7 delicious ways to slow-carb your favourite meals

stir fry of chicken & basil recipestir fry of chicken & basil recipe2
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It’s almost been 6 months since I started eating Slow Carb.

And I realised the other day that since the launch of our Reclaim Your Waistline class at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School, I haven’t really blogged about it.

The thing is I’m just loving this way of eating. It feels really right.

And I’m running about half the distance I was last year. I run purely because it’s fun and it clears my head. No more pounding the pavement to make up for what I ate.

I’m finally in a place where I’m happy with my weight. And I’m really enjoying what I eat.

But the best thing has been discovering that it’s much easier to ditch grains than you would think. In most cases there is a vegetable or a legume which fills the place of your bread or pasta or rice. And often they taste just as good, if not better than their grain equivalent.

So today I wanted to share a few discoveries I’ve made over the last 6 months. Enjoy!

what is slow-carb?

For the new readers, Slow-Carb is a term coined by Tim Ferris in his book The 4-Hour Body.

Basically it involves managing your insulin levels by avoiding grains, fruit and sugar and replacing them with vegetables and legumes.

what are the benefits of eating slow carb?

It’s the simplest way to enjoy your food and still lose weight.

No counting calories, or carbs or anything boring like that.

No getting stuck in the trap of trying to ‘eat less’ and then finding yourself ravenous and bingeing.

No pressure to exercise excessively.

7 ways to slow carb your favourite meals

1. Cauliflower your rice.
A recent discovery, I’m just loving my new slow carb accompaniment to curries and stir fries. And the brilliant thing it that it’s super quick if you get your food processor to do the hard yards. No more gluggy rice to worry about.

2. Zucchini your noodles.
For an alternative to spaghetti or other long pasta, roast some finely sliced zucchini (courgettes) like the recipe here. And serve with your favourite pasta sauce.

3. Carotti your spaghetti.
Shave a carrot or two into ribbons with a vegetable peeler and then simmer until tender. Presto! Orange ‘spaghetti‘.

4. Butter bean your macaroni.

Drained canned butter beans or other white beans make a wonderfully comforting slow-carb alternative to short pasta such as penne or macaroni.

5. Replace flour with almond meal (or other ground nuts).
This only works for some situations, like using flour or breadcrumbs to coat meat. Or in baked goods.

6. Mash white beans instead of potatoes.

Drained canned white beans with a little olive oil make a wonderful Slow-Carb mash instead of spuds. They’re also much quicker. Pureed cooked cauliflower is another favourite mash alternative.

7. Try lettuce wraps instead of bread.
For those who love their sandwiches, try washed lettuce – iceberg works really well – to wrap your favourite fillings. Think sang choi bau with so many possibilities.

Like to learn more?

Then sign up for the Reclaim Your Waistline class. Click here to learn more.

stir fry of chicken & basil recipe7

[5 ingredients | 10 minutes]
stir fry of chicken & basil

serves 3-4

This is my super simple version of the Thai dish ‘gai larb’. I love this quick simple rendition, but if you like, feel free to add in a few more ingredients such as a little garlic and ginger. Lime juice is the traditional citrus used in Thailand, but if you’re having problems sourcing limes, like I was the other day, lemon juice makes a great substitute.

And feel free to play around with the fresh herbs. Basil is hard to beat, but mint and or coriander will also add the burst of freshness you’re looking for.

Serve with finely grated raw cauliflower or steamed rice (for the non-slow-carbers).

500g (1lb) minced (ground) chicken
3 -4 large red chillies
2 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tablespoons lime juice
small bunch basil, leaves picked.

1. Place a wok or large frying pan (skillet) over a very high heat for a few minutes.

2. When the pan is hot, add a little peanut or other neutral flavoured oil and stir fry the chicken and chillies for a few minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

3. Add fish sauce and lime juice and remove from the heat. Taste and add a little more of the sauces if you think it needs it.

4. Toss in basil leaves and serve hot.

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{ 38 comments }

jas @ the gluten free scallywag June 27, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I’ve heard of the cauliflower rice before, infact my Mum often does that to lower the GI of her curries, etc and butterbean mash I really need to try, along with, well, everyone on that list!

unknown_anonymous June 27, 2011 at 8:06 pm

just to clarify the cauliflower rice: you keep it raw right? I’ve never eaten raw cauli before… sounds like something interesting to try!

Georgia Groomes June 27, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Thanks for these slow carb ideas. I use a lot of spaghetti squash. I use it with pasta sauce over it, but also with many other recipes. I prepare the squash and have it in the refrigerator so that recipes can be prepared very fast when I need them.

