drained from the tin1/8 tsp sea salt1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper1/2 tsp chopped garlic1 large egg (optional) 2 tsp fresh lemon juice 1/2 tsp dijon mustard6 tbsp olive oil1 1/2 tbsp minced shallots2 tsp capers, drained and chopped1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

  • Using the back of a spoon or fork, make a paste by mashing the anchovy, salt, pepper and garlic together until thoroughly mixed and mashed together.
  • Using a wire whisk, whisk in the egg (if you are using it) until well blended with the paste. (Note: raw eggs can be healthy if organic from small farms; there is a risk of salmonella from convential eggs raised in unsanitary conditions). Whisk in lemon juice and mustard.
  • Whisk in the oil, one tablespoon at a time, whisking vigorously until you have a thick emulsion.
  • Whisk in the shallots, capers, and Worcestershire sauce until blended. Taste, and adjust the salt and pepper if needed to your own taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 246 
Fat: 23
Protein: 5
Carbs: 11

Senora’s Andalusian Gazpacho

Makes 4–6 servings.

Ingredients:

3 lbs heirloom tomatoes, peeled, chopped roughly1 jar roasted red bell peppers (or 2 fresh red peppers, roasted)1 poblano pepper1 red onion2–3 cloves garlic1–3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, chopped roughly2 tsp sea salt1/4 cup sherry vinegar3/4 cup olive oil (the best quality you have)1–2 tsp roasted fennel seeds, ground OR 1–2 tsp roasted cumin seeds, ground

Directions:

  • Process each vegetable separately and then combine them in a large bowl. Add salt and sherry vinegar. Let it sit for a couple of hours.
  • Blend half of the vegetable mixture in a food processor at medium speed, drizzling in 1/2 cup of oil through the top while processing. Pour into a large bowl.
  • Blend the other half of vegetable mixture in processor, drizzling in 1/4 cup of oil, along with the roasted, ground fennel seeds (or cumin). Combine both mixtures in a bowl and stir to mix. Chill.
  • Before serving, bring to room temperature. Garnish with fresh avocado.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 439 
Fat: 41.6
Protein: 3
Carbs: 14.4

Strawberry-Melon Salad with Orange Syrup

The watermelon in this recipe is not slow carb or keto because of the sugar content of watermelon. Just leave it out if you are making this on a low carb lifestyle. It’s still delightful with “only” the strawberries — just not as sweet.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

1/2 pint fresh strawberries (1/2 to 1 cup halves) 1/2 cup watermelon balls (optional, eliminate if low carb) 1/4 cup fresh orange juice 1–2 oz feta cheeseFresh mint for garnish

Directions:

  • Rinse the strawberries, take stems out, and cut in half. Place about 1 cup halved strawberries in small bowl.
  • Cut the watermelon in half and use a small melon ball scoop (or spoon) to extract 1/2 to 1 cup watermelon balls. Add to bowl with strawberries.
  • Drizzle orange juice over fruit. I used about 1/4 cup, but it all depends on how sweet you want it and how sweet the fruit is to begin with.
  • Let the fruit sit in the juice, refrigerated, for 1/2 hour to overnight. When ready to serve, gently stir the fruit salad, garnish with a mint sprig and enjoy.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 153
Protein: 6
Fat: 8
Carbs: 14

Red Pickled Eggs

The beets in these beautiful eggs do have sugar in them, but very little of the beet juice permeates the eggs. It is just fine as a low carb snack.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled (you can get them pre-cooked and peeled at the grocery store) 1 cup canned pickled red beets (with their liquid)1/2 cup apple cider vinegar1/2 cup water3 whole cloves 2–4 cloves garlic1 bay leaf1 tsp sugar1/2 tsp salt1/8 tsp ground allspice

Directions:

  • Place peeled hard-boiled eggs in a quart-sized mason jar (or any other heatproof container).
  • Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3–5 minutes. Pour warm mixture over eggs and cover tightly.
  • Chill for at least 2 days before serving. Will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 169 
Fat: 10
Protein: 12.2
Carbs: 7.5

Vegetable side dishes

Mock Garlic Mashed “Potatoes”

Cauliflower has become the low carb “go-to” alternative to the potato, the tortilla and the pizza crust. Using it as a stand-in for mashed potatoes is my favorite way to use this cruciferous vegetable, and it is certainly the easiest!

