All posts by Jeff Fidler

Marinades and BBQ Sauces, The Low Carb Way

Marinades and Barbecue Sauces, The Low Carb Way

It should come as no surprise that grilled meats and vegetables are absolutely perfect for the low carb lifestyle. Grilling foods is a very simple cooking method, relying on very few ingredients to result in a delicious and healthy low carb meal. One thing that grillers do tend to rely on however, is their favourite marinades and BBQ sauces to enhance the flavours of their foods and deliver a wide range of taste experiences.

Like many other sauces and condiments, there are many times you’ll encounter a marinade or BBQ sauce that is loaded with extra carbs, extra sugars, and excessive salt, which are some things low carb dieters need to be wary of at all times. Fortunately, there are also plenty of healthy, low carb and low sugar marinades and BBQ sauces to choose from. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could even tackle making your own sauce and get really creative! Let’s take a look at some typical challenges low carb dieters face when choosing marinades and BBQ sauces, and then we will get in to some of the most popular options for delicious low carb marinades and BBQ sauces you can try today.

Marinade and BBQ Sauce Ingredients

Most marinades and BBQ sauces start with a base ingredient which defines their general flavour characteristics and what they’ll be best suited for. The three most common are:

  • Tomato Based – These marinades and BBQ sauces tend to be the typical thick, rich sauces you’ll find at most cookouts. These come in a huge variety of flavours suited to meats like chicken, beef, and pork. These are generally not ideal for seafood and fish, but there are some special blends that work well for these purposes.
  • Soya Based – Most marinades and BBQ sauces that use soya as a base are Asian-style sauces and tend to have sweeter and spicier characteristics. Soya based sauces are usually not very thick, and tend to have a lighter texture.  These sauces have a lot of utility, and work on all meats including a wide range of seafood, and even on vegetables.
  • Spice Based – Most of these will fall in to the marinade category, but they can also be used as brushed-on BBQ sauces as well. Using some type of oil as a main ingredient and made from a wide variety of spices and seasonings, these work best when marinated for long periods of time so the flavour really soaks in to the meat.

Ideally, you’ll want to select your marinade or BBQ sauce first and foremost based on what kind of food you are preparing, and what style of meal you’re going for. For example, if a classic backyard BBQ is what you’re planning, then a bold tomato based BBQ sauce for your grilled chicken would be a good fit. If you’re going for a more sophisticated grilled pork tenderloin with a side of grilled vegetables, then perhaps a soya based sauce such as a schezwan sauce would be a good fit. It’s important to not think of these as strict rules, however. These are just general guidelines, and everyone will have a different idea of what works best. Play around, and have fun to discover what might be a delicious new combination.

Making Your Own Low Carb Marinade or BBQ Sauce

Sometimes you just have an urge to get creative, and making your own BBQ sauce or marinade can be a great way to explore unusual and unique flavours, as well as ensure that you know exactly what’s in your sauce. Making your own is actually very simple, and just requires a few basic ingredients along with whatever special flavours you want to add. First, we’ll list the steps for a basic low carb Greek marinade, and then the steps for a basic low carb chipotle BBQ sauce.

Basic Low Carb Greek Marinade with Feta Cheese

This simple yet flavourful Greek style marinade is perfect for pork or chicken. The lemon juice gives it a refreshing citrus flavour, while the feta cheese adds an unmistakable savory element.

Ingredients:

o   1 cup extra virgin olive oil

o   4 cloves of crushed garlic

o   ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

o   2 tablespoons oregano

o   1 tablespoon rosemary

o   1 tablespoon thyme

o   ¼ cup finely crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

o   Simply blend all ingredients together in a large bowl, and pour over pork chops, pork tenderloin, or chicken.

o   Marinate in the refrigerator for 6-12 hours for best results.

o   Grill and serve.


