5 Low-Carb Recipes That Are NOT Salads (you need to know)

Written by Cristina Powell

Low-Carb Recipe: Cauliflower Tabouli

In case you haven’t heard, low-carb diets and low-carb recipes are (once again) all the rage. And for good reason. While there is indeed debate as to what’s the “best” diet, the evidence is clear that low-carb diets (e.g., the ketogenic diet) are a viable, effective tool for weight management. In a meta-analysis published in The Lancet, researchers examined the results of dozens of randomized controlled weight-loss trials and concluded, “In weight loss trials, higher-fat [low-carb] weight loss interventions led to significantly greater weight loss than low-fat [high-carb] interventions.”1

Fun Fact: What exactly is “low carb?” Well, that’s a great question. According to a study published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, researchers defined a “low-carbohydrate diet” as one that provides less than 130g of carbs per day or less than 26% of calories from carbs.2 The most extreme example is a “very low carbohydrate ketogenic diet” (VLCKD), which typically restricts carbohydrates to < 30g per day. A VLCKD is very high in fat (~80% of calories) and moderate in protein (~20% of calories).

Now, if you’re like most people, when you hear the words “low-carb recipes” and “healthy” in the same breath, the first image that likely pops into your mind is salad. And when you imagine salad, you probably think “Borrring!” The truth is that you can make an incredibly creative and delicious array of salads, and in my house, they are anything but boring.

Having said that, I realize that not everyone is quite as fanatical about leafy greens or learning 5 different ways to make a salad. Instead, I going to provide you 5 healthy, low-carb recipes that are NOT salads, which you can make for lunch, dinner, and even breakfast!

5 Awesome Low-Carb Recipes

Low-Carb Recipe: Egg Roll in a Bowl

1. Egg Roll in a Bowl

To meet the demand for healthy, low-carb fare, you’ve likely seen the trend where restaurants are offering more traditional menus items, such as sandwiches and burritos, in bowls—ditching the high-carb bread and tortillas. While this is certainly a lower carbohydrate option, the movement has quite caught on with one of my favorite foods and popular appetizer: The egg roll.

So, I decided to come up with my own healthy, low-carb version, which delivers the deliciousness of the insides of the egg roll without all the carbs (the wrappers) or being deep-fried. That’s what I call low-carb, guilt-free awesomeness.

Ingredients:

  • • 1 pound organic ground pork (you can substitute ground chicken or organic lean ground beef)
  • • 1 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
  • • ½ medium onion, thinly sliced
  • • 1 tbsp cold-pressed sesame oil
  • • ¼ cup soy or tamari sauce
  • • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • • 2 tbsp chicken broth
  • • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. 1. In a large pan or wok heated over medium heat, brown ground pork.
  2. 2. Add the sesame oil and onion to the pan with browned ground pork and continue cooking over medium heat.
  3. 3. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, garlic, and ground ginger together and add to pan.
  4. 4. Add the cabbage and chicken broth to the pan and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  5. 5. Optional: Garnish with salt, pepper, and green onion.

Low-Carb Recipe: Zoodles

2. Zoodles

Zoodles? No, I’m not talking about the latest in dog crossbreeding. I’m talking about replacing traditional high-carb pasta with noodles made from zucchini, one of our favorite health food swaps.

 The zoodle craze doesn’t appear to be losing any steam; in fact, the trend is now trickling down to other veggies besides zucchini. For instance, I’ve been using my spiralizer (the name of the tool used to make noodles out of veggies) to make noodles out of yellow squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, and more, including some fruits (such as apples), which you’d likely want to limit if you’re following a low-carb diet.

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Try experimenting with a variety of veggies to create a healthy, colorful, low-carb noodle bowl. Depending on what vegetables you choose, the possibilities for healthy toppings and sauces are seemingly endless.  Here’s one of my favorite zoodle recipes.

Carroodles with Garlic Sauce

Ingredients:

  • • 1 large carrot
  • • 1 tbsp tahini
  • • 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • • 1 tsp tamari sauce
  • • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • • 1 small clove garlic, grated

Directions:

  1. 1. Using a spiralizer, create carrot “noodles” (carroodles) and place them in a bowl.
  2. 2. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a bowl. This will be your dressing.
  3. 3. Pour the dressing on carroodles and toss well.
  4. 4. Top with fresh herbs, seeds, or nuts.

low-carb recipe: Cauliflower Pizza

3. Cauliflower Pizza

When you think “low-carb,” pizza is probably not one of the first things that comes to mind. Indeed, with a crust made with high-carb, heavily refined flour, traditional pizza is a far cry from low-carb. In fact, many would argue that overconsumption of refined carbohydrates (like the flour in pizza crust) is to blame for increasing rates of obesity and myriad negative health outcomes.

