Low carb toolbox

Low carb meal ideas

[V] indicates meals that are suitable for vegetarians

Breakfast
  • Bacon and eggs
  • Boiled eggs [V]
  • Full-fat yoghurt with a few berries and seeds (add a little double cream for an extra luxurious feel) [V]
  • Omelette or scrambled eggs (add ingredients such as bacon, ham, mushrooms, shallot or cheese) [V]
  • Ham and cheese
Lunch
  • Soup (any soup made with any of the ingredients in the low carb list or, if shop-bought, check carb content)
  • Salad with any of egg, chicken, ham, cheese, prawns, tuna, avocado, plus mixed salad vegetables (see salad ideas under vegetables)
  • Original bubble and squeek (shred cooked roast beef and cooked cabbage then refry in plenty of butter)
  • Omelette or scrambled eggs (add ingredients such as bacon, ham, mushrooms, shallot or cheese) [V]
  • Ham and cheese
Dinner
  • Add as many vegetable sides as required, plain meat dishes can be jazzed up with a Low Carb sauce.
  • Baked or pan-fried salmon
  • Bunless burger or cheeseburger (if you want to be able to pick it up then wrap it in a large lettuce leaf) and salad
  • Chicken thighs, drumsticks or legs
  • Fish pie with celeriac mash
  • Halloumi with roasted vegetables [V]
  • Pan-fried pork or lamb chop, steak or fish fillet
  • Roast beef / chicken / lamb / pork (watch out for gravy which can be carby, it is better to have a thin jus)
  • Shepherd’s pie - as per standard shepherd’s pie only topped with swede (rutabaga) mash
Lunch
  • Any steamed/boiled or sauteed above-ground vegetables served with plenty of butter
  • Cauliflower cheese made with steamed cauliflower and a cheese sauce (see sauces)
  • Cauliflower rice (see smart swaps)
  • Celeriac chips (see smart swaps)
  • Celeriac mash (see smart swaps)
  • Courgettes (zucchini) (cut into coins, wedges or julienne strips and fry in butter)
  • Roasted vegetables (any of shallots, cauliflower, leeks, courgettes, peppers, a couple of unpeeled garlic cloves tossed in olive oil and seasoned then roasted for 30-40 minutes)
  • Swede (rutabaga) mash
  • Salad – choose a selection of salad veg from the low carb food list
Sauces
  • Blue cheese sauce (made from double cream with grated blue cheese melted into it)
  • Cheese sauce (made from double cream with grated cheese melted into it)
  • Hollandaise sauce
  • Home-made vinaigrette (mix 1 part wine or apple cider vinegar with 2-3 parts olive oil, salt and pepper and a smidge of made mustard: shake well)
  • Mayonnaise (not the light versions, and preferably made using rapeseed, avocado or olive oil)
Desserts
  • Full-fat yoghurt with a few berries and seeds (add a little double cream for an extra luxurious feel)
  • Two squares of 70% cocoa solids (or higher) dark chocolate
  • A piece of fruit (see the food list)
Snacks
  • Boiled eggs
  • Celery and cucumber sticks with cream cheese as a dip
  • Ham and cream cheese roll ups (spread a slice of ham with cream cheese and roll into a tube)
  • Nuts (no more than a palmful)
  • Pepperami or other cured meat snack
  • Cheese
Drinks
  • Coffee – with full fat milk (or with cream is better than with milk)
  • Herbal or fruit teas
  • Tea – with full fat milk
  • Water

Low carb swaps

There are loads of ways to replace your carb-laden foods with low carb alternatives.
Swap these high carb foods with the alternatives listed below.

Mashed potato
Swede (rutabaga) or celeriac (celery root) readily available in supermarkets both make a great mash - prepare just like the potato version, though perhaps with a little less milk as they are less absorbent.

Roast potatoes/fries
Celeriac chips - brush with oil and roast in the oven.

Rice
Cauliflower rice - whizz up the cauliflower in the food processor until the size of rice grains (if you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the cauliflower), then saute in a frying pan with butter and pepper.

