Oil and vinegar, hold the oil.
December 2, 2009 12:38 PM   Subscribe

I like foods with strong flavors: lime juice, chili peppers, vinegar, red onions, whiskey, onion salt, cilantro, and so forth. I recently figured out that grains were the culprits that make me really sleepy and unfocused. I'm switching to a lean meat, veg-heavy diet. Can you recommend decently healthy, low-carb recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner that have LOTS of flavor?

Thai food is an obvious suggestion (chicken larb is my favorite dish to order at restaurants), but I'm looking for specific recipes of all genres. I can eat a whole tin of those lime and wasabi almonds. I've been putting sliced turkey on spinach salad with toasted almonds and tons of balsamic vinegar. Hardboiled eggs with onion salt used to be my breakfast stand-by but now I'm sick of them.
posted by Hwaet to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 79 users marked this as a favorite
for breakfast you could make yourself some lovely omelets.
posted by Sara Anne at 12:45 PM on December 2, 2009

- stir fries of all kinds
- vegetable and meat curries of all kinds
- scrambled eggs with sauteed veg of all kinds with assorted spices
- strips of marinated meat, meat covered in nice spicy rubs with salad
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:48 PM on December 2, 2009

Response by poster: Sorry, to clarify, I'm sick of egg-based breakfasts of any kind. I know that makes alternative pretty scarce, though. I'm also looking for relatively specific recommendations rather than just "stir fry" etc. Thanks!
posted by Hwaet at 12:51 PM on December 2, 2009

Speaking of lime and wasabi almonds, Trader Joe's has some killer Thai curry cashews.
posted by electroboy at 12:56 PM on December 2, 2009

My GF and I have been having feta cheese, some tomatoes with olive oil, maybe a bit of hard sausage (e.g., sopressata). It's sort of a more Eastern European breakfast--at least, it's mostly what I had on a recent trip to Bulgaria. Feta in the morning is a kick in the pants.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:56 PM on December 2, 2009

Lox rolled around any soft cheese, with onions if you like.
posted by rainbaby at 12:59 PM on December 2, 2009

I have an issue with sweet stuff in the morning and a love of hot sauce so I feel you.

My favourite these days is a burrito with shredded old/strong cheese, raw onions, hot sauce (pickled hot pepper relish), veggies of some sort (lettuce, if I have it, roasted left-overs, cucumbers, etc.), refried beans and sometimes sour cream. Toast the tortilla over a burner (yes, my electric stove does have tortilla bits all over it) for extra flavour.

I had been scrambling an egg with salsa and putting that in but I'm over that at the moment. You could also make up some 'taco meat' with a bunch of spices (cumin, chile powder, garlic powder, etc.) and ground turkey/lean beef.

My other suggestion is grilled cheese sandwiches with old cheddar on sprouted wheat bread with every bite dipped in hot sauce or HP sauce. You can also add dill pickles to this for extra goodness.

(I didn't realize there were anyone else that is a flavour addict like me. My boyfriend mocked me until I started making him breakfast).
posted by hydrobatidae at 1:00 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Alas, no specific recipes, but some dishes I know that might fit your description:

Portabello mushrooms baked in a paste of balsamic vinegar and almond flour

Chinese broccoli, asparagus, or any other crunchy vegetable with low surface-to-volume ratio (i.e., not leaves or broccoli florets) boiled or steamed and then served with oyster oil, which is my attempt at translating a thick, dark Chinese paste that tastes sweet and savoury.

Something my mother used to make for breakfast, which might not even have a name: crack two eggs into a hot, (bacon?) greased pan, spread the whites out a little, top with shredded pepper jack and a scallion pancake (you could substitute a tortilla). It cooks into a sort of open-face sandwich, all bound together and upside-down in the pan.

Huevos rancheros, which do not taste like an egg dish.

Trail mix.

I would suggest looking to the cuisines of non-agricultural societies. Farming really predisposes people to eat carbohydrates, since muscle and fat are adaptations to enable movement and carrying energy around while moving, and corn doesn't do much of either.
posted by d. z. wang at 1:01 PM on December 2, 2009

I should clarify that the low surface-to-volume ratio is because oyster oil is very strong and will be overpowering if you drench a spinach leaf with it.
posted by d. z. wang at 1:02 PM on December 2, 2009

This Bittman fish cake recipe certainly satisfies the "lots of flavor" part of your request, but relies on fish and potatoes. I've successfully made bean croquettes with these same flavors. Here's a very vague recipe:

Cook about 4 cups of white or black beans until pretty soft. If using canned, I usually still throw them in a saucepan for about 5-10 minutes, but if you like firmer beans, you can use them straight from the can.