Beekguk June 28, 2011 at 12:53 am

I love the idea of coating meat/fish in ground nuts instead of breadcrumbs, thanks for the idea! Now if only I can find a reasonably-priced source of nuts … Another thing I’ve been a little hung up on with going slow-carb, though, is using breadcrumbs to help bind recipes like black bean burgers and meatloaf – any suggestions?

kimberc June 28, 2011 at 4:52 am

I have been following Ferris’ diet for several weeks and am having good success with it. The best part is that the protein curbs my appetite. I am glad to see that you have posted some “slow carb” recipes! Thanks!

Isolde June 28, 2011 at 5:08 am

Hmm yummy recipes, but I could never imagine my life without fruit…

Laura June 28, 2011 at 5:18 am

Almond meal/flour also works as a bread flour. Check out elenaspantry.com if you’re not familiar, her recipes are great, I’ve used them before. Also, if I may add a couple other options I am a fan of: cauliflower or celery root mash is another alternative to mashed potatoes, and collard greens are another wrap alternative. I just had a collard green wrap for the first time at lunch today and it was amazing! I am very intrigued by the “Slow Carb” diet. It’s actually just how I eat, but didn’t know it had a name haha

bianca June 28, 2011 at 11:32 am

The cauliflower “rice” is a genius idea; Ive never been one for fruit but breads and the like are a personal vice- I love the alternatives you have given- great post:)

Cat @ thesplitpindiary June 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I’m loving the slow-carb focus on The Stonesoup lately, it fits in perfectly with my dietary tendancies and you’ve got some great ideas!

Thanks!

—–
Recipes, meal plans, weight loss: thesplitpindiary.wordpress.com

Emily June 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I followed a traditional diet earlier this year religiously for six weeks and lost absolutely no weight. I have always been anti no-carb diets but after reading one of your earlier posts on the slow carb diet, I ordered 4 hour body. Personally I found alot of the information pretty questionable, eating no fruit and no dairy products for example. But I gave it a go and lasted 5 meals. I really struggled with having to eat legumes with every meal and really despised eating. However, it did open my mind to other low-carb/no-carb/no-grain diets and I did further research. What has worked for me is no starchy carbs (rice, bread, pasta, potatoes) for lunch and dinner. I don’t worry about the carb content of other vegetables figuring at least they’re providing important vitamins etc. I do eat a low-GI carb with breakfast such as rolled oats or grainy bread with eggs. I eat two serves of fruit, one with breakfast and the other an afternoon snack with a few nuts. Small, lean portions of meat and no juice, softdrink, cakes etc. I’ve lost six kilos so far (aiming for 10 all up) and like you mentioned, I’ve found this a substainable food plan. I’ve found Teresa Cutter’s recipes and advice very helpful.

Krista (kristastes) June 28, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I just recently decided to try out a paleo diet — these tips are very paleo-friendly, thanks so much for sharing! Love the cauliflower ‘rice’ idea most!

Jason Bartholme June 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I hadn’t thought to use carrots as spaghetti, I’m going to have to try that. It’s been 7 months since I started following the low-carb diet and I’m down about 50lb. My staple is soaking two pounds of dried chick peas over and cooking them in a pressure cooker for 8 minutes. That way, I have chickpeas that can be added to just about anything or by themselves. It curbs cravings for sure, and it’s extremely low in the glycemic index.

jules June 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm

jas
I’m a bit devo-ed (that’s devastated) I wasn’t the first person to think up cauliflower rice… oh well.. great minds

and yes unknown_anonymous.. raw cauli… although I guess you could cook it but there’d be the risk of the texture turning to mush

jason
congrats on the 50lb!
and yay for chickpeas – didn’t realise a pressure cooker would cook them so quickly.. there you go

emily
thanks for sharing your experience… and glad to hear you’ve found something that works for you!

Marie (a.k.a. gardenfreshtomatoes) June 28, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Love the cauliflower rice idea! I subbed cauli for mashed potatoes last winter, and even MY Irishman liked it… Tho I’m not a follower of any particular diet scheme, I always like to try new things…

kitchenvoyage June 28, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Very good ideas, even carbs are very important in our diets is good always add some veggies and vitamins to your dish

jules June 29, 2011 at 9:15 am

Marie
I love cauli mash too – glad to hear your Irishman was a fan!
And I think trying new things is what it’s all about.

Kitchen voyage
yes veggies are a must!

Tammy June 30, 2011 at 3:01 am

I have done the zucchini noodles before but never thought of cauliflower rice or carrot ribbons. Thanks for this. I am also not familiar with slow carb.