Basic Low Carb Chipotle BBQ Sauce

This simple BBQ sauce recipe delivers a rich, smooth sauce, the smoky chili flavour of Chipotle peppers, and a taste that you won’t forget. This BBQ sauce is simply perfect for grilled chicken or as a condiment for burgers.

Ingredients:

o   1 can of tomato paste

o   ¼ cup white vinegar

o   ½ cup water

o   2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

o   1 tablespoon of Chipotle powder (add more or less to adjust heat)

o   1 tablespoon onion powder

o   1 tablespoon garlic powder

Directions:

o   Combine all ingredients in a medium pot or saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

o   Reduce heat and simmer on low for 30 minutes to an hour.

o   Remove from heat and refrigerate until meat is ready to grill.

o   Brush over chicken or burgers on the grill, and serve.

These two recipes are sure to get you excited to try your own flavour combinations. The methods are pretty much the same, just swap out any ingredients you choose to try new taste experiences.

One way to make these recipes even easier is to use a pre-blended seasoning like these ones from The Garlic Box available online and in store at The Low Carb Grocery. You can use these in place of all the spices in a marinade or BBQ sauce recipe, or simply use them as a dry rub on your meats for a different style of grilling:

Popular Pre-made Low Carb Marinades and BBQ Sauces

The sheer variety of marinades and BBQ sauce on most supermarket shelves is enough to get your head spinning. While it is great to have so many options, it can be hard to finally settle on just one. Here, we’ve listed a few of our most popular marinades and BBQ sauces. Give one of these a try and we’re sure you won’t be disappointed.

Guys BBQ Sauce – Bacon – As if Guys BBQ sauce wasn’t already good enough, in this version they added bacon flavour to kick things up a notch.

Crazy Mooskies Crazy Hot BBQ Sauce – Just like the name implies, this is the BBQ sauce for people who love all things spicy.

Mikee Chicken Marinade & Low Sodium Stir Fry – Delicious Asian-style marinade great for grilled chicken.

Hot Mamas Mango Mango BBQ Sauce – Sweet and spicy is what this sauce delivers. Perfect on chicken, pork, or anything else you want to grill.

So, there you have it! We hope you feel inspired to check out these new flavours, or even experiment with some low carb marinades or BBQ sauces of your own. Who knows, you may just create the next great taste sensation in your neighborhood!

Happy grilling!

Low Carb Dieting – An Introduction

Introduction to The Low Carb Diet

You’d be hard pressed to find any dietitian, doctor, or health professional anywhere who would agree that the typical North American diet is ideal. As a population, we tend to eat a lot of junk, mostly out of convenience but also just out of habit. We’ve become accustomed to a lot of foods that unfortunately have some negative impacts on our health, especially when eaten in excess. What most people don’t realize is that a healthy diet is tied just as closely to WHAT we eat as it is to HOW MUCH we eat. Simply reducing portion sizes isn’t going to cut it.

This is where the low carb diet comes in. Going low carb isn’t simply about cutting out bread from your diet, but understanding very clearly where all carbs come from in our diet, and making sure that we are managing our carb intake along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle including exercise and other habits for general well-being.

Why Choose the Low Carb Lifestyle?

The number of carbs in the average North American diet is much higher than what is nutritionally required, and the impacts of this kind of diet has had some drastic impacts on the general health of people. Excessive carbohydrate intake has been linked quite clearly to weight gain, but carbs also affect blood sugar and insulin levels, cholesterol, uric acid levels, blood pressure, and more. Some people experience more significant effects than others, but the implications are not something anyone should ignore.

Now, this isn’t to say we need to have a knee-jerk reaction and say that all carbs are bad. Some carbs are actually essential to maintain a healthy body, and a balanced diet needs to have some carbohydrates in it. However, the key is understanding just how many carbs are in the food we eat, and what kind of carbs they are. This way, we can develop better eating habits and begin to make healthier food choices so our bodies are getting exactly what is needed, and not loading up too much on one thing or another.

