Low Carb Sides to Fill You Up

When you think low carb, I know you think it sounds terrible if you have never thought about reducing your intake.  If you are all about the breads and pastas and sweets, then you think this idea is the end of the world.  Ok that may be a little dramatic, but it’s daunting to think about cutting out the carbs in your life when you think about how much really has carbs in it.  Here’s the thing.  While it does seem daunting, the foods that are high in carbs are often highly processed and not very nutritional even if they started with nutritional ingredients.  Whole foods are far better for you anyway.  AND the longer you stick to it and the more things you remove from your foods, the better you will feel.  

You can still have breads and crackers, just make them yourself.  Stock up on almond or coconut flour.  They are both great for baking.  They each have their downsides though so be prepared.  Almond flour can go bad rather quickly.  Keep it in the fridge or freezer to prolong shelf life.  Coconut flour absorbs more moisture than traditional flours so when baking with it, you will have to compensate by adding extra liquids.  This also means while storing, it can absorb moisture from the air.  Try to leave it in a cool, dark, but dry area.  

Stock on up low starch, low carb veggies.  My favorites are broccoli, asparagus, celery, lettuce and cauliflower.  Other great options are Brussel sprouts, cucumber, collard greens, kale, spinach, radish, chard and cabbage.  

While stocking up on veggies, go for the dairy too, other than milk.  Mozzarella, Gouda, parmesan, asiago, cream cheese, provolone, blue cheese, feta, Colby and cheddar are all good cheeses to keep on hand.  Pick up plenty of butter too.  

For your fats and oils, try bacon grease (as long as you have no issues with pork), coconut, avocado, olive or walnut oil, mayonnaise, lard, cacao butter or ghee.  

Drink lots of water.  That is key to staying hydrated and allowing your body to adjust to the reduced carbs.  You can also drink club soda or seltzer water.  Coffee is a great choice in the morning as long as you skip the sweeteners.  Drink it with heavy cream if you can’t take it black. 

While ketchup is full of sugar and not recommended when cutting carbs, you can easily add dressings like ranch, Italian, blue cheese or Caesar.  Other recommended condiments are horseradish, mustard, salsa or taco sauce, vinegar or soy sauce.  You don’t have to use condiments though.  Pick out some spices like ginger, garlic, chives, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, salt and pepper.

The recipes below show you how to make the vegetables in a way you can use them in place of rice or noodles, etc., but you can buy them from the frozen section already riced or noodled.  So if you don’t want to go through the hassle, you can pick up a bag and take a shortcut to getting dinner ready.  Make your grocery list and pick up some veggies and plenty of meat.  Then meet me in the kitchen for delicious sides to go with those dinner recipes from a couple weeks ago.

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice

This is great as a side for tacos!

1 head cauliflower, about 4 cups riced

1 Tbsp. avocado oil

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

2 Tbsps. lime juice

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground pepper

Chop cauliflower into florets and add to food processor fitted with blade attachment. Pulse until small rice-sized pieces. Alternately, finely chop cauliflower into rice-sized pieces with sharp knife.  Heat large skillet over medium heat and add avocado oil. When oil is hot, add cauliflower to skillet and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.  Cover skillet with lid and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until cauliflower is as soft as desired.  Remove cauliflower from heat and stir in cilantro, lime juice, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust as needed.  Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from thatlowcarblife.com.

 

Cheesy Zoodles

I have a new found appreciation for zucchini noodles.  I tried them a few weeks ago and loved them!

1 zucchini

½ cup water

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp. unsalted sweet cream butter

2 Tbsps. nut milk of your choosing

1 cup shredded Mexican or Italian blend shredded cheese - if you want it even creamier use Velveeta

Slice the ends off of your zucchini and use your spiralizer (as per the directions or guidelines your spiralizer suggests) to get "zoodles". Chop zoodles into more bite size pieces like macaroni noodles. *If you don't have a spiralizer thinly slice and chop to get noodles or use a cheese grater to get shreds.  Add water & zoodles to a sauté pan, sprinkle salt over zoodles and bring to a boil. Boil and stir until water is almost completely evaporated and zoodles are soft.  Reduce heat to low / medium. Add butter, milk, and cheese to the pan.  Stir until fully combined. Add up to another 1/3 cup of cheese if desired until you get the consistency you desire.  Serve up, add a little salt & pepper to taste if desired, and enjoy! Serves 2 so feel free to double recipe if needed. 

Recipe adapted from simplydelisheats.com.

 

Garlic Parmesan Spaghetti Squash

8 Tbsps. unsalted sweet cream butter, divided

3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup chicken broth

1 cup grated Parmesan

2 Tbsps. chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 2-3lb spaghetti squash

2 Tbsps. avocado oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or coat with nonstick spray.  Cut squash in half lengthwise from stem to tail and scrape out seeds.  Drizzle with avocado oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Place squash, cut-side down, onto prepared baking dish. Place into oven and roast until tender, about 35-45 minutes.  When you squeeze it, it should be soft.  Remove from oven and let rest until cool enough to handle.  Using fork, scrape flesh to create long strands.  Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in broth. Bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in remaining 4 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until melted and smooth.  Stir in spaghetti squash and gently toss to combine until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Serve immediately, topped with Parmesan and garnished with parsley, if desired.

Recipe adapted from damndelicious.net.

 

Cheesy Ranch Roasted Broccoli

4 cups broccoli florets

¼ cup ranch dressing

½ cup Mexican blend cheese, more or less to taste

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together in medium-sized bowl until broccoli is well coated. Spread out broccoli mixture in an 8 x 8 (or equivalent) oven proof casserole dish. Add more cheese to the top if desired.  We like ours really cheesy.  Bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for 30 minutes. Remove and stir – if not tender enough for your preference, place back in the oven for another 5 – 10 minutes, or until desired tenderness is reached. Serve hot.

 

Recipe adapted from ibreatheimhungry.com.