In fact, in a commentary published in the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Harvard researcher and professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology Dr. Frank Hu said, “Refined carbohydrates are likely to cause even greater metabolic damage than saturated fat.”3 What’s more, numerous studies have linked consumption of these highly processed carbohydrates to obesity.4–6

Knowing that yet not being ignorant to how amazingly delicious pizza is, I wanted to find a way that we could have our “pie” and eat it too. Enter what I like to call the white vegetable wonder: Cauliflower. Move over kale, there’s a new superfood in town! By replacing the traditional refined flour crust with cauliflower, you’ll slash carbs and calories and dramatically boost the nutrient density of your pizza. From a nutrition standpoint, cauliflower’s got it going on!

Fun fact: The USDA has reported that 250 slices of pizza are consumed every second.  That means that, on any given day, 13% of the population is eating ‘Za.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

  • • ½ head of cauliflower, coarsely chopped
  • • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • • 1 egg, beaten
  • • seasonings of choice
  • • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. 2. Place the cauliflower in a food processor and blend until you achieve a rice-like texture.
  3. 3. Fill a large pot with about an inch of water and bring to a boil. Put the cauliflower in a steamer insert and place in the pot. Allow cauliflower to steam for roughly 15 minutes, stirring continuously.
  4. 4. Remove the cauliflower from the pot and place into a strainer. Once you’ve strained it, transfer it to a thin, clean dish towel, twist it up, and squeeze out ALL the remaining water. This is key.
  5. 5. Place cauliflower rice in a large bowl and stir in grated parmesan cheese, egg, and seasonings until well blended.
  6. 6. Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet and shape into desired pizza crust shape.
  7. 7. Bake for 10-15 minutes until crust is golden brown.
  8. 8. Remove from oven and add your favorite healthy toppings (e.g., tomato sauce or olive oil, fresh veggies, lean proteins, fresh mozzarella).
  9. 9. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Low-Carb Recipe: Cauliflower Tabouli

4. Cauliflower Tabouli

You say tabbouleh, I say tabouli.  Regardless of how you spell this popular ethnic food, there is no better way to throw a party in your mouth than by combining fresh vegetables and herbs with a light and refreshing splash of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and red wine vinegar.

While traditional tabouli recipes call for wheat bulgur, which is a high-carb whole grain, this recipe once again takes advantage of “the white vegetable wonder”: cauliflower “rice.” I also added some fresh vegetables and herbs to take this traditional side dish to a whole new level. [Note that bulgur is a whole grain, and if you’re not restricting your carbohydrate intake, it’s a perfectly acceptable smart carb.]

Fun Fact: Traditional Lebanese tabbouleh resembled more of a salad, as the main ingredients were typically fresh herbs and tomatoes.  Over the years, as this dish has become more popular, the ratios have changed with the amount of bulgur increasing. As a result, tabbouleh has transitioned from a salad or side dish to a heartier, more substantial meal.

Ingredients:

  • • ½ head cauliflower, finely chopped
  • • 1 tomato, diced
  • • 1 cucumber, diced
  • • ½ red onion, diced
  • • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • • 1 kale leaf, stem removed, finely chopped
  • • 1 tsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • • 1 tsp parsley, finely chopped
  • • 1 tsp mint, finely chopped
  • • Lemon juice
  • • Red wine vinegar

Directions:

  1. 1. Using a food processor, blend the cauliflower (in batches, if necessary) into a rice-like texture.
  2. 2. Put cauliflower rice into a large mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients (except lemon juice and vinegar), and combine well.
  3. 3. Blend together your dressing of 1 part lemon juice to 2 parts red wine vinegar, making enough to coat the mixture. Pour the dressing over the mixture in the large mixing bowl and toss to coat.
  4. 4. Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavors to marinate.
  5. 5. Serve chilled.

Low-Carb Protein Shake

5. Low-Carb Protein Shake

If you’re anything like me, you are constantly on-the-go. And that means you may not have time to drop what you’re doing and sit down to eat every single meal.  Just because time may be a limiting factor doesn’t mean you have to abandon your low-carb meal plan or healthy eating altogether.

