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7 Easy, Low-Carb Meals: A Week of Dinner Ideas

Eating less processed food and being mindful of carb counts can be an effective way to lose weight. Here are some easy ideas you can start using tonight!

Alma Schneider, Take Back the Kitchen In spite of my best efforts, the scale in my house seems stubbornly stuck so I'm focusing on reducing my carbs to one healthy carb serving per dinner to see if it will help. Check out these 7 easy, low-carb dinners options.

If you read my last few blog posts, losing weight has become pretty challenging for me these days. My doctor thinks my weight is fine, but my A1c is still close to 6.0 and I really want to bring it down. I know I need to up the exercise and watch the carbs more so being that the seasons are changing, it seems like the perfect time to start anew.

With the beginning of Fall, there will be a lot more indoor cooking and baking taking place in my kitchen. Is this a good thing? Well, yes and no. There’s that cozy feeling one gets when the oven is on and the fireplace is burning but there’s also a lot more opportunity to eat a  "X%$#" load of heavy carb-laden bread and comfort food pasta dishes and baked goods.

Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD  at the Weight Management Center at Johns Hopkins has conducted research showing that on average there is a 5 to 7-pound weight gain during the winter which is due mostly due reduced exercise and overeating.

Surprise, surprise! All those holidays with all those great foods that are largely filled with unhealthy carbs. To add insult to injury, people are much less motivated to leave the comforts of their home in the bleak, dark and cold of the winter to burn off what they are eating. Results? Tighter jeans, higher sugar levels and often feeling lousy about the way we look and feel.

How to Reduce Carbs at Dinner

To avoid the added weight and health risks this Fall/Winter, I plan to be very thoughtful about my exercise routine and my meal planning. I’ve already looked at the local YMCA class schedule where the hot new teacher is said to leave all the Zumba participants dripping with sweat. I’m in! I will also make sure that friends will be pushing me to go and I’ve promised that I’ll do the same for them.

As for the meals, I’m focusing on reducing my carbs to one healthy carb serving per dinner. Healthy grains like brown rice, amaranth, quinoa. I’ve already put together a list of a new repertoire that provides quick, simple, healthy meals for the whole week.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all just lived together on a big commune with all healthy low sugar foods and no temptations? Until then, I hope these meal suggestions will help you (and me!).

7 Quick Dinner Ideas

#1. Eggs with Turkey Sausages

dinner for breakfast: eggs and sausage

Eggs and sausages are loaded with protein and can keep us full for longer so that we don’t pig out on those chips that we’ve tried to hide in our cabinets at 9 pm. Turkey sausages or better yet, chicken sausages, have less fat than pork sausages but if sodium is a problem, you may want to avoid sausages all together, as they are very high in salt.

Add in a slice of high-fiber multigrain bread and you’ll feel like a champion. Instead of butter, you can use coconut oil or olive oil to cook your eggs or even hard boil or poach them to avoid any extra fats. Just don’t drink a huge glass of orange juice for this breakfast dinner! Try some orange flavored seltzer.

#2. No-Spaghetti-Spaghetti Dinner

Spaghetti squash is a great alternative to pasta. Simple bake or microwave the squash and pull out the strands with a fork. Saute it up with olive oil and garlic or add some ground meat meatballs and marinara sauce.

My friend Iris and I found a stellar no sugar added pasta sauce at the Fancy Food Show this year called Hoboken Farms. It’s so delicious that you won’t even miss the wheat pasta! Add in eggplant and/or mushrooms to the meatballs and if you’re following a recipe that calls for breadcrumbs, substitute with almond flour. (See my gluten-free, low-carb meatball recipe, below)

#3. Grilled Chicken with Chopped Cucumber and Tomato

Grilled chicken is always the perfect food for any season. You can marinate it in a low sugar marinade or simply put olive oil, salt and pepper on it. Grilling can be done inside or outside but make sure to make extra so you can eat for another meal or even for a snack. Freeze the rest! Pair it with some chopped cucumber and tomato, salt, pepper and lemon and maybe throw in a bit of a healthy grain like amaranth or buckwheat.

#4. Pomegranate Salad with Goat Cheese and Pecans

What’s wrong with salad night for dinner? Pomegranates  are very heart healthy and when you throw them into a fresh big bowl of your favorite leafy greens with some toasted pecans and a little goat cheese, you will NOT feel deprived of decadence. Try Romaine lettuce, fresh spinach, arugula or frisee. Use olive oil with some salt, pepper and cumin sprinkled on top with a squeeze of lemon.

#5. Stuffed Peppers with Brown Rice, Tofu and Vegetables

Alma's Stuffed Peppers

Even if you weren’t a hippie in college, tofu can be an acquired taste in your later years. Besides, tofu gets a bad rap! It simply takes on the flavor of whatever you are cooking it with. I recommend sautéing it with some low sodium soy sauce, throwing in some brown rice and vegetables. Core some peppers, stuff them with the mixture and bake until the pepper is tender and the contents are heated through. The presentation is half the fun.

#6. Quinoa with Almonds and Currants

I do love quinoa, the complete protein! This healthy seed will fill you up and can be made very quickly in a saucepan or better yet, in a rice cooker. It’s low on the glycemic index and only has more vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants than any other grain. Feel free to add some leftover chicken (see above leftover chicken dinner suggestion) or some frozen shrimp. Add some toasted almonds and maybe a few currants for sweetness and you’ll feel fully satisfied.

#7. Lettuce Wraps with Tuna or Salmon Salad & Chopped Pickles 

Who needs carb filled tortillas when you can use sturdy iceberg lettuce as your vehicle? Make a quick and delicious canned tuna or salmon salad which is packed with protein, add some chopped pickles and minced carrots for extra crunch and zing and you’ll have eaten a low carb, low sugar AND low-calorie meal, all while sacrificing nothing in the taste department.

Alma's Gluten-free, Low-carb Meatballs

 

Alma's Gluten-Free, Low-Carb Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb grass fed ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1Tbs pesto
  • 2 cloves garlic through a press or minced
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Steps

  1. Put all the above ingredients in a large bowl and stir together to fully combine. Form into meatballs.
  2. In a large heavy bottomed pot over medium to high heat, cover the bottom with olive oil.
  3. When the oil is hot and starting to smoke, add in the meatballs and brown on all sides, each side for a couple of minutes. Remove the browned ones and keep making more until they are finished. (The inside may be raw but they will simmer in the sauce later.)
  4. When they are all done, add the sauce to the same pot, heat until it is simmering, add the browned meatballs and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through.

Nutrition Information

Per serving (1/4 lb of meat): 359 calories; 27 g fat; 3.8 g carbohydrates; 1.6 g fiber; 0.6 g sugar; 25.6 g protein; 121.5 mg cholesterol; 228 mg sodium

Buon Apetito!

Updated on: November 2, 2018
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