All posts by Jeff Fidler

Low Carb Grocery List Essentials

Low Carb Grocery List Essentials

While on the surface, planning a grocery list might seem like an incredibly simple thing to do, it’s amazing just how much time can be saved by incorporating just a little bit of planning and strategy in to your shopping list. Even the most diligent list-makers among us can still benefit from some simple tips and tricks to help make sure that each shopping trip is efficient and successful. In this article, we will give you some handy time-saving advice that you can use when you’re putting together your meal plans and grocery lists to make things faster and easier when you hit the aisles.

Now, let’s get right to it!

Know What You Need

Do you plan your meals around what you already have in the house, and then fill in the gaps with a trip to the store? Or do you plan your meals first, and then scan the cupboards and fridge for what you’ve already got before you compile your list? Most of the time you could use either method and still come out with the same list. However, if you have a big meal event coming up, it’s a good idea to start with that and then fill in the rest of your meal plan around it. Alternatively, you could look at the main ingredients you already have first, such as meats and proteins, and build out meals that work with the rest of your on-hand ingredients, and then just fill in the gaps with your shopping list.

Whichever method you typically use, the basic idea is still the same. You want to minimize waste and duplicate purchases of things that you’ve already got, but also want to make sure that you don’t assume you have a critical ingredient that you actually don’t. In a nutshell, you want to minimize the number of items you need to get, and simultaneously make sure you have every necessary item for your meal plan. This way, you’re spending less time hunting at the store, less money on your purchase, and still making sure your meals are 100% complete.

Essential Low Carb Items

There are a few products that are simply essential to low carb dieters, and you’ll want to make sure that you always have these items in your cupboards and refrigerator. This way, you will always be able to craft your meal plan to fit all the criteria for carb counts and nutrients that you need. Here’s some of the most essential items that every low carb kitchen will need to keep on-hand:

Meats

o   Chicken – Boneless chicken breasts are such a universally useful protein, you simply have to have some in your kitchen. We suggest buying larger quantities and breaking the pack up in to freezer bags with meal-sized portions that can be thawed whenever you need them.

o   Beef – Extra lean ground beef is another extremely versatile meat that can be used to make everything from hamburgers to spaghetti and meatballs. Having a set of nice grilling steaks is a good idea, too. These can either be grilled up fresh with some veggies, or sliced up thin and worked in to a stir fry.

Fruits and Vegetables

o   Fruits – You’ll want to stick to our recommended list of low carb fruits (link to low carb fruit and vegetable article)as a guideline on what to buy and what to avoid, but generally a supply of berries, plums, kiwis, and cantaloupe helps keep the carb count on the lower end.

o   Vegetables – While vegetables are a much safer place to play for low carb dieters than fruits, there are some that are lower in carbs than others. Leafy greens like spinach and lettuce are essential, and a supply of bell peppers is very handy for a variety of recipes. Avocado, asparagus, and zucchini are also healthy options and have a lot of utility in the kitchen.

Other Essential Items and Ingredients

o   Sugar Alternatives & Sweeteners – Whether you need it for baking or just a scoop for your morning coffee, you’ll want to make sure you have a sugar alternative in your kitchen at all times. Having a supply of packets like these from Swerve or in a bigger package like this brown sugar from LC Foods will make sure you cover all your bases for useful sweeteners.

o   Noodles & Rice – For low carb dieters, having a good quality noodle and rice is absolutely critical. You’ll want to make sure you’ve got a couple of different varieties of low carb noodles like these fettucine and ziti noodles from Miracle Noodles, as well as a pack of Miracle Rice, as well.

Know Where You’re Going

Not all grocery stores are created equal, and when you’re shopping for a low carb diet plan, this is especially true. Planning a grocery list for maximum efficiency includes thinking about your destinations, and what items you need to get at each place. If you’re only going to make one stop, then this is pretty easy. But if you need to hit more than one place to complete your list, it helps to keep things organized by location to help make sure you’re getting everything you need at each store.