Types of Carbs

There are three main categories of carbohydrates that we need to be aware of. Each one has different characteristics, and when you begin down the path to a low carb lifestyle, you’ll understand how to manage each one through smart food choices and carb counting techniques. Here are the three types of carbs:

Sugars – Also known as simple carbohydrates, sugars are found in an extremely wide variety of foods. Sugars can either be naturally occurring, such as the sugars you’ll find in fruits or dairy, or refined sugars that have been added to foods as part of a process. Simple sugars are easily broken down and digested by the body.

Starches – Another common name for starches is complex carbohydrates, and these are found most commonly in grains like wheat and in wheat products, vegetables like potatoes, and different types of beans. Complex carbohydrates are converted during digestion in to simple carbohydrates (sugars), and so these are typically absorbed more slowly in to the body.

Fibers – Although essential to having a healthy digestive system, most of the fiber we intake is actually indigestible by the human body. Nevertheless, it is a critical part of your digestive health, keeps the body regular, and also contributes to helping you feel full when you’ve eaten enough.

It’s important for beginners to the low carb diet to start paying closer attention to the nutrition labels of the foods they eat and taking note of the amount of these three carbohydrates. The amount of carbs you’ll find in some common products may surprise you, as there are often more than you’d expect. For example, most people would agree that fresh mangos or some ripe cherries would be a great healthy snack, but they are fruits that contain some of the highest counts of sugar, and so should be eaten on a low carb diet only in careful moderation.

Different Low Carb Diets

While we won’t go in to the detailed specifics of each type of diet plan here, and you should always consult your doctor before starting any new diet plan, there are several popular low carb diets that you may consider if you feel that this may be right for you.

Here are some of the common plans that low carb dieters are following:

The Atkins Diet – You’ve probably heard of this one. The most commonly known low carb diet, the Atkins Diet focuses on restricting carb intake and switching the body’s metabolism to burn more stored fat instead of glucose.

The Dukan Diet – This diet takes a slightly different approach and advises a more moderate approach to carb restrictions as well as moderation of fat intake. This diet consists of four phases to gradually adjust carb intake.

Dr. Poon’s Metabolic Diet – Focusing on low carb, low sodium, and moderate fat intake, this diet was created with the goal of achieving weight loss to ease the effects of medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.

The G.I Diet – Also known as the Glycemic Index Diet, this diet categorizes carbs by how quickly they are digested by the body and how fast they increase blood glucose. It recommends which foods to reduce, or cut out entirely to achieve weight loss.

Check out our full list of different low carb diets here.

Success on the Low Carb Diet

Many people have achieved their health goals through a low carb diet. Whether for weight loss, easing the effects of diabetes, or combating high blood pressure, there are inspirational stories from around the globe that show the difference a low carb lifestyle can make. Simply check out our extensive collection of customer success stories for examples on what our very own customers have achieved with their diets.

If you think the low carb diet might be right for you, talk to your doctor and start taking steps down the path to a healthier and happier future.

We look forward to serving you soon!

The Best & Worst Fruits & Vegetables for Low Carb Diets

The Best (And Worst) Fruits and Veggies for Low Carb Dieters

When most people think ‘low carb’, the most common things that come to mind are always the same; bread, pasta, and sugar. While these are certainly a huge part of what the low carb diet is all about, they aren’t the whole story. Lots of people are surprised to learn just how high in carbs some of their favourite fruits and vegetables are. Without a little bit of research, it’s easy to make a mistake when choosing between what you think are healthy choices, and what actually might be working against your diet.

Here, we list some of the best fruit and vegetable choices for low carb diets, and some of the worst fruit and vegetable offenders when it comes to carb counting. Fear not, however. Even if your favourite happens to make the high carb list, rest assured there are always alternatives that you can substitute in its place to give you a similar flavour, but help keep the carb count low.

Fruits to Avoid

We all love fresh fruit, of course, but because of that delicious sweetness that they have, you can be sure that there are naturally occurring sugars in there that can crank up the carb count very quickly.