In less than two minutes, you can whip up a delicious, satisfying, low-carb protein shake. Not only will you avoid fast food, which isn’t really all that “convenient” for your health and waistline, a high-quality protein shake can help keep hunger and cravings at bay while boosting energy levels and metabolism.

This recipe serves as a template: My tried and true meal replacement shake. I’ve left the ingredients somewhat vague, and you are welcome to use whatever you have on hand, provided you stay within the recommended portion sizes.  If you would like examples of my favorite concoctions or have some of your own, let us know in the comments section below.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. 1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend well. If you don’t have a blender available, you can use a shaker bottle. Just mix the liquid with your BioTrust Low Carb and MetaboGreens 45X and enjoy some almonds, walnuts, or other nuts alongside your low-carb shake.
  2. 2. For best results, enjoy immediately after preparing.

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References

  • 1. Tobias DK, Chen M, Manson JE, Ludwig DS, Willett W, Hu FB. Effect of low-fat diet interventions versus other diet interventions on long-term weight change in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015;3(12):968-979. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(15)00367-8. 2. Accurso A, Bernstein RK, Dahlqvist A, et al. Dietary carbohydrate restriction in type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome: time for a critical appraisal. Nutr Metab. 2008;5:9. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-5-9. 3. Hu FB. Are refined carbohydrates worse than saturated fat? Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(6):1541-1542. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2010.29622. 4. Brand-Miller JC, Holt SHA, Pawlak DB, McMillan J. Glycemic index and obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;76(1):281S-5S. 5. Ludwig DS. Dietary glycemic index and obesity. J Nutr. 2000;130(2S Suppl):280S-283S. 6. Salmerón J, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Wing AL, Willett WC. Dietary fiber, glycemic load, and risk of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in women. JAMA. 1997;277(6):472-477.
  • 2. Accurso A, Bernstein RK, Dahlqvist A, et al. Dietary carbohydrate restriction in type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome: time for a critical appraisal. Nutr Metab. 2008;5:9. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-5-9.
  • 3. Hu FB. Are refined carbohydrates worse than saturated fat? Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(6):1541-1542. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2010.29622.
  • 4. Brand-Miller JC, Holt SHA, Pawlak DB, McMillan J. Glycemic index and obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;76(1):281S-5S.
  • 5. Ludwig DS. Dietary glycemic index and obesity. J Nutr. 2000;130(2S Suppl):280S-283S.
  • 6. Salmerón J, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Wing AL, Willett WC. Dietary fiber, glycemic load, and risk of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in women. JAMA. 1997;277(6):472-477.
  • Bryan McLeod

    Low carb diets are crazy, the longest living people in the world have a high carb low protein diet. Research in Australia showed that when on a high protein diet you are 30% more likely to die of anything. High protein diets certainly cause weight loss – why? [1] They increase body acidity (cancer forming) See cancer research. [2] Reduced stomach acidity reduces appetite, [3] Increases blood ammonia which apart from lowering body immunity, reduces available oxygen, when pregnant oxygen to the feotus is reduced increasing the incidence of abortion and still births. Rapid blood pressure increase during pregnancy again creating danger to the unborn – British research [4] Blood ammonia is taken by the liver and with the use of body fat is converted to urea and excreted via the kidneys, the over production of urea = excess stress on liver and kidneys shortening their life expectancy – Australian research. AND yes you lose weight but expect a shorter life span. JUST eat less and you will naturally loose weight

    • Cristina

      Hi Bryan. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article, and for sharing your thoughts and feedback.

      While I hope we can agree that there is certainly not a one size fits all approach to creating a healthy meal plan, there are many reasons why one might choose to use and follow a low-carbohydrate diet (e.g., somatotype (body type), controlling emotional eating/cravings, improved insulin sensitivity, and much more).

      The World
      Health Organization strongly recommends we reduce our consumption of
      simple sugars and easily-digestible starches to combat obesity and/or
      metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, low-carbohydrate diets have been shown to elicit positive short-term effects as it relates to insulin sensitivity and overall biomarkers (health markers).

      With that said, longitudinal/observational studies seem to indicate the exact opposite. More specifically, low-carbohydrate diets are less effective at improving body composition and biomarkers than their counterparts. Similarly, some
      of the healthiest populations in the world eat a moderate to
      high-carbohydrate diet, sourced from whole grains, legumes, vegetables,
      and fruits.

