We don't like restrictive eating and we know denying yourself the foods you love can be detrimental (see our new diet rules and popular tips nutritionists think you should ignore). But when it comes to treating our bodies with the respect and affection they deserve, healthy foods are inevitably part of the process.
So no, I'm not saying you have to cut carbs out of your life completely (I certainly don't), but if limiting those foods is an effective way for you to feel good, by all means. To help, we talked to two experts in food and nutrition: a holistic health coach and plant-based cook as well as a nutritionist and author. Below find their favorite low-carb recipes.
Clean Food Dirty City
"Shakshuka is one of my favorite dishes to enjoy for breakfast and brunch," says Lily Kunin of Clean Food Dirty City, a certified holistic health coach and plant-based cook. "My version packs in a ton of greens and tops it with avocado. It makes for a satisfying meal that has a perfect balance of protein, healthy fats, and greens."
2 roasted mild hatch green chilis
1/3 cup olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
6 cups baby spinach, washed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup green onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
Sea salt or pink salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
4 pasture raised eggs
Top with: shaved radish, cilantro + sliced avocado
"In a sauté pan, sweat the onion in ghee until translucent. Add the garlic, spinach, green onions, spices, and roasted chili. Cook for five minutes. Pureé half the mixture with 1/4 cup water. Add the mixture back to the un-pureed mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
"Divide the spinach mixture between four ovenproof serving dishes. Create an indentation in the middle of each dish (like a bird's nest) and break an egg into each dish. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until the white has set. Serve warm with cilantro."
"Salmon is a delicious, rich source of protein and omega-3s," says Keri Glassman, an author, nutritionist, and founder of The Nutrition School.
"And this is a simple way to get it on the table quickly, served with lots of veggies on the side."
1 salmon fillet
1 large square parchment paper
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 lemon slices
"Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and lay fish onto one side of your parchment. Spread mustard over the fish and drizzle with soy sauce. Arrange lemon slices on top of the filet and fold the other half of parchment over your fish. Roll the edges tight to seal and keep everything closed. Bake until the fish is cooked through, for about 12 minutes."
Clean Food Dirty City
"Cauliflower rice is a great way to make any meal low-carb," explains Kunin. "You can sub it into your favorite grain bowl or use it as the main event in a stir-fry like this recipe."
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 head baby bok choy, sliced and leaves separated
1 red pepper, sliced into matchsticks
1 cup of frozen peas
Scallions and cilantro, for garnish
1/2 large cauliflower or 1 small cauliflower
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/3 cup low-sodium, gluten-free tamari
1 tbsp. tahini
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tsp. sesame oil
"Whisk all the ingredients together for the tamari sauce and set aside. For the cauliflower, begin by peeling away the green leaves. Cut into florets (including the stems). Place a handful of florets into the food processor (about a cup or so) and put the lid on. Pulse a few times or until the cauliflower is in small rice-like pieces. Keep the pieces on the larger side so they do not get mushy. Repeat in small batches until the whole head is riced. Alternatively, you can chop it by hand with a knife.
"In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high. Add the scallion and cook for three to four minutes. Add the garlic and the turmeric and cook for one minute. Then add the cauliflower, mix well, and cook for five to seven more minutes or until the cauliflower is just soft. Scoop cauliflower into a bowl and wipe out the pan.
"Bring the pan to medium heat. Add the broccoli, red peppers, and bok choy stems with a scant 1/4 cup water (just enough for them to steam). Toss the veggies around and cook until steamed through and water has nearly evaporated, three to five minutes. The veggies should be crisp but tender. Add the peas, bok choy leaves, and the satay sauce and cook until just warmed through. At this point, you can add in the cauliflower rice and gently toss until well incorporated and heated through or serve the veggie stir-fry on top of the cauliflower rice. Top with cilantro, scallions, toasted cashews, and pan-fried tofu, if desired."
Clean Food Dirty City
"Hearty salads packed with both cooked and raw vegetables are a great satisfying lunch option and a good way to fuel post workout," notes Kunin. "Feel free to top with your favorite protein."
1 small head of purple or white cauliflower
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
3 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 small kabocha squash
1 head of kale, deveined and thinly sliced
1 cup of cooked quinoa
1 zucchini, spiralized
Sliced almonds, toasted
Kimchi or raw sauerkraut
1 clove of garlic, finely grated
2 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. tahini
1 tsp. honey
1/4 cup olive oil
Pink salt and freshly ground black pepper
Water to thin, as needed
"For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Add water to thin as needed and season to taste. For the salad, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Add the cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots to one baking sheet and the kabocha squash to the other. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until crispy and golden, about 35 minutes. Give the pans a nice shake and flip halfway through.
"Meanwhile, add the kale to a large mixing bowl with a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Massage the kale with clean hands until volume decreases by about half and the kale turns bright green. Add the zucchini and quinoa to the bowl and toss with a bit of the salad dressing. Pull the vegetables out of the oven when ready and give them a little drizzle of good olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of salt. Toss a couple handfuls of each into the kale bowl and gently toss with more dressing until well coated. Season to taste and serve in a big bowl topped with toasted almonds and raw sauerkraut."
"A frittata is just a fancy name for a messy omelet, and there's no strict recipe—so you don't have to get caught up in nitty-gritty cooking techniques," says Glassman. "Just add whichever roasted or fresh veggies you have in the fridge and some lean protein, and you'll have a balanced, satisfying meal that works for breakfast but is also hearty enough for a quick lunch or dinner."
Fresh herbs: tarragon, sage, thyme (whatever you have on hand)
1 cup roasted vegetables: butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes (any vegetables will do)
2 ounces protein: turkey or ham (any leftovers will do)
freshly ground black pepper
"Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the eggs with herbs and transfer your mixture to a skillet. Cook for five minutes and then mix in your roasted vegetables and protein. Transfer the mixture from your stovetop to the oven. Bake the frittata for 10 minutes until the eggs are no longer runny. Top with more additional fresh herbs and enjoy!"