Online shopping is a great way to save a ton of time on your shopping trips, take advantage of special deals you can’t get locally, and obtain unique or hard to find products that your local stores just don’t carry. Consider making an visit to TheLowCarbGrocery.com as your first stop, since it will be the fastest part of your shopping routine and you can choose from a wide range of low carb foods from all the major brands. In addition, you will find a vast array of specialty products that aren’t normally stocked in smaller stores or regular grocery retailers. Once you’ve completed your online order, we’re sure that your list will be a lot shorter, so it just makes sense to take advantage of the added convenience of online shopping whenever you can.

Plan Your Route

Thinking ahead about your trip around the inside of the store will help to make sure you avoid backtracking but still hit all of your essential grocery store sections and complete your list. All grocery stores are set up with some type of consistency in order to make it simple to get around, and your list should be organized to take advantage of their layout. This means grouping and organizing the items on your list to sequentially go through each section in the order you’ll hit them in the store.

Organize the items on your list by store section, such as meats and deli, vegetables and fruits, dairy, frozen foods, bakery, and so on. Check your list frequently, since it can be easy to forget an item when you’re in a chaotic grocery store surrounded by dozens of other busy shoppers. Don’t let any items slip through the cracks!

Go Digital & Collaborate

Making a grocery list is now easier than ever with the fantastic list apps available for your mobile devices. This article from Elizabeth Harper over at Techlicious breaks down the Best Grocery List Apps along with details on what they can do and how they work. Some can even be automatically shared and synced with more than one user, so other members of your family can easily add something to your list.

Conclusion

We certainly hope that you’ve found these tips helpful. We know just how important time is, and with everyone’s schedules seemingly getting busier by the day, every little bit of help can add up to make a big difference. We think everyone should be able to spend less time walking around a grocery store, and more time enjoying the delicious meals with their family, so go ahead put these tips to good use on your next shopping trip.

Low Carb Christmas Dinner & Recipe Ideas

Low Carb Christmas Dinner Ideas

The holidays are a time of family fun, good cheer, and of course, an amazing array of delicious foods that only come around once a year. For low carb dieters, this may seem like a challenging time to stick to your diet goals, but we’re here to help you realize that planning a low carb Christmas is a lot easier than you’d think.

In this article, we’ve gathered our favourite tips and some helpful shopping advice to help you plan the perfect low carb Christmas foods that you and your family will love.

For starters, let’s think about the most popular foods that many Canadians normally serve around the holidays.

Popular Christmas Foods

Turkey

The big meal wouldn’t be complete without the traditional Christmas turkey making an appearance. Of course, it needs stuffing and gravy to go along with it, so you can’t forget those either. Turkey itself doesn’t really need any adjustments, as it’s already low carb, but for those of you who maybe want to try something a little different than the standard Christmas turkey, you could roast up a nice prime rib.

Prime rib is a wonderful cut of beef when prepared properly, and comes out moist, tender and incredibly delicious. Here’s a foolproof holiday prime rib recipe from alldayidreamaboutfood.com you can try this Christmas that is sure to be a winner.

If ham is more your style, this simple recipe from Atkins for a maple-mustard glazed baked ham uses sugar-free maple flavoured syrup and Dijon mustard to keep the carb count low and create a sweet but bold glaze that is a perfect accompaniment to the saltiness of the ham.

Finally, if you’re hosting a smaller group for Christmas dinner, and want to try something perhaps a bit fancier or unusual, the wonderful low carb blog ‘I Breathe, I’m Hungry’ has this tremendous recipe for Roasted Duck with Cranberry, Orange and Cardamom glaze. Christmas dinner will go from joyful to legendary with this delicious meal on your table!

Stuffing

To make a great low carb stuffing, you can always use a low carb stuffing mix like this one from LC Foods, or you can get low carb bread, and low carb bread crumbs to make your own Christmas stuffing.