Ingredients:

1 medium cauliflower head 1/4 cup grated Parmesan 1/2 tsp garlic, minced1/8 tbsp straight chicken base or bouillon (may substitute 1/2 tsp salt)3 tbsp unsalted butterSalt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Set a large pot of water on high heat and bring to a boil.
  • While waiting for water to boil, cut out stem of cauliflower and pull off florets (if you hold the whole head of cauliflower over a counter and smash it down firmly on the stem end, it should break apart without having to cut the stem out). Place the florets in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until tender when pricked with a fork. Drain well; do not let cool.
  • In a bowl with an immersion blender, in a food processor, or in a large blender, add the Parmesan, garlic, chicken base, butter, salt and pepper and puree until almost smooth, or until it is the texture you prefer.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 133 
Fat: 10.1
Protein: 5
Carbs: 8

Asparagus with Crumbled Eggs & Capers

Sauteed or microwaved veggies are an easy fix for those weeknight dinners when you need to get something healthy on the table in a hurry.

Makes 3–4 servings.

Ingredients:

3 hard-boiled eggs (can be pre-purchased) 2 asparagus bunches2 tbsp olive oil2 1/2 tsp capers, drained1 tsp sea salt (flake salt like Maldon sea salt is great) 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  • If you are making your own hardboiled eggs, this is a tried and true method: Place eggs in a pot of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When water is boiling, turn burner off and cover the pot. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Remove eggs with slotted spoon into bowl of ice water and let cool. Peel under cool running water. *Note: fresh eggs will not peel well. You really need eggs that are at least a week old.
  • Grate the eggs on a coarse cheese grater.
  • Bend the bottom of the asparagus spears until the tough ends snap off and then compost the ends (or discard). Place the asparagus spears in a large pot of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, or until tender.
  • Drain asparagus. While still warm, drizzle the oil over the asparagus and sprinkle with capers, salt and pepper. Top with the grated egg.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 186 
Fat: 12.2
Protein: 12.2
Carbs: 15.5

Creative Cruciferous Vegetable Medley

Vegetables (especially leafy greens and the cruciferous veggies) are the best nutritional supplements you can find for just about any diet.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

2–3 peeled garlic cloves1/2 tsp sea salt6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature2 tsp zest of 1 lemon2 tsp dijon mustard1/4 cup drained small capers3 tsp fresh oregano, chopped 1 lb Brussels sprouts1 small cauliflower1 small head of broccoli Salt & pepper

Directions:

  • To make the butter (this can be made 1–2 days ahead of time): Place the garlic cloves and salt on a cutting board and pound with heavy object until it forms a paste. In a bowl, mix the garlic paste with the room temperature butter. Using a microplane, zest the lemon over the bowl of garlic butter. Add mustard, capers, and oregano and stir everything together thoroughly. Refrigerate if not using right away.
  • Trim the bottoms off Brussels sprouts and then slice them in half. Place in large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the sprouts for about 3 mins. While sprouts are cooking, cut the cauliflower and broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Add the cauliflower and broccoli to the pot of sprouts and boil everything for another 5 minutes.
  • Using a colander, drain the vegetables. Place into a large bowl and use a spatula to mix the caper butter into the hot vegetables. Add salt and pepper to mixture and toss again lightly.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 234 
Fat: 17.9
Protein: 6.1
Carbs: 16

Snow Pea Saute

The snow peas only take a couple of minutes to cook and it goes fast if you chop up your add-ins ahead of time (the ‘mise en place,’ to be technical). It’s a perfect accompaniment to the Low Carb Chicken Burgers.