Meanwhile, mash together a paste of about 1 tablespoon each garlic and ginger, plus jalapeno to taste (you can also use cayenne pepper). Saute this in a small skillet in about 2 T vegetable oil for just a minute or two, until fragrant. Don't burn the aromatics.

Chop up about a cup of cilantro (if you like).

Preheat your broiler and lightly oil a big sheet pan (if you have a silicone baking mat, here is the place to use it).

Mix together your beans and aromatics and as much cilantro as you want (I like lots, but you might just want a few pinches). Add the juice of 1-2 limes. You're looking for a medium-thick consistency, so you might need to add a little bit of flour to get it where you want it. If you have time, stick the whole thing in the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up.

Make small balls (maybe about 1 1/2 inches across?) of the mixture and flatten into rounded saucer shapes. Place on your sheet pan and brush the tops with vegetable oil. Broil about 4" away from the element for a few minutes, until the top is lightly browned (you'll need to watch it). Flip, brown, and serve.
posted by rossination at 1:03 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Put a pork tenderloin in a crockpot with a big can of sauerkraut. Add a can of water, and cook on low all day. The meat gets falling-apart tender and the sauerkraut gives it a lot of flavor.

I like to make mashed or boiled potatoes to go along with this, but mashed turnips might be a nice substitute if you want something to ladle it over. A little blob of butter on top and some salt and pepper adds significantly to the yumminess.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:04 PM on December 2, 2009

Hi, are you me? Those lime and wasabi almonds that Blue Diamond makes are killer.

I like roasting vegetables in balsamic vinegar--brussel sprouts with pine nuts, or just a bunch of asparagus. Also try heating up frozen edamame seeds and add onion salt. My friend brought over an onion jam for Thanksgiving that had balsamic vinegar.

Beluga lentils have carbs, but half are fiber that keeps you full. Serve with this cilantro lime soy sauce. It is amazing. If the 17g of carbs is too much for you, use that sauce on baked chicken.
posted by zoomorphic at 1:09 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Roast some vegis and use them as sides instead of grains. For example, both broccoli and cauliflower are great if you just drizzle the chunks in olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss it in the oven for about 40 minutes at 425. Last night we had roast broccoli and sausage for dinner. It was great.

We also roast carrots and onions, carrots with beets, beets and radishes, carrots and beets and radishes - you get the picture - using the same technique. Radishes actually do really well roasted or sauteed.

Grill zucchini or other soft squashes like yellow squash or egg plant. You should baste the squash slices with oil first. I love the flavor added by using a nut oil. Olive oil also works well.

Roast or grill peppers, including hot ones. Stuff some fresh jalapenos with cheese and grill. (I'm drooling now.) I love to roast chunks red bell peppers and cloves of garlic. When done, I'll eat this with goat cheese or as a side for steak.
posted by onhazier at 1:17 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you have to have breakfast-y stuff for breakfast necessarily? I often enjoy lunch-type dishes for breakfast, anyway, which could include fruit, pre-cooked meat and/or bacon, veggies, etc. (I say pre-cooked because I'm often rushed in the AM - YMMV.)

Although I will only give up pasta when they pry it from my cold, dead hands, a spaghetti squash used in place of actual spaghetti (with whatever sauce you normally would eat on pasta) can make a great, no-grain supper.

Finally, search results for "low carb spicy" at Epicurious.com should provide some further suggestions, although you're probably going to have to customize them. I'd also start experimenting with soups, because those can be quite filling with very little or no grains. You're the perfect candidate for improvised cooking, because you know precisely the flavours you like already.
posted by Kurichina at 1:18 PM on December 2, 2009

A delicious rub for london broil that I think you will enjoy.

These chicken thighs taste incredible and are insanely easy to make.

Both could be made with any variety of vegetables on the side.

Any time I've ever made this recipe for someone (I recommend adding extra Srichacha hot sauce) they have asked me for it. I usually make over rice, but I'm sure you can just eat it plain or get a hold of some low-carb noodle type of product.
posted by sickinthehead at 1:22 PM on December 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I completely forgot: if you like the taste of vinegar, you should try making Carolina style bbq.
posted by sickinthehead at 1:23 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Canned tuna fried with curry paste and lime juice, and veggies as desired.
posted by benzenedream at 1:26 PM on December 2, 2009

occhiblu's broccoli arrabiata is phenomenally good. I've added steamed shrimp to it once or twice for a little protein, but it's amazing on its own.
posted by cog_nate at 1:33 PM on December 2, 2009