      Thus, it’s plausible to assume carbohydrate consumption is not the culprit here. Instead, it may be the over-consumption of: processed foods;
      simple sugars; trans fatty acids; omega-6 fatty acid rich foods relative to omega-3 fatty acid rich foods combined with the the under-consumption of: humanely and healthfully grown animal products (milk, meat, etc.); adequate fiber (25 g for women, 38 g for men); balanced fat (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated) intake; whole vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains.

      In any case, there is no true standard in the health and
      medical community as to what dictates a low-carbohydrate diet. However,
      some researchers suggest the following:

      0 – 10% total carbohydrates consumed = very
      low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet. It generally falls between 20 and 50
      grams of carbohydrate consumed per day (2000 kcal diet).

      10% – 30% total carbohydrates consumed = very low-carbohydrate diet. Generally falls between 50 and 150 grams of carbohydrate consumed per day (2000 kcal diet).

      Just some food for thought to add to this discussion, Bryan.

      • Bryan McLeod

        Hi Christina, Thanks for the reply, in my work I have lived and worked in NZ, Australia, China and Japan. Watching small build women in both China and Japan eating large bowls of noodles for a meal every day and still not putting on weight, or eating rice 3 times a day. With my interest in nutrition I looked deeper into what they were eating, in China a common bowl of noodles consisted of [1] Two types of noodles, [2] Shrimps to provide extra protein, [3] one or two slices of cooked fatty meat [4] 2 or 3 slices of a boiled egg. So in all it was a perfectly high carb good protein meal. In fact all their meals were balanced, eg red meat was always eaten with noodles with tomato, chilies and onions. Lettuce was always cooked to eliminate nitrates, pork was always eaten with bread and onions. So in all any high protein food was eaten with carbs. Likewise in Japan rice noodles (low protein low carbs) always have some type of fish added. A traditional Japanese meal could have up to 20 different varieties of vegetables at one serving.
        Looking at traditional diets is where research should be concentrated, these diets were formed over hundreds of years for health, they didn’t know why but they recognised the health benefits. Just look at some of our traditional combinations – Pork with apple, why – pork is very high protein apply is only about 1% protein, cheese with crackers and pickled onions, apart from lettuce green leafy vegetables were always cooked and when eaten lemon juice or vinegar added, fish was always battered to provide carbs with the protein, lettuce salads were always dressed with condensed milk and vinegar.
        Every population had different foods to deal with but they still had the basic combinations of protein and carbs. One of the interesting ones is the English dumplings, rolls of flour were added to stews just to provide carbs. I could list so many more but I am sure you are aware of them.
        Carbs have a significant place in the lives of all the longer living populations as you said. Over eating and ignorance of what the real purpose of food is the main problem. Plus add to this false advertising and constant confusion over what we should be eating.
        In animal nutrition ketosis is a serious health issue, animals become disorientated and mentally stressed, death often occurs if not treated, so nobody can convince me that the kenotic diet is good for anyone.
        Thanks for your reply, great to have this discussion
        Bryan

  • Bryan McLeod

    Low carb noodles we already have, if we look the term ME ( Metabolisable energy), which is a good way of looking at carbs, rice noodles are low carb 7 to 8 ME, wheat noodles are 10 to 12 ME, potato is 7 to 9 ME, kale is 12 to 14 ME, fruit is normally 10 to 12 ME, Oats 7 to 8 ME, leafy vegetables are normally 10 14 ME (High carbs) so if you are going to promote a low carb product I think your readers would appreciate more info, sorry Iam being a little blunt but I get tired of seeing the wool being pulled over the eyes of the consumer

  • I am making these tonight for our family Memorial Day party!!! So excited! I am going to try and use strawberries and make one larger cheesecake in my springform pan. I was curious, do you have to strain out all of the strawberry chunks or does it not wind up chunky? I’m guessing I’ll see why you strain it when I’m at that step, but just curious!

    • Cristina

      Greetings! Thank you for exploring our blog recipes. While I am uncertain which recipe you are referencing in your response, we would be more than happy to explain the directions, or provide helpful tips and tricks to ensure your end result is one that you will enjoy.

      If there are any recipes you would like further instruction on, or if we can be of further assistance to you, please do not hesitate to let us know.