Some fruits that have naturally high carb counts include:

  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Mangos
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Pineapple
  • Kiwi

While low carb diets come in several different variations, even a moderate low carb diet can be thrown off very quickly by consuming too much fruit. If you’re worried about missing out on the other nutrients found in these fruits, be assured that you can get everything your body needs from alternative sources, especially vegetables that are much less likely to have high levels of carbs or sugars.

Vegetables to Avoid

That said, however, there are also some vegetables that low carb dieters should steer clear of. While not nearly as high in carbs and sugars as the fruits we mentioned above, some veggies still contain enough carbs so that you’ll want to make sure that you moderate your intake. Here are the veggies on the top end of the carb count list:

  • Potatoes
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Bell Peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Beets
  • Squash

A Note on Beans, Peas and Other Legumes

While often mistaken for vegetables, peas, corn, beans, lentils and other similar foods are actually classified as legumes or grains. These are all higher in carbs than vegetables and should be kept to a minimum, or avoided entirely, while on a low carb diet.

Best Fruits for Low Carb Diets

Now let’s get to the good stuff!

These are fruits that are much lower in carbs and are much easier to integrate in to your meal plans. While they still have the delicious, fresh sweetness that you want from fruit, they are lower in sugars and don’t hit your carb counts nearly as hard. Here are some of the best choices for low carb fruits:

  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Plums
  • Peaches
  • Coconut

Gram-for-gram, these fruits are significantly lower in carbs than many others you’ll find at the grocery store. While these still need to be managed and moderated as part of your diet, they are safer in general.

It’s easy to incorporate these fruits and others like them in to your normal diet routine with things like low carb jams and jellies available online or in-store at The Low Carb Grocery.

Best Vegetables for Low Carb Diets

When it comes to the best low carb vegetables, there are plenty of options available that cover a very wide range of tastes. Generally, most of these vegetables will be the ones that grow ‘above ground’, such as leafy vegetables and stalk vegetables.

Here are the top vegetables to consider as part of your low carb diet:

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Asparagus
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Cabbage Broccoli

These vegetables can be eaten pretty freely on most low carb diets, but of course it doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind. Regardless of what individual foods may be considered technically ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for a particular diet, monitoring your intake of all foods is important to stay on track and meet your goals.

You can even add more vegetables in to your diet plan with crunchy, salty vegetable snack chips. You can find many options for vegetable snack chips here at The Low Carb Grocery, online and in our stores.

We hope that this guide has helped you refine your diet plans and your understanding of fruit and vegetables carb counts, and given some ideas on what you may want to add to your next shopping trip to the grocery store.

Who knows, you may discover a fruit or vegetable suits your taste buds more than you thought it would, and those are always pleasant discoveries to make.

mmm - low carb pasta

Tips for Making Delicious Pasta Meals the Low Carb Way

Pasta is such a huge part of the world of food that it would be a real shame if you needed to say ‘goodbye’ to it forever just because you are taking on a low carb lifestyle. Fortunately for today’s low carb dieters, there are plenty of options out there to help make sure that pasta lovers get to keep delicious Italian pasta dishes on their menu, without sacrificing any of the flavour.

We’ve put together a handful of handy tips, and a few product recommendations, that will change how you think about pasta on a low carb diet plan. You have multiple choices for low carb noodles in all the classic styles, as well as every kind of sauce you can think of, including some new ones you may never have tried before. So, now that you’ve got pasta on your mind, let’s talk about how you can add pasta to your meal plan today!

Know Your Noodles

Traditional pasta noodles are usually made mostly from semolina flour, but this is definitely not something that works with a low carb diet. Even egg noodles can still contain a very high amount of carbs. For a low carb pasta dish, you’ll need to choose an alternative type of low carb noodle. The most popular low carb noodles are made from a combination of things like high-protein soy flour, wheat gluten, and fibre along with reduced amounts of semolina flour to bring the total carb count down. Some brands use other ingredients such as chickpeas and lentils in order to raise up the fibre and protein content and lower the total carbs.