Makes 3–4 servings.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil1 lb snow peas, tendrils trimmed 6–8 scallions, chopped into 1-inch lengths 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes4 garlic cloves, minced1/2–1 tsp grated fresh ginger1/2 tsp sesame oil3 tbsp crushed peanuts (i.e., dry roasted)2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  • Heat oil over high heat in wok or large stainless steel pan. When it is sizzling hot, add snow peas, scallions and pepper flakes and stir constantly until lightly charred (2–3 minutes). Peas should be bright green and still crisp.
  • To the skillet add garlic, ginger and sesame oil, toss and cook one more minute. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro and serve with chicken patties.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 192 
Fat: 13.2
Protein: 6.2
Carbs: 15.1

Quick & Easy Bok Choy

Many people avoid nutrient-packed vegetables due to lack of familiarity with them. Practice cooking with simple greens and a little spice and you will be a pro in no time (and you won’t turn back!).

Makes 4–6 servings.

Ingredients:

1–2 tbsp olive oil2–3 garlic cloves, minced1 1/2 tbsp ginger, freshly grated1 tbsp fennel seeds2 bok choy bunches (about 8 cups), chopped2 tbsp soy sauceSalt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Bring the oil to a fairly hot temperature (not smoking) over medium-high heat.
  • Add garlic and ginger and saute very quickly (30 seconds), careful not to burn garlic.
  • Add bok choy and soy sauce and cook until wilted (about 5 minutes). Stalks will be crisp but tender.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve with a side of harissa or your favorite hot sauce.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 92
Fat: 6
Protein: 4
Carbs: 12

Roasted Cauliflower with Chimichurri Sauce

Harissa, romesco and chimichurri sauces all work to dress up roasted cauliflower, creating robust new flavors for a fairly bland canvas.

Makes 4–5 servings.

Ingredients:

1 large cauliflower1–2 tsp salt3 garlic cloves, peeled2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup olive oil for basting2 tsp red wine vinegar1/2 parsley, coarsely chopped1/2 tsp red pepper flakes1/8 cup fresh oregano2 garlic cloves, peeled2 tsp waterCilantro (optional)

Directions:

  • Heat up an oven-proof skillet in a 375-degree oven while you prepare the cauliflower. Tear off the cauliflower leaves and cut the stem to be flush with the base of the cauliflower. Carefully cut out the core of the cauliflower, attempting to not cut through any of the florets so that it stays in a round head.
  • Rinse and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle heavily with salt and rub in.
    Put the cauliflower in the hot pan in the oven, core side down, and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until very tender. Occasionally baste the cauliflower with the additional olive oil.

Chimichurri sauce:

  • Combine all ingredients except olive oil in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  • With motor running, add olive oil slowly until it reaches desired consistency (make sure and cover top of blender or sauce will splatter all over).
  • The sauce should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 392 
Protein: 4.6
Fat: 40
Carbs: 1

Korean BBQ Spinach

Side dishes can add creativity and flavor to low carb meals, but vegetables are often avoided because they can be quite boring. Quick and easy recipes like this Korean-style spinach put that notion to rest.

Makes 3–4 servings.

Ingredients:

1 lb spinach, fresh or frozen 2 tsp sesame seeds5 tsp refined olive oil (or peanut oil)1 tbsp soy sauce1 tsp rice vinegar1 tsp sugar (omit if doing strict slow carb diet)1/2 tsp garlic, minced1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

Directions:

  • Place sesame seeds in small non-stick frying pan and toast quickly over low heat, shaking pan until they are light brown and nutty (just a few minutes — watch carefully). Add peanut oil to the pan and heat over low heat for a few minutes to infuse sesame seeds into oil.
  • Cook the spinach in a pot of boiling water or microwave until wilted. Drain well and squeeze out excess water, being careful not to burn your hands.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and gently mix until well combined. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 94 
Fat: 7.2
Protein: 4.2
Carbs: 5

Desserts & Sweets

Zucchini Coconut Bread

Here is a recipe to satisfy the occasional longing for bread or sweets in your low carb lifestyle. It is a simple quick bread with easy-to-find ingredients.

Makes 8–10 servings.