Alex June 30, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Yum again! I have had beetroot noodles a few times now – normally if I order duck or a dark fish while eating out. Cabbabge/carrot and zuchini have been great replacements for pasta (especailly in summer!). I had not thought to mash beans before (which seems silly as I type this): they would be great. Especially chick peas or butter beans, and so quick if you pop them out of a can.

jules July 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm

alex!
Now I can’t believe I haven’t tried beetroot noodles… given how much I love that vegetable… going straight to the top of my must try list..

Gina July 7, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Spaghetti Squash!!! Everyone has got to try spaghetti squash at some point…… you’ll never want “whole-wheat” again.

DownBy20 July 13, 2011 at 4:03 am

Jules – your blog is one of my absolute favorite food blogs (I love reading recipes more than I like cooking, or even eating them, and your pictures just look so yummy!). I’ve been trying to work out a slow-carb routine for the past two months. I’m rarely home with energy to cook ahead for the week and I eat out a lot, so while I saw results when I first started, I fell off the wagon and regained everything.

BUT, you are helping me to get back on track. :) So far, the week’s meal plan has been your baked beans, a chili for lunch, and then your broccoli, tuna and white bean mash for dinner. The broccoli/tuna/bean mash was so amazingly delicious that I didn’t feel bad about missing out on my mom’s cooking. So far, I’m 4 pounds down (again).

So thank you!

jules July 13, 2011 at 11:46 am

Down by 20
THanks for sharing! Really glad to hear you’re back on the slow carb track. Keep up to the good work

Pinoy Homemade July 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I’ve been looking for this!

Thanks for your slow carb ideas.

delena July 29, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Cauliflower fried rice! its g.r.e.a.t!!

cherriK August 1, 2011 at 12:40 am

Hi Jules,

Happy to have come across your blog… i’m a newcomer.
Maybe you can help shed some light on a few big issues for me when it comes to WEIGHT LOSS and the whole Carbs vs Paleo thing:

1. What’s with the NO Fruit?
Everyone who’s anyone who understands about good health will tell you the importance of an alkaline diet full of fresh uncooked food for nutritional health based on not killing on your enzymes with cooking.
Fruit and vegetables is like the core of good eating.
So… how does this fit with low carb and slow carb if weight loss is the goal?
Tim Ferris says NO FRUIT! He says the fructose is bad bad bad.

2. Paleo vs Low vs Slow Carb
My head is SPINNING.
Paleo is no dairy no grains and no LEGUMES!
No legumes…?
Where does this fit with the low slow carbs?
Legumes apparently have roughly half protein half carbs hence not so good for weight loss…
BUT they are a great vegetarian source of protein…. taste amazing .. and filling.
What legumes are ok and how much for WEIGHT LOSS?
Eg what about chickpeas and lentils?
Tim Ferris says they’re ok………but they’re not allowed on a Paleo diet…

3. LOW CAL / LOW CARB / VEGETARIAN Protein Anyone?
If you dont want to fill up on meat all day long because its very acidic… or because you’re a vegetarian… but want to lose weight.. what do you do??
Nuts are super high in calories.. .and legumes are half carbs.
Sooo… the low carb diet wont allow legumes…
what are the options…????

4. I just dont feel FULL with no Carbs
I just feel incomplete without a bit of rice…
what about Basmati – its apparently very low GI!!!??
How do you fill up ……. specially if you want to limit meat….?

jules August 1, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Hi Cherri,

Great questions!

1. I agree with Tim. There are many examples of populations who survived without any fruit or even with little fruit during some seasons. The problem with fruit is that it’s high in fructose which is metaboilsed by the body in a different way to other carbs. And without going into the details fructose is the carb that gets converted to fat most readily in our bodies. According to Gary Tabues (Why We Get Fat) this has been common knowledge in biochemistry circles for over 40 years.

2. You’ve got it. Paleo is no lentils / legumes and slow carb allows them. And you’re right they contain both carbs and protein. The thing with weight loss is that some carbohydrate is OK, it’s when you get over a certain level in your diet that there are problems. So I agree with Tim again that chickpeas and lentils are good in moderation because they provide veggie protein and the carbs are slowly absorbed into the body so are less likely to interfere with weight loss.

3. The big thing to learn if you want to lose weight is that fat is good. I know it takes a while to get your head around but basically the idea that for weight loss you want to replace the carbs in your diet with fat. That’s the way you fill up and have all the energy you need without relying on carbs.

4. Fat and legumes are the answer. Get into avocado, nuts, eggs and cheese if you eat them and choose lentils, beans and chickpeas for your protein and carb intake.

