wellbeing-brand-logo

Journal of Inspired living

4 healthy and delicious low-carb recipes


4 healthy and delicious low-carb recipes

Credit: The Wellness Stock Shop

Want to improve your mood, quality of sleep and energy levels, and enjoy sharper brain function? What if you could do this simply through the ingredients you choose to cook with? Yep, putting food on your plate that’s designed to help you function at your very best is one of the key things you can do to support sustainable, long-term health for you and your family. That’s why I believe it’s beneficial to embrace a low-carbohydrate (low-carb) lifestyle when it comes to the meals you prepare daily.

While I’ve personally experienced the awesome benefits of this approach to eating, the latest nutritional research is also confirming that the food we choose can be instrumental in protecting against the onset and development of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Carbohydrates and you

Hands up anyone who eats a Western-style diet that consists of toast or cereal for breakfast, a mid-morning snack, a sandwich, roll, wrap or sushi for lunch, another afternoon snack to get through the last few hours of the day and then pasta, rice or pizza for dinner. This is — nutritionally speaking — the same as keeping a fire going with kindling. It’s exhausting for your body because it takes you on a blood-sugar roller-coaster every single day.

Rather than be stuck on this roller-coaster ride, what if you instead paired sensible low-carb options with healthy fats and were able to eat in a way that keeps blood sugar and insulin levels stable?

Living a low-carb lifestyle isn’t about ditching the foods you love. Instead, it’s about cooking with healthier alternatives and getting creative in the kitchen.

By ditching the “bad guys” (sugary and starchy carbohydrates), replacing them with the “good guys” (low-carb plant-based foods), a moderate amount of high-quality protein, enough healthy fat to satiate and some fermented foods, you start to train your body to stop relying on fast-burning glucose and instead use fat as its fuel.

Given that the human body and brain thrive on healthy fat, when you remove sugar and starchy carbohydrates from the equation you are actually helping your brain to understand that “the hunting is good”. In other words, food is plentiful. By doing this, you can basically “turn off” the emotional, carb-craving monster you may have become and instead “turn on” your body’s natural ability to be clean, lean and resistant to disease.

Delicious alternatives

Living a low-carb lifestyle isn’t about ditching the foods you love. Instead, it’s about cooking with healthier alternatives and getting creative in the kitchen.

For example, you can use leafy greens, fibrous vegetables and below-ground vegies (such as carrot and pumpkin) as healthy, low-carb replacements for the traditional staples of pasta and rice. The cool thing about these vegies is you can spiralise them, turning them into healthy noodles that pack a far bigger nutritional punch than anything grain-based ever could and that I promise will be a hit with the kids.

Greens and other vegetables grown above the ground are high in fibre, contain very little sugar or starch and are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients. These are the kind of carbohydrates you need to fuel your body multiple times a day because they give you a slow, sustained energy release, leaving you feeling fuller for longer.

There are also some very good vegies grown below the ground: think sweet potato, radishes and beetroot.

By choosing fresh, organic vegetables (or, better still, growing your own), you are selecting produce that is higher in nutrients while minimising your exposure to GMOs and pesticides. I try to eat at least one serving of these vegies with every meal and aim for as many servings a day as I can muster.

When following a low-carb lifestyle, there are a few vegetables that shouldn’t feature on your plate. The high starch content of certain vegetables such as potatoes is rapidly converted to sugar in the bloodstream, which is why eating them often can cause insulin spikes, weight gain and other issues.

That’s why learning to cook low-carb is about embracing ingredients that support sustainable health.

We still like to enjoy a pizza every now and then on a Friday night but, rather than using dough for a pizza base, I prefer to use cauliflower.

Rather than burgers, for example, I like to create chicken san choy bau as a healthier substitute. I start with a base of aromatics (such as garlic, ginger, coriander root, spring onion and tamari), add a protein such as chicken, then wrap it all in an iceberg lettuce leaf. Low-carb and delicious.

It’s also about reinterpreting your family favourites. We still like to enjoy a pizza every now and then on a Friday night but, rather than use dough for a pizza base, I prefer cauliflower because it’s a vegetable that’s well-known for its disease-protective properties and it fills us up much more than using dough ever would.

I’m also a big fan of butter chicken and will serve it on top of either cauliflower or broccoli rice — or a mix of both.

