Figuring out what to cook can be a daunting task for people embarking on a low-carb diet. This simple but hearty recipe is a good place to start.
Adopting a low-carb lifestyle can lead to kitchen confusion as you purge your pantry of grains and sweets and timidly increase your intake of saturated fat. A wonderful guide to the world of low-carb cooking is 500 Low Carb Recipes by long-time low-carber Dana Carpender.
The book includes chapters about appetizers, hot vegetables, salads, protein sources of all kinds, and even dishes that you thought you would have to give up on a low-carb diet! For new low-carbers, the most important section is Chapter 1, which identifies the ingredients that are essential for a low-carb pantry and how to make substitutions for undesirable ingredients in traditional recipes.
500 Low Carb Recipes lists websites where low-carb ingredients and specialty products can be ordered. Dana explains the concept of “net carbs” (usable carbs) and offers advice about reading labels, using artificial sweeteners and even losing weight! The recipe below, adapted from 500 Low Carb Recipes (and published here with Dana’s permission), is an easy way to make the transition to low-carb cooking because it (mainly) uses familiar ingredients. It’s also really easy!
Recipe for Low Carb Chicken and Vegetable Soup
This recipe yields about 10 servings. Each serving of soup contains 21-25 g of carbohydrate, depending on the size of vegetables that you use. Subtract 6 g of fiber for a net carbohydrate content of 15-19 g per serving. Protein content is about 14 g, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Two tablespoons of kefir cheese add only 1 g of carb. If a total carb count of 20 g per serving seems high, remember that this is a meal in a bowl!
- 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-2′ cubes
- 3 qts (3 L) chicken stock
- 4 green onions, diced
- 4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 3 celery sticks, chopped
- 1 red pepper
- 1 carrot
- 1 zucchini
- 1 28 oz (800 g) can of crushed tomatoes (including the juice)
- 1 package frozen chopped spinach
- 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tbsp dried basil)
- 1/3 cup fresh oregano, chopped (or 2 tbsp dried oregano)
- kefir cheese to taste (Karoun Meditteranean Style Kefir Cheese Labne is recommended)
Directions for Making Low Carb Chicken and Vegetable Soup
- Heat coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add chicken and brown on all sides.
- While chicken is browning, heat chicken stock in a 6 qt (5.7 L) stock pot over low heat.
- Add tomatoes and spinach to the pot.
- Once chicken is browned, transfer it to the stock pot using a slotted spoon. Leave the coconut oil in the pan, and if necessary, add more for sautéing vegetables.
- Sauté the green onions, garlic, celery, carrot and zucchini together until limp. Add the vegetables to the pot.
- Simmer for 30 to 60 minutes to let the flavors blend.
- Ladle soup into bowls. Just before serving, add a dollop of kefir cheese to each bowl. Leave intact or stir to mix into the soup.
Dana’s original recipe calls for ladling the soup over grated jack cheese and chunks of avocado. It’s also great that way! If you can’t find kefir cheese, substitute the highest-fat plain yogurt that you can find. This soup reheats well and freezes well (do not add kefir cheese before freezing). If your family arrives late for dinner, the soup will not be unhappy to simmer longer than suggested.
Low-Carb Diets for Weight Loss and Better Health
The safety of low-carbing remains controversial, in spite of its demonstrated benefits. Low-carb diets have been shown to be highly effective for losing weight, managing diabetes, balancing lipid profiles and generally improving health. In their review article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Westman et al. (2007) showed that carbohydrate restriction leads to reduction in appetite, loss of weight, and improvement in blood markers for heart disease.
Noakes et al. (2006) and Meckling et al. (2004) concluded that carbohydrate restricted diets produce similar amounts of weight loss as low-saturated fat diets. Noakes et al. also stated that low-carb diets are more effective in improving blood lipids and glucose and insulin response to meals. Yancy et al. (2010) documented comparable weight loss but greater improvement in blood pressure resulting from a low-carb diet, relative to a low-fat diet in combination with a weight-loss drug.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. It does not replace the advice of the physician who cares for you. All medical advice and information should be considered as incomplete without a physical exam, which is not possible without a visit to your doctor.