So I’m trying to eat fewer carbs. I really am. But there’s one problem:
Carbs are delicious. And I’m bored with baked chicken breast. I’m SO sick of meat that’s not breaded or fried or slathered in a rich sauce. It’s so plain.
Disagree? Good for you. I’d love to be excited about something that has 1 gram of fat, almost zero carbs and 20 grams of protein. I really, really would. But I’m NOT! Help!
So for those of you who need a break from lean cuts of chicken and fish, here are three vegetarian low-fat, low-carb alternatives to add some variety to your plate:
1) Black Beans & Brown Rice
This is my personal favorite. Black beans are even better for you than chicken or fish: not only are they low-fat, low-carb and high-protein, they have the added benefit of being super high in fiber.
The Basics: Make a mixture of 2/3 black beans with 1/3 whole grain brown rice.
The Options: Flavor it with sauteed onions, tomatoes, garlic and salt.
Deluxe: Add several slices of avocado or a cup of guacamole, and top with salsa.
Easy: Pre-make a huge heap of this once a week. Divide it into Tupperwares and keep it in the freezer. Thaw and eat all week long without ever needing to cook again. Plus, you’ll only have one set of pots/pans to wash!
2) Lentils, Spinach and Brown Rice
Inspired by a healthy version of Indian cuisine, lentils plus spinach equal tons of protein, fiber and antioxidants! Choose your favorite type of lentil: brown, red, yellow, large, small … head to an Indian store for the best and cheapest bulk selection.
The Basics: Soak the dried lentils for an hour or two, then boil until soft. Serve a mixture of 2/3 lentils with 1/3 brown rice.
The Options: Sautee spinach with some salt and garlic. Top it over the lentils.
Deluxe: Add some olive oil, chili peppers, onions or finely chopped carrot for a little more texture and flavor.
Easy: Like the brown rice and black beans recipe above, you can make a huge pot of this once a week, divide it into small containers, freeze it, and thaw-n-eat all week long.
3) Eggplant Marinara
Love Italian food? Skip the noodles and enjoy eggplant instead.
The Basics: Thinly slice eggplant. Lay it on a plate and sprinkle some salt. Let it sit 10 minutes until it’s “sweating” (little droplets of water are glistening on the eggplant). Then throw it into a casserole dish, pour some low-sugar pasta sauce on it, top with salt and pepper, add some shredded cheese, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Farenheit.
The Options: Slice and dice your favorite veggies: onion, fresh tomato, garlic, bell peppers, spinach, broccoli — and toss it in the casserole dish along with the eggplant.
Deluxe: Five minutes before it comes out of the oven, add some brie cheese and/or some breadcrumbs to the top. Delicious!
Easy: It’s not great for freezing, unlike the other two above. But it IS super easy to make.