Alternatively, there are many recipes out there for stuffing’s that don’t use any kind of bread at all. The blog ‘I Breathe, I’m Hungry’ comes through again with a great collection of low carb stuffing alternatives. Check out their list of low carb stuffing recipes here, and we’re sure you’ll find something that strikes your interest.

Turkey Gravy

For gravy, this can be a simple matter of just using a different thickener instead of the wheat flour that many gravy recipes call for. Substituting cornstarch as a thickener works very well, and contains no carbs. Just make sure that you prepare enough gravy for everyone. It always tends to run out fast! If time is short, and you simply need to find a nice pre-packaged gravy mix, you can find many options here in our selection of low carb gravy to suit any type of meat that you may choose to serve.

Appetizers & Hors d’oeuvres

It seems like there’s always something yummy to eat around the house at Christmas time. Whether it’s a fresh batch of warm hors d’oeuvres or a colourful cheese plate, there’s never a shortage of things to nibble on.

One popular hors d’oeuvres that many people enjoy as part of their holiday appetizers is small beef or pork meatballs served along with a tasty sauce for dipping. We prefer a nice zesty chili sauce, but any of your favourite hearty sauces will work just as well. Just make sure that you choose one that is low in sugar to keep the carb count down, like this chili sauce from Jok’N’Al.

Another simple, but very yummy, appetizer is nice smoked gouda cheese, sliced and wrapped in with a thin blanket of black forest ham. Although it sounds plain, the smoky taste of the cheese and the saltiness of the ham taste wonderful together. Use fancy picks for serving these and you can add some extra holiday style to the platter. Every time we make this low carb treat, the plate gets bare pretty quickly!

Desserts & Sweet Treats

Christmas cookies are an essential treat during the holidays for young and old alike, and with a good low carb cookie mix, you can bake up a fresh batch of cookies any time you want. We suggest an almond flour cookie mix, like this one from JK Gourmet. Mix in your favourite seasonal ingredients, cut in the shape of stars, snowmen, or Christmas trees, and you’re all set!

For the traditional dessert lovers, this amazing recipe from Atkins for a Chocolate Yule Log is definitely a winner. It uses a sucralose based sweetener to keep the sugar levels low, and whole grain soy flour to achieve a very low carb count. This recipe even comes complete with a decadent frosting to top it off! This is one dessert you won’t want to pass up.

Conclusion

The holidays are supposed to be full of joy and happiness, and with these great recipe suggestions, you can relieve a lot of worry and pressure from your low carb diet plan. Of course, regardless of what you choose to serve on your table throughout the holidays, you still need to be diligent with your carb counting to make sure that you stay on track. There’s no reason you can’t sample a little bit of everything that your Christmas dinner table has to offer, as long as you make sure that you don’t pile on too much of anything. If you feel like you need a refresher on carb counting, be sure to check out our carb counting guide here.

We hope that you have found these tips and ideas helpful, and we wish you and your family all the best this Christmas season – Happy holidays and Happy Eats!

Introduction to Low Carb Sweets

Introduction to Low Carb Sweets

Sweet treats and candy aren’t exactly things that spring to mind when we talk about healthy living and the low carb lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean you need to say ‘goodbye’ to your favourite sweet flavours. Going low carb means you need to carefully track what you’re eating and understand how it all adds up in carbs, and that includes sugary snacks.

The simple sugars found in candies, chocolates, and other sweets are one of the types of carbs that need to be carefully tracked and moderated as part of a low carb diet. Consuming too many sweets can easily set a low carb diet off track, so it’s important to make sure that the sweets we do eat are either low-sugar or sugar-free, and make sure that we don’t get carried away with portion sizes. Sometimes even a small handful of candy can contain a lot more sugar than you’d expect.

The basic ingredient in candy that contributes to its carb count is, as you’d expect, sugar. Simple sugars are the most basic form of carbohydrates found in our foods. These types of sugars are also found in many fruits, but the kinds typically used in candy and sweets have been refined, and are usually much more concentrated. Fortunately, there are several sugar-alternatives available that provide the same sweet flavours, but without the same effects on the body as they are digested.