Diner-style Greek salad has lots of flavor between the feta, olives, red onions, and vinaigrette. Usually I make mine with lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes, but to be honest I sometimes skip the actual salad part and just eat straight feta and olives...
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:55 PM on December 2, 2009

I love this salad, and you can punch up the flavors as much as you like.
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:57 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Breakfast lentils! They look and sound strange but actually taste pretty good and fill you up in the morning like a good breakfast should. The texture reminds me of muesli but lentils do allow much more variety in the flavor department, since you can season this dish more aggressively than any traditional breakfast food. Adding celery, bell peppers, onions or fruit is also possible.
posted by Orchestra at 2:08 PM on December 2, 2009

Natural yoghurt, particularly greek natural yoghurt. That stuff can blow the back off your nose. Blender in some berries to make a smoothie if you're in a hurry. Wimps like me add honey.
posted by kjs4 at 3:26 PM on December 2, 2009

I've had homemade (i.e. POTENT) horseradish mixed into hummus and let me tell you. It's delicious. Sabra lemon hummus with the strongest horseradish you an find. Yum.
posted by Rudy Gerner at 3:38 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thai beef salad is dead simple to make, though it might not fit the lean category. Slice cucumbers in half, spoon out the seeds, and cut at an angle to make thin U-shaped slices. Chop some shallots, maybe add some spinach for a denser salad. The dressing is simple: fish sauce, lime juice and fresh chilis. For the beef, sear a thin (1/4 inch) steak on both sides, then again, slice at an angle to give you more surface for the bloody purple bit in the middle. Let the beef cool a little, then mix into the salad, and mix the dressing in. Quite tasty.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:38 PM on December 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Tasty stir fry:

1 package Eckrich turkey sausage, sliced into bite-size circles (other brands of turkey sausage I don't like but this one is really GOOD)

1 bag frozen broccoli florets (or 1 head fresh broccoli, cut into florets)

Szechuan Stir Fry sauce (House of Tsang is the brand I get at my regular grocery store)

Couple tablespoons creamy peanut butter

Add a bit of oil to a hot skillet and brown sausage; add broccoli and stir fry until tender. Turn off the heat, dump in stir fry sauce to taste, add peanut butter to taste, toss around with spatula to get everything coated.

This is spicy and really good. I'm having it for dinner right now and it's making my upper lip sweat. :)
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:04 PM on December 2, 2009

Oooh, fresh salmon with a liberal sprinkling of Old Bay and Cajun blackened spices, with a healthy dose of olive oil poured over it after cooking. Lasts a long time. Huge in nutrients.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 5:53 PM on December 2, 2009

I might suggest taking another look at beans. Sure they're carby, but they're also protein-y and fiber-y and won't brain-cloud you like grains will.

I like to make a big batch in a slow cooker or iron pot -- soak 'em for half a day, fry some aromatics, add beans and flavorful liquid and spices, cook for several hours (in the oven if you can).
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:29 PM on December 2, 2009

I am a big fan of soup for breakfast. Soups are easy, cheap and can be very lean. For example start by sauteing an onion in olive oil until caramelized. Throw in some bite-sized lean chunks of beef and some garlic. Brown the meat. Add some bell peppers, cabbage, zucchini, and jalapenos. Cover with broth and simmer until the beef is tender. Or go the chicken route and use carrots, potatoes, and lima beans.

Another, easy, low fat, but flavorful soup is Mexican bean soup: combine a can of refried beans, a can of chicken broth, a can of black beans, a cup or more of salsa and some frozen corn.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:14 PM on December 2, 2009

I like those type of foods, too. My comfort breakfast is menudo, which is a tripe soup in a chili broth. There's usually hominy in it, but you can easily avoid it if you're avoiding grain. You can buy it in a can in the Mexican food section and when it's warm you add chopped onion, cilantro, oregano and or red pepper (the Mexican spice section usually has a Menudo mix), and lots of fresh squeezed lemon.
posted by krikany at 7:16 AM on December 3, 2009

Fermented black bean paste on vegetables (broccoli is usually the poster child here) is really good. If you want to go Roman with its characteristically strong anchovy-garlic-lemon juice-olive oil dressing, you could do caponata di verdure--parcooked zucchini eggplant or cauliflower tossed with flavorful leafy greens (arugula, curly endive, spinach), celery, cucumber, and toasted breadcrumbs.

Someone mentioned my divine current summertime fave, ceviche, which reminds me--you can do similar flavorful marinated stuff with cold boiled beef. Thai flavors go well, as does the aforementioned Roman tack with anchovies and garlic.
posted by ifjuly at 4:46 PM on May 8, 2010

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