Italian Style Noodles

Italian style noodles are available in all the classic traditional types of long, short, tube, and flat noodles. Long Italian pasta styles include spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, and angel hair. Shorter Italian style pasta comes in shapes like rotini, fusilli, penne, elbow macaroni, or shells. Some other Italian style noodles include flat lasagna noodles, and noodles designed to be stuffed like cannelloni and manicotti. Here’s a list of many different types of Italian style noodles:

Spaghetti Spaghettini
Linguine Fusilli lunghi
Vermicelli Capellini
Bucatini Tagliatelle
Pappardelle Fettuccine
Mafaldine Stringozzi
Trenette Penne
Rigatoni Macaroni
Paccheri Tortiglioni
Trenne Manicotti
Ditalini Cannelloni

Shop our entire selection of low carb Italian noodles here – find exactly the kind of noodles you’ll need for your next pasta meal, all made with low carb ingredients.

Asian Style Noodles

Shirataki noodles are Asian style noodles and are different from other types of low carb noodles because they are actually made from a water-soluble dietary fiber called ‘glucomannan’. This makes them very low in digestible carbs, and perfect for all kinds of Asian noodle recipes. Shirataki noodles are typically either white or seaweed, and come in several styles including long ramen-style noodles as well as more traditional shapes like spaghetti and fettuccine. You can browse a wide range of Shirataki noodles at The Low Carb Grocery.

Homemade Pasta

If you want to take on even more control over your pasta, consider making your own pasta noodles using the low carb flour options available from several different brands. When you hunt for recipes online, be sure to look for recipes that call for Wheat Protein Isolate 8000 and Oat Fibre 500. Of course, making noodles from scratch requires more planning and effort than simply choosing a pre-made pasta, but for those low carb chefs that like to do things their own way, all the ingredients you’ll need to make your own noodles can be found online or in store at The Low Carb Grocery.

Select Your Sauce

While there are dozens of different types of sauces to choose from, they all generally fall in to a few simple categories based on their core ingredients, or the style of cuisine. Here are the most common categories for sauces to go with your noodles.

Cream Sauces

Most cream sauce recipes are already low in carbs, but also tend to be higher in fat. Cream sauces are ideal to pair with lighter meats such as chicken and seafood, or skip the meat and include your favourite veggies for a lighter meal.

Tomato Sauces

Tomatoes are a very common ingredient in a lot of Italian dishes, but since they can contain a lot of natural sugars they aren’t ideal for a low carb diet. Luckily there are several brands that have low carb versions of classic tomato sauces, so just be sure to choose a brand you trust, and always read the label.

Pesto Sauces

For a low carb pasta dish, pesto is just about as perfect as you can get! Since they are primarily made with an olive oil base, they are very safe for low carb dieters. You can try both the classic pesto sauces, or switch things up and opt for a creamy version. Pesto sauces are also very easy to make yourself using fresh local ingredients, no cooking required!

Asian Sauces

If you are preparing an Asian dish such as a noodle stir fry, there several Asian style sauces to choose from like teriyaki, hoisin, or Szechuan, which are all available in low carb varieties and can be sweeter or spicier depending on the type of flavor experience you are looking for.

Check out our full range of sauces for Italian style pasta and sauces for all other styles of cuisine – shop online or in store at The Low Carb Grocery.

Meat and Veggies

Once you’ve got the basis for your pasta dish down by choosing your noodles and your sauce, go ahead and customize it any way you want by adding your favourite meats and low carb vegetables to complete your meal. Pasta is one of those types of cuisine where it’s really fun to experiment with new tastes and flavour combos, so don’t be afraid to try new things.

 

Now that you’ve probably got a serious craving for some pasta, take some time and browse around our entire Pasta & Noodle section to get even more inspiration.  

We have everything you need to make this a delicious and satisfying pasta meal you’ll remember and come back to again and again!