Some alternative sweeteners that are common in low-sugar and sugar-free sweets and candy are malitol, sorbitol, and xylitol. These belong to a family of chemical compounds known as ‘sugar alcohols’, and despite their name, they do not contain any actual alcohol. Sugar alcohols act in a similar way to sugars, in that they produce a sweet taste, but at a much lower calorie count. This is what makes them ideal ingredients for sweets that are much more suitable as part of a low carb diet.

Sugar alcohols are very common ingredients, and are not limited only to products made specifically for low carb or other special diets. You can find them everywhere, such as in the most popular low-calories colas and sugar-free chewing gums. For low carb dieters, this is good news, as many of the sweets and sugary treats that we crave are already available in reduced-calorie varieties, like candy bars, gummies, hard candies, chocolates, and even marshmallows!

If you’re interested in getting creative and making your own sweets for your next Halloween party or birthday party, this collection of low carb candy recipes from AllDayIDreamAboutFood.com has a wide variety of chocolatey and sweet tastes to explore.

Whatever your sweet tooth happens to crave, you can find a huge selection of sweets and candy at The Low Carb Grocery. In the meantime, here are some of the most popular low-sugar and sugar-free products that our customers simply love, and we’re sure that you will too!

Jelly Belly Sugar Free Jelly Beans – As the biggest name in gourmet jelly beans, you can be sure that Jelly Belly sugar free candies will taste spectacular. This pack of assorted flavours brings a different taste combination in each handful.

Smart Sweets Gummy Bears – This unique twist on gummy bears turns a sweet treat sour for an unusual taste sensation that you’ll love! Smart Sweets sour gummy bears are made using stevia, and they really crank up the sour flavour for those of us who enjoy a different kind of gummy snack.

Atkins Indulge Chocolate Peanut Candies – One handful of these crunchy chocolate bites and you’ll be hooked, just like the rest of us. Atkins Indulge treats are very low in sugar, and are sweetened with malitol. If you enjoy the classic taste of peanuts and chocolate, these are the sweet snacks for you!

So, if your sweet tooth is starting to crave something new, give one of these treats a try, or explore all the other low carb sweets available at The Low Carb Grocery. We’re sure that you’ll really enjoy trying a variety of new sweet treats, in moderation of course, as a part of your low carb lifestyle!

Fast and Easy Low Carb Appetizers

Fast and Easy Low Carb Appetizers

Aside from simply being delicious, the right appetizers can go a long way in setting the tone for a special occasion. There are countless recipes for appetizers, both hot and cold, that you can choose from to complement your meal, but it can be difficult to sort through them all and find the ones that fit best. In this article, we’ll take a look at what factors can determine what appetizer best suits an occasion, as well as some tips for great hot and cold recipes to try. Let’s take a look at some general tips you can use to plan what to cook up for appetizers at your next special occasion.

General Appetizer Tips

The foods we eat are closely related to the emotions we feel and our moods, so it should come as no surprise that different kinds of appetizers can help set the mood for a meal or special occasion.

For example, one type of event that typically has lots of appetizers on the menu is sporting event parties. When you’re watching the big game, it’s common to serve a wide variety of chips, dips, chicken wings, and other warm, savory appetizers. These types of appetizers can be considered types of comfort food, as they usually accompany exciting, fun events with family and friends. In addition, they are also pretty safe bets for anyone who may not be as adventurous in their cuisine exploration, but always love a nice spicy wing or crunchy chip and salsa.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you’re planning on hosting a sophisticated cocktail party complete with champagne and caviar, the mood you’re after probably won’t come from a plate of spicy chicken wings. This kind of event would be better served with a charcuterie plate of specialty cheeses, fresh fruit, and a variety of cured meats. Perhaps some antipasto, marinated olives, baked brie, or mini quiche might appear on the menu, too. These are all less common than things like chips and dip, and tend to cause conversation about them.