Ingredients:

2 cups peeled, shredded zucchini Salt2 cups almond flour1 cup unsweetened shredded coconutSweetener equivalent to 1/2 cup sugar (I use Truvia)1/3 cup protein powder (whey isolate)1 tbsp baking powder1/4 tsp salt3 large eggs1/3 cup melted coconut oil 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk (more if needed)1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Peel and shred zucchini and place in a sieve set in the sink or over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt, let it sit for a while to drain and press down on it with hands firmly every so often to help it drain.
  • Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan with Pam or grease. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, coconut, sweetener, protein powder, baking powder and salt).
  • Slightly beat the eggs in a small bowl and then stir in the eggs, the coconut oil, the coconut milk and the drained zucchini to the dry ingredients in the large bowl. If the batter is too thick and not spreadable, add a little more coconut milk.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Pour into the prepared loaf pan and spread out evenly. Bake at 325 for 55 to 65 minutes, until the top is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 15 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 351
Protein: 9
Fat: 16
Carbs: 15

Chocolate Truffles Using Sugar Substitute

These truffles freeze well so you can pull one out when you need a chocolate fix. Careful at night though — the caffeine content can be high.

Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients:

2 oz unsweetened chocolate (shredded with a box grater)1/2 cup heavy whipping cream1 tbsp Truvia3/4–1 tsp liquid sucralose1 tsp vanilla1 tsp bourbon (optional)1 pinch salt1/4 cup crushed nuts (pistachios, hazelnuts, etc.)

Directions:

  • Double boiler method: Place chocolate and cream in a stainless steel or glass bowl and place over a pot of lightly simmering water. Stir constantly until everything is melted and mixture is smooth (maybe 5–10 minutes). Do not heat over high heat, or mixture might separate. Stir with a spatula and watch it melt until it is smooth and creamy.
  • Stir in salt, vanilla, and bourbon while mixture is still warm.
  • Pour into a pie plate or baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to overnight.
  • When ready to make truffles, remove from refrigerator and let it get soft enough to form balls. Using a melon baller or spoon, make balls (about 1 inch in diameter). Roll between palms and then roll in crushed nuts.
  • Refrigerate; remove from refrigerator about 10 minutes before serving. Can be refrigerated for up to 10 days or freeze and consume at a later day (but consume within 10 days of thawing).
  • Microwave method: Place chocolate and cream in microwave for one minute and 10 seconds at HALF POWER (50%). Take out and stir until smooth. If not completely smooth, return to microwave for just 5 more seconds. Stir again. Continue with double boiler recipe starting at stir in salt.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 136 
Fat: 9.8
Protein: 1.5
Carbs: 5.1

Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Strawberry Balsamic Sauce

This low carb fruit dessert has a ton of creamy rich flavor along with 1/3 cup of sugar in a recipe serving 4. Use sugar substitute if you want to be strictly keto.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp water1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin1 1/4 cup heavy cream1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I like the FAGE brand)1 tsp pure vanilla extract1/4 tsp sea salt1/3 cup + 2 tsp sugar3 cups strawberries (frozen is OK)2 tsp fresh lemon juice2–3 tbsp good balsamic vinegar1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  • In a small bowl add the water and sprinkle the gelatin over the top; let it sit undisturbed for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the cream, 1 cup yogurt, vanilla, and salt. Let yogurt mixture sit while you heat the remaining 3/4 cup cream and 1/3 cup sugar in a small pot over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved and mixture is just starting to bubble gently (not boiling).
  • Remove pot from the heat and scrape in all of the gelatin mixture, stirring until completely dissolved (until smooth, no granular texture). Add the gelatin-cream mixture to the yogurt mixture and whisk together thoroughly.
  • Ladle mixture into 6-ounce molds (can use small bowls or ramekins). Refrigerate until set (4 hours or up to 3 days). Cover with plastic wrap only after cooled, to avoid condensation.
  • About an hour before serving, make the strawberry sauce by slicing 2 1/2 cup strawberries (I used frozen berries that were thawed). Place them in a medium bowl. In a food processor puree the remaining 1/2 cup berries with 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tsp lemon juice.
  • Add the puree to the sliced berries and stir in 2- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp pepper and a pinch of salt. Let sit for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • When ready to serve, dip ramekins or molds into hot water for a few seconds. Run a thin, sharp knife around inside of mold, then invert panna cottas onto individual dessert plates.
  • Shake to loosen, or tap bottoms of mold and then lift off ramekins or molds. Spoon strawberry sauce over each panna cotta. Serve immediately.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 406 
Fat: 27.9
Protein: 9.4
Carbs: 2.6

Keto Cherry Clafoutis

Fruit is not generally a part of a low carb diet because it is fairly high in sugar. There are times when fruit is at its best, however, and must be enjoyed. Just decrease the carbs and sugar on your daily total and enjoy this low carb dessert. It is not very sweet, but that allows the cherries to really shine!

