Are you on a low carb diet and worried you won’t find anything to eat when you go out for a meal?
You may not realize it, but there are plenty of low carb dishes hiding in plain sight. Take a look at these classic low carb meals you can find just about anywhere.
Debates still rage over who invented the cobb salad, but what I wonder is whether or not that mysterious singular genius knew what a gift he was bequeathing to the diabetes community. The classic Cobb has about a million ingredients, and not a one of them has an undue amount of sugar or starch: egg, chicken breast, bacon, blue cheese, tomato, avocado, and on and on. This salad is already perfect in its own way, but can benefit from substitutions, subtractions and additions as you see fit. The Cobb helped pave the way for the recent rise of the chopped salad chain, yet another felicitous trend for low-carb diners.
While I’m not about to argue that buffalo wings are good for you, at least they won’t raise your blood sugar much. The classic buffalo wing recipe, from Buffalo, New York itself, has but a few ingredients: deep-fried chicken wings and a sauce of hot sauce and melted butter. It’s as close to a naturally low-carb dish as you’re likely to find, and any pub worth its salt cooks them exactly this way.
Fair warning though: not every restaurant uses that classic recipe. You’ll find wings that have been dusted in flour or smothered in breadcrumbs, and wings that have been pre-cooked with starchy sauce that are merely reheated. Boneless buffalo “wings” are always covered in breadcrumbs. It’s definitely a dish that you need to ask your server about.
If you’re avoiding the vegetable oil that they’re invariably cooked in, there are homemade alternatives. You can bake your wings instead of frying them, or crisp them with the latest must-have gadget, an air fryer. But please don’t skimp on the butter!
Hold the croutons, natch, the least essential part of the dish.
Ubiquitous for a reason, this is another true classic with only trace carbohydrates from small amounts of moderately-carby ingredients such as lemon juice, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Adding chicken, shrimp and steak turns it into a one-plate meal. The Caesar was invented just across the border in Tijuana, but I think it’s fair to call it a traditional American dish at this point.
Steak and Eggs
This hangover special tastes great at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and if you’re lucky it’s available at a nearby 24-hour diner. Cruise #steakandeggs on Instagram to get an idea of the marvelous variety of flavors this simple structure can take on. (Just ignore any potatoes you happen to see.) Elevate your dish above diner fare with a burst of flavor from a squeeze of lime, a roasted red pepper, or fresh herbs. This pic from Swedish 3-star Michelin chef Bjorn Frantzen caught my eye recently – a quickly cooked thin steak with grated horseradish, chives and a red wine sauce, beautifully topped with a raw egg yolk – low-carb haute cuisine you could easily prepare at home.
Wars have been fought over chili recipes, but until they perfect the artificial pancreas, I’ll throw my lot in with Texas, where they use neither beans nor tomato. Good Texas chili is practically just meat and chili peppers and broth. Dried peppers can have a sneaky number of carbs, but even in combination with moderate amounts of garlic and onion a bowl of Texas chili will likely fit into any keto or low-carb diet.
So Much BBQ
It doesn’t get more American than Texas, so we’ll stick with the state where everything is bigger and where sugary barbecue sauce is considered an affront to properly cooked meat. Good meat and low, slow cooking in smoke are all you need for an extravagant culinary experience. While beef brisket, baby back ribs and the like are often coated in sweet rubs, sugar cannot penetrate the exterior of the meat, and (as with bacon) an astonishingly low percentage of sugar remains in the actual final product. Check the nutritional guide at your local BBQ chain, and you’ll see that 1,000 calories of naked smoked meat might well have 5g carbohydrates or less. And your body will thank you when you pass on potato salad and baked beans for a double portion of collard greens.
A naturally low-carb no-brainer for any meal, delicious warm or at room temperature. The only moderately carby element of the base recipe is a small amount of milk, which can easily be replaced by cream. The frittata is one of the world’s supremely flexible recipes, happily accepting just about any ingredient you wish to add. It’s a phenomenal way to use up small amounts of leftover meat and veggies, and recipes like these just begin to scratch the frittata’s diverse potential:
Easy Caprese Frittata
Mini Bacon and Kale Frittatas
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata
This American steakhouse staple has been pleasing power-diners for centuries, probably. There are two ways of making creamed spinach: the right way and the wrong way. The wrong way uses flour to thicken a milk-based white sauce, which makes the “cream” of the title a pathetic exaggeration. The right way uses real heavy cream, patiently reduced over a low flame. It’s slower, richer, and better. Call around to make sure your local dry-aged meat palace does it the right way, or just try it yourself.