While we’re not trying to typecast certain appetizers in to only being suitable for a very particular type of event, we believe that choosing the appetizers based on the mood you want to set it a good way to start planning your menu. When you combine the nature of the event with the tastes and preferences of the guests, you can usually pick out at least a handful of appetizer options that really make sense and would be a big hit.

Types of Appetizers

While there are dozens of types of appetizers based on ingredients, the two high-level categories that are commonly used to sort them out is hot vs. cold. This way, you can get a general idea of what will be needed in order to prepare them, and know involved the process might be. Hot appetizers commonly feature meat, dairy, and sauces, while cold appetizers often include fruits, vegetables, cured meats and cheeses. Of course, these ingredients are certainly not limited to one or the other. Appetizers rarely follow strict rules, and can easily be customized for any individual taste or style.

Tips for Hot Appetizers

Hot appetizers come in many forms. They include items as simple as meatballs and chicken wings, to more complicated items such as phyllo pastries and mini quiches. One of the most important things about serving hot appetizers is timing. Many hot appetizers have very short cooking times, and if you’re not paying very close attention you could end up with burnt pastries. Be sure to plan your cooking times carefully, and take advantage of the alarm app on your smartphone. In just a few minutes, you can set up multiple alarms and use subtle notification settings to keep your appetizers on-track and perfectly prepared.

Even though many hot appetizers use pastry or other types of flour-based dough, there are plenty of low carb alternative ingredients you can use to keep the carb count low. For starters, research some pastry and dough recipes that use alternative flours like almond flour. For example, here’s a great recipe for a low carb pie crust from Kim at LowCarbMaven.com using almond flour that is great for any appetizer recipe that calls for a pie crust.

For appetizers that use sauces like chicken wings or meatballs, make sure you either choose a low sugar sauce like this sugar-free Mild Buffalo Wing Sauce from Wing Time, or if you’re creating your own sauce from scratch make sure you go with low-sugar or no-sugar ingredients.

Hot Appetizer Recipe

If you enjoy hot appetizers that have a bit of a spicy kick, then you simply have to try these Low Carb Cheesy Spicy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms from Brenda over at SugarFreeMom.com. These tasty little bites are perfect appetizers for a holiday party or big family get-together, and they are amazingly easy to make. With just a handful of ingredients, these can even be made up to two days in advance and refrigerated for even more convenience. Give these a try this holiday season, and you’ll love them!

Tips for Cold Appetizers

Even though there are countless options for hot appetizers, there are even more for cold appetizers! Lots of cold appetizer recipes don’t even require any cooking or complex steps to prepare, and there are recipes for any occasion that will suit a wide variety of tastes and dietary needs.

Because cold appetizers don’t need to stay warm or risk getting burnt, many of them can be prepared well in advance of the event to save time and add convenience. However, there are some ingredients that you may find in a cold appetizer recipe that don’t refrigerate well. For example, avocado-based dips like guacamole will unfortunately turn brown if left exposed to the air for too long, making them look much less appealing. In those kinds of situations, you can still measure out or prepare the rest of the ingredients in advance and simply perform the final when the time is right.

For sweeter appetizers that may use whipped cream, you may find that the whipped cream will lose its shape and consistency if prepared too early, so this is another instance where freshness and timing are important. In addition, to better suit the low carb diet, sweet ingredients like whipped cream or chocolate should be swapped out for sugar-free alternatives to help keep the carb count low. These sugar-free dark chocolate chips from LC Foods are a great alternative that have plenty of uses including making amazing chocolate-dipped strawberries, which are always a delicious treat.

Since lots of cold appetizers require some type of cracker on which to be served, low carb dieters may want to consider an alternative method, like these melba toasts from Paskesz, which are very low in carbs. As another option, cucumber slices make a perfect little platform for a variety of cold appetizers, and they’re also great for using with lots of dips in place of chips.