When you’re living a low-carb lifestyle, it’s also really important to supercharge your meals with lots of healthy fats. These help you to feel full because they provide a slower, more sustained source of fuel for the brain and body. The fats I’m loving right now are coconut oil (a near-perfect source of healthy fat), avocados, macadamia nuts, eggs and fat from grass-fed animals.

Animal fat is my favourite source of healthy fats because the body can use it to help support the health of our nervous, immune, digestive and endocrine systems, as well as regulate metabolism. In fact, a University of Michigan–led study shows that animal fat is a significant source of the hormone adiponectin, which plays a role in maintaining insulin sensitivity and breaking down fat, and has been linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity-associated cancers.

One of my favourite ways to enjoy animal fat is roasted bone marrow. Lately, I’ve also been a pretty big fan of bacon chips with guacamole. Trust me, this recipe is a party-starter, which is why I’ve shared it with you below.

I hope you’ll be as inspired as I am to get experimenting in the kitchen with low-carb living. After all, don’t you want to feel like the best version of you?

Cook with love and laughter,

Pete

Spaghetti With Prawns, Pesto & Pistachios

Serves: 4

Ingredients

Method

  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 700g raw king prawns, shelled & deveined, tails intact
  • 4–5 zucchini, spiralised into thin noodles

  • Pesto
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large handful basil leaves, plus extra to serve
  • 1 large handful mint leaves
  • 60g pine nuts, toasted
  • 120mL olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 80g pistachio nuts (activated if possible), toasted & roughly chopped
  • Lemon wedges
  • Chilli flakes
  1. To make the pesto, place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and whiz until the herbs and nuts are finely chopped. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Season the prawns with salt and pepper, then cook, in batches, for 1 min on each side until just cooked through. Remove the prawns from the pan and set aside, covered to keep warm.
  3. Wipe the pan clean and place over medium heat. Add the remaining coconut oil and zucchini spaghetti and sauté for 2 mins until the zucchini is almost cooked through. Season with a little salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, add the cooked prawns and pesto and toss to combine.
  4. Transfer the spaghetti mix to a large platter or serving plates, drizzle on some extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle over the pistachios, add a squeeze of lemon juice and scatter on some basil leaves and a few chilli flakes, if desired.

Bacon Chips With Guacamole

Ingredients

Method

  • 500g rindless streaky bacon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Guacamole
  • 1 long red chilli, halved lengthways, deseeded & finely chopped, plus extra to serve (optional)
  • Juice 1 lime, plus extra to taste (or use equivalent amount of kraut juice)
  • 2 tbsp finely diced red onion
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the bacon in a single layer on the prepared tray, making sure the strips are not touching. Bake, turning the tray once for even cooking, for 12–15 mins until the bacon is golden and crisp. Keep a close eye on the bacon to prevent it from burning. Allow to cool completely then cut into bite-sized pieces. Set aside until needed.
  3. To make the guacamole, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and gently mix. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle a little extra chilli over the top, if desired.
  4. Serve the guacamole straight away with the bacon chips.
  5. Tip: To make this a super snack, add some fermented veg to the guacamole and enjoy every single mouthful.

Butter Chicken

Ingredients

Method

  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1–2 pinches cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 400mL tin coconut cream
  • 700g chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Coriander leaves, to serve
  • Cauliflower rice (see recipe below), to serve
  1. Heat 4 tablespoons of the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and sauté for 4 mins until translucent. Turn the heat down to low and stir in the garlic and spices. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 min. Add the salt, lemon juice and coconut cream and mix well.
  3. Turn the heat up to medium and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the chicken and stir until well coated with the sauce. Cover the pan with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20–25 mins, or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
  4. Garnish with the coriander and serve with cauliflower rice.

Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients

Method

  • 1 cauliflower, florets & stalk, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  1. Place the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse into tiny, fine pieces that look like rice. Alternatively, grate it to fine grains. Place the coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and lightly cook for 4–6 mins or until softened.
  2. Season with salt and pepper and serve.



 

Pete Evans

Pete Evans is an internationally renowned chef, restaurateur, author and TV presenter. His passion for food and a healthy lifestyle inspires individuals and families around the world. Pete is a certified health coach with qualifications from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and promotes the Paleo approach to heal the gut.