Pasta/spaghetti
“Courgetti” - use a spiralizer or a vegetable peeler to make long strips of courgette (zucchini), steam for 5 minutes or microwave for 1 minute and serve with your favourite pasta sauce.

Low carb food list

Use this handy list to make your grocery shopping easier.

Salad vegetables
Spinach
Celery
Cucumber
Radish
Salad leaves
Spring onions (scallions)
Tomatoes
Side vegetables
Artichoke
Asparagus
Aubergine (eggplant)
Avocado
Bell pepper (green is best)
Bok choi
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Celeriac
Collard greens
Courgette (zucchini)
Garlic
Green beans
Kale
Leek
Mushrooms
Okra
Shallots 
Spinach
Summer or spaghetti squash
Swede (rutabaga)
Swiss chard
Fruits
No more than 1 portion a day.

Blackberries
Blueberries
Cherries
Lemons
Raspberries
Strawberries

Frozen versions of these fruits are handy as you can defrost a handful every day and mix with full-fat yoghurt for breakfast or a snack
Dairy
Cheese in blocks – any type but make sure to check the carb count

Cheese in snack size portions – but make sure to check the carb count

Double (heavy) cream

Milk – limit to small amounts in tea or coffee

Milk alternatives such as rice, almond or oat – check the carb count as some types are sweetened

Mayonnaise

Sour cream

Yoghurt – full-fat Greek style
Meat and eggs
Bacon and ham – processed so don’t eat these too often

Beef – you don’t need to opt for lean unless you want to

Burgers - choose ones with a high meat (over 80%, the higher the better) content

Chicken – preferably whole chicken, thighs, drumsticks and wings

Cooked meats

Cured meats and jerky – these are processed and high in salt so don’t eat them too often

Eggs

Game such as duck, goose or guinea fowl

Lamb

PorkSausages - choose ones with a high meat content
Fish
Prawns and other seafood
Salmon
Tuna
White fish
Mackerel
Tinned sardines
Fats
Avocado oil
Beef dripping
Butter
Coconut oil
Duck or goose fat
GheeLard (tallow)
Nut oils

Olive oil – light for cooking, extra virgin for salad dressing
Cupboard foods
Bouillon or stock

Coconut cream or milk – look for the lowest carb versions

Dark chocolate – must be 70% cocoa or higher

Nut butters such as almond or macadamia

Nuts such as almonds, brazils, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, walnuts

Olives

Seeds such as pine nuts, pumpkin, sunflower

Tinned tomatoes – these have very variable carb counts so pick the lowest one

Vinegar – try to avoid balsamic vinegar which is carby

Am I hungry?

Do this exercise when you start to feel hungry to find out whether you really are hungry or perhaps there is something else you need.

  • When you notice you are thinking about food and want to eat, pause and ask yourself ‘Am I hungry?’
  • Move away from the sight of food and focus on your body. Take a few deep breaths and notice the physical sensations in the body. Picture your stomach and ask yourself again ‘Am I hungry?’
  • Do you have signs of hunger? Hunger pangs? Growling or rumbling? An empty or hollow feeling? Weakness or low energy? Light-headedness, shakiness or irritability?
  • If the answer is yes, ask yourself how hungry you are on a scale of 1-10, 1 being not hungry at all and 10 being ravenous.
  • If you decide you are truly hungry, go ahead and eat something. Or maybe you’ll decide to wait a little longer, or eat a small amount and see how you feel.
  • If you realise you are not hungry, try to tune in to what you are feeling, are you anxious? Bored? Stressed? Upset? Sad? Maybe you are thirsty?
  • Make a note of your findings: how long since you ate, how hungry you felt, whether you discovered that you really were hungry or not.

Low carb rules

If you’re going to experiment for more than a couple of meals, bear in mind these 5 simple rules for eating low carb:

  1. Eat 3 meals a day plus snacks as needed
  2. Avoid grains, sugars and artificial sweeteners
  3. Limit vegetables and  fruits to low carbohydrate ones (less than 5% [look for under 5g on the per 100g nutritional information label] and preferably less than 3%)
  4. Eat lots of healthy fats (see the shopping list)
  5. Drink lots of water
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