I don’t diet. A few years back, I gave up sugar. I had gained some weight in grad school and I was sick of dieting. I needed to change the way I ate. It was really hard at first, but I said “no” 7 days a week and it worked. Now that I’ve lost my grad school girl girth, I say “no” 5 days a week. I’m pretty relaxed on the weekends and pretty strict during the week. I just watch my sugar, and when I say sugar, I refer broadly to carbohydrates. I used to fuss over calories and fat, now I just say, “hold the bread, please.” On a Saturday night, I might enjoy a bowl of gnocchi, and donuts are my great vice. Even if my friends are ordering pizza, I’ll have a slice, but for the most part, instead of worrying about a diet, I just say no thank you when the waiter walks over with the beautiful bread basket, pass on the pasta, and resist rice.
Eating on the run, in a hurry, or without much planning was the first major challenge. I was finishing my graduate work. I didn’t have time to cook, and I needed quick options. One of the first low-carb lessons I learned was that take-out is very hard to order. I was living in a part of Brooklyn where “Just Salad” hadn’t arrived and “Chop’t” was not on my chopping on my block yet. Pizza, pasta, noodles — everything comes breaded or with rice. Frozen dinners were also not a great solution because the protein was such a small portion, and the rest was rice or noodles.
Now I know to order branzino from Italian places, which is usually served with a side of veggies, or opt for sashimi, but I was new at low-carb living and also just finishing school and those are some pricier options. Tom Kha was my answer. It’s Thai coconut soup with mushrooms and chicken. I ate a lot of it finishing my graduate manuscript when I needed a quick meal. Saag paneer also became a staple, I even found a decent frozen version from the Tandoor Chef. If you’re looking to live a low-carb lifestyle and find you need to microwave dinner, though, stay with me, I can offer you something better in the same amount of time. The Tandoor Chef’s Saag Paneer isn’t the best tip I have to offer:
I learned how to make a quick meal besides frying up a pan of bacon or eating a hunk of Cambozola cheese. I’m pleased to offer you some of two of my early favorites that are healthy and yummy. They’re faster than takeout or frozen food and will you feeling fit to lead.
Smoked Salmon Scramble
I ate a lot of eggs when I first went low-carb, and this recipe is one of my favorites. It offered me a healthy alternative to serving up soft-scramble with Sriracha. While perhaps it’s more of a brunch item, I think it’s great for dinner. It’s very high in protein. It’s loaded with omega-3’s and very low in carbohydrates. Enjoy it with a side salad and you have a really lovely meal.
Before you begin, put the salmon in the freezer. This will prevent the salmon from cooking when you put it in the pan. I sat down to a few disappointing plates of eggs, watching the beautiful, vibrant, semi-translucent smoked salmon turn opaque, pale pink, cooking in seconds before I figured this little trick out.
1 tablespoon low-fat sour cream
1 ounce smoked salmon
1 knob Brummel and Brown yogurt butter
1 tablespoon low-fat cream cheese cut or broken up into small pieces
Salt and pepper
- Whisk the eggs together with salt and pepper and sour cream until blended.
- Over low to medium heat, melt the Brummel and Brown in a medium pan.
- Add the eggs.
- Cook the eggs over low to medium heat.
- When mostly and scrambled, add the cream cheese.
- Finish scrambling.
- Remove from heat, add the smoked salmon.
- Plate and enjoy!
Beef Carpaccio with Arugula and Shaved Parmesan
Use a good cut of beef. Some markets sell carpaccio cuts, but if not, and you’re making it for a crowd, buy a tenderloin. If it’s just for you, get a good quality filet. Freezing the beef is the secret to slicing it very thin, but even after slicing it, You’ll likely still need to pound it with the mallet to get it thin enough. The best part is that you can prepare this in the time it would take you to microwave a veggie burger.
Good quality beef
- Slice the beef as thinly as you can.
- On a cutting board, use a meat mallet to pound it tissue paper thin.
- Drizzle arugula with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Place the beef on top.
- Shave the Parmesan over the meat and green.
- Get out a fork and enjoy!