Ingredients:

4 large eggs1 cup coconut milk (240 ml) — I used Aroy-D1/4 cup (50 g) granulated Erythritol or Swerve1 cup almond flour1–2 tsp vanilla extract1/8 tsp salt2 tsp coconut oil for greasing2 cups fresh or frozen cherries (can also use blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Place all ingredients apart from the coconut oil and cherries into a bowl and stir thoroughly with a whisk.
  • Grease a 9–10-inch baking dish with oil and pour in the mixture.
  • Add the cherries into the mix, distributing around the dish fairly evenly.
  • Bake in oven for 35–40 minutes or until top is golden brown and set. Test by inserting a toothpick in center. If it comes out clean, the pie is ready.
  • Remove from oven and let cool down for 5 minutes. Can store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Nutrition breakdown (grams):

Calories: 198 
Fat: 16.5
Protein: 16.9
Carbs: 4.9

No-Sugar Condiments

These sauces are perfect flavor enhancers for your proteins and vegetables.

Romesco Sauce

Ingredients:

2–3 garlic cloves, peeled & smashed with back of knife1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted Jar of roasted red bell peppers 1/4 cup tomato puree2 tbsp sherry vinegar1 tsp smoked paprika1/2 tsp hot pepper powder — you can use ground-up chipotles, but cayenne pepper is fine1/2 cup olive oilSalt & pepper

Directions:

  • Toast almonds and garlic in small, dry frying pan for a few minutes (do not burn!).
  • Add toasted nuts, garlic, and the next 5 ingredients (up to the olive oil) in blender or food processor and process until finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add the olive oil until smooth.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for up to 1 week.

Harissa Sauce

Ingredients:

12 dried chile peppers, use a combination of guajillo, pasilla & arbol, or mix & match1 tsp cumin seeds2 tsp coriander seeds1 tsp caraway seeds1 tsp Vietnamese cinnamonJuice from 1–2 lemons5 cloves garlic3 tbsp olive oilSalt

Directions:

  • De-stem chile peppers and soak dried chile peppers in a pot of water that has just been turned off after being brought to a boil. Soak for 20–30 mins to hydrate.
  • Toast spices 2–3 minutes in small, dry pan over medium heat.
  • Grind spices and salt together in coffee bean grinder to fine grind. Drain peppers, reserving chile water, and add all ingredients to blender or food processor. Process until smooth, thinning with chile water if needed.

Beverages

Chile Mocha Mexican Coffee

This Mexican coffee recipe is all about that wonderful flavor combination of chocolate and spice. Add a shot of brandy for a special winter cocktail!

Makes 1 serving.

Ingredients:

1–2 tsp ground chile pepper or choice1–2 tsp powdered cocoa1/2 tsp cinnamon2–3 tsp sugar (use Truvia if making low carb drink)1 pinch salt

Directions:

  • Mix together fresh ground chile pepper, powdered cocoa, cinnamon, sugar (use Truvia if making a low carb drink) and a pinch of salt.
  • Add 1 tsp of the pepper/cocoa mix to a cup of hot coffee, stir and top with whipped cream. Garnish with cinnamon or more of the spice mix.
  • NOTE: For a “spirited” Chile Mocha Mexican Coffee, add a shot of brandy or a shot of Irish Whiskey.

Nutritional breakdown (grams):

Calories: 10
Protein: .7
Fat: .3
Carbs: 20.9

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

Dorothy Stainbrook

Written by

Dorothy Stainbrook, organic berry farmer, heirloom tomato farmer, diet coach & preserve maker in forest lake, MN.

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

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