Cold Appetizer Recipe

This amazing recipe for Smoked Salmon & Cucumber appetizers from Dara at CookinCanuck.com is the perfect example of how you can use simple ingredients to create something truly special. It uses a clever combination of capers, non-fat Greek yogurt, and dill to make a wonderful, creamy accompaniment for the smoked salmon. Placed on top of a fresh cucumber slice, these tasty bites won’t last long on any appetizer table!

Conclusion

Whether you’re planning a big holiday party or a simple dinner for two, we’re sure that these tips will help you put together a fantastic appetizer selection that everyone will love. Appetizers are a lot of fun to make, and even more fun to eat, especially the low carb way! We hope that you’ve found these tips helpful, and that the recipe ideas have given you some inspiration to try something new. Happy cooking!

Low Carb Thanksgiving Meal Ideas

Low Carb Thanksgiving Ideas

Thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition that Canadians from coast-to-coast enjoy every year with their loved ones. It’s an experience that is full of warmth, happiness, and delicious food that makes us truly thankful for all we have. Of course, as with most big holiday meals, this can be quite a conundrum for low carb dieters. Traditional Thanksgiving meals are not exactly light on carbs, but with a little help and some smart adjustments, you can prepare all the classic foods the low carb way!

In this article, we will go through the best tips and tricks for planning a delicious and satisfying Thanksgiving dinner, while reducing carbs and providing healthy options. By making a few smart adjustments, and putting a new spin on some old classics, you’ll be amazed at just how easy it is to pull off a low carb Thanksgiving dinner, without sacrificing taste.

Starters

It’s always a good idea to have some things prepared for everyone to nibble on while the main course is cooking. Preparing a few simple, delicious low carb appetizers is simple. Here are a couple of suggestions!

Cheese & Fruit Assortment

Appetizers don’t get much easier than this! Simply select and arrange a selection of unique and flavourful cheeses, such as a bold blue cheese, a sharp cheddar, and creamy brie. Try choosing some options that are a bit more unusual, and pair them with a nice low carb cracker assortment, a few different nuts like almonds or pecans, as well as some fresh fruit like grapes or strawberries to complete the colourful presentation.

Veggies & Hummus

Keeping things simple and light, why not spread out an assortment of fresh veggies like carrot sticks, celery, mushrooms and cucumbers to dip in your favourite hummus? Hummus is a great low carb dip, and you can get a variety of different types, like red pepper or sun-dried tomato, if you want to try something unusual.

Main Dishes

Let’s be honest – these are the foods that make us love Thanksgiving so much! Here, we will breakdown how to prepare your turkey, stuffing, and other sides with a low carb twist.

Turkey & Other Meats

Preparing your turkey is pretty much the same as it always is, but why not opt for a new poultry rub or seasoning to add a different kind of flavour to the bird this year? There are plenty of options available, like the no-salt spice rubs from Summer Kitchen. Try Rosemary Rush or Twisted Tarragon to give your turkey a lot of character!

Also, be sure to use the correct up-to-date roasting times for turkey, and not those listed in an old or outdated cookbook that will either dry out your bird or leave it raw in the middle. This reference for turkey roasting times from CanadianTurkey.ca will ensure that you’re using the correct times and temperatures to produce a perfectly roasted turkey this Thanksgiving.

Of course, you can always go a different route and roast up a different meat if turkey isn’t your style. If you’re hosting a smaller crowd, you might opt for a roast chicken instead, as they are easier to prepare and take less time due to their smaller size.

Another crowd-pleasing main meat dish you might opt for is a nice ham, which is a great choice for a large holiday meal. We recommend choosing a bone-in ham, as they tend to come out of the oven a bit more moist and tender than boneless hams.

Keep the carbs low by using a sugar-free approach to your ham this holiday, like this recipe from BariatricEating.com for a No-Sugar Pineapple Glazed Ham. Simply delicious!

Gravy

For the turkey gravy, you’ll want to swap out any flour that may be called for in a gravy recipe with a different thickener. Cornstarch or arrowroot mixed with spices such as pepper and salt, are popular options that work well to thicken up gravies and sauces. Just be careful that you don’t add too much, as they will thicken the gravy much faster than a flour based thickener.

