Easy Low Carb Dinners

Now the holidays are all over and it’s a great time to step back and go easy on the carbs.  Typically, people, in general, tend to go overboard for the holidays and really overdo it with breads, cookies, cakes, potatoes, etc.   I tend to back off those heavy foods once Christmas is over and go for a lighter menu for a bit.  This month I am going to concentrate on low carb foods from main dishes to snacks to sweets.  

There are several benefits to cutting carbs even a little bit.  One of the main sources of carbs in a diet is sugar.  This comes from many places though.  It comes from actual sugar, but it also comes from starch that breaks down into sugar like breads and potatoes.  When you cut the carbs, whether it be reducing processed sugar products or breads and pastas, it leads to reducing excess water in your body.  This of course reduces swelling and if you have a lot of excess water, it can lead to weight loss.  

Triglycerides are fat molecules that circulate in your bloodstream.  Cutting carbs tends to lower the level of triglycerides significantly.  Studies have shown reducing carbs lowers blood sugars and insulin levels.  This makes low carb a key factor in controlling diabetes.  There is even some evidence that a low carb diet can help lower your blood pressure, according to healthline.com.  

When you decrease carbs, you tend to increase fats.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though.  Eating the right fat is one of the best ways to increase your HDL or good cholesterol.  When you partner low carb with high fat, you also get a decrease in your LDL or bad cholesterol.  That is definitely a good thing!

I will discuss making snacks in the next week or so, but in the meantime, if you feel like you need something extra, pick up some almonds.  There is a variety called Smokehouse my sister introduced me to.  You can find it at Walmart.  They are a great snack paired with a cheese stick or two!  Yum!

This weekend, hopefully the craziness of the holidays is over for you, make dinner lighter.  The main dishes listed below, are all low carb and really easy to make in little time.  You can easily pair them with a salad and sautéed vegetables to fill out the meal.  Make your grocery list and leave out the breads and pastas this week.  Then meet me in the kitchen for delicious meals to fill you up that won’t leave you feeling heavy!

Tuscan Butter Shrimp

2 Tbsps. avocado oil

2lbs. shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed

Ground black pepper

3 Tbsps. unsalted sweet cream butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1½ cup halved cherry tomatoes, more or less to taste

3 cups baby spinach

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

¼ cup basil, thinly sliced

In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Season shrimp with pepper. When oil is shimmering but not smoking, add shrimp and sear until underside is golden, about 2 minutes.  Flip shrimp and cook until opaque. Remove from skillet and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium and add butter. When butter has melted, stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cherry tomatoes and season with salt and pepper if desired. Cook until tomatoes are beginning to burst then add spinach and cook until spinach is beginning to wilt.  Stir in heavy cream, Parmesan and basil and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.  Return shrimp to skillet and stir to combine. Cook until shrimp is heated through, garnish with more basil and squeeze lemon on top before serving.

Recipe adapted from delish.com.

 

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

Bell peppers, halved-how many you need depends on how many you want to make

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 large onion, sliced

16oz mushrooms, sliced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Sirloin steak, thinly sliced-about 1lb for every 3 peppers

Italian seasoning-1 tsp per lb. or to taste

Sliced provolone-2 slices per pepper half

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place peppers in large baking dish and bake until tender, 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, in large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onions and mushrooms. Cook until soft, 6 minutes. Add steak and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in Italian seasoning.  Remove from heat until peppers are ready.  Add provolone to bottom of baked peppers and top with steak mixture. Top with another piece of provolone and broil until golden, 2-3 minutes.  So good!

 

Turkey Bacon Lettuce Wraps

1 head iceberg lettuce

4 slices deli turkey 

4 slices turkey bacon, cooked

1 avocado, thinly sliced

1 Roma tomato, thinly sliced

Basil Mayo Sauce

½ cup low carb mayonnaise-my favorite is an avocado based mayo, it’s actually carb free!

6 large basil leaves, torn

1 tsp lemon juice

1 garlic clove, chopped

salt

pepper

For the Basil-Mayo, combine ingredients in small food processor then process until smooth. Alternatively, mince basil and garlic then whisk all ingredients together. Can be done a couple days ahead of time.  Lay out two large lettuce leaves then layer on 1 slice of turkey and slather with Basil-Mayo. Layer on a second slice of turkey followed by the bacon, and a few slices of both avocado and tomato. Season lightly with salt and pepper then fold the bottom up and roll like a burrito. Slice in half and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from iowagirleats.com  

 

Creamy Chicken

2 Tbsps. unsalted sweet cream butter

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast 

1 whole green onion

8oz sour cream

½ tsp (or to taste) unrefined sea salt

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. When butter is melted and browns slightly, add chicken.  Turn heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes.  While chicken is simmering, chop green onion. Use both green and white part.  Turn over chicken, cover and let simmer for another 10 minutes or until juices run clear. The total cooking time depends on thickness of meat.  Add chopped green onion. Stir, and let onion cook for 1-2 minutes.  Turn off heat. Add salt and sour cream. Mix well.  Cover and let stand on the stove top for 5 minutes. Mix well before serving.

Recipe adapted from lowcarbsosimple.com.

 

Pan Fried Tilapia

6 tilapia fillets

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

 2 eggs, beaten

3 Tbsps. unsalted sweet cream butter

¼ cup avocado oil

If using frozen tilapia fillets, thaw in cool water for 15 minutes.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, add Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Whisk to combine.  Using a separate bowl, whisk eggs.  Heat butter and avocado oil over medium high heat.  Dip fillets in egg, then into the cheese mixture, being sure to coat both sides. Do not crowd your pan.  Carefully lay coated fillets in hot oil and fry 5 minutes on each side.  Remove to warm plate while you are finishing rest.  Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from easyketodishes.com.