If you’re interested in learning more I’d recommend reading Gary Tabues’ book (or enrolling in my class ;) Hope that helps!

jules August 1, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Delena
Love the idea of cauliflower fried rice – am going to try egg fried cauliflower ‘rice’ soon!

cherriK August 2, 2011 at 12:06 am

Hi Jules,
Thanks for your responses…:-)
I understand .. just that it means all the people who talk about the goodness of fruit are wrong? Any fruit – any quantity?
Maybe just while on weight loss diet i guess…?
And what about the Paleo people…… the author of the Paleo diet.. who say no legumes… are they wrong to?
Its hard to know who to go with these days…
I do like the idea of at least being able to have some legumes……
(and ideally SOME FRUIT!)
Are you saying that even if the calories of your slow carb diet are higher than what you burn…. you can still lose weight?
If yes.. are you SURE?:-)
I find my metabolism is really SLOW. I’m pumping weights every day to increase my muscle mass…. and have been on slow carb with a ‘little’ carb – NO USE.
Then tried LOW carb – did a little better….but its not BUDGING.
Is your program a ‘weight loss’ program? Does one lose weight on it?
Which one of your programs do you recommend?
I relate to both the WAIST LINE one and the Not knowing what the hell to make for dinner.
Each day its a battle to figure it out what to eat.. thats on the diet!
:-)

jules August 3, 2011 at 10:51 am

Hi Cherri

There is goodness in fruit. It’s just for me you can get the same vitamins and antioxidants etc from vegetables with far less fructose. So veggie win over fruit every time.

I’ve read the Paleo Solution. And it’s not so much about being right or wrong. For me, it’s important to include legumes to give people more options. Especially if you’re trying to minimise meat.

I am sure that the calories in v’s calories out equation isn’t correct. You’ll know yourself there have been times when you would have eaten much less than you expended and still not lost weight. Again I’m referencing Gary Taubes but the type of calories makes all the difference. Not the quantity.

And I agree with Tim Ferriss on the idea of having one cheat day where you eat whatever you want (fruit or chocolate or pasta). So it’s not all about restriction and going without.

I recently wrote a guest post for another blog with tips for improving your metabolism over here: http://www.dietriffic.com/2011/07/26/boost-your-metabolism/

Reclaim Your Waistline is about weight loss for those that need it. People have lost weight on the program.

If you sign up for my classes you get access to everything at the school. So no need to choose :)

J

jules August 3, 2011 at 11:26 am

And thinking about it more Cherri, I should have mentioned that eating Slow Carb and following the Reclaim Your Waistline program really helps with body shape.

I used to keep my weight under control by running heaps but my waistline was pretty much non existent. I used to store any excess weight around my tummy. Now since I’ve been eating slow carb my waistline is where it should be and I’m storing weight more evenly over my body.

I’ve also cut back my running from over 60km a week to only 20km and have been able to easily maintain a healthy weight.

Hope that helps you
J

Anjali September 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Hi Jules

I am really keen to try out this recipe, but I am allergic to seafood and have lately become very averse to fish sauce as well :(. Is there a substitute that you can recommend?

Thanks! :)

jules September 19, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Anjali
Just make it with soy sauce instead.. the flavour profile will be different but it will still taste lovely and fresh with the lime juice

Natalie October 6, 2011 at 9:57 pm

loved this :) all I added was some mushrooms and garlic – I had it with the cauliflower rice too, all very nice!

thanks :)

Cherrine November 27, 2011 at 2:25 am

Hi, thanks for all the fabulous suggestions. I’m fairly new to this way of eating but think it makes perfect sense and am enjoying it. Following the line that we want to keep sugars low, do you think veggies such as beetroot which I would guess are high in sugar as it tastes so sweet should be left out? Also, what’s the deal with not being able to have quinoa? Its a seed, not a grain and supposed to have good protein. Also, whats the position on other seeds like linseed, pepitas etc? Would they be ok to include in cooking as they are a bit like nuts?

Solana November 30, 2011 at 7:46 am

Is fish sauce the same as tartar sauce? I’ve never heard of “fish sauce”

Thanks!

jules December 1, 2011 at 7:25 pm

solana
no fish sauce is a thai / vietnamese sauce made with fish. it’s quite salty and pungent.. you could substitute in soy sauce if you can’t find fish sauce

Nell-Essential oils uses March 8, 2012 at 12:10 am

Hello!
Your ideas are delicious! I am trying to loose weight, and the way you present the meals makes it look more easy. I am keeping my cravings under control with peppermint and grapefruit essential oils, and hopefully I will loose weight and go back to the healthy weight. The idea of using lettuce wrap instead of bread is absolutely genius! Thank you very much sharing!

allen March 11, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Can you eat oats or muslie

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