There is no doubt that the best low-carb foods are easy to be found -- just check the perimeter of any supermarket. The meats, produce, and dairy sections yield most of the foods most of us eat on a day-to-day basis. Add some oils, spices, and a few nuts and you're all set for the vast majority of low-carb fare. However, we can bring a greater variety of foods to our diets with a few "extras." Check these out, and then share your own ideas with others.
Photo Courtesy Sweet Solutions Corps
I think it's great when people cut additives including sweeteners out of their diets. However, I'm someone who will use moderate amounts from time to time. The main problems with most artificial sweeteners is that they are often packaged with sugar-containing powders, and that the powdered kind often have an objectionable aftertaste. I have found that the "cleanest" source of artifical sweeteners, which avoids both of these problems, is liquid forms of sucralose, the main ingredient in Splenda brand sweeteners. More Thoughts on Artificial Sweeteners
Photo © Emily Dolson
Mix it in yogurt or make it into an instant hot cereal. Make muffins or bread out of it. Not many days go by when I don't have flax meal in some form. It's packed with fiber and nutrients, with almost no carbohydrate. This page will tell you all about flax seeds. Or go right to ways to use flax seeds, and lots of recipes
Image Courtesy House Foods America
Shirataki (also called konjac) noodles were originally developed in Asia, but they have recently come to the attention of people around the world. Because these noodles are almost totally a beneficial type of fiber, they have almost no usable carbohydrate. Another low-carb noodle is the tofu noodle available in Asian grocery stores.
Erythritol is the other sugar substitute I find myself using quite a bit, mainly because I find that sugar alcohols
are helpful in producing good-tasting recipes using unsweetened chocolate, and erythritol is the one almost no impact on blood sugar. For example, the no-cook fudge
pictured can be easily mixed up with a few ingredients, including powdered erythritol. Just make sure it's the powdered kind, NOT granulated.
Photo © Laura Dolson
Make muffins, pancakes, coffee cake, and other cakes and quick breads with almond meal. What is almond meal or almond flour? It's simply ground up almonds, which are a very healthy food which have lots of nutrients.
Quest Protein Bars
Quest bars are sweetened primarily with natural ingredients, with a very small amount of sucralose. They taste really good, and the manufacturer's offer two free bars so you can try them for yourself. With 20 grams of protein per bar, and only 4 or 5 grams of net carbs (depending on flavor), they have a minimal impact on blood glucose.
LowCarb Specialties, Inc.
True, I have a lot of good low-carb chocolate recipes
. But sometimes I'll admit it's nice to have a good chocolate bar that someone else made! This one of the few commercial chocolate treats sweetened with erythritol instead of that nasty maltitol
that raises blood sugar and can cause nasty intestinal side effects to boot. If you like a raspberry/chocolate combination, I also recommend Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Bars
, also made by ChocoPerfection.
I love having a jar of sugar-free pickle relish in the refrigerator. I can quickly mix up tartar sauce or thousand island dressing, or add it to deviled eggs, cauliflower "potato" salad, tuna salad, salmon salad - you get the idea. It adds that spark that livens up many foods made with mayonnaise, by balancing out the richness. (Links to these recipes are under the review.)
Dixie Diner, Inc.
This high-fiber product can be a real asset in the low-carb kitchen. Yes, I guess it can be used as a substitute for potatoes, but I think it really shines as a binder (crab cakes, salmon cakes, latkes), a coating for frying fish, and improving the texture of mashed cauliflower and cauliflower "potato" salad.
Chia seeds are a new food to me, but I'm having fun with them. They are loaded with fiber and healthy fats. When mixed with one part seeds to two parts boiling water and one part coconut milk, plus a dash of cinnamon, sweetener, and salt, they make a sort of a rice-pudding-like concoction.
Atkins Nutritionals, Inc.
A lot of brands of supposedly "low-carb" bars are on the market, but there are problems with most of them, either the presence of maltitol or a fair amount of sugars. As an example, I have a friend who takes insulin. She carries one brand (Luna bars) which is labeled as "low-glycemic" while she's exercising in case her sugar drops too low. She finds this "low-glycemic bar" is very effective in raising blood glucose!
Although some Advantage Bars have maltitol (read labels carefully), many of them do not, nor are they loaded with sugar. There are times, such as when traveling, when I find that these bars can come in handy.
Honorable mention: coconut milk unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened soy milk, coconut flour, sugar-free ketchup, Da Vinci sugar-free syrups, and black soy beans