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Summertime...and Low-Carbing is Easy

Recipes, Tips, and Suggestions for a Low-Carb Summer


Updated May 26, 2012

Hurray! It's summer! Time to leave the stodgier foods of winter behind! Healthy low-carb eating gets even easier in the summer, thanks to fresh produce, outdoor cooking and eating, and a focus on simply-prepared, delicious foods. There are so many reasons to enjoy low-carb summer eating.

1. Lots of Low-Carb Summer Vegetables

summer vegetables
Photo © Vinko Murko
In the winter, Mother Nature gives us vegetables that contain stored energy and last a long time. This is great if you're a homesteader getting through the winter on what you've got in the root celler (potatoes, yams, beets, etc.), but not so great for a diet low in starches and sugars.

In the spring and summer, it's the opposite: green leaves and shoots are designed to grow quickly, with not a lot of food stored in them. Leafy greens and asparagus are among the first to come forth. The fruits of the plants (think eggplant and peppers) have a bit more carbohydrate, but still much less than winter vegetables. So the summer is a bonanza of colorful, nutritious, and low-carb vegetables for us to enjoy. For more information, see this list of vegetables ordered from the lowest to the highest amount of usable carbohydrate, with links to more information about the individual vegetables, including low-carb recipes:

2. Low-Carb Summer Fruits

summer fruits
Photo © Dave Hughes
Most fruits available in the winter are higher in sugar than the ones we get in the summer, so summer is a great time to enjoy a dish of berries or a juicy peach or apricot. Here are some examples of the sugars in half a cup of these summer fruits: Complete List of Fruits in Order of Sugars, with links to more information.

3. Get Out the Grill!

grilled foods
Photo: Brian Leatart/Getty Images
Gone are the casseroles and stews of the winter which often have extra carbs in the sauce. It's time for grilling meats and vegetables -- all you need to do is find the highest quality foods, add a little salt and spice, put them on the grill, and let them shine. The bonuses are not heating up the kitchen, and easy clean-up.

I like to grill up a bunch of vegetables at once (use a special grill grate or vegetable basket so they don't fall through) and then use them in salads or as snacks. With vegetables, smear them with olive oil first - the salt and spices will season them better, and they won't stick to the grill.

Grilled Meat and Fish Ideas

4. Summer Side Dishes

cole slaw
Photo © Stephanie Frey
Great low-carb side dishes to go along with grilled meats:

5. Salads Galore!

greek salad
Photo: Melanie Acevedo/Getty Images
Salads are a mainstay of low-carb diets all year round, but they are especially appealing in the summer. Make a meal out of any of these: More: Low-Carb Salads from Around the World

6. More Cold Meal and Snack Ideas

antipasto platter
Here some more super-easy ideas for low-carb meals and snacks when it's too hot to cook:
  • Wrap chicken, tuna, egg, or salmon salad in lettuce leaves or low-carb tortillas, adding slivered raw vegetables if desired
  • Wrap cold cuts around spinach dip, cole slaw, or raw vegetables
  • Hard-boiled eggs or Deviled Eggs
  • Cottage Cheese or Yogurt with berries, melon, or peaches, and some nuts or seeds
  • Protein Shakes such as this Berry Protein Shake
  • Have an antipasto or cheese plate with cold meats, cheeses, marinated vegetables, olives, etc.
  • Make up a cold blender soup such as this Cucumber Melon Soup.

7. Summer Desserts

peach melba parfait
Photo © Laura Dolson
Summer fruits can be the basis for lots of low-carb and sugar-free desserts, such as:

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