Alternatively, you could always choose to serve your gravy ‘au jus’, and skip the thickener altogether.

Whatever approach you choose for your gravy, you can always boost your gravy with a prepared gravy mix. This way, even if your meat doesn’t produce enough gravy to go around, you can simply mix up some more and make sure that all your dinner guests get some.

Stuffing

This is where things can get a bit tricky. The main ingredient in stuffing is bread, of course, so the easiest way to reduce the carbs in your stuffing mixture is to use low carb bread crumbs, or if you prefer using fresh bread, by using something like Bakers Deluxe Dream low carb Bread, but there are even better ways to cut the carbs from this Thanksgiving staple.

For example, we recently discovered a totally different method for a Low Carb Cranberry and Walnut Stuffing that sounds way too delicious to pass up! Check out this amazing turkey stuffing recipe on sheknows.com.

Vegetable Side Dishes

Potatoes aren’t going to make the cut for a low carb Thanksgiving meal, but there are plenty of other side dishes that you can serve up that are hearty and delicious alongside your turkey and stuffing.

Green beans are always a favourite vegetable to prepare for a big family meal, and they taste great when sautéed with ribbons of finely sliced prosciutto and a light squirt of lemon juice when they are cooking.

Brussels sprouts are making a big comeback as a popular vegetable, and with good reason. They are extremely healthy, tasty and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Try pan frying them with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste – mmm!

Cauliflower is a really useful vegetable and works amazingly well as a mashed side dish. Simply boil and mash cauliflower the same way you would potatoes, and serve with a bit of butter and a light dusting of salt.

Desserts

It simply wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie for dessert, now would it? Fortunately, there are a lot of options for making low carb pie crusts. This low carb pie crust flour from LC Foods works really well. For the filling, substitute the sugar for an alternative sweetener such as Sukrin Fiber Syrup, which works wonderfully in desserts like pumpkin pie. Finish it off with a dollop of sugar-free whipped cream on top, and you’re all set!

Conclusion

Thanksgiving is the time of year where we should be thinking about all the wonderful things we have to be thankful for, and not worrying about missing out on all the traditional foods that we know and love.

As you can see, there are plenty of alternative recipes to ensure low carb dieters can enjoy Thanksgiving as much as anyone else. Of course, you’ll still want to moderate your overall carb intake and keep an eye on your portion sizes. Keeping count of your carbs will help you make sure that you get to try a bit of everything, but not have too much of anything. For more info on keeping track of your carb intake, read our article about counting carbs the right way.

We hope that you find these tips and advice helpful, and that you and your family has a wonderful Thanksgiving meal once again this year.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Decoding Low Carb Nutrition and Ingredient Labels

Decoding Low Carb Nutrition and Ingredient Labels

One of the first things you learn as you start the transition to the low carb diet, is just how important proper monitoring of your food intake is. By accurately measuring the food you eat, you will be able to effectively stay on track with your daily carb allowance and make it much easier to meet your goals. When first starting the process of carb counting, it is essential to know how to read and decode ingredient and nutrition labels on the food products you buy. This way, you’ll know exactly what to look for, and how it all adds up at the end of the day.

Basics of Carb Counting

Learning how to count carbs is not difficult, but there is some learning required to do it properly. Essentially, you are looking for three main pieces of information on any nutrition label to tell you how many carbs are in it, and what the number of digestible carbs (also known as ‘net carbs’) that will be in one serving – these three components are:

1 – Total Carbohydrates
2 – Sugar Alcohols
3 – Fibre

For a complete breakdown on carb counting, please refer to our article on carb counting. Fibre and sugar alcohols are not the kinds of carbs that are of concern on a low carb diet, and so can be subtracted from the total carbs to obtain the net carb value. This is the number of carbs that your body will digest and that will impact blood sugar levels most significantly. In a nutshell, the total number of carbs is determined with this formula:

Total Carbohydrates – (Sugar Alcohols + Fibre) = Net Carbs
Or, using a specific product example, such as Atkins Advantage Coconut Almond Delight bars:
Each bar has 18g total carbs, 6g fibre, and 9g of sugar alcohols. Therefore,
18g Total Carbs – (6g Fibre + 9g Sugar Alcohols) = 3g Net Carbs

Once you pull together this quick formula, counting carbs is actually quite simple. But how do you find these bits of critical information on the nutrition and ingredient labels found on food products in Canada? Let’s take a look!

