How to Eat a Low-Carb Diet and Still Enjoy Eating

Variety is the Spice of Life

One of the common complaints we hear from people on low-carb diets is that there’s not enough variety, that it gets monotonous, or that there’s nothing to eat. Actually, there’s tons to eat and once you get into the swing of things, you’ll start feeling so much better than you have in years, that you’ll want to continue eating this way. The key is to spice things up by including lots of fresh herbs and veggies.

What if I’m a Vegetarian?

Typical vegetarian protein sources, such as beans, can increase symptoms of Syndrome X because they raise blood sugar and insulin levels significantly higher than meat (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1997, vol. 66). Try to include eggs, high-protein dairy foods such as cottage cheese, and tofu in your diet. However, you don’t have to pig out on protein – the important thing is to restrict the carbohydrate.

And be sure to take a supplement with anti-X nutrients, as well as zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.

What About Dietary Fat?

The important thing is to restrict the carbohydrates. Fats are not the problem and you need not restrict your intake. In fact, dietary fat stimulates your metabolism and causes satiation of the appetite. So live it up, but make sure that the fats you eat are high quality such as olive oil, canola oil, whole avocado, butter, and flax oil. Don’t eat processed fats such as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.

Avoid these Carbohydrates

  • Bread, pasta, crackers, flour, potatoes, carrots, peas, corn fruits, baked goods, candies, chewing gum, sugars
  • All dairy foods, except whey protein concentrate, butter, cream and cheeses. Cultured milk products like cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt have dramatically reduced carbohydrate and increased protein content. (Milk has a fairly high sugar content as you can see from the package label on any cartoon of milk.)
  • Some medications, including cough lozenges and syrups.
  • Imitation crab, shrimp and lobster meat. These often contain starch and sugar.
  • All fruits contain simple sugars/carbohydrates. Most berries, however, are both low glycemic and low in carbohydrates. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries may be eaten in small amounts.
  • Foods that are normally considered healthy, but which have a high glycemic index, such as carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips.

Recommended Diet

Protein: Eat as much as you want of meats and fish (especially cold water fish, such as tuna and salmon), and eggs. Eliminate processed meats and those containing nitrites, nitrates, sugars or other carbohydrates.

Salads: Dress up your salads with tasty toppings and dressings that don’t contain sugar. Pile on the tuna, shrimp, crab meat, slices of chicken, turkey, cheese and jazzy veggies like radishes, mushrooms, snapbeans, fresh fennel, alfalfa sprouts, chives, arugula, etc.

Vegetables: Make like a rabbit and gorge on leafy green vegetables, such as kale, green cabbage, spinach, chard, bok choy, etc.; include all the non-starchy veggies you can eat including artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, eggplant, zucchini, snow pea pods, etc.

Snacks: 1 ounce portions of sunflower seeds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts; string cheese, 1 hard-cooked egg, 1/4 cup cottage cheese, apple/cheddar slices; smoothies made with whey protein concentrate, soy protein powder, rice protein powder or other low-carb protein powders, mixed in water with berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries) with a dash of stevia.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes, which we’re sure you’ll agree are delicious! (from The Smart Guide to Low-Carb Cooking, by Mia Simms. Smart Publications, 2000, CA.)

Cooking Tools

Mexican Breakfast

  • 4 eggs, poached
  • 1/4 cup chunky salsa
  • 1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup avocado, cut into chunks
  • 2 Tbs. sour cream
  • 2 Tbs. olives, sliced
  • 2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, finely chopped

While eggs are poaching, heat salsa in a microwave or over medium-low heat until hot but not simmering. Place eggs on a rimmed serving plate and top with warm salsa, shredded cheese, avocado chunks, sour cream, olives and fresh cilantro.

Serves 2
Carbs per recipe: 14
Carbs per serving: 7

Whole Garlic

Italian Pesto

1 large bunch basil, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup flax oil

Place basil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese in a blender or food processor. Blend until thoroughly chopped and mixed. Continue processing while gradually adding olive and flax oils. Blend until smooth. Use within two days. Makes about 1 cup. Use as a condiment with broiled chicken or fish.

Carbs per recipe: 12

Peppered Szechwan

1 pound meat or firm tofu, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 Tbs coconut oil
1 green pepper, 1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1 Tbs coconut oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 Tbs soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp dry hot pepper, crushed
3 garlic cloves, minced

Heat two tablespoons coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the tofu chunks until they turn a light golden brown. Drain them with a paper towel, place them on a baking sheet and keep them in the oven on low. Melt one tablespoon coconut oil in the skillet and begin to stir-fry red, green and yellow pepper strips and scallions over medium heat (about 3 minutes).

Combine and whisk white wine, soy sauce, water, mustard, garlic and hot pepper. Pour the liquid over the peppers and continue to stir-fry for 8 more minutes. Add the meat or tofu and garlic, stir, cover and serve within minutes.

Serves 4
Carbs per recipe: 65
Carbs per serving: 16


Creamy Blueberry Pie

8 ounces cream cheese softened
1/4 cup purified water
2-3 dashes stevia (a non-caloric, natural herbal sweetener, found in health food stores)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tb. cream
3/4 cup purified water
1 Tb cornstarch
1 Tb fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp stevia
1 pound fresh or frozen blueberries (unsweetened)

Mix cream cheese with water, stevia, vanilla and cream. If using frozen blueberries, drain fluid and use the liquid in place of water. Spoon cream cheese mixture into piecrust (pie pan if not using crust * see below) and chill. In a medium-sized pot, combine water, cornstarch, lemon juice and stevia. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in blueberries and lemon juice. Allow berry mixture to cool, then spoon over chilled cream cheese mixture. Chill pie for at least two hours.

Carbs per recipe: 55

Flax-Nut Pie Crust

1/4 cup flax seeds, finely ground
3 Tbs ice water
1/2 tsp vinegar
3/4 cup almonds, finely ground
1 dash stevia (a non-caloric, natural herbal sweetener, found in health food stores)
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tb coconut oil, melted

Soak ground flax seeds in water and vinegar for at least 15 minutes. Stir these together and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix ground almonds with stevia, salt and melted coconut oil. Combine seed and nut mixture and stir until evenly mixed. Transfer into a nine-inch pie pan, pressing evenly along the bottom and edges. Prick crust with a fork and bake for 15 minutes at 325 . Allow crust to cool before adding filling.

Carbs per recipe: 49

Cinnamon Bran Muffins

3 eggs, separated
2 Tbs butter, melted
2 Tbs coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup Designer® Protein (French vanilla)
2 Tbs soy flour
2 Tbs wheat bran, toasted
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp stevia (a non-caloric, natural herbal sweetener, found in health food stores)
2 tsp baking powder

Separate eggs and beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks with butter and coconut oil. In a separate bowl, mix whey protein, soy flour, wheat bran, walnuts, cinnamon, stevia and baking powder. Beat dry mixture into egg yolk combination. Gently fold egg whites into batter and pour into a buttered nonstick muffin pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 30 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 8 muffins Carbs per recipe: 27
Carbs per serving: 3