Low-Carb Foods You Should Be Having For Dinner
Here’s the thing: yes, you DO need carbs. Specifically, your muscles. They need glycogen, which are derived from carbs, to push your body through daily activity. Think of them as the equivalent of fuel powering a vehicle. Processing carbs is much easier when you have the whole day in front of you, and it has been shown to reduce hunger levels. Although on the other hand, carbs push your body to release insulin, which compromises fat loss. So you might as well go all out on them throughout the day and not at night, because carbohydrates are still king when it comes to fueling hard efforts.
But what exactly is a carbohydrate?
I know what you’re thinking and no, butter is not a carb Regina. Sorry to burst your bubble.
“Carbs” can mean lots of things, and it’s important to realize that they are in a lot of foods. Most things, actually, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Hence the title of this post is low-carb and not carb-less. It would be pretty difficult to omit them completely after lunch.
Not all carbohydrates are created equal, but there are mainly 2 kinds: simple and complex.
Simple or refined carbohydrates are what you would typically know as “bad” carbs. They are mainly found in white bread, pasta and rice. These types of carbs digest fairly quickly and get sugar into the bloodstream quickly as well. It is recommended to consume these types or carbohydrates to fuel muscles for training and working out.
On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are more fibrous and harder to break down. They are found in ingredients like whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, fruits and vegetables. Fibers tend to bulk up when eaten and slow down the digestion process. The result is that you will feel full for a longer time. Therefore, complex carbs can help promote weight loss. It is recommended to consume them when you’re not focused on physical performance.
On that note, whoever said healthy eating is boring has not considered these ingredients for easy low-carb dinner ideas. Not only are they delicious, they’re plenty filling too.
Zucchini noodles, also known as “zoodles” are a tasty alternative to wheat-based pasta. When cooked right, they can become a brilliant noodle base for numerous healthy dinners. The best and fastest tool for getting perfectly curled zoodles is the spiralizer. It only takes a few seconds to use and it works every time. But if you don’t have the time or money to buy one, a vegetable peeler works just fine.
To cook them, we recommend sauteeing them in a little bit of olive oil, or eating them cold if you’re in a pinch! The most important thing to remember is that you should not overcook your zoodles, because in that case you might as well just toss them in whole and stew them, as they will fall apart. From there on out, finish them with your favorite pasta toppings, and as world-famous chef Emeril Lagasse would say: BAM! You’ve got yourself one hell of a meal.
- Lettuce Wraps
I mean bread is great and all, but when you’re trying to cut down on the carb-load, why not opt for the one vegetable that has all the crunch and none of the flavor? Hear us out on this one: lettuce is an excellent source of nutrients including vitamin C, fiber and folate. But between you and me, it doesn’t have that much flavor especially on its own. So instead of tossing a bunch in a salad and calling it a day, you could do what PF Chang’s pioneered in doing, and use lettuce leaves as a replacement vehicle for your food instead of bread. The great thing about a mainly flavorless ingredient is that it can take on any seasoning or flavor that you put into it. Plus, it’s budget-friendly. What more could you ask for?
From then on, you may fill them with whatever your heart desires! From spicy shrimp, to ground chicken with an asian inspired sauce PF Chang’s style, to steak or even some jazzed up canned tuna.
- Eggplant Lasagna
Eggplant is an ingredient that takes on flavor like no other, and what better weeknight dinner than good old fashioned lasagna? Combine the two, and you’ve got a healthy yet still incredibly decadent low-carb take on the family favorite. Not only that, but you will also be benefiting from the wide array of nutrients that eggplants offer. It is no less than rich with vitamins, minerals and fibers. All good things and more!
Our hunch on why a lot of people might not like eggplant is that the problem lies in the preparation. Here’s are some pro-tips coming straight from our in-house chef at Glow, for the best possible version of eggplant lasagna:
- Sprinkle the slices generously with salt before putting the eggplant in any contact with heat. This will not only season it through and through, but letting it sit for a while after doing so will draw out the excess moisture inside the eggplant which will prevent it from becoming mushy after cooking, and will also soften its bitter aftertaste. Just make sure to pat them dry with a paper towel before cooking them.
- Roast your eggplant slices at a high temperature before layering the lasagna. To give your eggplant the perfect texture, brush it with a light coating of olive oil and roast it or grill it prior to assembling the lasagna. There is nothing worse than mushy or slimy eggplant, and taking the time to perform that step in advance will eliminate any chances of that happening.
Breakfast for dinner? Sign me up. This incredibly delectable North African dish is achieved by poaching eggs to perfection in a spicy tomato pepper sauce. It’s also one of those meals that’s never not comforting and delicious, not to mention really easy to make and it all happens in one pot. Bonus point: it’s authentically vegetarian! Shakshouka is a great meal for one, or for plenty. You can trust us when we tell you, it will be the center of any dinner table. I’m sorry, beef wellington who?
Eggs are an important protein-contributant component of almost any diet. If you look at the nutritional value that eggs have, they basically could be considered a superfood. Some of them are even hard to find in the modern diet. Despite them being high in cholesterol, they don’t necessarily affect blood cholesterol. Not to mention, they are notoriously filling and can reduce calorie intake throughout the rest of the day. You will have officially sidestepped your need for ingesting carbs. Mission accomplished.
- Cauliflower Anything!
Cauliflower is incredibly versatile, and probably the most flexible vegetable of all time. And let’s be honest: trying to cut down on carbs when you have the appetite of a horse by the time dinner comes around is stupid hard. Just like lettuce and eggplants, its tastelessness is a superpower when you know how to work it. This super healthy ingredient is the perfect example of “don’t knock it till you try it”. For example:
- Cauliflower pizza crust: Don’t forget to mix in an egg, some mozzarella and/or parmesan in order to keep it together.
- Cauliflower rice: A food processor is what you need to chop it as finely as rice grains.
- Cauliflower hash browns: If you are a hash browns fan, we highly recommend this one.
- Lentil and Bean Stews and Soups
As you might know, lentils and beans are a top-quality source of plant-based protein. As do most of the foods on this list, lentils and beans take on flavor like no other. You seriously cannot get bored of them, even if you eat them everyday. Same goes to any other legume like chickpeas (hello Balila!) and peanuts.
Bottom line is beans and lentils are some of the most underrated foods of all time. Overall a great way to immensely improve your diet.
After reading this article, you might be thinking “What’s the best advice when it comes to carbohydrates?”. Despite the bad rap they get, there’s really no way around a sustainable carb-less diet. After all, maintaining a healthy diet that promotes weight loss is not a carb problem. It’s a math problem. Eating too much of any food is infamously bad. But carbohydrates can do a lot for you, as long as you know what type you need and when you ought to eat them.