Typical Nutrition Label Information

The Government of Canada has implemented a much more standardized format for nutrition labels than what was available in the past. In fact, nutrition labeling became mandatory for all prepackaged foods in Canada in December of 2007, which has had a significant impact on the ability for consumers to educate themselves effectively regarding the nutritional value of the foods they purchase. By using a standard format and layout for nutrition labels, it is now much easier to decode the potential health impacts of the foods we eat, regardless of the brand or manufacturer. Click here to visit the Government of Canada website page pertaining to nutrition label standards.

Here, we can see a typical nutrition label that follows the format required in Canada. This particular label is from a popular national brand of yogurt.

label

On this label, we can see that this yogurt contains 6g of carbohydrates, 0g of fibre, and 3g of sugars. Using the method we described earlier, we can see that the net carbs that you should count as part of your low carb meal plan is 6g, since there are no sugar alcohols or fibre to subtract from the total.

Of course, you should also pay close attention to the other nutrients found on the label, such as sodium and cholesterol. In addition, keeping an eye on the % daily intake of essential vitamins and minerals is also beneficial to understanding the total value of all the foods we eat.

Review the Ingredients

Lastly, it’s always a good idea to scan through the actual ingredients list on the product as well. This way, you’ll be able to determine exactly which ingredients are contributing to the carb counts listed on the nutrition label. For example, while that yogurt we showed above listed 3g of sugars, the specific type of sugar contained in that yogurt was fructose. There are other common sugars that you may find on the ingredient list including corn syrup, glucose, lactose, and sucrose.

If there are sugar alcohols listed on the nutrient label, they will be found in the ingredient list with such names as xylitol, sorbitol or malitol.

Other artificial sweeteners can be identified in the ingredients list by their brand or trade names, or even by spotting their logos on the packaging, and include such brands as Splenda, NutraSweet, or Equal.

About Serving Sizes

Aside from the nutrient facts and the ingredient list, one last thing that you should pay close attention to is the serving size that is used to determine all those values. Be aware that it is extremely common for a single serving, as defined by the manufacturer, to actually be less than what consumers would consider a single serving based on the packaging method or their typical eating habits.

To become accustomed to thinking in ‘grams’ or ‘ounces’ for portion sizes, instead of just eyeballing it, invest in a small electronic kitchen scale and actually measure out the serving sizes listed on the packages of some common foods that you have at home. Once you see how much of the product is actually used to calculate the values on the nutrition labels, you can get a much more accurate view of how much you are actually consuming. The more you do this, the better you’ll get at estimating by sight and by weight, which will help you during those times when you don’t have a scale at the ready.

A Note on Medical Conditions

If you are on the low carb diet for specific medical reasons, such as diabetes or other health conditions that require a carefully structured diet plan, the importance of properly understanding ingredient and nutrition labels is even greater. Be sure to consult your doctor for specific recommendations related to your health, and research using trusted and authoritative resources. For example, this helpful article from EatRightOntario.com contains a wealth of information for diabetics and what they should look for on the food products they buy.

Conclusion

As you can see, there is a lot to think about when you start down the path to a better understanding of carb counting, nutrition facts, and ingredient lists. However, you can take comfort in knowing that the knowledge you gain from these experiences will make it much easier to achieve your short-term and long-term health goals, and will definitely help you get the most from your low carb lifestyle.

We hope that this information has proven to be helpful, and wish you all the best with your low carb diet!